(10 replies, posted in Trading Post)

Porcupine wrote:

Oh Wow! thanks for the reply and the information. This gives me enough info to look for when I have the GB. The site you posted I take it they must send to the UK ? which is where I'm based. As I have seen other people recommending this site before.

I'm sure they ship worldwide - or at least to the UK! Can't say for 100% sure since I live in the US but I know they have been around awhile and would be foolish not to cater to a large overseas market!


(10 replies, posted in Trading Post)

Porcupine wrote:

I'm going to go and check out some charity shops and thrift shop over the weekend to see if I can find any DMG's or other GameBoys.
I will have a look online for an IPS screen and prosound mods smile

I'll throw in a recommendation for Handheld Legend's IPS mod since that's the one I did. This is the one I used but they appear to have a newer one in stock with more color options and a screen that's more closely sized to the DMG screen.

They also carry two part buttons that I designed for them! Each set has all in the same color so you can get one in clear and one in another color for the inside portions for a cool look, if that's your thing.

For the prosound mod, all you need are some wires and one of these 1/8" jacks . You can use 1/4" but it'll be more difficult to fit it in. I'd recommend grabbing two of these since they're cheap and it's good to have a backup in case one gets messed up during installation/soldering.


(10 replies, posted in Trading Post)

rebb wrote:

...new IPS screens are really easy to install...

This. IPS was the best upgrade I made to my DMG and it was very easy. Doing that and the prosound mod took me under an hour and I took my damn time because I didn't want a speck of dust to end up in the screen haha. I also used a custom shell and buttons for some flair.

Also pro-tip for the IPS if you decide to do it, darker screen colors and minimum brightness will give you the least background noise.

ScanianWolf wrote:

EDIT: By the way, if you use an IPS screen this could definitely be a source of more noise! You should then perhaps consider buying Helder's 'normal' capacitor kit and replace those on you GBA, or you could just look up the values and buy them yourself from where you want to, he has posted the values on his site, just click the link above.

I have an IPS on my DMG and it definitely adds some noise (not that it matters to my recordings with all the cleanup I do) but I have noticed that darker colors add significantly less. Red on mine is the least intrusive.

I have heard that GBA is a real pain, one of the reasons I've stayed away from it for chiptunes (plus I tend to favor the sound of the original grey brick over the rest, probably nostalgia). My plan to add a new system to each new album release was put on hold by COVID (was literally in the middle of a KS campaign to fund a vinyl press when it happened...around this time last year, I suppose), and I was probably going to add C64 next but I may eventually want some sweet soundfonts in there and it's a toss up between Megadrive and GBA for those.

For live play you'd need a really good PA that cuts out background noise. This isn't really my forte so I can't say what the specs on the PA should be - all I know is I've played two live shows where the volume was up very high and couldn't hear anything when the track wasn't actively playing through my setup. It has something to do with whatever is built into the system to force it to produce no sound when the input levels are below a certain amount. I also use NES and DMG for my tracks so I'm not sure if it's a similar frequency or whatever but that would be your best bet for live shows.

For recording, you have a lot of control if you're willing to put in the time. After implementing every trick I know to cut back on artifact sounds (including mods, note overlaps - which unfortunately I don't think you can do with a tracker, etc), I record every channel on it's own, then go into each channel's spectrogram in my editing software and insert silences in place of all gaps between notes where the background noise can be heard. If you record all of your channels together then you won't be able to cut the background noise in the gaps between any notes on a given channel where another channel is playing a note (obviously, since you'd be cutting out that portion of whatever is playing on every other track) so I definitely recommend recording each channel separately, syncing them in your audio app, then polishing each one the way I described above. For quiet parts of the song where you can still hear it, you can try using a filter, taking a sample from a section of the track with just background noise to remove that same noise from a section with those quieter notes playing. However, this method should only be used in dire circumstances as it will usually leave that section of track sounding muddy.

It may seem excessive and a pain in the ass to do all this but the difference is night and day in the final track. Seriously, listen to this track where I did all of that and try to hear any background noise at all, even with headphones. I used both NES and DMG on that track (7 audio channels total in the recorded mix).

https://soundcloud.com/doctoroctoroc/wa … rrangement

One other hot tip I can offer is to record your noise channel at the same time as one other channel (on the NES I record it with the triangle, on the DMG I record it at the same time as the WAV channel sometimes, but I usually utilize the noise channel on the NES more than on the DMG so I don't often do this on DMG), then record the pulse channels each on their own. The reason for this, at least for me, is there are a TON of gaps between notes on my noise channel with all the hi hats, short snares, quick kicks, etc. Recording this channel on its own and silencing the nose between gaps would take ages (I mean, you can do it if you want) so recording it with the triangle or WAV means I only have to insert silences when neither channel is playing on the recorded track - which you wouldn't want to do with all the tracks as described above but for one of a few tracks, it's fine cause there will likely be enough volume overall throughout the track that you won't hear background noise at all. In terms of the NES it's also convenient because the noise, DPCM and triangle are all on the same audio out (with my prosound 'stereo' mod) so I actually record all three at once with the pulse channels unplugged because they create more noise in the background. I also tend to double up the noise with DPCM to make the samples punch a lot harder.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. I know this isn't really an answer to your original question, just general advice for recording chiptunes. And I haven't messed with the GBA yet but a lot of the principles should be the same. But I have heard that the GBA can be one of the noisiest of the Nintendo handhelds so as a last ditch effort you could get yourself an original brick and try that on for size!

I'll be following with interest as well! I'm always looking for new ways to push the envelope on the NES, it's by far my favorite sound in its generation.

Also, fwiw, this is the guide I more or less followed to do my mod. I didn't bother with amplification cause it's a good enough signal for my uses but it is really quite simple to do and m soldering skills are next to trash so if I can do it...

http://www.retrofixes.com/2013/09/nes-s … -easy.html

captain wrote:

Is there anyway to get the digital audio signal out of the APU before it is converted into analog? Or is it done internally  in the chip with no access to the routing. Be nice to have the option to use a 3rd party DAC.


I don't know with absolute certainty but I've researched every mod for the NES I could find and never came across this option. If it was possible, someone certainly would have done it by now, so I'm assuming analog RCA out is the best that can be done with the stereo separation pro-sound mod.

Although, there is this:


Not a language I speak but looks like it might be possible?

kamsonowicz wrote:

OK, guys, thank you so much for the feedback. You gave me something to think about and I think I'll try to check if I can somehow contact original authors to check if they are OK with me publishing the covers of their old modules. smile Cheers!

Happy to assist in any way I could! And I think it's good form to reach out to original artists regardless. If you like them enough to cover their music, why wouldn't you be interested in the prospect of speaking with them (or their representative)? I never spoke with Wayne Coyne directly while working on my Flaming Lips cover album but I was in touch with their photographer/album art designer and the band manager and knowing that they were running things by the band was a great source of joy for me! It was also great to hear that Coyne listened to my covers and liked them.

kamsonowicz wrote:

Hey Doctor Octoroc, thank you so much for the comprehensive answer!

I definitely want to be safe than sorry - even if I don't do it for money - that's why I decided to investigate a bit.

I understand you have covered "standard" commercial music, and with that there is no question, for sure you need these mechanical licences. I'm just wondering if my situation is any different:
a) 7 out of 10 tunes I want to cover are demoscene music, which in general is on public domain licence. I don't think I need any additional licences for these.
b) 3 out of 10 are form old video games (Lotus III, Pinball Illusions, Flashback) - surely they are not public domain, but I'm also not sure if those would be registered anywhere to get the licenses.
c) most important thing - I've read that if you post to streaming services like Spotify Deezer, Apple Music, Tidal etc. they already pay for the licenses, so you don't need to do anything more when publishing covers. Another thing may be stores with music (iTunes, Amazon) but I can easily skip those.

Case may be a bit tricky with Bandcamp and YouTube as they don't pay the licenses themselves, so you need to take care of it by yourself - if you actually need it that is (or can do it at all). That's why I'm asking, I think in my example I just don't need it:
a) because demoscene is PD,
b) because there's probably no way to acquire licences for retro games music (apart from contacting the authors themselves?),
c) because - in the end - it's generally non-commercial. I know it may be not all that important to some people but I'm counting on some common sense of the original authors. wink

Is my line of thinking valid?

Your line of thinking can be logistically sound but the law doesn't always make 'common' sense.

I don't know much about the demoscene but when we're talking about public domain (as in anyone can use the work for whatever purpose), unless the works were specifically released to be PD (either at time of creation or after the fact) or are over a certain number of years old (like 20-100 depending on the medium), they're protected by copyright simply by existing. If you believe any given works are PD then you should research them to be sure and need to be able to present positive proof that is the case, not claim you couldn't find evidence that they are. In other words, if you look around online and can't find whether or not a given work is copyrighted or in the PD, you shouldn't by any means assume it is or isn't. I did a Christmas album over a decade ago and made sure that every track was indeed public domain (hence I didn't cover any modern Christmas songs) so nothing could bite me in the ass later.

Again, I can't stress enough, It doesn't matter if it's 'standard' commercial music or some guy whacking on trash cans in his garage, any original work (or derivative work that doesn't legally infringe on an existing copyright) is inherently protected by copyright unless expressly determined otherwise by the original creator (or their representative). So if for any of the tracks you're covering, you can't find a registered copyright, it may still be copyrighted, just not registered, so litigation can still be pursued, they just won't likely sue you for millions (probably closer to tens of thousands, from what I've seen) if they chose to do so.

So you are correct that streaming services pay royalties for covers but that doesn't necessarily mean you're off the hook. I wouldn't take anyone's word for it if they're saying they stream through Spotify and don't have to pay royalties because the service does - they might be sorely mistaken themselves. Depending on the fine print, you may still have to pay royalties yourself, albeit a lower rate than if you were, say, selling digital downloads or physical copies of the album. Given, I don't stream music that I pay royalties on, but given that it's an option through ESL to license tracks for streaming, I wouldn't bet on it being free for you.

As far as YouTube, Bandcamp, etc. is concerned, treat each watch of the video or download of the album as if it were a physical copy sold (although at different rates, usually).

Bottom line, better safe than sorry is either to consult an actual copyright lawyer or just not do it.Otherwise, as I said before, weigh the risks for yourself and decide. But I don't think anyone here is going to give you tacit approval to do what you're talking about. It's good that you're asking the questions but we're not lawyers or experts on the matter. I just happen to have minimal experience being a contract artist for the last decade and running into these situations myself!

I've gone through this process for two chiptune cover albums, although I covered more prominent bands (Neutral Milk Hotel and The Flaming Lips) and wanted to do everything completely legal so went through the proper channels, reached out to the bands, their manager and lawyer, notified them of my intent, and used Easy Song Licensing to set up royalty payments (but you could use any licensing site). I also got permission from band members (via their manager) to use their likeness in artwork, as well as reached out to the album artwork designers for approval on my designs, which were derivative of their own work. Basically if you're doing any sort of derivative work (a cover, a pixel art version of a graphic, etc), you need permission and/or to compensate the artist.

Now given, the artists you're covering might not be listed through a licensing site like ESL unless they've been around awhile and have released multiple albums through a label or collective, so you may have to go to them directly if that's the case. If they (or their representative) haven't registered the copyrights, they likely won't be in any database - but their work is inherently copyrighted even if it's not registered. I haven't gone 'directly to the source' before but in all my interaction with the members and associates of previous bands whose work I covered, they were always nice, answered my questions and told me what they expected from me (a la paying royalties, proper credits, etc).

It's also important to note that even if you don't stand to make any money from a project (eg putting it on Bandcamp for free or in the context of a YouTube video) it is still copyright infringement all the same as if you were seeking monetary gain. Any work that is a cover or derivative of copyrighted source material is inherently an infringement if certain steps aren't taken (and if they don't fall under fair use, which a cover album does not) and if they registered the work(s), they have extra legal power to protect it. As an example, I released my first cover album through Kickstarter and included downloads with the physical vinyl records for backers but still had to pay royalties on the 'free' downloads, in addition to royalties on the physical copies. just because you give it out for free doesn't mean it's exempt.

I think that most people don't realize how many people on YT, BC, etc are infringing on copyright because too many people don't look at it legally but logistically - for example, most people think that if you're not making money, you can't be sued, but you have to consider that any work that is protected has that protection not just to prevent others from making money using it (or some version of it) but to protect the integrity. Like if I covered a song from a kid's show and changed the lyrics to be raunchy, that would be a problem for the image/brand. But that's just an extreme example where they would be far more likely to pursue litigation.

I'm not a lawyer and have no extensive knowledge of copyright law but as a general rule of thumb, better safe then sorry. If you don't know with 100% certainty that it's safe and legal, don't do it unless you're willing to risk litigation. Given, there will always be a subjective %risk with anything, and I've certainly taken my fair share of (what I considered to be low) risks with projects in the past, but that's a personal choice you need to make. A good example of that is me covering the soundtrack to Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog. I received a cease and desist from Joss Whedon's lawyers but was able to reach out through one of the writers of the series to get them to back off. On the one hand, you have a company like Capcom endorsing artists who cover music from their games while Nintendo has issued DMCA take downs on multiple fan projects. And then there's the photographer credited with Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" album cover who sued an artist for his derivative pixel art version of that album artwork for a cover album of the original. You just never know how the original artist, or their lawyer(s), will react.

lost wrote:
Doctor Octoroc wrote:

Then you'll want a stereo 1/8" to 1/4" audio cable and plug the 1/4" end into one of the jacks on the front.

Thanks, but what kind of cable? Is it called "TRS" ?

I googled it and heres what came up https://www.amazon.com/stereo-cable-Pla … B06WVJ1P27

Yes, that cable will work for your needs. A bit of educational info to expand on why TRS...

TRS (tip, ring sleeve) refers to a stereo connection whereas TS (tip, sleeve) is a mono connection. So it also depends on whether or not the cable is split. If you have a single cable with one 1/8" end and one 1/4" end, you want it to be TRS on both ends so you get stereo separation on both ends. If you have a split cable (one 1/8" end to two 1/4" ends), the 1/4" ends should be TS and the 1/8" end should be TRS. If you have any doubts as to what kind of cable you have, look at the ends and see how many metal segments there are separated by plastic rings, including the tip. Three segments means it's TRS, two means it's TS. Just remember same number of segments, same number of letters in the name.

lost wrote:
herr_prof wrote:

if your mixer doesnt have rca, you can also get https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail … ts-10-foot

I got a PreSonus AUDIOBOX USB 96

Then you'll want a stereo 1/8" to 1/4" audio cable and plug the 1/4" end into one of the jacks on the front.

lost wrote:

Hey, i'm kinda bad at knowing what kind of cables I need for this and that so how would I record my gameboy into my audio interface? What kind of cables would I need, i see a lot people saying "Just record out of the microphone jack" but how? I don't know what cable I need for that

From a stock Gameboy to a laptop/PC directly, you'll most likely need a 1/8" male to 1/8" male cable. Search for that on Amazon and you'll find plenty of those (most people use them for playing music from their phones into a stereo with a 1/8" jack on the front).

Depending on your audio interface, since you mentioned that, the input might be a 1/4" in which case you would need a 1/8" male to 1/4" male. Also commonly found.

If your audio interface has a two separate red and white (or red and black) inputs then you want a 1/8" to RCA cable. This one has a single 1/8" male on one end and it splits off into two RCA type plugs - one will commonly be red (right channel) and the other white (left channel), although sometimes the left channel is black as well. Again, make sure all ends are male.

You can also get adapters between nearly any two types of audio connections. For example, I use RCA to 1/4" on my mixer so I can separate the stereo from my GB into separate channels instead of putting them both into one channel.

Does anyone know if the GB Boy Color works with a Teensyboy (Pro) and MGB? Does the pitch only get screwy with a tracker cart or do external MIDI signals also control differently?

It's always something silly and simple, no need to feel embarrassed!

I had a similar issue when I first started recording from my DMG but I had just done the prosound mod so I thought I goofed up the mod and did loads of troubleshooting in vein on account of that. I finally realized that by just using a 1/8" to RCA R/L cable, everything was just fine.

I have a tiny 4-channel Mackie mixer so I have to use the RCA line in since the 1/4" jacks are taken up by my prosound NES I use in conjunction with the DMG. I use an Amazon Basic 1/8" to split L/R RCA cable, no need for anything fancy. I keep it simple with recording in Audacity and do very minor mastering after the fact. Basically, I only make adjustments that I can feasibly do live playing through a mixer so minor channel panning to create a bit of stereo separation on the NES and I pull the stereo back to center a bit on the GB input so it's not 100% in each channel (I go 70% R and L so panned notes are heard in both channels to some degree but everything center stays pretty much the same). But I adjust all the bass, mid and treble on the mixer while recording.

I will go back in to remove noticeable 'clicks' on slow tracks but I've actually found a way to compose by overlapping notes that removes the clicking artifacts in most instances. It can only be done when using external MIDI send with something like the Teensyboy+MGB but it's probably the best trick I've learned for composing with the DMG. I don't believe there's a way to do that with any step sequencers, however.

I used HHL's IPS mod a few months back, the sound is definitely better than it was on my old backlit model - one thing worth noting is that different color screens have a slightly different effect. There is a very subtle high-pitched noise (only can really hear it in headphones) but the darker color screens make it less noticeable. I always keep my screen on red since that seems to be the quietest but it's barely there listening through speakers or a decent mixer.