Hi, I don't post on the site particularly often, but as I work more on my music and listen to other's I find that I want to expand my hardware selection, specifically into the commodore realm.

First off, here's what I'm asking:

I'm looking for an oldschool machine to send midi clock & notes to all my other hardware ( 2 x LSDJ DMGs, microbrute, rack mount FM synth, possibly one other thing in the future).
I think the c64 or Amiga could accomplish this, but I'm only vaguely familiar with all their features.

I know generally the c64 is famous for its Sid chip and the Amiga series can do pretty serviceable tracker sequencing using samples, but I'm not entirely sure--could someone please steer me in the right direction?

Last edited by Cherry Oxide (Aug 16, 2016 1:46 am)


If you want midi, use atari...
You can also get a MiST fpga box which has a smaller form factor, and can do atari, amiga, c64, spectrum.... (and midi as well)

Last edited by garvalf (Aug 16, 2016 3:49 am)

garvalf wrote:

If you want midi, use atari...
You can also get a MiST fpga box which has a smaller form factor, and can do atari, amiga, c64, spectrum.... (and midi as well)

Hm. Atari seems interesting (looking up the ST and realising it has CUBASE of all things makes me very interested, actually. )

Montreal, Canada

It's really a matter of preference but, my 2 cents:

+ The fucking SID chip. Top notch chiptune stuff right there.
+ They are fairly cheap to buy.
+ Upgrades are still made for it.
+ Three channels forces you to be creative.
- It's a bit of a pain to use if you haven't used one back in the day.
- MIDI sucks ass. I mean yeah, MSSIAH but... yeah....

Atari ST:
+ MIDI built in
+ Sweet sound chip
+ Modern trackers can really push the more powerful machines (STE and up)
+ Some upgrades available for it...but really nothing super impressive.
- The OS fucking sucks
- They get pretty expensive. Expect to pay a fair bit for a decent setup. Older models aren't worth shit for music. Things get interesting from the STE and up.
- Two different screens required for low/med resolution, and high resolution. Most (cool) software needs the colour screen (low/med) and they're hard to find for a decent price.
- It's VERY early stuff, if you're looking to use like Cubase and shit. Don't expect much.

+Still pretty cheap to get a decent setup.
+TONS of modern hardware is still being made for it.
+AmigaOS is super intuitive to use, easy to configure etc.
+Tons of music software
-MIDI is meh. You can get a midi interface for a decent price, but the software that take advantage of it are pure shit.
-A basic system is cheap, and will get you running a lot of cool software, but if you want to upgrade it to modern standards, it's very expensive.

If you're looking for a MIDI sequencer, then the Atari is the clear winner. If you want to use them for their chiptuning abilities, then I'd say Commodore (64 or Amiga) wins over the Atari, but there's still something quite special and charming about the ST's sound chip. In terms of ease of use in a modern context, Amiga comes up on top by a mile. And if you're looking for a computer made in different shades of brown, nothing beats the C64 wink

They're all great systems, and a ton of fun to use. I'd suggest using emulators for a few months until you figure out which system is better suited to your needs. All these systems will end up costing you a criminal amount of money to get them up and running in a modern setup, so take your time to choose the one that scratches all your itches.


Got it, vsts.

herr_prof wrote:

Got it, vsts.

Hah. Well, I personally have a fetish for having physical hardware in sync, but I don't suppose it'd hurt to get myself acquainted with the Sid chip/st on conceptual/sound levels before I go shelling out my allowance.

Thanks for the responses, everyone!

Edit: actually, I have one more question:
Are there any solutions for the ST that give ableton-like clip launching for different tracks? (Odd thing perhaps to request from a 1980s machine, but I want to make it happen somehow)

Last edited by Cherry Oxide (Aug 17, 2016 5:39 am)

United States

some of the Dr T and other  midi software allows launching tracks independently

Cherry Oxide wrote:

Are there any solutions for the ST that give ableton-like clip launching for different tracks? (Odd thing perhaps to request from a 1980s machine, but I want to make it happen somehow)

You mean audio clips or midi clips?

Bratislava, Slovakia

C64: THE Sid Chip
Amiga: samples, i have had custom 8-bit sampler Ramikola from friend of mine (Tronik) which can sample up do 56 kHz in mono in somewhat HQ mode, but there was also 16-bit samplers for PCMCIA port etc, basic MIDI interface to serial port serves only one MIDI port, but somewhere you can buy 4-port MIDI interface for parallel port, MIDI sequencer who can manage it is Camouflage for example. Famous MIDI sequencers are also Music-X or Bars'n'Pipes, but i dont like them. For decent performance you need at least Amiga 1200 with Blizzard 1230/50 turboboard and some FastRam, so i think you need budget around 200 eur, it is not that cheap as you think.

Bratislava, Slovakia


Last edited by martin_demsky (Aug 17, 2016 9:39 am)


I'm only going to comment on my experience with the C64...

When it works, it's great. When it doesn't I hope that you're somewhat technical because you'll be opening the case a lot. The C64 is sensitive and the SID chip is probably the most fragile part of it.

- For instance: don't plug in/unplug controllers while the unit is on. The controls are routed through the SID. Doing so could damage it.

- Here's another: make sure you turn on external audio equipment hooked up to the C64 ( like a mixer) first - then turn on the C64. Apparently, the signal spike can damage the SID. Also, in this situation, you turn off the C64 last.

- This one is from experience: If you by a C64 just buy a new power supply. You can't trust those 30 year old PSUs anymore. They're suicide boxes. When they go they tend to take the computer (or part of it) with them.

- Also, the noise on a stock machine is ....not great. I've been exploring ways to cut it down but reports of success are not agreed upon across the board.

-And then there's the cost. Yes, you could probably get a "working" C64 for between $60 and $100. However, what level of "working" will be a mystery until you start playing with it. Here's what I've spent so far on this pursuit:

$60 for a C64 breadbin
$30 for a new SID
$35 on another new SID
$60 on another C64
$75 on sd2IEC (cause most floppy drives are in terrible condition these days)
$80 on MSSIAH cart
$20 on JiffyDOS for faster operation
$20 on SID2SID
$35 on another SID
$100 on x2 SwinSID Ultimate (cause I'm just done with factory SIDs)
$35 on a 1351 mouse (that I have never gotten to work)
$20 on a VGA box
$95 on a NEW power supply from Ray Carlsen

= $530

+ Components like caps and resistors
+ Countless hours of researching problems and teaching myself how to not blow these things up. I still consider myself a novice.

So take that all into consideration. Granted, I destroyed some SIDs myself because of inexperience but the other just bit the dust with no rhyme or reason. The cost of an Amiga or ST might be higher than the initial C64 buy but those machines are more modern and reliable. In the long run you may wind up spending more on the C64

That was a lot of cons. Let me mention the pros:

+ Nothing else sounds quite like the SID chip
+ MSSIAH is a joy to use once you get the hang of it

Last edited by gilhelm (Aug 17, 2016 3:49 pm)

Bratislava, Slovakia

i got mine C64G at probably 100 eur, travelled to Czech republic/Valasske Mezirici smile I have had exactly this machine in 1991, but i sold it because of the budget for Amiga 1200, but this i purchased 2 years ago was in better condition than that from 1991, so it is question of time, it is perfect working machine, again that was probably never used, so it is worth that money (okay final cartridge III was included and also cartridge with Commodore games, which i used as envelope for Cynthcard).

But thanks for warnings about studio/stadium use, one cool man from Italia (at lemon64 forum) is making cables which can ground sid, so sound is better without noises and another connector is for that little displays (S-Video signal), btw.

Last edited by martin_demsky (Aug 17, 2016 6:33 pm)


For midi an atari STF is enough. You can find them around 30 and 60 €. On local retrocomputing forums you can make good deals, some people can sell them for a fair price. The STF has the same ym2149 soundchip as the ste, but the STE is easier to record because of the RCA output (and also it can do DMA and such). STE is better of course, but not much different from STF (maxymizer works great on STF too).

Bratislava, Slovakia … SwIgNXs6Dc

Whoaa smile)) Atari Falcon 030 only for..., only for million? No! Half million? No! Only 3000 US dollars smile Just immitating Steve Ballmer Windows campaign smile


I would suggest neither. If you need the hardware get a SammichSID.  For MIDI sequencing you will universally be better off with something ITB or an external sequencer like the Social Entropy Engine or Squarp Pyramid (what I use with my SammichSID, DMG, and modular). You're trying to drive an awful lot of hardware at the same time to be using an 8-bit computer in 2016.

cyberic wrote:

You mean audio clips or midi clips?

I mean midi clips. 4,8, 16 bar loops mostly