Why no Game Gear trackers out there?  Seems with GG overdrive and GG backlight kits this handheld would be a prime candidate for some cool music software.

Trackers are hard! there are only two mobile trackers for a reason. You can always use this:

http://deflemask.com/

and dj two gamegears with a mixer big_smile

*I am not an expert by any means. If you have a different opinion, please share it!*

To me, what I think it boils down to, is that the audio in the GG (and master system by extension) is just not..... that.... interesting. 3 square waves, one noise channel. So my question is, the Gameboy can do all of that, and more thanks to the wav channel. It can be programmed as a square wave channel if you want, but does anyone actually do that? Probably not much, because 3 square waves is just not that interesting.

It's not like the chip community hasn't ever dug up an ancient console though (see houston tracker). But there's still some element of uniqueness that drives a lot of that.

Add on top of that the relative obscureness of 8 bit sega consoles, and I think you get to where we are today. When was the last time you saw a master system in the wild? I don't think I ever have. Game Gears are a little more common, but not a ton. I mean, there is exactly one GG flash cart out there.

That being said, I like the idea. I'd love to hear if anyone else has any other opinions!

EDIT: Even further, the SN76489 is still readily (and cheaply) available. As much as I hate to say it, if you really wanted a GG tracker, you might be better off just building a whole new tracker interface based around an arduino or something. Like for real, the whole think could be made for under $50. cram it all in a gameboy pocket shell or something.

Last edited by catskull (Jan 31, 2017 6:07 pm)

I'd like to see one day a snes tracker : this console sound really really well, it was for me with the genesis the best game track I had ever heard.
Maybe the genesis tracker will be available one day...
Thoses master system, game gear, I don't remeber great tune on it... The sound chip is not Waooo.

4ormal wrote:

Why no Game Gear trackers out there?  Seems with GG overdrive and GG backlight kits this handheld would be a prime candidate for some cool music software.

there is MOD2PSG, Deflemask, and the SN76489 mod of 0CC-Famitracker that Hertzdevil made. But even so, (echoing what catskill stated) the chip is extremely limited in its capabilities tho, so ehh.

It also has periodic noise that can get some gritty bass

VGM Music Maker can also do GG (+ SMS & MD), but the program does have bugs left, some pretty critical when using NTSC speed (crashes, not working on hardware without fixes). As GG is NTSC only I'm not sure if this tracker would work at all with it, otherwise it's a very capable tool for the SN76489.

I want to point out the specs of the Master System / Game Gear audio:
- Channels 1-3 can only do 50% square waves, lowest frequency 109 Hz.
- Channel 4 by itself can do white noise using only three preset frequencies, notes A2 (110 Hz), A3 (220 Hz) & A4 (440 Hz). You can also change the white noise for a 6.25% square wave tone. That can only use those three frequencies as well.
- You can combine channel 3 & 4 together, CH4 will then use CH3 frequency data. This is where SN76489 gets interesting: The noise channel will become quite flexible being capable of playing 1024 different frequencies of white noise or 6.25% square waves.
Yes, the sound chip can do both 50% and 6.25% duty cycle square waves. It's just weirdly labeled as "periodic noise" everywhere.

If you do not input any frequency data to CH3 in the combined mode then CH4 will play a higher than normally achievable noise / tone. If you enter a note in CH3 then CH4 will change to play that same note and can't go back anymore. (Not 100% sure that you can't achieve the high frequency again, at least on the tracker you can't.)

It seems to me that the Game Boy can also do 6.25% squares using the Wave channel but the lowest possible frequency is 64 Hz?
Then SMS / GG outperforms that because it can play as deep as 6.8 Hz.

But thats below human hearing, so: why?

Tomy wrote:

It seems to me that the Game Boy can also do 6.25% squares using the Wave channel but the lowest possible frequency is 64 Hz?
Then SMS / GG outperforms that because it can play as deep as 6.8 Hz.

Pretty sure I've been pushing 32.7Hz out of a Game Boy for years now...

iNFOTOXIN wrote:

Pretty sure I've been pushing 32.7Hz out of a Game Boy for years now...

That is true. My mistake, should have checked it myself instead of relying on some false information.

radian wrote:

But thats below human hearing, so: why?

Use as a low frequency oscillator when you use an additive technique. The clicking from the low frequency will interfere with other sounds, audibly. But that is more for like creative expression.

There's always a use for any frequency in a chip. Even the ones we can't really hear by themselves.

You can also get a 25% PWM sound by using 2 channels playing the same note at once, with one note an octave higher. It's cool to interchange and mix your square waves in an additive synthesis style. Gives much more variety to your tracks with that chip. It's like sound gradients.

I didn't realize the GG/SMS hardware was so weak. The lack of interest in home-brew development makes total sense. Did the SMS do FM via a special add on chip or am I making that up?

The last rev of the JP. SMS hardware had a fm chip, and it was an expansion option before that: http://segaretro.org/FM_Sound_Unit

4ormal wrote:

I didn't realize the GG/SMS hardware was so weak. The lack of interest in home-brew development makes total sense. Did the SMS do FM via a special add on chip or am I making that up?

No, GG/SMS hardware is NOT weak. First of all, a chip is only as weak as the composer's skill.

Second, the SMS chip can do smooth PWM modulation when you use the video Hblank as an extra oscillator. You can also feed 4 bit samples through any of the 3 square channel. Hear the full power of the SMS hardware:

Listen to DEMO Rob0t In Action by marcb0t #np on #SoundCloud
https://soundcloud.com/marcb0t/demo-r0bot-in-action

The problem is that no one wants to make a portable tracker to produce this live. Although, it should be possible.

Basically, GG is more powerful of a soundchip than Gameboy and C64, when operated at full strength.

Tomy wrote:
iNFOTOXIN wrote:

Pretty sure I've been pushing 32.7Hz out of a Game Boy for years now...

That is true. My mistake, should have checked it myself instead of relying on some false information.

It's an odd thing, even Johan has the lowest octave on the WAV channel in LSDj set to display as '2', when it's actually 1 but, I suppose the overtones being hella noticable and there not being that much attention paid to the sub range in a hell of a lot of chipmusic means it goes unnoticed often.