Old School Sound

Hey dudes im looking to get an old school sound.I have an amiga but the top end seems a bit dull sometimes other than that its great.Been thinking of getting an old pc maybe windows 95 or below with a soundblaster card.However i have no idea what kind of sound i will get,im looking for that gritty sound but with the top end still intact does anybody have any experience with old trackers on old systems?Can anybody point me in the right direction?Cheers

See if you can get your hands on this one:


I don’t have one, but I’ve heard the results. Definitely gritty sounding :smiley:

sound blasters were pretty hifi already. I think you would be disappointed, it is very subtle grit going on. As from the sb pro/16/awe generations on. I remember fast tracker 2, and 22050 sounding muffled and overaliased, while 44100 was pretty crisp with cd playback, and aliasing (grit) came from the tracker software used and nonexistent or suboptimal sample interpolation. 8bit playback possible sounded real chippy though, but sucked at low volume (quiet passages became one single gritty noisefloor when played loud).

have you looked for direct (line out to recording interface) recordings of old machines running tracker software? Maybe you’ll find some nerd or demoscene nostalgia on youtube to make descisions on. in between all the videos using emulators on modern pcs.

Aren’t you happy with current possibilities to shape sound like plogue chipcrusher or the new tal retro sampler? Those can simulate many devices properly, an old pc and a certain tool will give you only that single one soundscape, never the same flexibility…

I just had a dream inspired by your post, of a modern linux box, with a good soundcard, and external pci and isa housings with a galore of old second hand but still working soundcards in there routed into the good one for recording and mangling, with virtual machines or dos-boxes (I think there might even be ways for midi looping in) running all sorts of craptastic old trackers and such through the cards, while renoise and ardour are working on top level on the very same machine. It would take a real nerd to set it all up, and make the soundcards and such work, but it might happen for any cards where there’s half broken open drivers for lurking somewhere waiting for bitrot. So it might also…sometimes just not work. I don’t think the results would sound crappy enough to justify all the work, even. At least it wouldn’t for me.

Thanks for the replies guys,much appreciated.You know what gets me close to my desired sound,is sampling a drum loop at an octave lower into the amiga at 14khz then resampling back out and doubling the octave back up,that way i get those mean little artifacts and aliasing but the top end is still there.Its a real pain in the face to do this to every single sample you want to use though.Also my accelerator card for my a600 overheats after about 30 mins so the amiga freezes and i have to let it cool down for 5 mins before i start it up again.Must check out that tal sampler,all other bitcrushers and retro stuff ive tried though(which is extensive) have been less than convincing.The renoise lo fi mat is actually quite good but it has a big problem for me,when you press the option to allow the high frequencies in its way too much and when you disable it its way too dull.i do use it sometimes for little things though,mainly anything vocal.Ive contacted a guy who manages to get in and around the sound im looking for and i think he is going to make a youtube tutorial based on my question.Hopefully he follows through with it.

What’s the Amiga’s sample rate? (might explain why the top end is darker, if it’s like 32kHz as a lot of older machines were). I like danoise’s suggestion, or you could look into picking up any one of the old late-80s “cult” samplers – a Roland S-50 or S-550, Yamaha TX16W, older Alesis or other Roland ones, Casio FZ-1, etc. Most of these won’t be more than $100, fully functional.

The problem then tends to become dealing with the old 3.5" floppy drives (as in, the drives die all the time and you usually need a proprietary or special format drive). So on my old S-550, I put in a USB floppy drive emulator and it works great. Since the floppy is by far the most likely point of failure on those old samplers, once you’ve solved that problem, there’s no reason the machine won’t work for another decade or more. They were built like tanks back then, for serious gigging musicians (who could afford ~$3000-5000!).

So, sampling with those old machines can be a bit tedious, I’d recommend one of the Roland ones you can hook up to a monitor, they have full-on graphical sample/instrument editors, I don’t know about other brands. But it’s worth it for the old 12-bit “crunch”, I sample stuff into the S-550 and then back into Renoise or whatever all the time. They can usually do sample rates between around 15kHz-32kHz, some go as high as 50kHz, but all are 12-bit until you get to the 90s.

There is of course the Cyclone VSTi, which the Sonic Charge guy claims sounds like 98% like a real TX16W, and it pretty much does to my ear, minus input noise and such. It’s just tedious as hell to make an instrument.

Record to tape maybe? hiss and saturation

An old 4track with EQ for example to help with the top end

An E-mu Emulator II sample rate is 27778, Fairlight II samples are 30.2kHz, older drum machines come with even lower sample rates. Bit depths of the gritty thingies vary from 6 to 12bit. The point are the DACs. The TAL sampler allows you to recreate several variations of old samplers and Sonic Charge’s Cyclone emulates an entire Yamaha TX16W incl. OS and the old DAC. Plogue Chipcrusher emulates several old DACs too.

So, using a DAC emulation of your choice and putting some tape and/or tube saturation on top should work quite fine for your purpose.

The tal sampler is an amazing piece of kit.

Simple yet verry powerfull …

Patrick kunZ ( tal ) should join the dev.ream --> monthly donation of belgian chocolates from my side

Yeah i would buy TAL DAC bitreducer FX, the Sampler has thr best DAC emulation ive heard.

BUT d16 decimort is the best alternative i know. Try it (in demo and render it to renoise :)).

Another suggestion: you can find huge archives of the original samples for most of the old samplers online, anything from Fairlight to all the E-mu machines. Suppose it might be a legal “gray area” though, but many of them are actually hosted on the original manufacturer’s site. I mean if you want real old-school samples, there’s an endless supply out there. You can also find converters to turn them into SFZ. (I use Awave, it’s cheap). TX16Wx is a great (free) soundfont player and does a good job with the envelopes and filter settings and such. Yeah you can load SFZ in Renoise, but Renoise unfortunately ignores most settings besides just mapping.

Ok dudes,just to let everybody know i have tracked down what was wrong with the amiga sound.First of all i discovered an ‘anti aliasing’ filter(simple low pass filter) that you have to turn off in the sampler i have (gvp dss8+) that was a while ago,did that,then i discovered the amiga applies its own anti aliasing filter automatically,also a while ago,i did that too,both dramatically brighten and improve the sound.Unfortunately the sneaky little fuckers at amiga had the brilliant idea of also putting in a static “tone knob” type low-pass filter that is enabled regardless of the optional “LED filter” this filter is a 6dB/oct low-pass filter with cutoff frequency at 4.5 or 5kHz.They only included this hidden filter in amigas from the 500 to the 1000(mines a 600)unbelievable.To say that trying to integrate an amiga into my setup has been a nightmare is an understatement and i have had numerous other unforeseen obstacles and problems along the way too.Anyway im buying an Amiga 1200 in the next few days that ive managed to snag and im confident that all the hard work ive put into this will pay off.