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For Love of Chips: Chipsounds Instrument and EP and the Gear That Inspired Them

posted Oct 16, 2009, 8:00 AM by Troy Cheek   [ updated Oct 16, 2009, 8:03 AM ]
Call it the 8-bit preservation society. Chipsounds is now available. It’s a new programmable soft synth, filled with custom oscillators and samples of famous and obscure vintage chips, accompanied by an EP of free chip tracks. Far from a threat to fans of hardware, I think this release is a major achievement for fans of digital sounds.

Oh yeah, and if you’ve been feeling burnt out on chip music in general, firing up some of the sound of some of these more obscure chips could well change your mind. If you like sound, there’s something here for you.

Chip music, championed by a supportive network of artists and fans, has unquestionably made the big time. But for those who value the unique sounds of a variety of vintage 8-bit chips, there is still cause for concern. Even though they’re digital circuits, the unique design of various chips won’t last forever. Some chips are simply disappearing, while others cease to work. At the same time, while the sound of the Nintendo game system has become ubiquitous, lots of other unusual chips don’t get heard. Software emulation and sample packs so far have been pretty shallow. Emulators tend not to model all the nuances of different chips, and samples are really only expressive if they’re presented in the context of something that’s fully programmable and playable.