SID - Recording Guide

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Normally, on most platforms, you can just load a game or rip on any computer, emulator or player, and start recording. Unfortunately, when Commodore were producing the Commodore 64 computer and SID sound chip, they had many shortcomings which affect composers and gamers to this day.

This guide will show you how to get the best out despite those shortcomings and convert Commodore 64 music into the VGMPF standard format OGG so you can upload it.

PAL or NTSC

This actually concerns several other platforms from the 1980s, including Amiga and NES. In a nutshell: If the game was made for the European and/or Australian markets, you should select PAL in your favorite emulator or SID player. If it was made for America, it should be NTSC. Selecting the wrong one will cause music to be in the wrong tempo and pitch and sometimes lose notes.

Fortunately, many SID files already contain this information, and many SID players select the correct one automatically, so you should need this section only for SID files which don't, or if you record from the game.

6581 or 8580

The SID sound chip came in two models with different features.

Again, many SID files fortunately already contain this information, and many SID players select the correct one automatically.

Filter

For 8580 songs, you can skip this section.

On 6581, filters are the biggest problem, and to this day, emulation is not completed and therefore, this information is not in SID files. This section should explain how to find it yourself.

Understanding the problem

Here are recordings of High Score - Wizball (C64) from three different real C64s (labelled R2, R3 and R4) by Stone Oakvalley's Authentic SID Collection (SOASC=):

Do you hear the bass go deeper and deeper with every C64? Now this may still be matter of taste and no big deal, but listen to Insects In Space by the same composer and skip to the melody at 1:06:

Do you hear how in the first recording, the melody has a wah-wah sound, and in the second, it has almost not? Martin Galway must have put some effort in the wah-wah and wanted it to be heard. It could also mean that Stone Oakvalley's R4 is closest to Galway's computer.

But sometimes, even the melody itself can almost vanish or stick out unattractively:

Or be unbearable, like one of the following at 0:20, 0:44 and 1:15:

Finding filter usage

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