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Soundmonitor - C64 - Loaded.png
Creator Chris Hülsbeck
Released 1986-09-19
Platform Commodore 64
For the official release and example songs, see Soundmonitor (C64).

Soundmonitor was probably the most popular Commodore 64 music editor in Europe of the late 1980s. It was programmed by Chris Hülsbeck to compose disco music and score games. He sold it to the German 64'er magazine, where it was awarded Listing of the Month. Despite its limited release, Soundmonitor spread all over Europe within months.

All bars are entered separately, and then linked to each other in a track/step table: In every row (step), a tempo, length (in thirty-seconds), volume, fade-out speed and 3 bars (one per SID voice) can be chosen; in each cell (voice in a step), a transpose and instrument set; and on every single note, a different instrument and whether to disable transpose and enable portamento and arpeggio. It requires basic knowledge of the hexadecimal system, but is also precise. Bars can also be recorded on the C64 keyboard and quantized. Soundmonitor is considered the forerunner of trackers; in fact, the creator of the MOD format, Karsten Obarski, confirmed having used it. Hülsbeck considered suing him, but didn't due to his young age.

Soundmonitor supported almost all known effects at the time: transpose, detune, portamento, vibrato, pulse width modulation, filter modulation, and was probably the first editor to support arpeggios. Several demo groups added samples, most famously Rockmonitor from April 1987 (to Hülsbeck's chagrin at the time). However, the sound quickly grew old, since many arrangers used the same instruments, and waveform changes were very limited: most drums were just a triangle wave sliding down.

Song files were huge, and the driver was slow (but double as fast as Electrosound 64) and unrelocatable, leading several programmers to modify the driver and compress the data. Eventually, composers learned programming their own drivers, and smaller, faster and better-sounding editors were released.


The following composers used Soundmonitor in at least one game:

The following composers used Soundmonitor before scoring games:

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