Category: Music


I stumbled on a familiar sounding Nintendo song file from Famicompo 10, 016_UZPIPS.nsfe. It uses the Namco N163 expansion to emulate the FM piano sound. It turns out this is a cover of BIGCITY.MID, one of these early demo General MIDI files meant to showcase the technology. Check it out on 016_UZPIPS.nsfeby Xyz16th entry […]

Unlocking the Yamaha DSR-2000

I've been trying to reverse engineer the system exclusive voice dump format of the DSR-2000 keyboard. It is powered by the 4-operator Yamaha YM2414 OPZ chip, similar to the DX11, TX81Z, and a few others. The DSR-2000 is probably the most powerful FM keyboard Yamaha produced with the Portasound label (i.e., marketed to non-musicians), and […]

Fixing messed up VGM tracks from Shining Force

This is Elven Town, from Shining Force II for the Sega Genesis. Here's the beginning of the original track: It sounds kind of janky. Computer, isolate the bass line and slow it down to 65%. Yea, definitely some problem with that high note. The Sega Genesis sound chip (YM2612) has 6 FM channels; these bass […]

MEGAfm Teardown

Here is a look inside the Twisted Electrons MEGAfm. It is a nicely constructed boutique synth built around Sega Genesis sound chips. An upper PCB containing LEDs and audio/MIDI jacks has been removed in these photos. The dual YM2612 chips are clearly visible. The microcontroller is visible in the bottom right. The other ICs on […]

Chip Player JS

Chip Player JS began in August 2018. Ten years ago, I stopped using Windows and switched to Mac. But I held on to a Windows XP virtual machine – for the sole purpose of playing ancient music formats in Winamp. Even while I was working at Spotify, Winamp was running in the background. Chip Player JS […]

An Update on UMG Watermarks

April 2020 Update: Most UMG tracks are now watermark-free on Spotify.  Today, years after first complaining about Spotify sound quality issues, I'm happy to report this problem is fading out. It appears that watermarks are gradually disappearing from the Universal catalog. The following tracks have undergone a marked improvement, first noticed in mid-June 2019: Living […]

A Phase-Aligned Oscilloscope for Web Audio

A music synthesizer should produce nice periodic waveforms when a note is played. We should be able to see that regularity when we visualize the sound pressure with an oscilloscope, here demonstrated with the Yamaha DX7 emulator: The Problem We can see the regularity, but hold on. The waveform is jumping around, flickering left and right. It doesn't […]

Yamaha DX7 and MIDI in JavaScript

Check the demo or find the source at This Yamaha DX7 emulator is my attempt to do something cool with the Web Audio APIs. The synth responds to MIDI input (make sure your device is hooked up before you start your browser) including pitch bend, mod wheel, and aftertouch.  I've added the ability to pan the operators for […]