Category: Music

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 https://github.com/mmontag/dx7-synth-js. 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 […]

Watermark Listening Test Results

Over the holidays, I looked at the data from the watermark listening test. My hypothesis was that the watermark added by Universal Music Group is at least as audible as 128 kbps MP3 compression artifacts. The test results support the hypothesis for certain types of music. The most important takeaway is that the UMG watermark is an enormous […]

Enable Mac Volume Control for HDMI and DisplayPort Audio Devices

When you hook up an HDMI TV or DisplayPort monitor with built-in audio device, you might discover that you can't change the volume with the Mac software mixer any more. Volume buttons on your keyboard won't work. You're expected to use the TV remote or volume control on the device. Here's a trick to get […]