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  Jahtari studio sale: Commodore C64 synth with 2 SID chips



Over the last year we got heavily into building our own hardware gear, which is a lot of fun and also
opens up a whole new world of possibilities for making dub music away from the computer. There
are lots of great DIY projects around in the net, but probably the coolest is the SID Synthesizer
designed by Thorsten Klose.

The SID was the sound chip in the Commodore C64 home computers in the 1980s, responsible for
thousands of classic game soundtracks and simply is THE sound of 8bit music. It's an amazing and
surprisingly versatile synthsizer all in itself, but the problem was always to give it some hands-on
controls, so it can be used like any other hardware synth out there. Thorsten Klose finally came up
with a genius solution some years back - the MIDIbox platform. A whole bunch of different music
gear can be built from the same parts, like the OPL3-FM Synth (with the Monkey Island sound) or
a 808 clone, but the SID remains the masterpiece.

It's a monophonic machine with three oscillators and lots of waveforms to mix and choose from. In
the Multi mode you can also play polyphonic sounds, like chords and pads. Gimmicks range from a
great arpeggiator, special Drum and Bassline modes, wavtables and other jaw-dropping features,
all explained over HERE. Soundwise it can be very 8bit, of course, but it's also capable of doing a lot
more things you'd never expect, like a subbass, great pads and wicked effects. Of course, it's also
equally useful to make techno, breakcore, hiphop or any other music. Plus it rocks playing it live.

The best thing about it is the brilliant handling. Everything can be done via a simple and straight
menu interface, but there's a knob or button for direct control for most parameters on the control
surface. Absolute highlight is the modulation matrix: there you can assign modulation sources and
targets within a second (like LFO1 -> Osc 1 Pitch for a Dub siren effect). A very powerful tool and the
heart of sound design, this usually is a pain in the ar**e with other machines, but here it's just plain
fun. Not to mention all those SciFi-movie-looking LEDs . Check the video below to see (and hear) more.



Now after we've finished building one SID synth we've just completed another, bigger one for the Jahtari
studio, with four SID's inside. This means that the machine from the pics and video is basically left over
and up for sale. Unless you build your own they're usually ultra-rare to get, since once you've built one
you definitely want to keep it. So there's only this one machine available! Apart from all things listed HERE
this baby comes with the following extras:

  • has two SID 8580 inside (= the newer chips with better filters and improved sound). This means
    it's actually TWO independent synths in one, that can be used at the same time, each operating
    on their own MIDI-channel and with their own audio output. You can easily switch between them.
  • built into a original Commodore C64 "breadboard" case, it comes with a special deluxe Jahtari
    frontplate, high quality metal knobs for an excellent feel and cool 80s style buttons.
  • a lot of presets created by disrupt are still stored inside, instantly ready to use for some Jahtari-
    style jamming. The rest are the quite useful sounds that already came along with the project.
    There's storage space for 2 x 128 presets (Bank A and B) plus a special memory for storing
    combinations of those sounds, called "Ensembles".
  • power supply works from 100-240 V = worldwide. Outside Europe (or UK) you just need a
    standard adapter for the power plug.
  • connections on the back: Audio Out SID1, Audio Out SID2, MIDI In & Out for loading or storing
    your presets. Core DC In, SID DC In, power supplies included.
  • comes with a printed manual
1 available!



If you have any questions just get in touch with disrupt <at>!

And here's a little video: the machine playing a cool riddim that's originally by Tapes. Apart from a few
speech samples only sounds from the SID synth were being used.





  • - Thorsten Klose's MIDIbox hompage. Highly recommended if you want to build
    your own SID synth or other excellent machines!
  • SmashTV shop: for buying the Midibox parts in USA. Great beginner-friendly PCBs.
  • Mike's Elektronik Shop: the same for buying in Germany, but different PCBs.

Other nice projects to check out:

  • MIDIBOX FM synth: uses the early 90s Sounblaster chips (OPL3). Very unique machine, with the
    FM sound of early 90s games like Monkey Island. Or like a Yamaha DX-7.
  • Shruti: great small monophonic synth with optional analogue filters, that can be built in one day.
  • Highly Liquid: very good Retrofit MIDI kits, so you can play old Casio (and other) synths via the
    computer, a AKAI MPC etc.

Recommended literature, if you want to get started building gear yourself:

--- disrupt

(FEB 2012)