Article History

78% b00daw



  1. Atari 2600
  2. TIA
  3. Sequencers
  4. Conversion Utilities
Atari made some home consoles and home computers. They made them cheaply and hated music, say those who want their machine to produce audio. They loved music say those who wanted an affordable MIDI-capable computer :)

Atari 2600

The Atari 2600 (aka Atari VCS) has an audio chip called the TIA (Television Interface Adapter.)


In terms of sound, it has two oscillators (or channels.) Each channel has the ability to control its volume via hardware. Characteristically, the TIA does not have a full scale or range of notes per "instrument". However, it is possible to achieve and almost full range of notes per octave by changing the different instruments or voices and/or modulating between frequencies rapidly.

The TIA is not known for being a versatile chip. It lacks much but does make up for it by its quirks and character. TIA has immensely strong bass pulse and a full range of noise; making it the best of all 8-bit chips for percussion.


Paul Slocum's Sequencer Kit
-- With this kit, you can use "assemblese" to create very controlled and powerful TIA music. It is suggested that you have a knowledge of binary and hexadecimal. Currently, this is the most accurate way to create TIA music. It outputs executable binaries for the Atari 2600 (VCS) and emulators.

Currently, some drawbacks of Paul Slocum's Sequencer Kit are:

* Volume can be only be controlled by making an entire instrument louder or softer or on a per tick emphasis basis for the instrument -- meaning one instrument tick would be louder or softer than the other, marginably. In summary, you have control over volume, but not smooth control. (My guess is that controlling an entire channel's volume per tick would be resource consuming; making Slocum not consider it over his pretty visuals.)

Conversion Utilities

SID2TIA v1.62
-- With this utility, you will be able to create Atari 2600 (VCS) binaries for TIA music. It converts SID to TIA via a parsing application designed to mix or exclude channels of your choice. This application is not as accurate as Paul Slocum's kit, but it's marginably easier to use. *It is frowned upon and merits disqualification in BotB if you use SIDs not of your own to create TIA music.* As for music creation, it's better that the SIDs do not have filters, the tracks are clearly defined, and no fast arpeggios are used.


* Very inaccurate and picky!
* For some reason it seems to loop back to start after the 4 1/2 to 5th frame in v1.62 << Major bug!
* Volume and instruments can only be assigned and controlled per channel universally by editing the tsm2.s file.

Note: SID2TIA has been tested to work under WINE in Linux also when MFC42.dll is supplied.