Article History

54% kleeder



  1. Atari 2600
  2. Atari 5200
  3. Atari ST
  4. Sequencers
  5. Conversion Utilities
  6. See also
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 :)

Especially earlier Atari soundchips were not really meant to make music but sfx only. The TIA-chip for example only has a very limited set of sounds it can produce, the note ranges are limited and everything sounds very detuned.
BotB folks managed to make great music with it nonetheless though!

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.

Atari 5200

The successor of the Atari 2600, which has the so called POKEY soundchip. It's featured in the BotB formats sap and sapx2.

Atari ST

The Atari ST is a home computer that was announced at Winter CES in January 1985 and subsequently released by Atari Corporation in June 1985. Development machines were distributed around May 1985 and it was available commercially from that summer into the early 1990s. The "ST" officially stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which referred to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals. Due to its graphical user interface, it was jokingly referred to as the "Jackintosh", a reference to Jack Tramiel.


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.

See also

- tia (format)
- sap (format)
- sapx2 (format)
- aym (format)
- Atari ST (console)
- AY YM (soundchip)
- amy (soundchip)