Article History

89% mega9man

Utilising Adlib Tracker II


  1. Introduction
  2. Instruments
  3. The effects


This article is about using Adlib Tracker II with ease. This will cover mainly basic stuff. Instruments, Patterns, Shortcuts, Effects, yadda yadda.

Please download the latest build of ATII first.


General Instruments:

The first thing one would do in a tracker is add the instruments. If you are familiar with VRC7, then this should be piss easy, however, if not, then let's explain how it works:

First of all, to bring the instrument list, press CTRL+I. A window with all the instruments (Going up to FF, or 255 for non-hex user) should pop up. It should look like this
, unless you loaded a module first. To edit an instrument, select it using the arrow keys, and press tab. This should bring a window that looks like this
, again, unless you loaded a module first.

To edit the sliders (ADSR and Output level), use the Page Up/Page down keys. You can move your selection cursor around with the arrow keys, and select non-slider things using the spacebar. To make a simple sine wave, just raise the Attack on the carrier to maximum (F).

You should note that there are 2 operators; Carrier and Modulator. Carrier produces the base sound, while the modulator just messes with the base sound by modulating it. If you want simple waves, then avoid the modulator. In ATII, editing the carrier will have cyan text, and editing the modulator will have some greyed out options and teal text.

4OP instruments can be used by hitting Shift+O on an instrument. This will pair two "instruments" together. These can only carry a single FM/AM connection unless you enable at least one 4OP track pair in your song. This can be done by hitting Ctrl+F and selecting at least one pair of tracks to use in 4OP mode. Once this is done, your 4OP instruments will be able to have more complex connection types (FM/FM, FM/AM, etc.)

A chart showing what each thing does

ADSR: I believe this is self explanatory. Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release.

Wave Type: The waveform your carrier/modulator will be. In OPL2, you may only choose the first 4, and in OPL3, you may choose all of those nice waveforms. This is a reference list for the waves, including an image of what they look like

Op. Vol.: Short for Operator Volume. Using this on the carrier will lower/increase the entire instrument's overall volume, while using it on the modulator will only decrease said operator's volume (also known as Modulator Level in Famitracker VRC7).

Panning, Finetune, Feedback, FM/AM: Global instrument settings. Panning is simple. Hard left, Center, Hard right. Finetune is also simple. Feedback is how much does the modulator affect the carrier, and lastly, FM/AM just chooses if the modulator should modulate the carrier, or if it should just produce its own tone.

Key Scaling Level: This defines the volume difference between octaves. Useful for making sounds sound more silent at higher octaves.

Multiplier: This indicates the pitch of the operator. The default is 0, even though the regular pitch is 1.

Operator Effects: Self explanatory. KSR makes the instruments fade out faster, and also more silent if using a specific volume.

Mess around with those until you get the sound you like.
Comparasion between the carrier editor
and the modulator editor
. Notice how the latter has some greyed out options.

Making Adlib drums:
This has been proven a difficult task for some. It's not! It's relatively easy, but you do have to spare an entire pattern for just the kick (or use macros), and an entire pattern for hats/snare drums/etc.
Kick: The kick instrument is just a simple sine wave with some modulator at the very beginning, fading out very fast. Here's the kick instrument I usually use
. You could also just use one of the preset kicks that ATII came with.

Snare: This is more complicated. You have to use the modulator to generate "noise", having it quickly fade in from a normal carrier sine wave to give it some punch. Here's how to make one if you just want to copy it.
. Alternatively, use a preset instrument.

Hats: This works like the snare, except it quickly fades out, and doesn't have a fade-in part.

Toms: : This works similar to the kick, but the fadeout is faster, and the downpitch isn't as aggresive.

I should mention there is a drum mode for adlib, which spares 3 FM channels for 5 drum channels. If you don't want to spend time making adlib drums, then use this.

Transcribing instruments from FamiTracker VRC7:
As I said, if you're familiar with said chip, this will be piss easy. And there's a reason why.
VRC7 is a derivate of the YM2413 (OPLL) , which itself is a stripped down YM3812 (OPL2). Here's a chart on how to port those VRC7 instruments.

The effects

They're similar to FastTracker 2's XM format, tweaked for YM3812's capabilities. Here's a list of said effects, and what they do:
0xy - Arpeggio
1xx - Freq. Slide up
2xx - Freq. Slide down
3xx - Tone Portamento
4xy - Vibrato
5xy - 3xx + Vol Slide
6xy - 4xy + Vol Slide
7xx & 8xx - Fine Freq. Slide up/down, respectively
9xx - Set modulator volume (Goes up to 3F, dec. 63)
Axy - Vol. Slide
Bxx - Position Jump
Cxx - Set Volume (Goes up to 3F, dec. 63)
Dxx - Pattern Break
Exx - Set Tempo
Fxx - Set Speed
Gxy - 3xx + Fine Vol. Slide
Hxy - 4xy + Fine Vol. Slide
Ixx - Set carrier vol.
Jxx - Set waveform
Kxy - Fine vol. slide
Lxx - Retrig. Note
Mxy - Tremolo
Nxy - Tremor
Oxy - 0xy + Vol. Slide
Pxy - 0xy + Fine Vol. Slide
Qxy - Multi Retrig. Note (Consult AT2's help for more information on this)

Other useful commands:
&2x - note delay by x interval
&3x - note cut after x interval
ZBx - set panning (0=center, 1=left, 2=right)
%xx - set global volume (up to %3f)

The rest of the commands are combinations of 2 commands, if you'd like to use those, then consult the manual here
or press F1 inside the tracker. The F1 screen is context-based, so it will show help information relevant to your currently active section.