June 17, 2007

Xtreme DIY ftw...

by Chris Randall

Sometimes you see a DIY project and you're just like "are you fucking kidding me? This is one such, for sure. This dude's MIDIbox SID is a DIY synth the way that an Aston Martin Vanquish is a car. I mean, like, fuck. Eight (as in "the number after seven") 6582 SID chips for four stereo (as in "mono times two") channels of audio, a nice FPE panel, and the same number of LEDs as any random sign in Times Square.

The posting on the MIDIbox site is here, wherein you will find many more pictures, and some construction details from the maker, one Wilba. There is more technical info than you could possibly need (unless you were building one) here, and god bless if you've got something like this in the oven. For those of idle curiosity, Wilba says he spent just shy of US$700 making this unit. I've spent much more money on way shittier pieces of hardware (hello, Soundcraft, I'm talking about you!) but even so, this one is over my head. All that said, kind of a shame that it probably sounds like eight SID chips.




Jun.17.2007 @ 9:43 AM
Impressive, must have taken quite a long time to make.

I'm a bit disappointed there are no sound clips. I'd take good sounds over all the blinking lights in the world any day. Surely something a bit more interesting than a surround sound version of the Turrican theme could be done with eight SID chips, and I hope to hear it.


Jun.17.2007 @ 10:45 AM
The most impressive thing is getting 8 SID chips. They don't make those things anymore... is the guy scavanging old C64s or something?

Jun.17.2007 @ 1:27 PM
i think scavenging C64's is the only way to get sid chips these days.

that is one hell of a DIY project. what's this guy's day job?

w/a good filter/EQ you can make the sid sound not very sid like and get some pretty interesting sounds out of it. you really gotta love that sound to put 8 of them in one synth though.


Jun.17.2007 @ 3:32 PM
Personally I love the sound of the sid chip. Given some decent filtering you can get some great sounds out of them. I use that quadraSid Vst and with some effects plonked after it in the device chain, I have gotten some nice results.

I'm very impressed that this guy made it by him self. He must be an electrical engineer by day.



Jun.18.2007 @ 3:57 AM
Well, Impressive...
If only there was some audio sample...

Jun.20.2007 @ 11:53 AM
I am a software engineer by day :-)
I am actually a self-taught electronics hack.

Samples of the MIDIbox SID can be heard here:

link [www.ucapps.de]">link [www.ucapps.de]
link [www.ucapps.de]">link [www.ucapps.de]

I thought it redundant to record my own, and still working on a demo track.

I got the 6582 SIDs as new-old stock from a warehouse in Texas, and have sold many to other SID fans across the world.

... AND yes, it does sound like 8 SID chips, but if you've ever played with a MIDIbox SID with just one SID, then you would not think it crazy to want four stereo SID channels in the one box.


Jun.20.2007 @ 12:56 PM
"... AND yes, it does sound like 8 SID chips, but if you've ever played with a MIDIbox SID with just one SID, then you would not think it crazy to want four stereo SID channels in the one box."

I'm confused by this part, are you saying one SID chip on its own sounds crappy?


Jun.20.2007 @ 2:38 PM
Chris Randall
No, he wasn't. I was. I was an early adopter of the SIDstation (serial #0032, if I recall correctly) and find the sound of the SID tedious. That was my point, and I was just being a bit flip about it. That in no way detracts from the stellar quality of this project, one of the single nicest DIY synths I've ever seen.



Jun.20.2007 @ 3:45 PM
I know that was your point but this bit "then you would not think it crazy to want four stereo SID channels in the one box" reads to me like 1 SID=weak, 8 SID=something approaching a full/useful sound.

I suppose it's just me and my tired eyes though. I'm sure it was meant to suggest that 1 SID=good 8 SID=good*8.

And yes, stellar work on the box.


Jun.21.2007 @ 1:05 PM
Yeah, I meant that the MIDIbox SID (v1 or v2) with one SID is awesome, it's still a SID synth, but the synth engine has more features than SIDstation... having 8 SIDs just means I can have four stereo channels, i.e. a 303 bassline + a lead + a pad + a filter sweep FX sound, all with stereo phasing effects, etc. and not bother with overdubbing :-)

BTW, I forgot to say before, thanks for the compliments!




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