Chipsounds Plugin Chip Sounds
Posted Oct 14, 21:29 with tags , , , , ,

I am, and my Ninja 9000 project is, a sucker for 8-bit chip sounds.

After this impressive post by Peter Kirn over at CDM, I decided to try out the brand new chipsounds plugin from Plogue. Allegedly, it strives to emulate and reproduce a good number of the most legendary 8-bit sound chips. I took an hour off and investigated. A plugin that bundles multiple chip emulators and honour their original idiosyncrasies? It must be win?

Not quite. At the moment I think Peter's CDM post is slightly more impressive than the software. 

The good

  • Indie developer.
  • I am happy to have access to emulated sounds from multiple chip sources.
  • Right-to-the-point interface, what I needed where I wanted it.
  • Small footprint, installs quickly. Friendly protection scheme.
  • Looking forward to explore the various sound mutation possibilities for each chip.

The bad

  • You cannot automate anything at all (Logic 9), which certainly I hope is a bug.
  • The SID emulation does neither sync nor ringmod. Compared to the faithful QuadraSID, this SID emulation is lackluster.
  • The arpeggiator breaks down and creates horrible noise at synced speeds above 1/32, practically rendering it useless for regular chord arps. Must be a bug, but surprising it still is in a release version, if it is.
  • The synth is built for multitimbral use, which I know this is a matter of taste, but personally I do not see the point of multitimbral plugins in a digital world.   

The ugly

  • The GUI. I am not sure if the Windows 3.11 alternative graphics is ironic-bad or just simply bad.
  • If the SID emulation is so lackluster, how do I know the others (which I don't know) is equally handicapped?


Promising, this could be really cool. Really wanted to love this one. But right now it needs serious bugfixes, proper SID emulation and a GUI overhaul before it becomes a keeper in my book.


#1, by David (plogue) on October 15th 2009, at 16:07

Thanks for the review.

You can automate all useful parameter as CCs, not as "au parameters", since its a multitimbral plugin, params dont make sense. Its a design choice, not a bug. I dont agree that 8 instances of a plugin is more efficient than 1 technically, from my experience.

You are right about ring mod and sync in 1.0. since the SID part is sampled based, i only recorded some usefull ring mod sounds. I will be working on full emu of that in the future, but i dont think any emu would faithfully capture this 100% personally.

I understand that SIDs get the attention and its the most complex chip in the lot. I hope you will find that the rest is 100% synthesis and spot on.

Thanks again for the review

#2, by GMM on October 15th 2009, at 19:04
Thanks David that is reassuring! I look forward to exploring the other chips, I'm glad they are complete.

Automating by CC is fair enough, thou not my preferred method and it misses the "touch a knob to automate" option, but I'm glad there is a way.

Naturally, the multitimbral vs monotimbral issue is a matter of taste and workflow.

Not sure if you're following this, I'll email you if it's not corrected in a bugfix... but the arp is totally broken at speeds above 1/32. (Logic 9 AU)

#3, by David (plogue) on October 15th 2009, at 22:10

Yes please email me for everything that follows. I really like the honesty and the balanced review.

I know the arp, depending on the waveform will retrigger the voice (note on /note off cycle) and depending on the source waveform used, it will sound better when using the wave sequencer instead.

You say it only does so while synched? (bpm for bpm)


#4, by Torley on October 16th 2009, at 18:09
Hey, it's David and Gisele in the same place — David, GMM makes some of the awesomest use of chipsounds I've heard amidst OTHER instruments (e.g., not "pure only chipsounds" but blending different retro sources). The melody lines in "Kosmonaut" and "Makina Fifth" come to mind.

I use Ableton Live and am hoping the pulsewidth mod-style arps sound delicious. The promo video excited me! But, is there going to be a demo version?

"I do not see the point of multitimbral plugins in a digital world." <- Neither do I, because as previously discussed, they're too clunky to setup, freeze tracks, and route. Mixer-inside-a-mixer-type-deals tend to be too inefficient for me.

#5, by Torley on October 17th 2009, at 00:05
Gosh darnit, curse me for spelling "Gisle" wrong AGAIN. I knew something was errormatic!

(I just came back here to link, I'm doing a review too.)

#6, by Random Fella on October 20th 2009, at 18:16
Poor review, imho. The synth might be slightly buggy, actually it works great in Renoise, but many 1.0's are buggy far beyond Chipsounds. As far as the GUI is concerned, I love it, it is so quirky, cool, different. As far as the SID, and the rest of the emulations are concerned, well, I'm not an expert on chip tunes, but the synth sure reminds me of my childhood, playing around on the old atari, comadore, nintendo, and gameboy systems. Chipsounds, sounds, spot on, imho.

As far as, "can't see the point of a multi-timbrel in a digital world." That statement is completely screwed up. This synth is from the developer of bidule, which, I'm not a user of, but I know about, and it is so obvious why a multi-timbrel would come out of that shop. Furthermore, if you use a tracker, like Renoise, then you can see, how multi-timbrel, can actually be beneficial to loading up 10 different instances.

Poor review buddy. Try and open the eyes a little. Peace!