Sidstation is a three-oscillator desktop synthesizer based on the well-known 8-bit SID chip. Back in those days, SID (Sound Interface Device) produced all the great music and sounds of the Commodore 64, one of the earliest serial home computers and gaming systems of the 1980s. Commodore possessed a desirable, raw and aggressive sound and was distinguished by wide modulation capabilities for its time. Twenty years later Sidstation tried to continue what the C64 stopped. With the original (and rather rare) 6581 R4AR chip in its core, Sidstation has all the capabilities of a modern synthesizer, including 3 multi-wave oscillators, an analog resonant filter and four LFOs. But, despite these additions, his heart and soul remain in the dusty and nostalgic past of the 1980s.
Like the Commodore, the SID is known as noisy – in fact, its oscillators never stop working, even when the signal is not supplied to it! This inherent instability and unpredictable nature is where the entire character and sound of SID is displayed. From pitch to envelope settings, each selected note has a slightly different characteristic than its neighboring, making each key pressed dynamic and unique.
The result is not just an ordinary 8-bit machine, but a full-featured synthesizer that can generate all C64 waveforms and optionally generate them using LFO and multimode analog filters. This gives us something much more musical than what you imagine and maybe only with 8 bit wild effects, fun bass players, drunken pads, etc.
To keep the complex 8-bit integrity of the synthesizer, we left the path of the signal untouched. Alternating API 512C and NonLinearAudio Flexiguy mic pre, we included easy EQ and compression (courtesy of SSL and Tube-Tech), ending with a hint of saturation to achieve additional harmonics when needed. To add some stereo width and random (but inconspicuous) tone delay or flicker, we used the classic H3000. Both Sidstation and 3000 digital converters are known for their granular, almost “analog” sound, and as a result they perfectly complement each other.
It is doubtful that Sidstation is approaching the surprising sound of SID in its native setting in the real Commodore 64, but that does not mean that it can not produce surprisingly unusual, eccentric and musical tones, staffed in a convenient, modern synthesis.
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