Thursday, March 18, 2010

On The Musical Capabilities of the SEGA Master System and SEGA Mega Drive / Genesis

This is a follow up post to the SEGA Music Competition.

In regards to the limitations of the SMS or SMD / GEN:


- 3 pulse channels
- 1 noise channel
- more information here: … asheet.pdf
- possibilities for use:
- sample pack here: … ample.html

- 9 pitched FM channels
- 2 operators per channel
- drum mode: 6 pitched channels plus 5 drum sounds
- 15 presets
- 1 custom instrument
- more information here: … tionManual
- sample pack here: … mples.html


- 6 FM channels
- 4 operators per channel
- DAC mode for channel 6
- LFO for tremolo and vibrato
- More information here:
- Sample pack here: … -pack.html

SN76489 (as above).

Possibilities for using the above two consoles in terms of making music:

SN76489 Samples: … ample.html

YM2413 Samples: … mples.html

YM2612 Samples: … -pack.html


TFRC said...

I started designing some voices this weekend for the competition. I'm wondering about sample playback. How did that work on the Genesis?

What's an appropriate length/rate/bit-depth for sample playback and how many voices does it take on the 76489? (I'm assuming that's the chip that was used for pcm)

Sebastian Tomczak said...

@ TFRC: In terms of the Genesis, sample playback is via the YM2612. It is eight bits mono, and the sample rate is up to 44KHz although realistically, I suppose many games used much lower sample rates to save space and computational power, so I guess anything from 11K to 22K should do it.

TFRC said...

Thanks Sebastian,

BTW, I made a gigasampler file of your megadrive samples, it's available here:

Sebastian Tomczak said...

@ TFRC: Thanks so much for that :)

Maxim said...

Most Mega Drive (Genesis) samples seem to be at 16000Hz, although sometimes played at different rates.

If you un-gzip a prepared VGM/VGZ file then you can load it into your favourite wave editor as raw 8-bit PCM and the samples will be neatly segregated near the front of the file (trim off the non-samples around them; raw emulator dumps need to be run through "optvgm" to do the segregation.) Ripped samples might be an interesting base for capturing "the Mega Drive sound".