Plogue Chipsounds Gameboy DMG Wave Channel Tutorial

gbA while ago I had some requests for how to use the DMG wave table in Plogue Chipsounds. I just finally got around to putting it together. Although its hard to get the exact same sounds you can get in LsDj when it comes to using the wave channel, you can get a pretty good approximation.

Many of the cool sounds you get out of LsDj come from the start and end point and speed settings for filtering. These help you get those “blarg” (that’s what I call them) sounds and some of the really noisy, buzzy Gameboy sounds that have come to define its sound.

Chipsounds doesn’t have the start/end/speed setup like LsDj but you can get the same effect using the wave sequencer. Here’s a few settings to get you started. If you haven’t learned the wave table in Chipsounds, read this first.

Select the DMG-CPU preset and the Wave channel of course. Pick a Wave Channel preset to start with. We will customize it later.

Set PMode to one fo the following options:

  • PWM – A more subtle pulse modulation effect.
  • PWM+Copy – This causes the distorted “blarg” sound and is the most in-your-face modulation.
  • Modulo – More subtle, almost gives you an Atari SID sound.
  • Seek – Turns the modulation into an arpeggio-like effect.
  • Trunc – Another subtle effect.

blarg

The next step is to build a Wave sequencer table that turns the PWM ratio up or down. This is CC2, as you can see in the photo, you can increase it in small steps with a very fast speed to get some smooth sounds.

Youc an also use CC29 to change the Pmode mid-table as well as VPOS (CC28) to further change the effect.

The wave channel setup greatly effects the sound. The more you squish down your wave, the more you will hear the effects. Here are some examples:

 

 

The “Blarg” Mouth Sound

A very flat wave shape. Wave table increases the PWM Ration by 5 in 1/96th increments.

blarg

Jagged Lead – Often hear in Chipocrite and Bit Shifter’s stuff.

Wave Shape is rather jagged and odd. PWM Ratio moves up and down mostly in 1/48th increments. You can turn on looping for a real fun sound with this one.

bitshifter

Trashy Bass – this is a very distorted and fun one.

CC28 VPos starts at 1 and PWM Ratio climbs, VPOS jumps to 127 after a few increments increasing the distorted sound and giving it a slower attack feeling.

trash

Squirt – A real subtle one I like.

Same as Trashy but using modulo instead of PWM+Copy for the PMode. A bouncy fun Atari-like sound.

squirt

Hope that helps. Just experiment from here and you can get some really epic sounds out of this module.

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Plogue Chipsounds Wave Table Explained

Plogue Chipsounds works great with its presets. But that wave table can really throw you off if you’re new to the tool. This should will help you learn how to use it to create classic sounds and also show you some great examples along the way.

Wave Sequencer Settings

fade-inSync – This determines if the steps that happen in your wave table are in time with your MIDI tempo or the tempo specified in the BPM.

BPM – Set’s the internal BPM of the controller. It can be overridden by clicking Sync.

Vel – Check this if you want the notes playing to respond to the velocity (how hard you hit it) of your keyboard or midi notes. If you uncheck this, notes play at full volume. Usually you want to uncheck this for realistic NES sounds.

Loop start – Once the entire wave table plays through, this tells it where to start looping (if at all).

Rel Start – If you don’t want to start at the first command the first time through, put the step value in here that you wish to start on.

We will cover Sequence settings in a future tutorial.

The Table

Let’s start by looking at what each feature is for and the options under each one.

T – The T column is for tempo. This controls the length of each sequence of commands and notes that you play. For example, if you make two wave table items with T = ¼, when you play the note, the commands will execute starting from when the midi event (or keyboard hit) is detected and then the second command will kick of ¼ of a note later. Check the Sync checkbox to have it get it’s tempo from the MIDI environment (aka your song’s tempo). You can also put T=0 which means you want to change something about the upcoming note but not actually have it count time for this command. We’ll see how this works in the examples later on.

Type – The type column explains what each step will actually do. They are defined of the following:

Null – Nothing happens, use this to leave a gap or a delay of a certain time before the next command executes.
CC – Control Channel – You use this to change things like the vibrato, expression (volume level), filter cutoff ect.
NoteOn / NoteOff – These do what you’d think, they tell the note to play or not to play. You can use this to make gaps, echoes and arpeggios.
Pitch – This will take the note up or down the amount you specify in the Evt1 column. It is used for making arpeggios.
KS – Keyswitch controls which of the channels of the default chip you are using, you use this to change from pulse1 to pulse2 to triangle, to noise. This can create some interesting effects that would be hard to do in a real tracker but not impossible for the chip to play.
Evt1 Column – The settings here depend on the type you’ve selected. For CC it’s the selection of the note property you wish to change. It will give you a drop-down of valid choices based on your type. For pitch, it is the amount of up or down steps you wish to go.

Evt2 Column – This column is usually the value of the change For example, if you select Type CC and Evt1 = 1 (which is Pitch LFO Depth aka Vibrato) Evt2 tells the system how much vibrato you want to be added to the note at this point.

Some examples will explain it best. We will explain what happens at each step in the process.

Echo

echo
0 – The note plays for 1/64 of a whole note.
1 – The note is turned off for 1/48th of a whole note.
2 – The note is turned back on but at a lower volume (evt2=61)
3 – The note it turned off again.
4 – The note is turned on again at a much lower volume (evt2=20)

The 64th and 48th notes give it the offbeat echo effect that we commonly hear in music.

Looping Staccato Arpeggio

arp-loop0 – The note is turned on and plays for 1/64th.
1 – The note is muted for 1/64th.
2 – The pitch is stepped up 5 half-steps. Since T=0, this is done before the next note plays.
3 – The next 5 half-step higher note plays for 1/64th.
4 – The note is turned off for 1/64th.
5 – The pitch is changed to +12, since T=0 it’s done before the next note plays (no time passes)
6 – The note is played an octave above the original for 1/64th.
7 – the note is muted again.

Loop start = 2 – the sequence goes back to step 2 until the user lets go of the keyboard or the MIDI note ends.

Increasing Vibrato

vibrato-fade0 – The volume (CC=11) is set to 127 (evt2=127)
1 – The vibrato (CC=1) is set to 0. No time has passed, nor has a note played.
2 – The note begins to play for ¼, each time a key is pressed, steps 0 and 1 execute with no time pass before this step.
3,4,5 – After 1/8 the vibrato (CC=11) is increased slightly.
6 – The volume (CC=11) is decreased slightly.
7 – The vibrato reaches its maximum of 8 here.

Make sense? It’s really about setting up a series of steps that happen in a finite space of time. Do it right and you can really get some sweet sounds of out this unit.

Cheerful Ghost and Wick Release Starship Rubicon with Beatscribe OST

starship_rubiconOSTEver wish Asteroids had more comprehensive and immersive gameplay qualities? If you have, than look no further than Starship Rubicon. Cheerful Ghost and Wick have released the massive expansion to the original Rubicon today for a steal price of just $10. A Linux version is coming soon. Imagine playing Asteroids in a large environment where there are other ships to interact with, mission objectives and a customizable ship a la FTL.

The soundtrack for Starship Rubicon is a complete remake of the original three tracks I did almost two years ago for the original Rubicon. It’s now been expanded to a full soundtrack including some bonus remix tracks from the chiptune scene, Inverse Phase and sleepytimejesse. Some of the tracks here I composed over 10 years ago and was saving for the perfect game. Rubicon has proven to be worth of the music. It’s not the simplest game ever, but the slight learning curve is worth the in-depth and exciting gameplay. Grab the soundtrack on bandcamp today!