MidiBox SammichSID

MIDIBox SammichSID
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The Commodore 64 is one of the best-known and best-loved computers of the 80s. It was the best selling PC of its era, and many fondly remember playing games on the unit. Adding to the computer's fame was the SID chip: an extremely powerful sound chip for its time, well beyond anything its competitors were producing. The SID chip is responsible for some of the most recognizable chip music ever produced.

 

 

Other synthesizers have harnessed the power of the SID chip (see the Elektron SIDstation), but none so completely as the MidiBox SID project. MidiBox is an open-source, modular approach to MIDI and synthesis, and the SID project is an engine designed to provide powerful access to the sound enervation capabilities of the SID.

The sammichSID is a specific offshoot of the MidiBox SID, designed from the ground up to be distributed as a complete kit, simple enough for a beginner to build. It runs on two SID chips (as opposed to the single sound chip of the Commodore 64 computer), allowing for stereo operation. Instead of the half dozen or so PCBs one would need for a modular MidiBox SID, the sammichSID is two PCBs that fit together inside a custom case.

Onto the synthesis: each chip has three independent voices and one analog filter. The Midibox software allows for very powerful access to all six voices: it can be set up as a monster monosynth, a six voice polyphonic synth, or any number of synced or ring-modulated combinations of oscillators. There is an extremely powerful modulation matrix, arpeggiator, TB-303-like bassline sequencer and drum sequencer.

The kits are no longer available, but completed specimens are often up for sale on the secondhand market. At about a third (or less) of the price of a SIDstation and many times more powerful, this is one of the definitive SID synths.

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Demos & Media

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Specifications

Polyphony - Two SID chips, three oscillators each
Oscillators - Six total oscillators, three per chip/filter
Multitimbral - Two-voice multitimbral
Filter - 1 12dB/oct filter per chip
Memory - 4 banks of 128 patches, plus 128 "ensembles"
Control - MIDI In/out
Sequencer - Wavetable sequencer, bassline sequencer, drum sequencer
Arpeggiator - Six independent arpeggiators
LFO - Six LFOs, modulation matrix
VCA - 2 DADDSRR envelopes sources with optional non-linear curve for Attack/Decay/Release
Waveforms - Sawtooth, triangle, pulse, quasi-random noise. Waveforms mixable

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Images from Perfect Circuit Audio

Reviewed by JT Foster, October 2013.