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POKEY vs. SID  

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  1. 1. Which sound do you like better?



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Personally I wonder on which of these chips development began first, and which one was soonest finished:

 

POKEY - Assumed development started in the summer of 1977, finished in 9 months (spring 1978) and demoed in the Atari 400/800 in January 1979. It also strikes me that development of the next generation gaming hardware was initiated before the VCS had been launched to customers, but perhaps constant development is a given.

 

AY-3-891x - Apparently GI had the AY-3-8900 STIC ready by January 1978, but not sure about the 891x sound chip. The Intellivision though is said to have been developed during 1978 and test marketed in late 1979 in California.

 

TMS9919 - It was pre-dated by the short lived SN76477 which only featured one channel of sound that could be either a sine wave, a square wave or noise, although with envelope control. This chip was found in Space Invaders from June 1978, but was soon replaced with the SN76489/TMS9919 with better capacities to match the already popular (?) AY-3-8910. Another time marker is the ALF Music Card MC16 for the Apple ][ that was demonstrated in late 1978 and for sale in early 1979. It is said that the 9919 pretty much is a single chip version of the MC16. Finally the TI-99/4 was demoed in June 1979, so by then the sound chip for sure must've been ready.

 

For further dating, there is a resource on the TMS9918 VDP that is rather vague about dating, but it mentions the hardware sprites were inspired by Atari, which I assume would put development no sooner than September 1977, unless TI engineers got a sneak peak. There is a timing document on the VDP from 1978, which matches the dating for the companion sound chip.

 

Thus, it is a good possibility all three of those sound chips were worked on simultaneously. Perhaps GI actually predated Atari a little on this, which would suggest this order of chips being ready:

 

AY-3-891x

POKEY

TMS9919

(three years later)

SID

It's not surprising to hear the AY chip may have come first.

General Instruments produced a series of pong and other game chips between 1976 and 1978.

http://www.pong-story.com/gi.htm

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FWIW, the AY-3-8910 had the most upgrades over the years.
The AY8930 which I already mentioned extended existing features.
The Yamaha YM2203 had backwards compatibility with the Yamaha version of the 8910, but also added FM sound synthesis.
I think there were some chips aimed at cell phones that still included 8910 compatibility but I'm not going to take the time to look it up. I'm pretty sure they were just derivatives of the YM2203.

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I really like both chips. Yes the SID is better.

 

However, it's pretty amazing that POKEY can hold its own in a match with the SID when you consider that:

 

1) the SID chip was designed long after the POKEY was released.

2) the SID designer was an experienced analog synthesizer programmer.

Agree with this, as a lifelong Atari guy (I had a Atari 400 when they first came out in late '79 / early '80), I love POKEY and fought many a battle with C64 owners. What SID can do is pretty awesome, although considering some of the work by modern Atari folks with POKEY, it can certainly do more than the generic square-wave sounds that is more common on the 8-bit platform.

 

Analmux's stuff comes to mind - that could be put up against any SID tune. POKEY surely isn't as flexible and requires some wringing to get it to cooperate, but it's still a cool bit of tech.

 

Guys like Jay Miner and Doug Neubauer were childhood heroes to me!! Bob Yannes - interesting guy (and I was a huge Ensoniq fan and customer), but I guess I was a little biased in my youth :)

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Since it comes from a site about the Russian Speccy scene, I'll put my money on the AY chip.

I knew someone would cheat

But that proves you couldn't tell just by the way it sounds.

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Actually my first thought was YM on the Atari ST due to the stereo effect, but that is quite the same as the AY. I was tossing between AY or SID but since you posted it in that manner in a SID - POKEY thread, I figured it was some kind of trick question. I tried to scan for non square wave sounds but didn't quite hear any, which further suggested it would not be a SID.

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Pokey: Allrounder ,FXs, Music, 8 joysticks, keyboard,IRQ Intrs, Serial I/O

SID: Synthesizer chip.

 

The issue I have with synthesizer sound quality is that in the 80's it was mainly used in low budget "video cassette" movies!.

So its very difficult not to make the connection between the squeaky melodies of the SID and that industry.

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The SID also has two A/D converters used for paddle and mouse input, so it does a little more than just produce sounds.

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This is a difficult choice... but POKEY to me has the edge, after hearing Rob Hubbard's WarHawk, I knew I had fallen in love with a micro-chip :grin:

 

And as for the Numen demo.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Abi02Tlwk

 

I confess I have a TherapSid (Twisted Electrons) for dual Sid use, but I use Plouge's Chipsounds for POKEY sound, it is absolutely unique.

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This is a difficult choice... but POKEY to me has the edge, after hearing Rob Hubbard's WarHawk, I knew I had fallen in love with a micro-chip :grin:

 

And as for the Numen demo.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2Abi02Tlwk

 

I confess I have a TherapSid (Twisted Electrons) for dual Sid use, but I use Plouge's Chipsounds for POKEY sound, it is absolutely unique.

 

When you say Rob Hubbard's Warhawk. ..

 

 

It's yet another track he simply rearranged for his own use.

 

 

The original is:

 

The Unknown Planet by John Keating.

 

Skip to 1:40 and you can hear for yourself:

 

https://youtu.be/A4Dz40lX7Bc

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When you say Rob Hubbard's Warhawk. ..

 

 

It's yet another track he simply rearranged for his own use.

 

 

The original is:

 

The Unknown Planet by John Keating.

 

Skip to 1:40 and you can hear for yourself:

 

 

Thank you @ Lost Dragon! I never knew that :) I know a lot of chip tunes on the home computers were versions of mainstream music etc, but I honestly thought Warhawk was a Hubbard original... I still love it, but it doesn't feel the same :woozy: God bless your ears sir, and for introducing me to John Keating (bonus!).

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I know the SID is technically more capable, but I've always preferred the POKEY's tones. It reminds me of other 8bit systems like the NES and Gameboy.

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Very few tracks are Hubbard Originals

 

But in the case of I, Ball he was asked to cover 2 Cabaret Voltaire tracks.

 

 

International Karate next up, again not Rob Hubbard's own work:

 

 

 

 

Nor was Zoids:

 

 

 

 

Or Master Of Magic:

 

 

 

 

The I, Ball tracks:

 

 

And:

 

 

 

You can scratch Monty On The Run off as well:

 

 

 

 

Commando loading music by Hubbard:

 

 

And where he copied it from:

 

 

 

Matt Gray fans might recognise this from Last Ninja 2:

 

 

 

Vs:

 

Edited by Lost Dragon
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Another of Rob Hubbard pieces and the origins of..

 

Delta (in game) a mix of:

 

 

And:

 

The C64 tune:

 

Edited by Lost Dragon
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In the 80s I would have said SID, it was more ground-breaking

 

But the FM chips that came after SID followed in its footsteps, and all of them now have this dated, generic "chiptune" sound. IMO

 

I prefer Pokey now because it sounds a little harsher and more distinctive

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The SID "metal" always reminded me the 80's porn music. I thought it was my personal bias...until I found out that I am not the only one with that  impression.lol

 

 

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