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SidTracker 64 review – A great way to create SID tracks on iPad

SidTracker 64 was released for iPad back in June, and chiptune enthusiasts rejoiced. Emulating the sounds of a classic Commodore 64 SID 8580 R5 chip, these are the sounds of classic video games. Watch this 8-bit version of "True Survivor" created with SidTracker 64, and feel the nostalgia.

Now, I used the word "nostalgia", but don't think that this app is just about "old" sounds. You don't have to be a child of the '70's or '80's to enjoy this app. SidTracker 64 manages to take all the great chiptune sounds, and make it easy to create fresh new tracks. The tracker-style interface may look daunting or confusing to those not comfortable with trackers, but believe me, this app is very user-friendly.

But let's start with some basics. SidTracker 64 offers three voice polyphony, which is seen in the three vertical columns. The timeline works vertically, from top to bottom. The general rule of thumb would be drums/percussion in the left lane, some type of bass sound in the middle column, and your leads or arps in the third. Take a look at some of the excellent preset songs included in the app for an idea on how this interface works.

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There are 8 different waveforms available, and these can be further tweaked in the editor section. These waveforms may very well be exactly what you're looking for, but you can dive deeper to make simple ADSR adjustments, or change the sounds in the wavetable editor.

Note entry for SidTracker 64 can be achieved several ways - either entering notes by step, or recording live using the virtual keyboard (or plugging in your own external MIDI keyboard). Each song can use up to 32 instruments. In the upper-left, you'll find these instruments. These are the classic sounds you'd expect. Beeps, boops, and blips (but in the best possible way).

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Even though you've only got three tracks to work with, you can use several different instruments in each, provided that they've each got their own step in the track. You can get pretty complex if you'd like.

Here's a great YouTube tutorial from one of the developers on how to input notes in real-recording mode:

The most immediate compliment I can give to SidTracker 64 in my short time using it is that it is fun. Right away, you'll be creating patterns, and having a blast. While I have no sentimental background in creating SID tunes on Commodore 64's, I do have a place in my heart for chiptunes from all the video games I played as a kid. The arp sounds here are perfect, the bass drums and the leads are exactly what you'd expect. And once you consider how much control you have over editing these waveforms, the sky is the limit.

I'll admit, this isn't going to be an "every song" app for me. I just don't do that much chiptune music. But when I do, SidTracker 64 will definitely be my go-to app. What sets it apart from the other available chiptune apps (SIDPAD, Square Synth) is the "all-in-one" nature. Being able to record your patterns in-app makes this a great workshop to create tracks beginning to end. Much like KORG Gadget, staying within one app causes me to focus, and not think about which iOS synth to use for my lead sound (trust me, this causes paralysis for me). SidTracker 64 is the kind of app that you could bang out several tracks in one sitting, or spend days carefully crafting each waveform to be just right. It's both simple and deep at the same time.

If you're into chiptunes, this app is a no-brainer. In fact, if you're into chiptunes, you've likely already purchased it. From what I've seen, this is definitely the best chiptune app available. The great news here is that the developers have been very active on iOS internet forums, soliciting feedback, bug reports, and suggestions for enhancements to the app. These guys are committed to this app. Always a good sign. Go take a look at their YouTube channel here, and look at their demo videos. They do a great job showcasing this app (and having some fun to boot).

If you're thinking about buying SidTracker 64, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 955421205]

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