Retro Music Software


Retro & Remastered Music Guru
Jan 17, 2013
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So, you want to make retro music but think it's too difficult? Maybe like the old tools I used to post, you didn't like having to learn a new way of making music with them? Have no fear! I come bearing great news! Today's scene of music creation for retro chiptunes is ripe with much better offerings than were available before. Let's dive right in!

Super Audio Cart
Paid Software

Here we have a sound library that offers you sounds from the era of the Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Sega Master System, NES, Famicom (japanese NES), Gameboy, Sega Genesis and even the Super Nintendo. While it may not be "bit accurate" for any of the systems shown, as in not having that classic sound of the softer tones or harsher blips and things due to being piped through modern software, but it gets the job done. You can also mix sounds to get something new and modern, in case you want something like that. It is paid, so prepare to let your wallet take a hit, but it comes packed with so many goodies. If you want something free, just for chip sounds, however, get the free version called Super Audio Boy. You can make NES/GB music with it as well. Be warned, however, that you'll need a full version of Kontakt to use the free version. The paid for version can be used in the free Kontakt Player.

Nintendo VST

A simply VST for creating NES chip tunes. While it comes with premade waves and even a couple samples for the DAC (DPCM) that was used in so many different games like Super Mario Bros. 3, many Sunsoft games and more, you can add your own and they will be converted to the proper format for use in your music. You can create new waveforms and combine them for some lush sounding pads and synths. Experiment to see what you can make or just keep it simple and make some killer chip tunes!

Paid Software

chipsounds from Plogue is a great addition to your retro music making collection. While I have not personally obtained a copy of it, I know how well Plogue does with accuracy, so I would recommend this if you want harsh, sharp chip sounds for your purely chip pieces.

chipsynth PortaFM
Paid Software

This VST, from what I can tell, allows you to have a "portable" FM synthesizer from the 80 and early 90's right at your fingertips! Used for creating early PC and arcade sounds, this VST strives to be accurate and offer you the sound you need to make that distinctive arcade/early PC FM sound.

chipsynth MD
Paid Software

If you remember the classic sounds of the Sega Genesis, which was fundamentally different from the other FM sounds for PC's and arcade machines, then you'll love this VST. If you ever owned a DX7 synthesizer, this thing is pretty much the same. Another one I do not own, yet, but I've heard great things come from it through videos showcasing the plugin at work. It truly is something to behold if you want that accuracy from the days of the Sega Genesis and all those Genesis classics.

chipsynth SFC
Paid Software

I'm a HUGE fan of this, so I'll keep the gushing to a minimum. This VST allows you to create SNES music as it was intended, with noise channel generation, pulse modulation (for those nice, wavy and lush sounds) and the most iconic thing about the SNES sound, the echo effects and FIR filter. Load up samples, both the preinstalled ones or ones you make yourself and it will do the work for you. Seriously, it will convert your samples properly and allow you to loop them properly as well without all the hassle that I documented in previous threads. This is the KING of SNES VST's and I highly recommend it.

C700 VST

And last on this list is C700 VST, which is solely an SNES VST, like chipsynth SFC. The biggest difference is that sounds are more sharp and clean, rather than filtered like on the original SNES. This gives nicer fidelity for your audio, but it's as accurate. On to of that, it is a bit harder to understand how to use and takes some getting used to, but once you're there, you'll be flying. If you want something easier to pick up and use, go with chipsynth SFC. Still, this is a great contender.

All other software out there for chiptunes are made as music tracking software, which has a bit of a learning curve if coming from normal sequencers like Reaper, Ableton, Pro Logic, Cakewalk, etc. While those programs offer unparalleled authenticity, they are also not for everyone. They take some learning and that can cut int your composing time. This list aims to cut that time in half, if not more, to create authentic, or near authentic, retro chiptunes while
not breaking the bank or having to learn something from scratch, thus necessitating putting your projects on hold.

I hope this list helps those out there that want to make authentic retro music without having to resort to learning new software and ways of making music. Enjoy!


Jul 9, 2014
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This is so great to have tool threads like this.

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