Best chiptune players: Who doesn’t love free music? The chiptune and demo scene that accompanied the rise of the home computer in the 80s and 90s spawned a vibrant community of bedroom producers and what has essentially become a new genre of modern music.
Thanks to the wonders of hardware emulation, we can now enjoy chiptune on any modern device. Through archiving, the animated demo scene has sought to protect hundreds of thousands of creations, and everything is available to be downloaded and enjoyed freely.
So what better way to enjoy it than on your iPhone or Android phone?
What makes Chiptune so special?
Early computers used synthetic chips to generate audio, which programmers could take advantage of through the use of trackers. The result was small files ideal for the limited storage media of the time: cassettes, cartridges and discs.
Like MIDI, trackers use a set of instructions to produce sound and music. Musicians can customize their “instruments” with different waveforms, define notes, apply effects, create arpeggios, etc. to create original music using the material of their choice.
Among the most well-known platforms are the Amiga with its famous ProTracker software and the Commodore 64 with its SID audio chip. These days, we don’t need the original hardware to take advantage of chiptune, but only files and the use of a player that emulates synthetic chips.
Chiptune is great for mobile gaming because the files are tiny. You can store thousands of files on your device and download an infinite number of them, even if you’re not connected to a Wi-Fi network. They won’t sound exactly like the original hardware, but they’re close enough.
IOS and Android make it easy to download and open these files in the drive of your choice. Some readers even include application integration with the largest chiptune archives on the web.
The best chiptune players
1. Modizer (iOS)
Modizer is the best $ 2 I spent on my iPhone this year. It is a high performance multi-format MOD player for iOS, with support for over 600 formats, including Amiga, Atari ST / Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, SNES, Game Boy, Nintendo 64, and even Dreamcast and files ‘arcade.
By far, my favorite feature is direct integration with the large Modland, ASMA and HVSC databases. You can search or browse the archives and play the songs almost immediately, saving them to your library with one click. There is also support for other databases via the built-in browser, although these are not as pleasant to use.
In addition to a wide variety of formats, Modizer includes a classic viewer with a variety of effects. It only works on the Now Playing screen, but it’s a lot of fun. You can stack multiple effects on top of one another or press the power button on your iPhone to listen in the background.
Other features include local FTP support, wireless audio via AirPlay, the ability to create your own playlists and rate trackers, customizable engines and plugins, as well as online chiptune diagrams. . It is still current and up to date in mid-2018, and requires a device running iOS 8.0 or later.
Download: Modizer for iOS ($ 2)
2. ZXTune (Android)
ZXTune is very similar to Modizer for iOS, except that the download is completely free. Like Modizer, the application supports a wide range of formats, including ZX Specture, PC modules, Amiga, Atari, Commodore 64, SNES, Game Boy, TurboGrafx-16 and newer consoles such as PlayStation 1/2 and Dreamcast .
You can search these archives, create your own playlists and use the home screen widget to control the application. There is no viewer, but it is possible to set chiptune tracks as a ringtone. The app is optimized for a variety of Android resolutions, including tablets.
The app still receives updates in mid-2018, and you will need Android 4.0.3 or higher to run ZXTune.
Download: ZXTune for Android (Free)
3. GaMBi (iOS)
GaMBi is a specialized chiptune application for iOS. It is a chiptune player that supports eight formats, including Game Boy, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and Commodore 64. It is also a remix engine!
The application allows you to modify the tracks by modifying different channels (drums, melodies, bass), adjust the parameters of the instrument, sample your work and change the sound with the integrated equalizer. You can export your creations to iTunes when you’re done.
AudioCopy and Audiobus are two of the most important features. Audiocopy allows you to copy a rendered (audio) version of the current track to the clipboard, so that you can paste it into other applications compatible with AudioCopy. Audiobus support allows you to route audio directly to another application, such as an effects processor or an audio workstation.
The price is a bit high, but there is nothing else on the App Store. It is also ideal for DJing on smartphones, if you wish!
Download: GaMBi for iOS ($ 6)
4. Modo (Android)
If you have an Android device that cannot run ZXTune, you may want to consider Modo. It is not as successful as the previous one, but it only requires Android 2.2 or later.
A number of formats are supported, including Commodore 64, Atari, Amstrad CPC, TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy and SNES, Master System, as well as various tracking modules (including ScreamTracker, ProTracker and others). It’s not quite on the same level as ZXTunes.
The app also doesn’t integrate with online catalogs, so you need to provide your own collection of module files (and make sure they are also compatible). Fortunately, there is support for browsing ZIP archives, as well as some cool playback features, such as silence detection and a sleep timer.
Download: Modo for Android (Free)
Chiptune Web Players
Web readers may not be ideal for use on your smartphone, but the few tests I did on an iPhone X have worked pretty well. There is an unexpected behavior with the progress bars which do not update properly, but the music worked well even when quitting Safari.
An elegant web player with a fantastic interface, muki is like a jukebox full of classic chiptune. You cannot load your own chiptune files there; instead, you specify a playlist, a platform, a genre or a mood and let muki take over.
The web application then analyzes the free chiptune track archives to match the music to your preferences. It has worked wonderfully on iOS, and even includes some snazzy visualizations to get you started. You can vote for songs that float on your boat while you are listening and contribute to the weekly charts while you are at it.
DeepSID is a Commodore 64 web card reader, with full access to the HVSC music catalog. The app is surprisingly stable, with a large library of tracks to choose from and built-in playlist support.
Build your collection in minutes
With the large number of module files that have been extracted from games and arcade machines, as well as the original creations of musicians from around the world, it is possible to collect hundreds of tracks in no time thanks to the connections Fast internet.