Linked by intric8 on Tue 28th Mar 2017 20:59 UTC
Amiga & AROS

The Amiga has what is with no doubt in my mind, the absolute finest sound chip inside of any computer or console throughout the 1980's as well as most, if not all of the 1990's. Full disclosure; I have an MT-32... And the Amiga can actually do a piano. Yes, in a time when the vast majority of IBM and compatible PC owners were using a small speaker stuck deep inside of a metal tomb, Amiga users had a quality of sound nobody else could touch for that price.


To combat the story that has long been shaped that the Amiga was not popular to musicians because it did not have built in MIDI connectors I give you this quote given directly to me from the creator of the sequencing program Music-X, Talin:

"The story with MIDI is actually much more complex than most people realize. You see, the early Amiga models had a hardware bug which made the serial port unreliable at high data rates. Basically the problem was that the serial port hardware had only a one-byte buffer, and if you didn't grab that byte before the next byte came in then data would be lost. Unfortunately, the Amiga's four timer chips would generate a software interrupt at regular intervals, during which time the serial port could not be serviced. And while MIDI speed wasn't super-high, it was high enough that you'd get a dropped byte every 10 minutes or so depending on how many notes you were sending over. Note that this did not affect the higher-end MIDI adapters which had their own dedicated serial point, but those were considerably more expensive."

Interesting article about past MIDI challenges with the Amiga and how to hook up a modern synth to an Amiga to make music.

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Member since:

Yeah, a little strange that one. Perhaps it was meant in the context of standard supplied hardware rather than expensive, specialist add-on cards, in which case it was competing with such cards as the original 8-bit Soundblasters from the '80s, with which the Amiga hardware could easily compete and outperform in many aspects. Once the 16-bit cards started becoming standard in the '90s and the Amiga's chips weren't updated, they got left behind.

Reply Parent Score: 3

JLF65 Member since:

That's probably what the author was thinking about. The SoundBlaster cards (until the 16) had the FM synth chip for music, and one 8-bit stereo PCM channel that could be driven by one of the onboard DMA channels. The Amiga sound was better than that... not by much, but still better. The SB16 had one 16-bit stereo channel - you could argue that since it was only ONE channel, it was still worse than the Amiga, or at least not much better. It wasn't until the next gen of sound cards that finally made clear that PC sound cards were much better. You could argue they were still plug-in cards, and built-in audio didn't get better until motherboard manufacturers started putting cheap AC97 codecs onto the motherboard that PC sound was better without a card, but that's just splitting hairs.

Reply Parent Score: 2

feamatar Member since:

The Atari STE had better sound than the Amiga, then the Atari Falcon was a blast in the early 90s, probably the most underrated hardware ever. So after 89, I think the Amiga was behind the competition regarding sound.

Reply Parent Score: 1

JLF65 Member since:

Meh, bit of a toss up. The STe added four 8-bit PCM channels. What made them better was they were STEREO channels while the four channels in the Amiga were directed to left or right only. However, they were worse in that they could only be set to a few different frequencies, and said frequency applied to all channels. The Amiga allowed a very wide range of rates that were set per channel. Even worse for the STe, all the channels had to be interleaved in memory, making playing different samples on different channels much harder. The Amiga had pointers for each channel. So I'd argue that OVERALL, the Amiga still had better sound than the STe.

Reply Parent Score: 3