Chipmusic started life as the backdrop to classic video games in the home and the arcade, but in the late 80s and early 90s producers started using the very same devices to create and explore electronic music alone. Fast forward to 2021 and devices like the YM2149 Synth put the power of two classic FM audio chips at your fingertips – both with the possibility of being played by MIDI.
The YM2149 (or AY-3-8910) is a three-voice programmable sound generator, used in many seminal gaming consoles like the Vectrex, Intellivison, and ZX Spectrum. Here we have two such chips capable of six-note polyphony (a standard for many synths) combined into one unit. It can take incoming MIDI and USB commands to trigger those glorious square wave sounds.
The synth uses a programmable ATmega328 microcontroller which allows you to upload your own code to the unit. The source code for this project has been made available on the seller’s GitHub page. It’s being sold as a completed unit with either MIDI or USB functionality.
The YM2149 is the first product to be sold by DerSpanischInventions who are based in Switzerland. A demo video of the synth in action is above. All your bass are belong to us!