Plogue today launched Chipsynth C64, a DAW plugin that emulates the famed SID sound chip found in the Commodore 64. Crunchy, bleepy and completely distinctive, the SID is famously difficult to replicate—and inconsistent in its own right. Which is why Chipsynth C64 emulates 32 different versions of it. The creators write: "Anything you can do to hack a C64 chip with code or circuits, essentially, you can do here easily with a GUI. It's a rabbit hole to end rabbit holes."
And here's what went into the recreation: endless measurements of the chips, gigs and gigs of measurement data used in research (the plug-in itself is all modeled and just 30MB), and mind-boggling attention to voltages and variations: If you want to play around with this as "just another" software synth, you absolutely can. The tool has a friendly interface, tons of support for MIDI (including MTS-ESP and Scala tuning support), and a bunch of fantastic-sounding presets. It really does hold up as a synthesizer, not just an esoteric instrument because you want to make "chiptune." And the presets reflect that; they're musically voiced and playable and I can easily imagine these popping up in various genres. You even get presets designed by chip musicians like Goto80, Fade Runner, Ne7, Xenos Soundworks, and 4-Mat.
There's even a demo!