April 8, 2013 | In: Audio, Software by Stamba

Multisound Synthesizer
by Romik Software

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After few months away from all the Commodore 64 madness, here we’re finally back with a nasty software to make SID roar like a beast!

Let’s start with the official description :

Multisound Synthesizer by Romik Software – 1983

” A versatile musical instrument with which even an inexperienced user can quickly learn to produce a wide variety of sounds. Many musical instruments can be emulated including flutes, pianos and guitars.

Multisound may be used as a simple keyboard or tunes can be created and appended in memory and then saved on tape. A merge from tape facility allows the creation of long complex works.

Eight full octaves are available to the user, the keyboard covering three continuous octaves at any time. These may be altered whilst playing or during playback.

A visual display provides feedback on the keyboard operation, greatly aiding real-time and allowing easy entry of individual notes in preset mode.

Provision is made for a repetitive keyboard background tune or drum routine up to 85 notes. Ten such tunes may be entered by the user and stored in memory. A further eight drum routines are predefined.

The synthesizer incorporates independent selection and control the foreground, background and special effects oscillator waveforms. The latter being used to provide extensive special effects facilities including ring modulation, synchronisation, and sweeping on the foreground note, pulse width, filter cutoff, and filter resonance. “

 

The hunt for information

I’ve tried to find some clues about this software but nothing amazing showed up except some reviews in Your Commodore of july 1984 (1 year later!) and ZZAP! 64 magazine of may 1985 (really ?! 2 years later !). As you can see, reviews are quite short but somehow explicits about what i’ll face in a near future !

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The Call of Duty

Google hasn’t been really friendly on this one, no PDF manual, no tape rip, no screenshots… NADA ! Ok, ok – I’m not afraid by those reviews and it seems this software is a bit “rare”. Here we go for some dirty work, let’s scan the manual. “Luckily”, that electric blue manual has just 24 pages.

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Manual : Multisound Synthesizer manual by Romik Software.pdf (15 Mb)

 

From magnetic tape to digital .tap

No luck neither to find a rip of the tape. Too bad ! I’m wondering why nobody has done it before… but, oh well !Here I am, plugging my old fellow Akai GXC-46D tape deck to the computer to record the Multisound Synthesizer tape and convert it to a classic .tap file.

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“Press PLAY on tape” … and … ten minutes later I finally got a .wav file. Yes, you can download this .wav file from Soundcloud if you want to play it back on the Commodore 64.

Let’s have a closer look at the waveform after a quick conversion to mono.

Audiotap 2.0 is a nice and sharp tool to convert a .wav file to .tap. Here is a screenshot of the settings I’ve used to get the file working in Vice.
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Download : Multisound Synthesizer by Romik Software (.zip 264 Kb – .tap 1.3 Mb)

 

Let’s rock !

As described in the manual, it consists of 3 screens : Special effects panel, Control panel and Keyboard. Every functions is binded to a key on the c64 keyboard. No use at all of joystick or mouse, plain ascii fun !

Better than a long explanation, here is a short video (no fancy keyboard playing, just trying few parameters!)

Plain audio file :

 

Mmm ? Who is Vakis Paraskeva ?!

Oh wait! Watch the tape : ” by Vakis Paraskeva ” is written on the face. I guess this guy is the developper. Can I find him back ? Answer is : YES ! After few searches on Facebook and Google, I’ve finally found him on Linkedin. Thanks social network; you helped me on that one! Vakis replied to my email, he’s really friendly and he gave me many details on how this software has been released back in 1983. Here is the copy/paste, have a nice read and thanks again Vakis!

” Wow I didn’t realise the C64 still had a following and I had completely forgot about Multisound synthesiser! Its great to hear people are still interested in something I did so long ago,

I think I was about 16 when I programmed it. I got a VIC 20 for my 14th birthday after a lot of persuading my parents. They didn’t know much about computers and it was a lot of money.

Back then there was no Internet and very few people knew about programming. I managed to get some books on the subject and taught myself 6502 assembler and BASIC.

I would write simple games and other programmes until I thought they were good enough to publish. I contacted ROMIK after seeing an advert for them in a computing magazine. I went to see them to show them what I had don and they liked it but they didn’t think it was good enough to publish.

I kept trying to write games but I started playing around programming audio software too. I was never a musician but I liked electronic music and was very interested in how to make sounds with computers. I used to play around with electrics too making amps and other things. Once I even made a simple sound card for the C64 using D/A converters to sample and playback sounds. It worked very well and I tried to get someone interested in manufacturing it but with no luck.

I wish I was a musician, I tried to learn guitar for a long time but I’m not very good. I do have some friends now who are gifted musicians and I greatly admire their talent.

ROMIK gave me a C64, monitor, hard drive and I continued to develop music software on it. When they saw what I had done they liked it a lot so I developed it into Multisound synthesiser which they published it in 1983. It was programmed using BASIC for the UI and assembler for all the sound record and playback. I had never used a synth or knew any musicians so I mostly just experimented with the programme until I thought it looked ok. I showed it to a few friends and at a games show to help with ideas and get some feedback but that’s about it. Looking back I wish I did know people into music as I think I could have made it much better and I may have continued developing it.

I went on to write another game or two (can’t remember) and then ROMIK closed down. I don’t know how many copies were sold of multisound and Mike the owner of ROMIK bought the rights of it from me and I’ve never saw him or know what happened to my software since.

When I was 16 I set up a games studio called Probe software (also called probe entertainment). It was very successful and eventually was bought by Acclaim software. I did we’ll out of it but I had sold my shares before the big sell off.

I wasn’t really interested in or very good at games development. I was more interested in commercial business systems. My IT career so far has been interesting and rewarding. Currently I’m the technical lead and architect for a large project to build one of the biggest online payments platforms.

I’ve also been looking into developing mobile apps, something I’ve been thinking about for a few years but I’ve just been too busy. I hope I don’t miss the boat on that as I think it’s going to be massive, even bigger than today.

Regards,

Vakis”

Once again, many thanks Vakis for your reply 😉

 

Files

Manual : Multisound Synthesizer manual by Romik Software.pdf (15 Mb)
Download : Multisound Synthesizer by Romik Software (.zip 264 Kb – .tap 1.3 Mb)
Covers and bonus : 

Bonus : At the end of the manual, there is a reference to a book ” Will you Still Love me I’m Sixty-Four ” by Peter Gerrard (published by Duckworth) about the SID and Commodore64 capabilities, here is the book ! (.pdf 5.3 Mb)

 

2 Responses to Multisound Synthesizer
by Romik Software

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Cyborgjeff

April 13th, 2013 at 7:09 am

Wouw 1983 ! got some kind of similar soft called Music Processor. it would Be intersting hearing a réal production 😉

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Michael

August 31st, 2013 at 1:09 am

So many music packages. No matter how many I link to or upload myself, there are still plenty more just waiting.

As you’ve probably discovered by now, the chances are I have a page to show stuff off and here it is: http://www.leftiness.org/Record.htm

One of the best Commodore music packages ever was the MSSIAH, bringing together drumbox, MIDI synth, Cakewalk-style sequencer and rompler in one cheap cartridge.

But the software which tipped the balance for me was Instant Music. Before, I only really used my Commie for a few games and printing old documents. But with IM and its MIDI facility, I started to seriously use my machine for my home recording and never looked back.

Here is IM: http://www.dustybin.org.uk/IM.htm

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