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Up to 64kB of memory can be used in actual SNES hardware. If you exceed the capacity available in the actual hardware, the displayed value will be in red. If operation is corrupted at the time of display, please reload the plug-in. The Trick to Playing Well. Do not exceed 8 total sounds; Minimize the sum of the waveform and echo memory to about.However, finding the Chiptune VST best suited for you and your needs can sometimes be a tough task...
The internet is full of information, and, while that’s a good thing, it can also be a little overwhelming when you try to find an amazing chiptune VST.
What you’ll soon realize in this search is that there are many factors to consider.
What starts off as a simple task can turn into one that stretches for days or even weeks.
So, to save you from sorting through them all, we’ve crafted a list of the top 10 Chiptune VST plugins to help you find the perfect one for you.
But before we get into it, what exactly makes a VST ‘the right’ one?
Features To Consider
In this modern day and age, computers are much faster than ever before, but processing power continues to be an issue.
One important thing to consider before purchasing or committing to any VST is what the processing power needs are. Can your computer handle the software that you’re using?
If yes, great! But if it can’t, no worries! You may instead want to look for a more lightweight VST that can do as good of a job as a heavier one.
Aside from processing power requirements, simplicity is another important factor when choosing a great VST to suit your needs.
Do you want to hit the ground running and make chiptune music right away? Or do you prefer to get neck deep in the settings and customize each and every last detail of your sound design process?
Some VSTs will be simple enough to allow you to ‘plug n play,’ whereas others will require a lot more education on your part in order to master chiptune sound design.
When factoring in simplicity, it’s also important to consider the user interface (known as UI). Simple VSTs often have an easy-to-use interface, while the more complex VSTs might be a lot harder to grasp.
This is crucial to keep in mind, because UI can affect creativity, which is extremely important to music production. This is because creativity is influenced by everything you hear, feel, do, or see (UI). So, if you don’t like how your VST looks, it could slow down your efficiency when producing chiptune music.
Lastly, emulation specificity is another big feature to consider. Chiptune music originally was created from gaming systems, such as the NES or Gameboy, with each of those systems producing different types of sounds.
With that in mind, chiptune VST plugins have been created with the capacity to emulate sounds created by certain systems. Knowing what type of sound you want to create will greatly speed up the VST selection process and ensure you use something that you’re happy with.
With these features in mind, let’s get started.
Option 01: Magical 8Bit Chiptune VST
- 5 waveforms - square, 2x pulse, pseudo-triangle, low-res noise
- ASDR envelope settings
- Pitch bend
- Velocity control
- Frequency sweeping
- 32 Voices
Note: For full specifications and download, visit YMCK.
Are you a fan of old, primitive 8 bit game consoles?
If you are, then the Magical 8bit Plug may be the perfect VST for you to make some old school electronic music!
This is because this VST allows for use of the pseudo-triangle or low-resolution noise, which are key when creating 8 bit or chiptune music.
Another important feature about the Magical 8bit Plug is that it focuses on simplicity, which makes creating great chiptune sounds quick and easy.
To top it off, the Magical 8bit Plug is lightweight and will work on both macOS as an audio unit and on Windows as a VSTi.
If you want to see what this VST can do for yourself, check out this awesome animated Youtube video featuring music made by Magical 8bit Plug. It’s set to what appears to be an old school video game.
Option 02: Chipsounds
- Hybrid synth/sampling synthesizer
- Control/Modulation/Effects/Mixer tabs
- Wave Sequencer
- Pitch and Amplitude Modulation
- Emulates 15 vintage 8-bit era sound chips
Note: For full specifications and download, visit Plogue.
Looking for something a little more robust than Magical 8bit Plug? Then Chipsounds may be the VST for you.
Chipsounds is one of the more popular chiptune VST plugins this year, and we can definitely see why.
The first reason is because it gives you a lot of control over your sound design process, which is huge when trying to set yourself apart from other producers.
Another cool feature is that Chipsounds can run on both Windows and macOS as a standalone application.
Additionally, it can also run as a VST, AU, RTAS, or AAX plug-in allowing for flexible usage with different systems.
To see this VST in action, check out Plogue’s introductory Chipsounds video.
Option 03: ymVST
- Polyphony support
- 3 step arpeggiated chords
- Knobless UI
- Angel sync-buzzer effects
- SID effect
Note: For full specifications and download, visit preromanbritain.
If you’re a fan of the authentic Atari sound, then ymVST is a blast to the past…almost.
To the casual observer, the UI may look complicated. But it was actually made to replicate a traditional non-software music production setting with a more ‘authentic interface.’
This means there’s no knobs or sliders. Yet it also comes with all of the great chiptune quality sounds that can be made by the other more complex VSTs available on the internet today.
So, if you’re used to a more traditional method of chiptune production, ymVST may be right up your alley.
Unfortunately for Mac owners, ymVST is only available for PC users.
Option 04: basic 65
- Monophonic synth
- Double arpeggiator
- Mod envelope
- (2) LFOs
- (3) Oscillators
Note: For full specifications and download, visit vst4free.
Inspired by the Commodore 64, basic 65 is a monophonic synth which takes the legendary SID chip from its hardware predecessor and adds more features to ‘take a step further’.
With a clean interface, this VST should be relatively quick to pick up and allow you to get started programming in your favorite chiptune sounds with ease.
Making it even simpler, there are over 128 presets available for you to choose from.
And with the basic 65 being an update to the already popular basic 64, you’ll know that you’re using a VST that has had a lot of prior problems solved.
However, similar to ymVST, the basic 65 is only available for use on Windows which makes that one key detraction in a production world heavily Mac reliant.
Option 05: Super Audio Cart
- 5,500+ samples
- 1,200+ factory snapshots
- ‘Hold’ arp steps
- Modulate cutoff & pan with each step
- Use arp steps to modulate other parameters
Snes Vst Plugin
- Free SNESVerb plugin
Note: For full specifications and download, visit impactsoundworks.
Super Audio Cart provides a revitalized take on an old-school chiptune production scene.
The interface looks modern which makes it similar to other software on the market today such as Omnisphere or iZotope Ozone. In other words, it’s easy to plug n play!
When purchasing, you’ll be capable of replicating sounds from the NES, FC, SNES, GB, 2600, C64, SMS, and GEN console systems. Add in the fact that you’ll receive over 6,000 samples and 630 unique sound sources and that makes purchasing the Super Audio Cart even more appealing.
However, it’s currently priced at $149 through impactsoundworksand also requires Kontakt to run, which can be a problem if you’re on a budget.
Not sure if this is right for you? Take a listen to some chiptune created by Super Audio Cart here to get an understanding of its capabilities.
Option 06: Retro Boy
Snes Vst Plugins DownloadMain features:
- Subtractive emulator
- Single oscillator
- Vibrato & decimation effects
- Polyphony: 1-4
Note: For full specifications and download, visit sbaud.
As you may be able to tell from the specs, Retro Boy brings you back to the past. For example, it’s extremely lightweight on the processor with only a single oscillator.
It’s a classic, subtractive chiptune VST synth with seven waveforms - 12.5% pulse, 25% pulse, square, saw, triangle, sine, and noise.
Because of its simplicity, most computers should be able to run Retro Boy easily enough making that one of the key highlights of this VST.
And although you could probably figure out Retro Boy’s capabilities quickly enough yourself…
You can also check out a demo before downloading by clicking here!
Option 07: ICECREAM
- Dual oscillators
- 4 Octaves per oscillator
- Amp/Filter ASDR
- Harmonics switch
- Glide and glide rate
Note: For full specifications and download, visit vstplanet.
Are you thinking what we’re thinking? If you are, you’ll understand how cool (pun intended) this VST looks.
It comes with a pretty standard set of features: two oscillators with volume and octave controls, filters, a sequencer, and EQ.
However, what makes this VST stand out is the colorful interface.The playfulness of this interface and color scheme will definitely take you back to the days of playing Super Nintendo as a child.
And even if you haven’t touched a Super Nintendo, you’ll still feel like a kid playing the newest gaming system.
This might jumpstart your creativity and bring your chiptune music to the next level.
To take a listen to all of the creative possibilities that can come about from using the ICECREAM VST, check out this Youtube video.
Option 08: Nintendo VST
- Simple UI
- Nintendo emulation
- Pitch bend
Note: For full specifications and download, visit mattmontag
If you want to create chiptune music in the vein of Nintendo using something simple, Nintendo VST may be what’s right for you.
Created by Matthew Montag, the Nintendo VST is lightweight and can quickly be picked up by anyone.
That’s because the volume, duty cycle, pitch, and fine pitch adjustments are easily made with a max of three knobs for each setting (LFO steps, loop point, step time, and tempo sync).
And if you want to understand how the Nintendo VST works, Matthew has you covered! He’s meticulously detailed much of his VST development process on his website.
To see how the Nintendo VST was created, click here.
Option 09: AdLibXRom
- Replicates Adlib Music Synthesizer Card
- Two oscillators
- 40 Multi-sampled sounds
Have you ever heard of the AdLib soundcard? If you have, you may find yourself in love with this VST.
The AdLibXRom replicates the sound of the AdLib Music Synthesizer Card which was famous in the early nineties.
Featured within the soundcard was the YM3812 synthesizer chip which utilized FM and additive synthesis.
Today, the AdLibXRom brings things back with the option of using the main or noise oscillator.
Additionally, it features over 40 multi-sampled sounds making usage even more interesting.
Note: For full specifications and download, visit samplescience.
Option 10: 38911 Bytes
- Single oscillator
- 4 Waveforms
- 3 LFOs
- 4x16 Step sequencers
To any producer not familiar with Chiptune production, this VST may look a little confusing.
However, if you’ve been around the Chiptune production scene, this may just make you feel at home.
The interface was designed to provide an old-school feel.
There is only a single oscillator, but it does come with multiple waveforms such as Saw, Triangle, Pulse, and Pitched Noise.
Another highlight is the 4x16 step sequencers which also come with 11 different BPM rates.
Has the visual design of 38911 Bytes caught your attention? If so, we’d recommend that you learn more here!
Finding the best chiptune VST to suit your needs depends on your situation and what you’re looking for.
We’ve highlighted some of the best chiptune VST plugins that we think you’ll find particularly useful, each with its own unique characteristics and features.
To reiterate, here are some of the most important features to be aware of when choosing the best chiptune VST for your music production needs:
- Processing power requirements
- UI (User Interface)
- Emulation specificity
We’ve compiled some amazing VSTs for you to try out and now we want to hear your thoughts!
Have you had any experience using any of these chiptune VST plugins?
Are there any others that we should have mentioned or replaced?