How to identify C64 and SID model

July 1, 2010

I have come to notice that the different models of “normal” C64s can cause some confusion. Special models and different casings aside there are two main versions of Commodore 64 – the original hardware design and the new, cost reduced hardware design. There are some differences between these two designs and the greatest difference is the SID chip. Original motherboard design has the 6581 SID chip and the new model has 8580. These motherboard designs comes in the various casings all mixed up.

Four different models of C64

C64 C models can have either motherboard version. A C64 G will most likely have the new “short” motherboard – it’s not 100 % sure however. The brown “breadbin” C64 is always assembled with the old “long” motherboard.

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New models of HardSID and 1541 Ultimate

February 3, 2010

Two of my favourite C64-toys have been updated with new models; HardSID and 1541 Ultimate – both of which I have covered here and here earlier.

The announcement of 1541 Ultimate II is already old news, although it is not available yet. The new model is an evolution of the previous version with new features. The announced new features are support for USB storages, tape emulation and somethig still-mysterious related to audio. There will be much more – I’m sure about that. There are rumours about accelerator like SCPU emulation, but those are just rumours… One remarkable thing is that the device comes with a case. So no more “naked” board (that won’t even fit into standard cartridge case) pointing out from the back of your Commodore. It’s not all improvement however; the new model uses micro-SD cards instead of SD and the built-in ethernet is no longer an option. But it’s cheaper!

What is not old news is that two new HardSID models were announced just yesterday! The new models are HardSID Uno and HardSID UPlay and they are aimed for SID music enthusiastics. Compared to the HardSID 4U the main differences for target audiences are support for only one (Uno) or two (UPlay) SID chips and no need for separate power supply – and a lower price. The new HardSIDs have a very cool looking aluminium case and have no noise producing fan. Seems like these new models have replaced the “standard” 4U as it is no longer available – only the much more expensive Studio Edition of 4U.

To me it looks like that the Uno and UPlay are basically the same device with identical hardware and board. Only difference being that in UPlay you can (relay) switch between the two installable SID chips with software, and in Uno that has to be done manually with a jumper or something like that. Maybe it’s because of power consumption, as it is USB that is powering the device. If I’m wrong, I’ll correct my assumption.

All in all, great stuff!

Winamp plugin for HardSID

April 29, 2009

Hard Software recently released a Winamp plugin for HardSID 4U. So now it is possible to play SID tunes on a real SID chip with Winamp’s user interface and features! Sweet. Features like playlists, random play and seeking are of course supported. It’s just like playing any “ordinary” music with Winamp. The plugin is made with the assumption that you have HVSC on your HD, and you need to define the path to it in the plugin’s configuration. Then the plugin can access the song length (SID tunes never “end”, they just keep looping. The song length information is also used for seeking) and STIL information that are provided with HVSC. The SID files that contain multiple songs are expanded (on play) to the playlist and can be treated as independent entries in the playlist.

All I can say is that I’m very pleased with this release. It makes it very easy and comfortable to have real SID music playing in the background. Just build up a playlist and let the music play. No need to manually change songs or anything.

Even still I prefer the ACID 64 Player for active listening. The Winamp plugin is based on ACID 64 core but some of the features have been cut for simplicity. None of those features really matters for music listening itself, but ACID 64 Player provides more information, especially when expanded with Covert BitOps‘ SIDId playroutine identity scanner.

Related links:

HardSID 4U – that’s for me!

March 20, 2009

For many years I thought that it would be cool to have a HardSID or some other SID sound card, such as Catweasel. But it wasn’t until last June that I actually decided to get one. I spotted a news item on one C64 news portal that was reminding that pre-ordering for the brand new HardSID model lasted for the end of that month. This new model HardSID 4U is external USB-device instead of PCI or ISA card as the previous versions. Additionally, there was 50€ discount to the 299€ price when pre-ordering. I was sold.

If you don’t know, the HardSID is a sound card that basically gives a genuine SID sound for a modern PC. It can also be used as low-cost multichannel analog synthesizer, but I’ll leave that only as a side note here. The genuine sound is achieved by installing actual SID chips on the sound card. And the SID chip is the sound chip of Commodore 64 – a home computer of the 80’s. This whole concept may seem a little weird if you are not familiar with the music made with Commodore 64, especially the modern music. There is still a very active scene producing music for the machine thanks to the C64’s unique sound. And trust me, the emulated sound just doesn’t compare to the real thing if you are an enthusiastic.

HardSID on my desk
HardSID 4U sitting on my desk and hooked up to my laptop and stereo system

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