Create nice C64 SID stereo effect with JSIDPlay2

Remember the old 8-bit Commodore 64 soundtracks and its SID sound chip? Now you can listen to them in stereo, something that the original hardware did not support. Seeing is believing, so check out the video for some nice sample tracks.

How do you simulate a stereo effect? First, download JSIDPlay2 and unzip the files. Since it is based on Java you’ll need Java Runtime Environment installed that you can get here if you don’t already have them. There are different players available that might work for you as well.

Where to get some C64 music? Download the High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC) freeware hobby project with more than 50000 tracks. HVSC can be connected in JSIDPlay2 for easier data base management.

JSIDPlay2 C64 SID
JSDIPlay2 in action with two virtual SIDs

Now comes the fun part. The original C64 did support four channels but no stereo on them.

  1. We have to activate a second virtual SID chip and decide which channels will be balanced more to the left or right to create a stereo effect.
  2. So mute the first channel (voice) on the first virtual SID and the second channel on the second virtual SID (or vice versa) and shift sound balance to the left or right for the first and second SID.

As a result the first and second channel will be shifted towards left or right side while the third and fourth channel remain equally balanced. Watch the video to see and hear the action. I call it fake stereo because the original soundtracks were not designed with stereo in mind and results will depend on individual music themes but I liked the results for all my samples.

Bonus: you can add a tiny bit of reverb effect to create the illusion of a more voluminous sound.

Works best with headphones!

Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.

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