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                 bY bITmASTER

CiH details the latest front opened,  in the long war to bring the sounds of
YM2149 to the masses, in spite of whatever computer they happen to own!

This  time,  it  is the turn of hapless Acorn fans,  on their Archimedes and
Risc  PC boxes,  to experience the square-toned warbling that we've all come
to enjoy. Thanks to bITmASTER, who got the original idea off Leonard, Archie
dudes no longer need to miss out on Mad Max!

To  use  ST Sound is a simple process,  just double click on the Atari  icon
with  !STSOUND written next to it,  and a larger version of the icon appears
on  the  bottom  bar of the Acorn desktop.  You are ready to play  ST  sound
files, in the .ym format, by double clicking on those.

A  swift  right hand click on the icon brings up a CD player  style  control
console with the usual options,  play,  stop,  pause, fast-forward, and skip
controls for the previous and next tracks along. A skinny green progress bar
tells you how much of the song has played through.

There  is a bit of work to do beforehand,  before you can even play a single
tune,  as  the .ym files,  need to be converted to an acorn-friendly format.
This  involves  copying  the original files to the  desired  directory,  and
tediously  changing their data type files with a hex code in the 'set  type'
option.  This  can  be a major pain in the bum,  not to mention the keyboard
hand,  when you have a CD-ROM of .ym files to browse from! Once that work is
done, they are yours to keep!

So how does it sound?

Well,  taking  certain limitations,  to be discussed in more detail shortly,
the  end  result is not too bad,  it seems that bITmASTER has  succeeded  in
transplanting a YM2149 chip into the RiscOS machines brilliantly! 'Early' YM
stuff,  that  is  classic  late eighties material sounds  totally  like  the
originals do.  I could close my eyes, and imagine the Sowatt demo running on
a cunningly coded ST emulator.  Now someone just needs to get the rest of it

As  long  as  the tune does not make too many esoteric  demands,  the  sound
emulation  holds  up.  I surfed a varied selection including  the  differing
styles of Mad Max, An Cool, Jess, Big Alec, Count Zero, and several assorted
composers  of  ST  game  music,  whose names I  don't  quite  remember.  The
information given with the program indicates this version is advanced enough
to cope with Scavenger's tunes as well.

Where  there is still work needed,  would be the further limits of Digi-Drum
support,  some  of  the strange and wonderful things that Tao does,  and any
form of Sid-sound playback (awww!) As this version of ST-Sound dates back to
1999,  and  as  far as I can tell,  there are no later versions out there,  I
doubt  that  these will be fixed anytime soon.  If someone is working  on  a
future  version of this,  my personal wish-list would include the ability to
browse  .ym  files off a CD-ROM,  without farting around with changing  file
types first.

ST Sound for the Acorn is a work in progress, which appears to have lost the
appetite  to  progress.  A  great job has been done so far,  and  for  aural
appreciation  of classic ST ziks from the Madmax days,  it cannot be beaten.
Unfortunately,  unless  bITmASTER or someone else connected with the project
tells me different, this is as far as it is likely to go!

However, even getting this far is an achievement, when you can seriously ask
Acorn fans the crucial question "Have you listened to Atari today?"

CiH, for Alive! Mag,Nov '03

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