SOFTWARE REVIEW: G.I. SOUND TOOL by Richard Karsmakers
One of the most innovate programming tools to become available in
recent times is no doubt "G.I. Sound Tool", a sound effects
programming tool from The Catalog, by Lee Actor and Gary
Levenberg. It just might be the very best sound programming tool
available for the ST, maybe next to professional music
programmers' music programming tools.
We all know that the built in YM-2149 soundchip of the Atari ST
series isn't much to get excited about. Basic waveforms, no LFO
or decent ADSR. Some people manage to get reasonable quality
sound from it, mainly by use of the tremendous speed offered by
the 68000 (people like Rob Hubbard, David Whittaker, Jochen from
TEX and Holger Gehrmann).
So hearing the sounds that arose from "G.I. Sound Tool" really
made me look at the package a second time - was this possible
using such a plain-looking program? Yes, it was!
"G.I. Sound Tool" mainly consists of two parts: The editor and
the sound driver. The editor is completely GEM based, and allows
the manipulation of Volume, Frequency and Noise of a sound. The
sound driver is a linkable piece of object code that programmers
can include in their applications to make the sounds audible.
Permissions needs to be asked to use the sound driver in your own
Just have a look at the technical information of "G.I. Sound
- Volume ADSR to shape attack, decay, sustain and release
- Volume LFO for Tremolo effects and Amplitude Modulation
- Frequency ADSR - frequency shifts up to ± 3 octaves!
- Frequency LFO for Vibrato effects and Frequency Modulation
- LFO delay lets you add effects at any point in the sound
- MIDI compatible! Use your keyboard to play the soundchip
- Three sound windows may be open at once
"G.I. Sound Tool" lets you create so-called NSQ sounds (NSQ
stands for 'Near Synthesizer Quality'), and I must admit that
some pretty advanced sounds can be made using this programming
tool - stunning space sounds, drumming sounds, fading doppler
effects, and much more.
The individual sound characteristics are manipulated using a
graphics presentation of that characteristic and shaping it with
the mouse - much like the way it is done in most MIDI synthesizer
editors like "CZ Android". LFO (Low Frequency Oscillator)
graphics are very limited (always a sawtooth form, just with
variable amplitude and length), and the ADSR graphics are
somewhat limited as well (though quite variable).
Working with "G.I. Sound Tool" is very easy, especially because
of the crisp'n'clear user manual (supplied on disk). Once you
know the controls, it's really a child's job to create a stunning
sound that will spontaneously drop your pants!
However, there is a bug in the program (although it might be one
implemented in GEM): Typing the underscore (_) in the 'Save
as...' box causes 10 bombs to appear on your screen. Further, I
miss an item selector box when saving. You have to type in the
new name in a dialog box, which is not optimal.
The sound driver is C-compatible, so you need to have some
knowledge of this language before you can add your sounds to your
own programs. But I think I will have Mark van den Boer convert
it to machine code shortly - in the next issue of ST NEWS, some
swell sounds may be included as well!
Alltogether, "G.I Sound Tool" is a very well designed program
that allows the use of good sound effects on a really down-to-
earth soundchip like the ST's. The program can be obtained
through 'The Catalog'. They didn't supply me with the price.
The Catalog Software
544 Second Street
San Fransisco, CA 94107
United States of America
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.