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High Voltage SID Collection

Updated 15 December 2019


The High Voltage SID collection is a significant retro-computing archive. The highlight of retro computing is the decades of collections that are available on the internet. It's amazing to discover a collection as comprehensive as this collection, and for such a specific genre; SID (6501/8580) tunes. This may be the biggest themed collection of music available on the Internet.

Introduction to the SID music collection

Chiptune is a niche music category using synthesized electronic music using programmable sound generators. This music is not sampled like modern computer audio but rather generated using an on board synthesizer. In our opinion, the Commodore C64 has the richest culture for demo music and sound hacking. There are a number of hardcore musicians that regularly publish tracks and there are always new starters that are discovering the hackability of Commodore C64's SID music chip. SID music is one of the top 5 things the C64 is best known for. This page covers the massive High Voltage SID collection. This collection spans decades of artistic developed on the legendary SID chip released on the Commodore C64.

Top 5 Best SID tracks

With over 50,000 tracks and climbing, there is a lot of music to get through. The music can be roughly categorized into music, soundtracks, demo tracks, and straight up experimental. We have our favorites, yes we do. Let us share some of the auditory gems with you.

  1. Advection 1   (play online)
  2. Kikkomen   (play online)
  3. A New Beginning II   (play online)
  4. Alone and Dangerous   (play online)
  5. $4753 Digi-Mixes   (play online)

Release 73 Announcement

Release 72 Announcement

The latest version of the HVSC collection has been released into the wild. It is claimed that this release has 464 new tunes totalling over 50,000 SID tunes in the complete collection. Finally in Release 72, only the new format of the song length database is included in HVSC. Most tools and players support the new format.

Our review article examines this release in detail and gives our opinion of what is happening in the music scene. We also discover many music demo disks and music parties that have slipped under our radar during this release period. The biggest question for us is... Are there any 5-star tracks to add to our must-play list?

High Voltage SID Collection HVSC release 72 review

HVSC tunes collection
release 72 review

Equipment to enhance your C64 music

We have looked at the wonderful music that is available on the Commodore C64 using the amazing SID synthesizer chip. Never leaving any stone un-turned is the way we like to operate here. Music alone is nothing without using the right hardware. Of course, you will need a Commodore C64 to get you started. Speakers built into TVs do not satisfy our auditory desires. We suggest three options to play your music through. The modern Sony MHC-V90DW is possibly the ultimate machine to use. Stepping across to something a little more authentic to the 1980s, you may want to listen to the music though a period Emerson Bookbox. If are considering going full-retro, then take a look though the 1976 AIWA hi-fi catalog.

Commodore C64 Notepad

Commodore C64

Sony MHC-V90DW MUTEKI Karaoke Party Speaker

Look at Sony's
tower of Karaoke

DAK Emerson Boombox

Classic boomblaster

AIWA Hifi Catalog 1976

Catalog 1976

Question: How did they get that many tracks recorded

There are over 50,000 tracks available in the latest High Voltage SID Collection. Have you ever wondered how they extracted all of those songs from the demos, games, and Commodore C64 music tracks?

AudioPhil™: That is a great question. There are more music tracks than I can get my head around. Even with dedication, I do not believe that I could ever listen to every Commodore C64 SID music track ever released. Obviously, the HVSC has been going for a long time and every track has not been extracted all at one time.

It may be common to assume that programs use a sequencing algorithm within the program to play music but this is incorrect. Even though all C64 programs are different to each other, there are a few common methods that programmers and musicians to play music through the Commodore C64 SID synthesizer. This greatly simplifies programmatic assessment and extraction. Run the program through these analyzers and the music is extracted. The analyzer can then batch progress any new programs that get released.

The analysis and extraction process is not foolproof. Every new release has various files that are fixes and corrections to extractions and corruptions in previous released.

High Voltage SID Collection Introduction Disks

The High Voltage SID Collection introduction disks are a good introduction to the Commdore C64 music scene. These disks are not comprehensive and are merely a sample selection, or sampler, or what lies to be discovered within the full collection. The music analyzer makes for an visual interest and helps listeners with what is happening with the electronics.

Disk #1 #1 is the basic intro. Interestingly there is some basic voice synthesis done directly through the SID chip. It is interesting and a nice guide into the series. Disk #2 is very much smoother, sampled voice over and some quality pseudo-acid house music. Endless scrolling text marks itself as a typical demo. The quality is all in the music. Plenty of shout-outs. Disk #3 contains more quality music. This disk is easy to listen to and probably best described as early 90's synth music. This disk has three versions to try out based on your emulated SID chip. Our favorite version was the recommended track, option (2). We love this track in the office. Other versions sounded rather thin and lacking character. Disk #4 is the final diskette available in the release. This demo is the weakest of the four disks and you can consider this more of a Merry Sidmas shout-out to the crew.

High Voltage SID Collection - Introduction Diskette 1

The First 10 Years

High Voltage SID Collection - the first 10 years

In true demo disk style there is a great intro that starts with a scratchy gramophone then bursts into glorious chip tunes. The demo disk comes in .d64, .d71, and .d81 formats. The .71 format using the 1571 drive using C64 Forever worked best for me. The menus and visuals look and feel like they are straight out of 1990. There are plenty of tracks to peruse at your leisure. There are a lot of articles hidden throughout the menus that give a history of how the demo cam together. Look for the music analyser to really get a feel for the digital compositions that are blasting through your hi-fi.

High Voltage SID Collection - spectrum analyser

Twenty Years

The Twenty Years demo has a totally different feel. The coding knows when you are running on emulated hardware, the turbo loading is fast and there an all-round peppiness to the interface that tries to be a mini-Amiga. There are 17 tracks that have an intensity that I have never experienced on the classic hardware.

High Voltage SID Collection - spectrum analyser

Legacy Release Review Article

High Voltage SID Collection HVSC release 71 review

HVSC tunes collection
release 71 review

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