High Voltage SID Collection/FAQ
The High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC) Frequently Asked Questions
Last Updated: December 16, 2012
This FAQ has been updated to include the PSIDv2NG questions. Please ensure you read it thoroughly. Thank you.
Very Common Questions
What is the High Voltage SID Collection (HVSC)?
HVSC is the ultimate SID tune collection featuring over 41,200 popular and requested SIDs from the Commodore 64. The collection includes SIDs (aka C64 music) from games, demos, intros, etc. HVSC has been in the making for fifteen years and is the result of many contributors.
What software and hardware do I need to play the tunes in HVSC?
Lucky for you, there are many devoted SID fans throughout the world. Many people have created or ported SID emulators to various OSes. To name a few: Win32 (7, Vista, XP, 2000, Me, 98, 95), Linux, MSDOS, MacOS, AmigaOS, Atari Falcon, BeOS, OS/2, etc. For a complete list of which OSs are supported, see the HVSC web page. You can also listen to the SIDs in HVSC on a real C64 with the 1541 Ultimate I/II cartridge, MMC64 cartridge, Sidplay64, Real SID Play, PSID64, the HVSID Player or through Winamp by connecting your PC with a C64 with a PC64 cable.
A list of SID players is available on the HVSC web page. See http://hvsc.c64.org/players.htm
As for additional hardware, you only need a sound card.
In addition to using your home computer, there are hardware devices out there that utilize the SID chip itself in conjunction with your sound card. See http://www.hardsid.com for more information.
Isn't Commodore C64 music just silly beep-blop music?
Absolutely not! Although the C64 went into production in 1983, do not underestimate the C64's technology. In fact, Byte Magazine named the C64's Sound Interface Device (SID) as one of the 20 most important chips in computer history along side the PowerPC, Intel 8086, and Pentium. After all, there has to be a reason why there are so many SID fans. You should note that there were two distinctive regions for SID music, America and Europe. American SID music is on average lower in quality compared to European SID music. This is not to say that American SID music is crap, but if you are judging SID music based on the American SID music you have heard, I can understand partially why you might think SID music is silly.
Why is American SID music lacking compared to European SID music? Mainly this has to do with much information sharing related to the SID composing tools in Europe (not to mention some theft as well). The best way for you to determine if SID music is or isn't for you is to listen to some of the best. Take a listen to some Hubbard, Galway, Daglish, Gray (Fred and Matt) and Tel. If you do not like any of those artists, then there is a strong chance you will not like any
You should also note that C64 music has been played not just on specialist radio shows like the KDVS 6581 SID show (now sadly no longer with us) but also on Swedish national television. So much for silly beep-blop then :)
Which tunes are added to HVSC, and why?
HVSC adds music from games and C64 scene programs (whether they be from demos, stand-alone music packs, or disk magazines) which have been released into the public domain. However, we do not normally add any Compute! Gazette tunes (see above). Thus, if a tune has been released publically including C64 FTP or WWW sites, this means it also allows for any other public collection such as HVSC to place it in their collections as well using the same unrestricted and free ethics that public domain software allows. We do this so that HVSC serves as an archive, not just for the SID fans, but for the composers as well if they ever need to refer to their work. There are also some previously unreleased tunes by composers which HVSC also has (such as /MUSICIANS/G/Gray_Fred/Sled.sid), where the HVSC Crew strictly asks for _composer permission_ before releasing such.
Why aren't there any Compute Gazette SIDPlayer tunes in HVSC?
Because the music will not play on its own and needs a separate music player to work. Every CG music should be merged with the player code to get a working .sid file, which is a lot of work and generally not worth the pain. Also, because on average they do not sound as good as non-SIDPlayer tunes. SIDPlayer was a public domain SID composer and player available in the early '80s on the C64. The tool was predominately used by Americans and has a strong following among the public domain audience. SIDPlayer tunes are usually followed by a ".mus" and can be found on some C64 ftp sites.
The best Compute! Gazette SID tune collection HVSC knows of is maintained by Peter Weighill and the latest version can be found here
(note: do not confuse SIDPlayer with SIDPlay. SIDPlay is a SID emulator whereas SIDPlayer is a SID player for the C64. (Confusion is easy when there is SIDPlay, PLAYSID (Amiga), SIDPlayer (C64), Real SIDPlay (C64), etc.)
What is the SID Tune Information List (STIL)?
The STIL is basically a text file which contains general information about the SIDs in HVSC. Such information includes the original composer's name, defects in certain tunes, interesting trivia, etc. Consult the STIL FAQ for more information. Hopefully your SID emulator has the option to display the STIL information for the current playing SID tune.
HVSC and SID File Format
Where can I find the SID File Format specification?
The SID File Format specification is located in the DOCUMENTS folder within HVSC.
It describes all the sections and fields in the SID file and all the differences between the SID header versions.
What is PSIDv2NG and RSID?
PSIDv2NG (PSID format v2, Next Generation) was invented by Simon White and Dag Lem and is an extension of the Playsid V2 file format. It takes advantage of some free bytes in the header and allows for the following situations (the first one was already in the existing PSID v2 format):
- the SID file has a standalone player or is a Compute! Gazette SIDplayer tune
- whether the SID file is C64 compatible or specific to the old PlaySID formats
- whether the SID file is for NTSC (e.g. USA) or PAL (e.g. Europe) TV formats
- SID chip selection, 6581 (old) or 8580 (new) SID chip
- relocation fields, required to support a real C64 (emulator) where additional code must be placed in C64 ram to play the SID tune.
All the above means that it also allows for better compatibility with a real Commodore 64 so you can play the tunes on the real thing (see also RSID below)
It also has the added advantage of being backwards compatible with most SID tunes, so that older SID players can still play them, but to take advantage of the features of PSID v2NG, you are highly recommended to use a modern SID player to play SIDs in HVSC.
RSID is an extension of the PSID v2NG format, introduced in HVSC 5.1. RSID is for those rips that require strict C64 compliance, and also ensure that older SID players do not lock up when attempting to play these SIDs. It does this by having "RSID" in the first four bytes of the SID file header instead of "PSID", which allows for safe rejection. Examples of an RSID format SID include sample tunes which require real-time sample playback, busy delay loops in real time and cycle-accurate timing.
The RSID format should only be used if the rip will crash older SID emulators or when it is not possible to make the SID playable in PSID format.
Why has HVSC decided to go with PSIDv2NG?
The HVSC Team had thought for some time about going with the file format, as it would allow for better and more accurate rips, being played with the cycle-accurate Sidplay2 player. However, such an issue was important and so in March 2002 HVSC undertook its first ever user survey, which asked how the collection was used, what the users found important in a SID file format to them, and whether the collection should move to PSIDv2NG format. When you consider that of those surveyed:
- 73% wished for SID files to be played on a real C64 where possible
- 94% would like to hear SID tunes at their intended PAL or NTSC speed
- 91% wished to know which SID chip a SID tune was composed on
and that a majority also wished for us to have SID files play more accurately, and for the collection to go to PSIDv2NG, then it was an easy decision to make. Further, PSIDv2NG is the only new SID file format thus far that facilitates what was preferred.
Some of the file names end with _2SID or _BASIC. Why is this?
SIDs that are marked "_BASIC" were originally taken from C64 games which were wholly programmed in the BASIC language. Modern sidplayers are able to effectively emulate BASIC (and thus the tunes created within BASIC) correctly.
HVSC 5.7 saw the first BASIC SIDs in the collection, and as the collection progresses, more of these tunes will appear.
From HVSC #55, _2SID files will be present in the collection. 2SID files (aka stereo SIDs) are SID files that control 2 SID chips. The SID file format is extended for this so the address of the second SID chip can be specified and also the SID model of it.
In order to play _2SID files, you need to use a Sidplayer that supports the PSID v3 and RSID v3 file format or you need to use a modified C64 that have 2 SID chips in it that maps the second SID chip at the same address as where the 2SID tune is made for. Also if you have a C64 cartridge that emulates 2 SID chips, it is also possible to play _2SID files on it.
My SID player doesn't play all SIDs in HVSC. Why is that?
Old SID players can't play RSID files which are C64 specific. Download the latest version of your SID player or choose a more actively maintained one to resolve this problem.
From HVSC #55, _2SID files are included. These tunes can only be played correctly if your SID player does support it or if your Commodore 64 has 2 SID chips inside and the SID tune is using the same address of the second SID chip that your extra SID chip is mapped to. Also it is possible to play _2SID files on the 1541 Ultimate II cartridge via SID emulation and when you are using the audio out connector on the cartridge.
When will the next update be released?
There is no fixed time schedule as to when each update is released. Each update is dependent on two factors: available time and available SIDs. Once enough SIDs have been sent in and the HVSC crew has time enough to properly sort the SIDs, the next update will be released. At present, it takes on average six months to put together a new update. However, you should note that with the amount of SIDs already present in HVSC, it does become harder to compile updates full of new SIDs and six months should be seen as an absolute minimum.
Do I have to download all of HVSC after each update?
No. The update comes with a tool that automatically updates HVSC to the next version. Instructions are provided in each update and within the tool. In particular, do NOT run the update tool more than once.
Why isn't the update tool available for my system?
The update tool was made in mind to be portable, and at the moment is available for Win95/98/ME/XP/Vista/7 and Linux.
If you would like to port the Update tool to your OS, the source code to the tool and information about the format of the HVS data file can be obtained at http://hvsc.c64.org/download.htm#HVSC-tools
Why do the updates sometimes add SIDs that HVSC already had?
We often replace SIDs in HVSC with better versions. Reason for replacing SIDs could be (1) more sub-tunes (2) 100% rip (3) significantly smaller (4) merger of several SIDs. A "100% rip" includes SID tunes that are fully C64 compliant and where applicable have all subtunes. Thus, there is a chance that a new version of a tune could sound identical to the current version in HVSC. The new rip, however, has some internal changes that does in fact make it superior. Note that occasionally we do mistakenly add repeated tunes (and please tell us if you spot them.)
After I ran the Update, I can no longer find some SIDs. Where did they go?
To find out more details as to where SIDs were moved, why they were deleted, why they were replaced, etc., view the /DOCUMENTS/UpdateXX.hvs file for the current update. The "XX" in the path mentioned in the previous sentence represents the current update number. So if after running Update #7 you can no longer find a favorite SID, check /DOCUMENTS/Update07.hvs and search the file for the location where that SID was manipulated. The UpdateXX.hvs file serves as a data file for the UPDATE tool but is also readable by humans and does contain some useful comments. The best way to find the section of the file that contains the information you seek is to do a string search on the old SID or the path where the SID resided.
How can I tell what version of HVSC I have?
Look at /DOCUMENTS/HVSC.txt. The first few lines will tell you what version you have. Also check the UpdateXY.hvs files. XY tells you the last installed update, and as they are counted in ascending order it's easy to calculate which ones your are missing.
Why do some tunes in HVSC sound different than on a real C64?
SID emulators are very good, but not perfect. Although SID emulation is not perfect, the actual rip of the SID tune may be corrupt. In addition to rippers corrupting tunes, crackers would often make mistakes and muck up the tunes' speed (most infamously, Skate or Die and Driller.)
Another common problem is that some people may not be aware of is that North America (NTSC) and Europe (PAL) had differences in their TVs that influence the speed of SID tunes that used raster timing. However, where possible in HVSC SID tunes are now flagged as being PAL or NTSC so you can now hear them as the composer intended. You must use a modern sidplayer to take advantage of this feature, otherwise in older SID players you can force the clock speed to PAL or NTSC to hear it as you remember it.
If you believe you have found a corrupt tune, it would be best if you load up the old tune on a C64/128 and compare it to the HVSC version. If you then notice a problem with the HVSC version, by all means, let us know. We strongly recommend that you do not compare the HVSC tune to a tune played in a C64 emulator, as often it's not accurate. You might also wish to check out the STIL which documents any known problems with the SIDs found in HVSC if the game or demo also played the SID tune the same way.
How do I rip SID tunes from games/demos?
Steppe wrote an excellent document about ripping SID tunes. You can download the document here:
This documentation gives a basic guide to the fundamentals of ripping. All rips should be C64 compliant.
Once you've ripped the C64 data (and wherever possible, tested your ripped data on a real C64) you should use the SIDEdit tool to convert your rip to PSIDv2NG format for HVSC. Please use the SIDEdit link at http://lala.c64.org/ for more information.
However, do not set any of the PSIDv2NG fields unless you are absolutely sure you are correct. Consult the documentation with SIDEdit for more information.
You should then use Sidplay2 to test your rip to make sure it works correctly.
One other important thing to bear in mind - if at all possible, rip from the _original_ release of the game. The initial wave of game cracks back in the late 1980s often missed out tunes, mucked up tunes etc. and are never treated as a 100% reliable source for the correct game tunes, just to be on the safe side. Also, you will find that the release date given in a crack can be inaccurate, along with the credits, as the cracker would often overwrite the correct credits with who cracked the game etc.
Why isn't tune X in HVSC?
Of course, not every SID ever made on the C64 is in HVSC. We feel that the majority of the most requested tunes are in HVSC. This does not mean we feel that almost _all_ C64 tunes are in HVSC. The HVSC crew is always busy ripping new SIDs and always receiving more SIDs. First check via the search functionality on the HVSC web site if you can find the SID tune that you're looking for.
If you still can't find it then try using the tool SID Known which is available here:
SID Known can be used to identify music but it also helps to find out which tunes are not in the High Voltage SID Collection. If you find music not found by SID Known, it would be appreciated if you report this to the HVSC crew (http://hvsc.c64.org) or post it in one of the CSDb forums (http://csdb.dk) like "SIDs that aren't in HVSC yet".
I can't find a tune in HVSC which was used in an intro/demo. Where it is?
Unfortunately, many intro coders and programmers failed to properly give credit to the music they used in their work. HVSC, thankfully, is very accurate in the credits it gives. We have worked for years contacting the original composers of tunes to help verify SID credits in HVSC. I don't think you are going to like what I am leading up to. C64 musicians have long been ignored on the C64. Many people will say, "Do you have the music to Commando?" not knowing who made the music. The time has come that you too should learn these composers' names. Basically, what I am telling you is that there is a chance that you will have to roll up your sleeves and dig through HVSC searching for your old favorite tunes. Before you do this, though, you should check out the HVSC search engine at the HVSC web site. With just a fragment of information, you can perhaps find the tune.
For demos, you might wish to pay a visit to Stephan Schmid's excellent Demo Dungeon site at http://www.demodungeon.com/ - it has lots of demos, but also which tunes were used in each one. Very highly recommended.
Also, at CSDb <http://noname.c64.org/csdb/> everyone who knows or finds the correct sids used in C64 production can add a link to the correct HVSC path.
And if by all means you still can't locate a tune in HVSC, drop us a line at <hvsc (sid) c64.org> and I'm sure we can help you out.
Why do some of the tunes in HVSC not play?
More than likely, a silent tune is a PSID-only tune or the tune isn't fully C64 compliant. Our goal is to eventually replace all these tunes with versions that will work in the real C64 environment mode of Sidplay2. Further, some tunes use ADSR values which some old SID players don't emulate correctly.
Why are there some incorrect or ugly-looking credits in HVSC?
Slowly but surely we are taking care of this. With each update, we make at least 200 credit fixes. So please be patient and if you notice any incorrect credits, email us and we'll try to fix them for the next update. Note also that any documented proof you have of the credit fix will help.
Can I just download the individual tunes I want?
Yes. HVSC is available unzipped at a few web and ftp sites. A listing of these sites can be found at the HVSC Mirrors Page.
Do you offer HVSC on CD?
Yes we do :)
Please contact the below for further HVSC on CD information:
Jason MacKenzie, Binary Zone Interactive Basement Studio 34 Cowleigh Road Malvern Worc's WR14 1QD ENGLAND
- http://goo.gl/2fZG1 (links to http://www.binaryzone.org product page)
- Email: kenz (sid) bzpd.wanadoo.co.uk
- bg_mfc (sid) usa.net
Stefan Scheffels, Zum Werferstein 44, 51570 Windeck, GERMANY
- sokratekk (sid) rocketmail.com
In addition, the HVSC Crew have ensured that any programs distributed on a HVSC CD have had written permission from the programmers concerned to include their work, such as Sidplay, PlaySID, APlayer etc.
If you are a public domain library and wish to include HVSC on a CD-ROM then please email us <hvsc (sid) c64.org> for permission - that's all we ask. As long as you are making no profit on the CD, we will be more than willing to support you.
One final thing. You may also see C64 compilation CDs (such as the C64 Classix CD) which contain to have "over 10,000 SID tunes". They have copied HVSC onto those CDs without permission and are making profit from it, which is not only against the HVSC ethic, but also means that the composers' works are being abused. Should you ever stumble about such a CD offered on websites or online auctions, please let us know and notify us via email at <hvsc (sid) c64.org>. Thank you.
When will HVSC be completed?
In all likelihood, never. Far too many tunes were made on the C64 to reasonably expect that every SID will be collected. In addition, people are still composing music on the C64 to this day (some of the HVSC team themselves are among them). Consider HVSC a living collection.
I find myself listening to SID music all the time. Am I normal?
No, you are a SID-aholic. But we consider this a good thing. ;)
So how do I make my own SID tunes?
In most cases, you will need access to either a real C64 or a C64 emulator such as CCS64 or VICE. Ideally it is preferred that you actually compose on the real thing, as you know the emulation is going to be 100% :-). You will also need a music editor program, which will enable you to easily alter the sequences with the notes in, the voices that the C64 will use, and also which will let you compile your tunes to disk so that they can be loaded and run by other users.
ftp://ftp.zimmers.net/pub/cbm/c64/audio/editors/ is a good place to start to download a Commodore 64 music editor. I would advise you to try out a few and see which one you prefer. Over the years many people have recommended JCH's Editor, Music Assembler, DMC Editor, Future Composer, Voicetracker, SID DUZZ'IT, Soundmonitor and many others, but do take the time to read all the documentation with them. They will help you a lot in creating the right sound for your tune.
Those of you who are used to tracker programs like Fast Tracker on the PC might like to check out CyberTracker - see http://noname.c64.org/tracker/ - it's a FT-like environment for making C64 tunes.
And now there's a native PC application which will do the job very nicely for you. Lasse Öörni's GoatTracker uses the well known reSID emulation engine in conjunction with a friendly and simple to use interface so that within minutes you can be mastering the SID chip and producing your tunes. And for HardSID card owners, you can also use the real C64 SID chip on your HardSID to ensure your sound is as close to the real thing as possible. The beauty also is that you can save your tunes (when finished) to C64 .prg format, or SID format too. For more information, please consult the following webpage: http://covertbitops.c64.org
Another cross-platform music editor is CheeseCutter made by Abaddon of Fairlight, see: http://noname.c64.org/csdb/release/?id=102245 It's an open source cross-platform music editor build around the JCH-editor.
And of course, once you have a saved compiled tune, it should be pretty easy to convert it to a SID file and send it off to the HVSC Crew (hint).
What if I want to release a cover of a SID tune commercially?
You should importantly please bear in mind that often the C64 composer will own authorship rights to their SID tunes, and not the software company. This is particularly the case as often known game composers worked freelance and so kept the ownership to their pieces. You should endeavor to contact the original C64 composer to ensure not just permission but also that the composer gets due authorship credit (and payment of course) on the record. Feel free also to contact Chris Abbott <chris (sid) c64audio.com> with regard to this if you are unsure how to proceed.
Do you have more questions? Have you also checked:
- The documentation for the SID emulator/player you are using
- /DOCUMENTS/HVSC.txt (describes HVSC in more detail)
- /DOCUMENTS/STIL.txt & /DOCUMENTS/STIL.faq (discusses some tunes in HVSC)
- readme.1st (information about updating; comes with each update)
- BUGlist.txt (information about bugs in SIDs)
If you have checked those documents and have not found the answers you seek, by all means, please email <hvsc (sid) c64.org> at any time. Note that if you think your problem is related to the emulator/player you are using, we suggest you e-mail the party responsible.