The Best 8-Bit and 16-Bit Music Makers (Chiptune Music)
If you’re looking for some great 8-bit and 16-bit music makers to bring back that nostalgic sound, we’ve got you covered. This list includes some great ones you can use in your browser, as well as VST plugins for your DAW and apps for your smartphone if you’re on the go.
Online 8-Bit and 16-Bit Music Makers
Go to website: BeepBox
BeepBox is a nice online sequencer that allows you to sketch and test out melodies as well as use them anytime. It has 20 tracks you can use, with a large selection of instruments.
Its main feature however is quite clever—all the changes you make are instantly recorded in the URL which changes constantly. This way, you just need to copy the URL, you will always have your project with you, just in case. You can use the offline version as well, all of it for free.
Scratch 8-Bit Maker
Go to website: Scratch
Same as the previous item, Scratch is also an MIT project. This is a music sequencer that’s somewhat more complicated to use.
It has lots of space and you can make quite intricate tracks with it, but it’s kind of small and you can’t really see everything properly. But, if you get over that part, it is quite a powerful tool for on-the-road use.
Go to website: Online Sequencer
The name says it all. This is a full-on online sequencer that has the look and feel of a traditional DAW. It has tons of options and you can even save the work on your computer in .ogg, .mp3, or MIDI formats.
Go to website: MusicLab
MusicLab is a great free website for learning music meant mostly for kids. This, however, means that you get very good quality sound, with a very clean design for free.
To make chiptune music, just make sure to switch the instrument to synth, same as with all of the online sequencers.
The Best 8-Bit and 16-Bit VSTs (Chiptune VSTs)
These chiptune plugins can be used in DAW software, such as Ableton Live, Logic Pro, GarageBand (learn more about VST plugins).
Go to website: Peach
Peach is a plugin based completely on Nintendo’s classic game console sounds. It has more than 30 waveforms and at 99 cents it really is worth a shot, at least to see if it fits your needs.
Go to website: ymVST
ymVST is a free VST plugin you can download and use to create the original Atari sound. It works on deconstructed Atari ST chip sounds and is a real work of art. It can be quite tricky to get to know, as the UX is not the best, but nonetheless, if you’re looking for free and authentic sounds, you know where you can get them.
Go to website: Super Audio Cart (SAC)
If you’re looking for something more serious, Super Audio Cart (SAC) is the thing you’re looking for. This is the ultimate collection of all chiptunes out there. In it, you will find more than 14,000 samples which include many different sounds from the fifteen most popular gaming systems and computers from the ’80s.
Of course, all of this comes at a hefty price, but if you’re looking for the ultimate collection that will last you for decades to come, it’s a price you need to pay.
Magical 8bit Plug
Go to website: Magical 8bit Plug
This is a really nice, free 8-bit plugin that works for both AU and VST software. It’s made from scratch by the developer and it emulates the original sound of the 8-bit chip sounds, with included waveforms you can use to get that sound you need. You will need some time adjusting to it, but once you get it going, nothing will be able to stop you.
Go to website: chipsounds
This soft synthesizer turns your VST/AU/AAX host into a classic video game console, vintage 8-bit home computer, and even an ‘80s arcade.
Another well-developed plugin, this is a really nice, professional piece of software for people who want the best of both worlds—both the ‘80s and today’s technology.
Go to website: TAL-NoiseMaker
TAL-NoiseMaker has made its way to most free synth plugin lists on the internet at this point! NoiseMaker is a very good quality synth plugin that can certainly do a good job making chiptune music. You can just browse between the presets on this synth plugin to get started.
Go to website: Synth1
We finish off this part of the list with one of the best-known free synth plugins online. Synth1 gives you complete control over the sound, providing you with the best 8-bit and 16-bit music available.
In the plugin, you will find 3 oscillators, 1 FM modulation, 1 ring modulation and synchronization, and 1 sub-oscillator, as well as the built-in effects and other features. It’s free and every computer can run it, as it has low memory consumption.
There are also massive libraries of presets that you can load onto Synth1 (these need to be downloaded separately, but they are free!), which will keep you going for a long time!
Best Chiptune Phone Apps
nanoloop is a great, unusual app that will allow you to create chiptune music on your phone anywhere you go. This app has a sequencer, sampler, and synthesizer all in one place. You can use 8 channels with 8 patterns each, where every step is available for change.
Some people complain about the UX and we have to admit that it is quite specific and unique. It can look intimidating at first, but once you get used to it and the options the app has, you’ll see that it is actually very user-friendly and makes your life easier.
The app is available on both iOS and Android platforms and is paid.
Get it on: App Store (Apple)
TonePad is an easy and intuitive way to create music. You get a screen where all you need to do is tap to create different notes and combine them into musical masterpieces. You don’t need to know anything about music, just follow the sounds and you’ll get there.
Even though this is an app made for beginners to experiment and learn about music, it still is a very good sequencer app. You’ll get your fair share of options to experiment with and the design really is beautiful and easy to work with.
8-bit Music Maker
Get it on: Google Play
This app is a nice and easy free way to get some 8-bit music made on your Android device. It’s not the best app in the world and it does have its share of issues, but all in all, it will get the job done and most of the issues are cosmetical and don’t really interfere with the work of the music.
You can use two full octaves, with unlimited tacts to create any music you want. You can also save and export your music or just continue to work on your project from your mobile device.
We hope that this article has helped shed some light on 8-bit and 16-bit chip music. There are tons of options to choose from out there.
Whether you’re a music producer who wants to expand your range or a beginner looking to have some fun, you can find quality software that will fulfill your needs to the max.