BeebSynth (Clares) Review | The Micro User - Everygamegoing

The Micro User

By Clares Micro Supplies
BBC B/B+/Master 128

Published in The Micro User 1.09

The Sound Of Music...

Beebsynth is an envelope definer and music synthesiser for the Model B requiring a 1.2 OS.

The software is divided into two Basic programs, the first of which con tains instructions and some preliminary setting up. The second program CHAINs after this, and you are pre sented with a mode 1 display made up of red squares and the mundane title of Envelope Definer.

There are 16 squares, each of which holds a figure of the ENVELOPE and SOUND statement. You use the horizontal cursor keys to move around between the squares and the vertical ones to change the numbers up or down.

Moving between the figures is quite slow, although you can change them at quite a reasonable pace. Reactions to your key presses are quite sluggish as well.

You play the sound by pressing the space bar. Six of a possible 16 envelopes are already defined for you.

As you switch envelopes, that particular ENVELOPE statement is displayed at the top of the screen (although it only changes when you press the space bar to play the sound).

You cannot change channel to define sounds using the noise channel. This is a shortcoming for any envelope definer, but is just about acceptable considering the nature of the software.

Pressing K gets you on to the key board synthesiser, which over a period of seven seconds draws a picture of a small - 23 note - piano keyboard at the bottom and diagrams of useful keys to press at the top of the screen.

Each key on the screen keyboard is simulated on the BBC Micro, and you can play away through a limited range. There is a tuning feature which allows you to alter the pitch of the entire keyboard. But playing tunes will not be affected as the keys are the same pitch relative to each other.

There are three ways of checking the keyboard, the first two of which simulate monophonic and polyphonic keyboards.

These are quite uninteresting when compared with the third method, which actually simulates an echo, giving an extremely professional air to it.

I'm quite sure that any pop star who was blindfolded would think it was a real synthesiser, as the effects you can produce are quite startling (although some of the pre-defined sounds resemble those cheap keyboard-cumcalculators). You can use any one of the 16 envelopes you have defined, although switching between them is a bit labourintensive, demanding up to four key presses to change.

You can make sure that the sound cuts off after you release a key, in case the release phase is too long and annoy ing (a handy feature). Pressing Escape returns you to the definer. You have to mess about a lot if you want to save the envelope data for future use.

The instruction sheet merely tells you to Break out of the program and do a *SAVE command to save the actual envelopes data which the OS stores in memory below PAGE.

This is a daunting task, to say the least, especially to someone who is un familiar with *SAVE.

Looking at the software overall, it seems like a small keyboard player program tied onto a below-average envelope definer.

I think this general approach is un helpful as the two sections use up too much memory for themselves to facilitate many good features.

Two programs, one concentrating upon ENVELOPES and waveforms and the other a fully programmable synthesiser with memory would have been more satisfying.

But you can have a lot of fun with the synthesiser and the envelope definer is useable, so at £7.95 for the cassette version and £10.95 for the disc Clares

BeebSynth is worth the money, especially when you look at the prices of rival companies' efforts.

Martin Galway