Nintendo Entertainment System

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Nintendo Entertainment System
The Family Computer, a popular 8-bit game console, launched at 1983 in Japan.
Manufacturer(s) Worldwide release Nintendo

South Korea Hyundai

Brazil Playtronic

Release Date(s) Japan 1983-07-15

United States of America 1985-10-18

Canada 1986-02

Europe 1986-09-01

France 1987-10-27

Italia 1987-11-30

Australia 1987

South Korea 1989

Brazil 1993

CPU(s) Ricoh RP2A03
Sound chip(s) Ricoh RP2A03
Music section NES

NES The Nintendo Entertainment System or MESS System Driver NES (Family Computer or Famicom in Japan) is a video game console made by Nintendo, released in Japan July 15, 1983, as a successor of Color TV-Game. The video game contains a M6502-based processor, as well some other chips, which most of them are from Ricoh. The japanese counterpart can attach to an add-on called Family Computer Disk System (commonly called as Famicom Disk System, FCD or FDS), which consist on a disk-drive, a RAM Adapter and necessary hook-ups (for both video and audio). The RAM Adapter has a sound chip that provide one sine-wave channel to the original Famicom.

NES Control Deck

Various cartridges for the Famicom have sound expansion, including PCM playback and FM modulators, as well a built-in microphone in the Controller II. Known cartridges to have sound expansions are Akumajou Densetsu and Gimmick!. It's not possible to create sound expansions in the NES (both American, European and Korean machines) without modding, due to the pinout changes in the cartridge port.

Launch titles Japan


Main article: Ricoh RP2A03

The sound of the NES is provided by the APU, which is embedded in the 2A03 (or 2A07 for PAL machines) CPU. It contains:

Most of NES games did not use the DPCM channel in music. The first NES game to use the DPCM channel is Wild Gunman (the FIRE! speech). Usage of the DPCM channel in music started become common in the late 80s. Each game has their own set of DPCM data. Famous are the DPCM drums used in many Sunsoft games, including Fester's Quest and Journey to Silius. The DPCM channel was not as used in NES-based arcade machines, most of them have a separate DAC which play voices in a better quality than the APU's DPCM.

Sound Extensions

The Famicom had sound input and output pins on the cartridge connector, allowing for sound expansions. On the NES, these pins were moved to the expansion connector on the bottom.

Below is a list of Famicom sound expansions:

  • Cassette audio: Although this is not a sound chip, it is used for loading/saving data when the user was playing/recording cassettes into the Famicom Data Recorder.
  • FDS audio: The Famicom Disk System add-on adds a single 64-step wavetable channel. Some games use it for SFX, others use it for musics, or both.
  • Nintendo MMC5: This mapper adds two pulse waves and one 8-bit DAC.
  • Konami VRC6: This mapper adds contains two pulse wave channels and one sawtooth channel.
  • Konami VRC7: This mapper contains a deriative of the YM2413, lacking the rhythm section, most waveforms, and 3 melody channels, giving a total of 6 FM channels. It was only used in Lagrange Point.
  • Namco 163: This mapper adds up to 8 wavetable sound channels. Used in a few games, including Megami Tensei II and Rolling Thunder. This chip uses time-division multiplexing to output its channels. When more than six channels are enabled, the switching frequency is audible and can be heard as a buzzing noise. This does not affect Famicoms with RF out due to a low-pass filter, but it is audible with A/V out.
  • Sunsoft 5B: This mapper contains a YM2149 core, adding 3 square waves. It is only used in Gimmick!.
  • NEC UPD7756c: A special sample chip used by some Jaleco games, mostly used in the Moero!! series of sports games.
  • Mitsubishi M50805: A special sample chip used by Bandai, for the japanese version of Dance Aerobics, Family Trainer 3: Aerobics Studio.
The Konami VRC7, found in Lagrange Point.

VGM scene

The Main CPU of the NES, the N2A03.

In the VGM scene, the NES APU is supported with a lot of accuracy in their emulation. Some DPCM games can not sound right, due to DPCM banking-switch, exclusive to each game, making errors during the playback (e.g.: wrong DPCM data and/or null DPCM data). It won't log the microphone speeching, as it is very useless unless if you like to sing video game music like in a karaoke booth.

You can log NES VGMs with MAME (for NES-based hardware games, like the Nintendo Vs. System), with MESS, or with NEZplug/NEZplay, logging directly for NSFs. In most cases, logging from NEZplug is recommended, you maybe only use MESS for VGM logging if the game didn't have a NSF file. Note that MESS didn't support FDS PWM logging.

Only one Famicom sound chip extension is supported in our current VGM spec.: Sunsoft 5B, which is a YM2149 used in Gimmick!.

VGM Packs

Game Info Databases

External links