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Atari ST - 1980s Reliable and Sophisticated Music Production

YouTuber Dan Baker explores the way you'd make digital music in the 80's on an Atari ST computer. This includes a look at a classic version of Cubase! To record audio he brings in a Fostex D-160 multitrack recorder.

I had to look up Fostex. Something in the 90's called a "magazine" (sounds like it might be French for Blog?) did a review for one in 1998. Back then a D-160 would run $5,000. They still seem pricey at $500 on eBay.

Video Description:

The Atari ST was the first computer to feature MIDI in and out as standard, dating all the way back to 1985. Smart thinking indeed....

Here, I put the Atari through its paces with Cubase version 2 (from 1989) and a Roland SC-880 sound module (a mere child at 1997...). Later on in the session, I include a MIDI timecode driven Fostex D-160 (also a 1997 whippersnapper) to record some audio over the top of the MIDI sequenced work.

The Atari works, works, works and still works. Its job is simple but powerful in the creation of your music. I've had it for 20 odd years, and it was ragged daily before that. Goodness knows how many songs it has made. At a third of a century old, it shows no signs of giving up...

You could think of it as GarageBand version 0.0!

Enjoy, share and subscribe to my channel...

Reader Comments 10

The Atari ST was my first computer. I ran MasterTracks on it (I don't remember if it was "MasterTracks Pro" or not), which was my first 'home' MIDI sequencer on computer (I'm not counting the sequencer on my EPS). The Atari ST wasn't new when I got it. I think Macs had a firm foothold at the studios where I was working.

I remember really enjoying working with MasterTracks-- if I recall correctly, it was intuitive and reliable. I made quite a few tracks on it just before I switched over to mac and MOTU Performer.
On May 14, 2019 - @stub said:
The Atari ST was my first computer. I ran MasterTracks on it (I don't remember if it was "MasterTracks Pro" or not), which was my first 'home' MIDI sequencer on computer (I'm not counting the sequencer on my EPS). The Atari ST wasn't new when I got it. I think Macs had a firm foothold at the studios where I was working.

I remember really enjoying working with MasterTracks-- if I recall correctly, it was intuitive and reliable. I made quite a few tracks on it just before I switched over to mac and MOTU Performer.

800XL was my first, but man, I lusted for that 520 when it came out. Managed to save summer job money to buy one used along with a revolutionary device called, at the time, a "hard drive."

Fuck me I'm old...
That brings that memories. Although that video is more modern than when I first started. I remember my dad buying Dr T's sequencer for the Commodore 64. Then we graduated to An Atari with Master Tracks Pro, then Notator, then Cubase on PC and then finally Cubase Audio. And now I'm on Studio One and hopefully that will be the last sequencer I ever run. I'm getting too old for this - lol.
May 14, 2019  | person_outline Roy
Those Ataris were ahead of their time. I still have my Atari Falcon with Cubase Audio I bought around 1993. Pretty impressive back in the day to record 16 audio channels plus MIDI on a 16MHz machine! An Atari clone on an iPad would be a lot of fun.
May 14, 2019  | person_outline El Jeffe
I had an Atari ST. I used Dr T's Sample Maker with my Ensoniq EPS. It was awesome!

Played this tic-tac-toe game called kwajalein a lot too. One of the few game that ran on the monochrome monitor that Sample Maker required.

I miss my old gear.
May 14, 2019  | person_outline Steve
“... French for blog...” ha ha ha

Is that a typo before that sentence?

I have an Atari Mega ST4. Bought it to create a retro studio setup, along with several other classic computers (Amiga 1200, Apple IIgs, a batch of C64 units, and old Tandys) ... Haven’t done a thing with them. Just too damned primitive for me. I don’t even really use them for game so.
Somebody just gave me an old Mac G4. It's actually pretty decked out for an old machine. PCI slots have extra firewire, extra USB, SCSI, and the Video card. I'll pop in my old UAD card, and it'll be a pretty workable fun-factory-- though probably loud & slow (just how I like 'em). My Kurzweils have scsi drives, so I can use it for troubleshooting & maintenance (I suppose). I mostly need it to edit lots of educational sheets in Appleworks.

The whole "walled-garden" thing with iOS and the developer paywall has recently made me kind of lust for a little Raspberry Pi with a touch screen kind of thing. I think in a way, that will feel similar to an old school computer in many ways. Not sure if it is a good path of entry into learning to code, though.
For proof you can still absolutely slam on an ST, check out what Ultrasyd can do with one: https://soundcloud.com/ultrasyd
May 15, 2019  | person_outline O'Doyle
Sounds amazing. I've heard some really amazing "8-bit" stuff.

It's especially cool to hear "modern" sounding hard-pounding grooves with things that sound like old hand-held games--- and a certain amount of unexpected low end.
I’ve said it numerous times on here. If you want to get really deep into chiptune, there’s nothing better than sunvox. You’ll come for the chiptune; you’ll stay when you realize what else you can do with it :)

Tim hates trackers, though ;)
May 16, 2019  | person_outline O’Doyle
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