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Fret Calculator; Softjee Live Machine

Atari Notes By Derek Johnson
Published July 1998

Softjee's Live Machine for Falcon.Softjee's Live Machine for Falcon.

Derek Johnson ventures once more into the bizarre world of Atari software...

You can't accuse Atari owners of not being inventive: the strangest software to come my way for some time has to be Kenneth Medin's Fret Calculator. This utility's sole purpose in life is to assist players in the tuning of instruments with movable frets to different historical temperaments — the pre‑classical viol family comes immediately to mind. Fret Calculator handles up to 12 frets and 24 strings in any tuning, and makes it possible to compensate for instruments with strings of different lengths. In addition, you can have normally enharmonic tones (C# and Db, for example) simultaneously on different fret positions. MIDI support is provided, with full simulation of the resulting tuning being sent to a MIDI instrument.

Fret Calculator, should it be of use to you, is available (in English or Swedish) from Documentation is in the increasingly common STGuide hypertext format. EC909 can create single‑bar patterns (in real time on the Falcon), and then export them into your direct‑to‑disk recorder or sample editor as AIFF or AVR format samples. Both 8‑ and 16‑bit formats are supported, as well as mono or stereo options. The program can even generate a MIDI File from your pattern, which can then be loaded into virtually any MIDI sequencer. You're also provided with tempo and bar‑length controls, MIDI triggering for drums and pattern playing, on‑line help (using the ST Guide utility — see the 'ST Guide' box) and an 8‑page manual. Guidelines are even given for replacing EC909's drum sounds with samples of your own.

There are two versions of EC909 — one for the STE/TT, and the other for the Falcon. Due to a lack of digital audio hardware, EC909 won't run on an STFM.

A Gem For The Web

If you're using your Atari to browse the Internet — and the tools are out there, as discussed in this column in previous months — perhaps you're feeling a little left out when it comes to the audio content of some web sites. A solution to your problem is now available. GEMJing (from is a small sample player that plays WAV, NeXT/au, DVS, AVR, HSN and SMP audio files, some of which may be embedded in web pages. The program runs on any ST or Falcon, and positively relishes the thought of being controlled by other applications — it runs quite happily as a plug‑in for popular Atari web browser, CAB. One neat feature of the latest versIon (v1.06) of GEMJing is that it comes with documentation and resources in many different languages — French, German, Italian, Fijian, Japanese, Turkish, Spanish, Latin, Filipino, Esperanto and Bishlamaro (spoken in the Solomon Islands, apparently!)

One page on the Internet that won't bother you with sound files in the background, but which will provide you with a solid amount of useful information about your Atari is Nicholas Bales' Atari ST Quick FAQ ( This page is ideal for newcomers or for those of us who might occasionally need to be reminded of some specific details of their machine. This site is updated regularly, and offers links to other sites.

French Polish

French Atari developer Softjee have a healthy collection of software, mainly for Falcons, which we've covered here before. This month I'll make just a quick mention of Pretty MidPlay (FF90), a simple MIDI File player with plenty of options for customising the file's playback. Pretty is not to be confused with the company's MidPlay combination MIDI file player/software General MIDI sound source, but it does have a 'record' module that allows you to record the performance of a MIDI File direct to the Falcon's hard disk.
Expand, Softjee's virtual sound module/playback sampler for the Falcon (FF390), has been updated: it can now play back AIF (Cubase Audio) sounds, load WAV files, and lets you set the polyphony for each MIDI channel (specifiy number of voices or choose dynamic allocations). A new version of Expand (v2.0) will be available soon.

A piece of Softjee software which we haven't mentioned in the past is Live Machine (FF390), a live‑orientated direct‑to‑disk recording tool. You have access to eight direct‑to‑disk audio tracks, and each can be of a different length. Using MIDI mesages, these tracks can be controlled in real time, and each track can be looped or played as a single shot. There's even a basic ADSR envelope control.
Lastly, time for a plug for Digital Tracker (FF290), a 32‑track digital sampler/sequencer combo. Audio can be sampled at any frequency (from 1kHz to 50kHz), at 16‑bit resolution. Each track has level and pan controls, and a comprehensive range of effects is available. Play back tracks via a velocity‑sensitive MIDI keyboard, or sync the Digital Tracker to an external device. A full range of sample and sequence editing tools is available: cut, insert, reverse, echo, set volume, and set volume envelope for samples; and mask function, search, delete, clear, copy, paste, and transpose for sequences.
Contact Softjee direct for details of their full range, and shipping costs to the UK: Softjee, 47200 Longueville, France (email, web site

Soundpool Keep The Noise Down

SoundPool have launched SoundPool Denoiser, a 'major breakthrough in native DSP noise reduction technology'. This new DSP software module for SoundPool's Falcon 030‑based Mastering Suite has been designed to do one job: remove hiss, noise and complex interference from audio recordings, in real time. It can handle audio coming in via the Falcon's analogue inputs or, if your Falcon is equipped with the appropriate hardware, via S/PDIF or ADAT interface. We haven't heard the program working yet, but SoundPool's Rainer Baumgärtner says: 'We really racked our brains for this one. Feed the computer a noisy analogue cassette recording and watch it put out noise‑free, crystal‑clear digital audio at the other end. The denoiser now does just that. We couldn't believe the sound quality of the processed signal when we first heard the results!'