I recently went down the rabbit hole revisiting all the 8-bit games and I discovered a newfound love for 8bit art and music. After I finished the list of 8bit art maker apps, I wondered if there were any apps to make 8bit music? If you wish to create 8bit versions of your favorite songs, compose music on phone, or create your own chiptunes then check out the list of best 8-bit music maker apps. Let’s check them out.
8-bit Music Maker Apps
1. RetroBoy Plugin
While you can use Audacity and other advanced software to recreate 8-bit music, it is still very intimidating for new users who don’t have much experience with music-making, that’s why I’ll focus on apps that are easy to use and require minimum prior knowledge about music software. However, if you’re familiar with Audacity, you can install this plugin and easily create 8bit music on your existing setup.
Get RetroBoy Plugin
2. Magical 8bit Plug
for FL Studio
FruityLoops or better known as FL Studio is a really popular DAW that allows you to create music sequences. Magical 8bit Plug is a plugin developed by Yokemura that lets you create 8bit music. The plugin offers seven different waveforms such as square, triangle, pure random, 25% pulse, etc. You can use this plugin to simulate the waveforms precisely and even add noise to your sequence to bring out authenticity. The plugin is entirely free and you can use it with multiple VSTs.
Get Magical 8bit Plug (free)
If you like making your own custom ringtones then this app is for you. Based on the chiptune tracker, it features a 16×16 grid where you can activate each note to create a tone. The interface is kept minimal so that you can use it without any intimidation. Just tap on the grid to hear the melody. You can recreate old Nokia ringtones or music from Super Mario, you decide. The app is free but to save tones you’ll have to upgrade to the paid version which costs $0.99.
Install Tonepad (iOS)
For Android and iOS
Nanoloop is built for sequencing, sampling, and composing music in one single app. It is highly customizable which makes it a little bit intimidating for new users. You can create a melody in 8 channels and set 8 different patterns in one channel. It also has all the waveforms used in 8-bit games along with the option to add your custom samples combining both to create a fusion style tune. The app has a full song editor which makes trimming and joining easy. Nanoloop is paid and available for both Android and iOS for $3.99.
If you were to create 8-bit music on your Android smartphone, Piconica is the first app you should try. It is a little different from other apps in the list as it doesn’t use the grid and tracker system. However, you can still create some sick melodies with the keyboard layout. It has square and triangle waves with different cycles which means you can get the same tones with a keypress. The keyboard has 96 keys which you can use with one or two rows. After recording a melody you can save the files on the local storage in WAV file format. Piconica is a great mobile solution to create 8-bit chiptunes.
Install Piconica (Android)
Let’s start with a basic app, Musiclab is for all the beginners who want to dabble in music. It has a web interface that makes it truly portable and you can use it on any web browser. The interface is extremely simple, making it suitable for kids and noobs like myself. You just have to click on any of the notes on the grid to activate that part, do this across the grid and then hit the play button and viola, music. You can change instruments without affecting the progress which includes piano, strings, bass, synth, etc. Export the project as a MIDI or a WAV file and save it on your computer with one click. Music lab is great for creating simple 8-bit style music, online.
Check out Music Lab
The next app, Beepbox is a serious chiptune tracker the works on the web browser. It offers you a fully customizable grid where you can adjust the keys, tempo, reverb, and rhythm. It has all the waveform instruments used in the original games which means you can recreate all your classic game melodies. Apart from retro presets like a square wave, triangle wave, sawtooth wave, etc, you also get support for newer instruments like keyboard, idiophone, guitars, bass, strings, and distortion presets. You can export your project as a .json, .wav, or .mid file. Beepbox is absolutely free and you’ll create authentic 8-bit music in no time with it.
Check out BeepBox
8. Bosca Ceoil
For Windows and Mac
This next application is a flash-based solution to creating chiptunes. Bosca Ceoil has a grid and tracker interface which makes it easy to create chiptunes. Just like Beepbox, it has different instruments, option to change octaves, tempo, etc. Along with MIDI, you get 12 additional instrument types which are going to be more than enough. To get started with your first tune, just select an instrument, and tap a note on the grid, and play it on a loop. You can then export the tunes in MIDI, WAV, XM, and MML formats. Choose Bosca Ceoil if you want an easy to use the 8-bit tracker for your computer.
Must Read: Best Music Apps for Windows 10
Check Out Bosca Ceoil
Unlike the previous one, FamiTracker gives you more functionality. Although it looks complicated, it is easy to get used to if you’ve worked on trackers before. To start composing a tune, you just have to select a pulse and press the key on your keyboard to put it on the note. It also supports MIDI devices so that you can easily import the sound samples and custom instruments from those devices. The application is free and lets you create music for NES and Famicom systems.
Check out FamiTracker
These were some of the best apps which you can use to create high-quality chiptunes. I tried to include the apps which are both easy to use and functional, for example, Music Lab is the simplest app to create tunes. Beepbox and Bosca Ceoil are a little more advanced in terms of features but offer a similar interface. If you were to ask for an advanced tool then FamiTracker would do the job. Which apps do you use to create 8-Bit Music, let me know in the comments below and share some tunes on Twitter?