What Is Bintracker Software And How Does It Work

Bintracker software is an advanced music creation and editing software that allows users to compose chiptune music. Chiptune, also known as chip music or 8-bit music, refers to music made using the sound chips of vintage computers, video game consoles, and arcade machines. Bintracker simulates these sound chips in software, giving users access to the classic chiptune sounds of yesteryear.

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What Is Chiptune Music?

Chiptune music originated in the early days of video games and personal computing in the 1970s and 1980s. Early video game consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Game Boy, and Commodore 64 had very limited audio capabilities. To produce music and sound effects, clever composers programmed the built-in sound chips in these systems directly.

Despite the limitations, skilled composers could create complex and expressive music. Early chiptune music was defined by synthesized electronic sounds, fast arpeggios, and simple melodies and harmonies. The most iconic chiptune sounds are the thick, buzzing square wave basslines and bright, bleeping lead synths.

Over time, the chiptune style expanded beyond videogames into a full-fledged electronic music genre. Underground chiptune artists and composers continued pushing the boundaries of the vintage sounds. Today, chiptune encompasses many styles of music while retaining the core qualities that give it that signature retro game sound.

Key Features of Bintracker

Bintracker aims to provide a flexible and intuitive tracker interface optimized for chiptune music creation.

Here are some of its main features:

  • Cross-platform – Bintracker runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Raspberry Pi operating systems. This makes collaboration and sharing projects easy across different platforms.
  • Tracker-style workflow – Bintracker uses vertical columns representing separate channels that allow for easy editing and rearrangement during music sequencing. This tracker-style workflow has long been popular for chiptune music.
  • Supports many sound chips – Bintracker can emulate the sound of vintage chips like the SID chip (Commodore 64), NES APU (Nintendo Entertainment System), OPL2 (Ad Lib and Sound Blaster), and more. Users can mix and match chips to get creative hybrid chiptune sounds.
  • Powerful tempo and timing tools – Bintracker provides extensive tempo and rhythm controls. Users can program tempo changes, create complex polyrhythms, and use tools like time signature and swing settings.
  • Live performance features – Bintracker allows binding keyboard shortcuts and MIDI controllers to different controls. This enables users to perform their chiptune creations live.
  • Plenty of effects – Reverb, delay, distortion, vibrato, and other effects can be applied to further shape and enhance the synthesized chip sounds
  • Modular signal flow – Bintracker employs a flexible routing system between sound sources, effects, and mixing. Users can greatly expand their sonic options using this modular workflow.

How Bintracker Interprets Tracker Code

Under the hood, Bintracker is powered by a custom tracker format language and interpreter built in Chicken Scheme. To understand how Bintracker works, we need to first explain what a tracker is at the code level.

A tracker is a type of music sequencer interface that uses vertical columns of text commands that function like musical notes and annotations.

Some common tracker commands include:

  • Note Column – This defines the pitch and length of each note. Notes are entered as the note letter followed by the octave number (C-4, D#5 etc).
  • Instrument Column – This sets the sound or program change used for the note. Usually a number corresponding to a sound chip preset.
  • Effect Column – Applies effects like arpeggio, vibrato, pitch slides to notes to add expressiveness.
  • Parameter Column – Defines effect parameters and values.

This text-based tracker code contains all the musical sequence data. Bintracker’s underlying interpreter parses this code and generates audio in real-time based on the trackers commands.

Bintracker implements an object-oriented tracker format. Each instrument and effect is an object with certain parameters and behaviors. Hence users can define custom instruments and effects via Scheme scripting.

Overall, this interpreter model allows Bintracker to be highly extensible. Users can add support for new sound chips, effects, and music logic beyond what’s available out-of-the-box. Bintracker exposes Scheme scripting in a modular way so that advanced coders and chip musicians can mold it into the perfect chiptune environment suited for their needs.


Bintracker brings the tracker music sequencing paradigm into the modern era with a flexible software implementation centered around chiptune music. With its interpreter-based architecture, cross-platform support, and live performance features, it promises to push chiptune into new creative territory. Whether you’re an old-school chip composer or new to the world of chiptune, Bintracker provides an intuitive and customizable workspace to craft your perfect 8-bit sounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions about Bintracker software:

Q: What operating systems does Bintracker support?

A: Bintracker runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Raspberry Pi operating systems. This cross-platform support makes sharing and collaborating on projects easy.

Q: Can I use external MIDI devices with Bintracker?

A: Yes, Bintracker allows you to connect MIDI keyboards, controllers, and other devices to play and manipulate your chiptunes live. You can assign MIDI controls to parameters using MIDI learn.

Q: How steep is the learning curve for Bintracker?

A: Bintracker aims to provide a user-friendly music tracker workflow. Those familiar with trackers should feel right at home. For beginners, the interface is intuitive enough to learn with some experimentation and referencing the manual.

Q: Can I expand Bintracker’s features with custom code?

A: Yes, advanced users can code custom instruments, effects, export file formats, and more using the Scheme scripting tools. Bintracker provides modular routing and MIDI scripting to customize your environment.

Q: Does Bintracker work for genres outside of chiptune?

A: While designed for chiptune, Bintracker’s flexible architecture means it can produce music beyond just the 8-bit game sound. The modular routing and custom code options allow expanding into other genres.

Q: Where can I get Bintracker and how much does it cost?

A: Bintracker is available for download from [insert website] for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Raspberry Pi. It is currently priced at [insert price] for new purchases and updates.

Useful Table

Here is a useful table comparing some popular chiptune sound chips that Bintracker supports:

Sound ChipFound InReleasedWaveformsChannels
SIDCommodore 641982Waveform generator (flexible waveforms)3, plus 1 noise
NES APUNintendo NES1983Pulse, triangle, noise5
OPL2Ad Lib, Sound Blastermid 1980sFM synthesisUp to 18
POKEYAtari 8-bit19794 tone generators, noise8
AY-3-8910Various game systemslate 1970sPulse, sawtooth, noise3 plus 1 noise

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