SONICWARE LIVEN Mega Synthesis – A Truly ‘Sonic’ Synthesizer!


Mega Synthesis Featured 128x71 1SONICWARE LIVEN Mega Synthesis – A Truly ‘Sonic’ Synthesizer!

Mega Synthesis Featured 128x71 1

The SONICWARE LIVEN Mega Synthesis recreates the ‘Sonic’ delights of the iconic YM2612 FM sound chip found in the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the U.S) with all the extras of a powerful LIVEN box.


When the lovely people at SONICWARE sent me details of their newest addition to the LIVEN range, I got excited for two very specific reasons. Firstly, as a member of the first generation of video gamers, raised on a diet of PONG and Atari 2600’s, the sounds of the groundbreaking 16-bit game consoles were a huge step forward. So many amazing games were soundtracked by a very specific set of chips. Secondly, as an avid FM synthesis enthusiast, the familiar sound of the YM2612 soundtracked many hours of game playing in my late teens.

The Classic Video Game Sound

Over the years, many companies have tried to harness the power of the Mega Drive sound engine. Some people have even hacked the game consoles to make instruments out of them. But it seems that SONICWARE has now created a full-on Mega Drive sound studio in a box! Let’s take a closer look.

The Tone Generators

First up, they have managed to recreate the three main sonic components. Firstly, the ubiquitous YM2612 provides the 4-Operator, 8 Algorithm sound. Then there’s the SN76489-style PSG (Programmable Sound Generator). This chip provides basic square wave tones and noise. Finally, there’s an 8-bit PCM module for those crunchy samples. It is these three sound generators that the LIVEN Mega Synthesis recreates. To be clear, SONICWARE has recreated these. These are not the original chips.




Being a LIVEN, these tone generators are married up to a powerful, pattern-based sequencer. On top of that, there are 10 types of ‘per-track’ FX. The sequencer has six tracks, three of which are dedicated to the FM chip, two to the PSG and one to the PCM. There are 128 patterns, each with 128 steps and supports real-time and step recording. Steps and tracks can be copied and pasted and there are useful swing, transpose and pattern-chaining features. Loop playback is also possible. A parameter lock function allows for parameter settings to be recorded for each step.

As we’ve come to expect from the LIVEN range, the Mega Synthesis has full MIDI support with Sync in and out. Power comes from a mains PSU or 6x AA batteries. There’s a stereo LINE output and a headphone jack as well as an audio input.

Endorsed By Video Game Music Royalty

Yuzo Koshiro

Yuzo Koshiro

The SONICWARE LIVEN Mega Synthesis is truly a one-stop shop for creating classic video game-style music in a small, light and powerful box. So much so that SONICWARE have enlisted the services of one of the great composers of that era. Yuzo Koshiro is the renowned composer behind classic games such as ‘Sonic The Hedgehog’, ‘Streets of Rage’, ‘Etrian Odyssey’ and ‘Ys’. He has contributed 32 sound presets and 8 special patterns for the LIVEN Mega Synthesis. On top of this, the unit comes with 320 FM presets and 64 PCM drum kits out of the box.

More Information

The SONICWARE LIVEN Mega Synthesis will retail in the SONICWARE web shop for $239 USD and begins shipping from January 11th. Shipping is free for UK, Europe and USA (VAT/Customs duties are not included in the price, and depending on your location you may need to pay these upon receipt of the item.)

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