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AY Sound Interface for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum

 ZX Spectrum 


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AY Interface

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One of the main criticisms levelled at the original Sinclair ZX Spectrum has been its sound.  The original Spectrum has only a 1 bit sound capability (BEEP) through its internal speaker, which can be quiet, depending to some extent on the surface below the Spectrum (although you can use the MIC port on the Spectrum to enhance the output of this sound if required).  We are often asked how to get better sound out of the humble ZX Spectrum, to provide it with proper music and sounds which are closer to the quality available on the Commodore Amiga.

Well, there is a nice simple way - add an AY sound chip interface to your ZX Spectrum and make use of the music and additional sounds built into a wide range of software.

Alas, whilst the ZX Spectrum 128K and later models introduced Spectrum users to the common AY sound chip, providing the Spectrum with MIDI capabilities, this ability was never available natively on the original 16K or 48K rubber key Sinclair ZX Spectrum or ZX Spectrum+ computer.

Various games were written which make use of this facility to provide enhanced sound and music when they detect that the AY chip is available.  A list of 48K games which will make use of the AY Sound interface, appears at the bottom of this page (thanks to Yerzmyey for compiling this list).  All listed games are ones which can be found on the World of Spectrum website and therefore the list excludes games which are denied distribution.

Although similar interfaces were introduced before the 128K model, Some interfaces were produced in the late 1980s for the ZX Spectrum which provided the ability to use an AY sound chip, but there was never a common standard and they tended to be based on the ZX81 AY modules.  The ZX Spectrum 128K model changed the ports used to address the AY chip, and that became standard. Alas by then, most interface manufacturers were no longer supporting the original Spectrum.

The Zaxon AY-Magic Sound interface has been designed to use the same standard as the ZX Spectrum 128 in order to ensure the greatest compatibility and now brings back the ability to play these tunes (and some digital tunes (MOD-like) which can make your Spectrum sound like the Commodore Amiga) directly on the smaller ZX Spectrums, including the 16K and 48K rubber key Sinclair ZX Spectrum, or ZX Spectrum+, the Timex Sinclair TC2048 and other Spectrum clones, such as the Didaktik Gama 80Kb and the Brazilian TK95.

The interface can also be used with the later Spectrum models (Spectrum +128, +2, +2A, +2B and +3) to give stereo output although as it uses the same ports as the in-built AY interface, there is not much point, particularly as TurboSound will not work!

Zaxon AY-Magic Sound Interface for Sinclair ZX Spectrum

The interface simply plugs into the Spectrum's expansion port and has a through connector, so that you can use it with the DivIDE Plus to store the AY music files (for example).  You then need to connect some standard PC speakers to its sound out socket to hear the sound and adjust volume!

Although the interface does not add the PLAY command to the ZX Spectrum (available on the 128K models), you can still use the interface utilising the standard OUT commands for the AY interface, or better still, use some of the software available on the internet to create, edit and play music files.  Most of the software utilities appear on Yerzmyey's website and on the Project AY page along with some brilliant demos of the type of sounds which can be generated.  Games address the AY chip directly and do not tend to be written in BASIC, so the lack of this extra command does not affect the usefulness of the interface.

ZX Spectrum .tap files for use with the DivIDE or DivIDE Plus which show off the interfaces capabilities, through demonstrations for the ZX Spectrum appear on two websites - AY music demos and classic AY music demos.

  List of 48K Games which support the Zaxon AY Interface

We are grateful to Yerzmyey for compiling the following list of games titles, as this has been a lot of hard work and is based on the distributable games available from the World of Spectrum website.  If you know of any further 48K games which will work, please let us know so that we can add them to the list.

The links are for downloadable files, either in .TAP or .TZX format.  If you have the DivIDE Plus compact flash interface, you can load either .tap or .tzx files from ResiDOS.  However, plain DivIDE interface users, will need to covert .TZX files into audio and load the programs from either a tape-recorder, an MP3 player, or from your PC's sound card.

OK for the list of games:

1 180
2 ACE 2: The Ultimate Head to Head Conflict
3 African Trail Simulator
4 Agent X II - 1
5 Agent X II - 3
6 Ammytris (Tetris)
7 Amo del Mundo
8 Andy Capp
10 Atomix
11 Atomix II, Hexagonia
12 Banger Management
13 Battery's Not Precluded
14 Blockus
15 Blood Valley
16 Bloody Paws 1 & 2
17 Bobsleigh
18 Boovie (resent and load second program)
19 Boovie 2
20 Bosconian '87
21 Boulder Dash CK (set up Spectrum 128 in the game!!)
22 Boulderdash: Double Dash
23 Chopper Duel
24 Chubby Gristle
25 Columns
26 Comando Tracer
27 Cosa Nostra (take file "SIDE 2"!!!)
28 Cosmic Shock Absorber
29 Cosmic Shock Absorber
30 Crazy Cars II
31 Curse of night
32 Cybernoid II: The Revenge
33 Defcom
34 Delta Charge
35 Dice
36 Dimension Omega
37 Diver: Mystery of the Deep
38 Dizzy: Last Will
39 DoubleDash
40 Dream Warrior
41 Exolon
42 Elevator Action
43 F.I.R.E.
44 Fury, The
45 G.I. Hero
46 Gommy, Medieval Defender
47 Gonzzalezz 1 and 2
48 Hexxagon
49 Hotshot
How to be a Complete Bastard
Hypsys 1 & 2
52 Ikari Warriors
53 Implosion
54 Inferno
55 Inhumanos, Los
56 International Karate +
57 Into the Eagle's Nest
58 Jet-Story
62 Klimax
63 Kong's Revenge
64 Kuiper Pursuit
65 Last Mission, The
66 Licence to Kill
67 Line of Fire
68 Livingstone Supongo
69 Logo: Part I
Maze, The
72 Mega Color Lines
73 Mega-Apocalypse
74 Mega-Apocalypse
76 Minesweeper
77 Moonwalker
78 Motos
79 Mountain Bike Racer
Mutan Zone 1 and 2
Myth: History in the Making
82 Narco Police
83 O.B.R. Rapid Reaction Unit
84 Operation Wolf
85 Orion
86 Outlaw
87 P-47 Thunderbolt
Party Worms
89 Pedro in the land of pyramides
Pedro in the spooky castle
Pedro on pirates' island
Pro Tennis Tour
93 Pulsator
94 Pulsoids
95 Purple Saturn Day
96 Puzznic
97 Rallybug (only FX, not music)
98 Raster Runner
99 Revenge
Rex 1
Rex 2 (code required)
103 Shoot-Out
104 Shot
105 Sideral War
106 Sigma 7 (choose SIDE 2!!!)
107 Silkworm
108 Sirwood (RESET after intro and LOAD!!)
109 Skateboard Kidz
110 Smiler 2 (press M for music)
111 Smiler 3 (press 0 for music)
112 Sokoban 1991
113 Sokoban 2006
114 Solar Invasion (LIGHTGUN control!!)
115 Soviet
116 Space Racer
117 Spitfire 40
118 Square Head
119 Star Trip
120 Stormlord
121 Stormlord II: Deliverance
122 Super Monaco GP
123 Tarzan
124 Techno Cop
125 Terror of the Deep
126 Test Drive II: The Duel
127 Tetris
128 Tetris 2
129 Turbo Cup Challenge
130 Twin World
131 Twinz!
132 Typhoon
133 Ugly Blaster
134 Viaje al Centro de la Tierra: Version Extendida
135 Vixen 1
136 Vixen 2
137 Vixen 3
138 Xenophobe
139 Xor