Amiga Audio Separation Solution

Mi Amiga

I’m one of these people who loves Amiga game music or Soundtracker/Protracker music modules, to the point of recording them onto cassette or Minidisc and listening to them while walking, traveling etc. However there was one thing that always put me off, that incredibly uncomfortable stereo separation which took the feeling away from the music itself. The Amiga’s sound chip is the Paula chip, which outputs sound as 4 tracks (or voices) which are assigned as left or right, creating a pseudo stereo effect which has no mixing in between the channels.

Amiga Audio Output

As much as I love the Amiga, i’ve always had an issue with the sound output of it. In particular the stereo separation, it is completely 100% separated which means that it’s highly uncomfortable to listen to it with headphones. Back in the day, before the days of an internet connection and online shopping, I was seeking a solution to this. Magazine after magazine, reading in my bedroom or standing around in newsagents, eventually lead me to a device that claims to convert Amiga to “3D” sound, still to this day i’m curious about it as I never did buy this device. Because I realized that the solution isn’t actually so complicated.

Analogue beauties <3

Since I have some knowledge of electronics and soldering skills due to messing around with electronics. Back in the late 90s I ended up putting together a very crude circuit which adjusted the Amiga’s separation. This worked perfectly and I ended up recording Amiga music mods, and also my own music to audio cassettes and later minidiscs.

Minidiscs minidiscs everywhere!

Summer 2016 I bought an Amiga 1200 again and thought i’d construct this circuit properly and also decided to include it on my youtube channel. I’ve been creating music on the Amiga since 1998 and In case you are wondering, yes I still record to cassettes and minidiscs to this day, even reel to reel now. So I needed a solution to record my own created music with a more comfortable and natural sounding stereo image, which lead me to design this circuit.

Amiga Stereo Separation Project

Here is a requested simplified circuit which uses only one input. The values of all the capacitors are 47uf and all the resistors are 10 Ohms. The variable resistor is 1K
(excuse the crude hand drawn schematics)

You will see from the Schematic that it’s very simple circuit, basically i’m connecting the left and right channels together with a resistor. A higher value resistor will increase the stereo separation, a lower value will decrease separation and of course shorting the left and right channels completely will just give you a mono audio signal. Therefore rather than a fixed value resistor, in this project I decided to add a variable resistor or a potentiometer instead so that I can adjust the stereo separation to how I want it.

Amiga Stereo Separation Project

The capacitors are bipolar electrolytic capacitors and they are used to block DC signals getting into the Amiga or any audio equipment connected to it. In this case when you short the left and right channels in order to make it be a mono signal, with the capacitors the Amiga will not see it as a short, nor will the amplifier you have connected on the other end (hence why there are capacitors before and after the variable resistor). Bear in mind that this is a passive circuit not an active one, therefore it’s not amplified, it is designed to connect in between the Amiga’s output and an input of an amplifier, whether that be a headphone amplifier, active speakers or an auxiliary input of a hi-fi amplifier.

Amiga audio separation project

The Amiga’s sound output via the Paula chip consists of four channels. Two channels are outputted on the left RCA and the other two on the right RCA. If I had access to the output of each individual track or voice independently, I could end up creating a more three dimensional stereo image by making the stereo separation on one left and right pair be a little more wider than the second left and right pair. Or even better rather than using two fixed value resistors, one could use two variable resistor in order to have full control over the entire stereo image.

Check out my two part video series of this project

Author: Maddi
A soul of an artist with a mind of a geek who loves art, vintage audio, music and retro computing. The Commodore Amiga especially ♡

17 thoughts on “Amiga Audio Separation Solution

  1. Fantastic Article. I hadn’t really noticed the strong seperation, but now that you’ve pointed it out – it’s really annoying LOL. I might have to do this at the soldering workshop at our next Amiga meetup.

    I love minidiscs myself – although I haven’t used them since I dropped and broke my portable player a few years ago. The editing features are amazing, especially considering it’s not a fully blown computer.

    1. Thanks! Haha I guess not many people listen with headphones, it’s not as bad when it’s with speakers as the sound gets slightly mixed before it hits our ears. :o))
      Sorry to hear about your MD player, if you’re desiring to use them now would be the time to get a nice portable recorder, I can see prices skyrocketing as time goes by.

  2. Excellent piece and I applaud your desire to rectify the 100% L/R separation on so musically performant a platform. I’ve long been an Amiga user and can well remember the first time, back in 1989, that I loaded up Obarski’s SoundTracker. On the usenet I found someone half way across the country that was willing to mail me SoundTracker and a box of instrument, song, and MOD disks. I was in heaven and have loved tracker music ever since, though I’ve created rather little of it.

    Amiga was so far ahead in audio, it was amazing. My love for tracker music which started on the Amiga is what pushed me to grab a Gravis UltraSound when I built a PC, and one of the nicest things about it and other hardware that would follow (and the S3M,XM,etc. formats) was support for panning — dynamic panning, what’s more. It amazed me that the Forte F1’s voices on the GUS could be set to a % of left or right — a single voice. That was amazing.

    I still have that GUS, and it inspired me to recreate my early ’90s PC to listen to tracker music from that day exactly as I had done years ago. I did a 3-part on my blog on that, here:

    Thanks for this great piece.

    1. Thank Blake! Indeed it is a whole different experience when listening to tracker music, I personally use Soundtracker Pro 2 on the Amiga, well I started off with that on the Amiga, once I had sold my Amiga back then I ended up switching to Modplug Tracker when I had windows.
      Which gave me more channels and of course panning and effects etc. I really liked modplug tracker but loved soundtracker, maybe because the feeling around it and the Amiga.
      Thanks for the link to your blog! :o)

  3. Would you consider building and selling this for ppl who are interested? It may be simple for you, but really, I couldn’t build such a gizmo to save my life :p

    Congratulations for coming up with such a good solution!

    1. Thank you Nick!
      I never actually gave it much thought, I assumed it’s simple enough to build.
      Who knows, I could end up doing at some point :o)

  4. Wow, try listening to Amiga music in a car. Because of the speaker locations you get the same problem as you mention with headphones which is why, when I connected my A1200 to my PC to record music, I converted to recordings all to mono.

    1. That’s true, i’ve never thought of how separated it would be in a car, i’ve just been listening to it with low stereo separation all this time :o)

  5. Hi Maddi,

    I really want to make one of these but only want one input (Amiga) , could you redraw it with just the one input?

    Are all the capacitors 47uF ?

    1. Hi Ian,
      i’ve just updated the blog post to include a simplified circuit with just one input, yes all the capacitors are 47uf and all the resistors 10 Ohms.
      Hope this helps :o)

      1. Hi Maddi,

        Wow, thank you for your speedy reply.

        How dumb am I. I should have finished watching both video’s before posting as they contain a lot of info.

        Many thanks for the revised circuit, I’m just ordering the parts now. It will be nice to be able to listen to mods via headphones in anything other than mono.

        Just watched your latest video too on the SID to Paula conversion, excellent video, I’m now a subscriber.

        Kind regards


  6. Hello Maddi,

    thank you very much for this tutorial. Finally I’ve received my bipolar capacitors today from China and soldered your stereo mixer successfully. Now especially the tunes from the Cracktros sound great! I’m still waiting for my order with the adequate box to put the stuff in. ;)

    And just to let you know: You’ve inspired me to buy a tape deck again. And a lot of cassetts. And a minidisc deck. And a lot of minidiscs. … All the great retro stuff I was missing after years of abstinence.

    Keep on doing all the things you do, the way you do. I’m always enjoying your videos on Facebook/Youtube. :)

    Greetings from Germany.


    1. Hi Bartosz,
      It’s my pleasure and i’m glad to hear that you’ve been successful in making this project, it’s a subtle change but makes a world of difference, Amiga music is now more comfortable to listen to :o)
      That’s great that you’re getting into vintage audio again too, sure digital files are convenient, but I really missed listening to and especially recording onto physical media!
      Thanks so much for your words, i’m glad you enjoy my videos! Greetings! :o)

  7. Loved reading this… just what I need. I have no electronics skills but perhaps I’ll give it a go :)
    If you are for building then I am up for paying for it ;-)

  8. Great article.

    Have you done anything around audio in? I’ve watched a few videos with reviews of sampler devices but they appear to be quite simple circuits. It’d quite like to make one.

  9. Hi Maddi and thanks for your post. My reply is late as I only discovered it after it was posted to my local club page. Your end result has an interesting timber gloss look there with the golden audio sockets giving a nice finish. I designed an even simpler mixer myself for my A1200 using a few resistors soldered on the back of a audio socket board, to mix CD audio with Amiga audio; the result ended up as four neat audio sockets on the back of my tower, Amiga to input, output to stereo. But what I really wanted to share, after my digressing, is that I too recorded my music modules to tape and listened to my own songs with my poor mans Walkman. LOL. Now I don’t feel so alone for sitting by myself at the beach in twilight while friends frolicked in the sand. Regarding the panning, I used to program my songs so the drums were evenly balanced. Kick mono, snare stereo simulated effect on different notes. Percussion like hats on each side. And other instruments panned to be evenly as possible. It’s harder but possible. Listening to Amiga songs in headphones was preferable to 70’s rock song with hard panning in my ears. Ouch! :-D

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