16-bit Arcade sounds – revival of the 80s

Tips & tricksThe 80s are back on the agenda. Whether fashion or music. And although the music business (as well as the fashion designers) committed some really bad crimes during the 1980s, the LoFi sounds of the 80s game consoles have been permanently engraved in our minds and ears. Far away from the perfect sound, always accompanied by some dirt and a slight tendency to kitsch. Pure nostalgia.
Therefore, in this article, I would like to present some pedals that are able to create such an Arcade sound.

Surely, you could also build up an 80s sound pedalboard by combining a fuzz or a bitcrusher, a harmonizer, ring modulator, modulation, delay and reverb. But there are also pedals, which bring these special vibes together and therefore represent a totally new category of effect pedals: the frightfully good sound of the 80s youth.

Caroline Guitar Company

The Caroline Guitar Company dedicated themselves to the 80s by offering the Kilobyte lo-fi delay and the Somersault lo-fi modulation. These two pedals will make the hearts of all retro fans beat faster. The designs of these pedals already indicate what they hide inside: a low fidelity digital delay chip that has been created for karaoke machines. Hats off! This is where the retro trend has been thought out very well. Thus, it is not really surprisingly that the sound of these pedals delivers exactly what they promise.

Alexander Pedals

The Alexander Pedals Syntax Error Audio Computer System as well comes around in the design of the 80s. Optically colorful und anything but decent and really extraordinary regarding the concept: from a sample clock reduction, modulation sample and hold to pitch shifting. All this in a compact enclosure which also offers midi and presets! This device is almost Zelda and Super Mario in one pedal.


Meris comes around a bit more decent. By offering the Enzo and the Ottobit Jr. Meris also provides effect pedals that are able to create the sounds of the gaming consoles by the use of synth sounds, bitcrushers, samplers and filters. Of course, you can also create pitch effects and modulation with the midi compatible pedals. A combination that is able to make every game programmer jealous.

Death by Audio

Although the construction of the Death by Audio Robot is a bit more simple, this pedal does also provide pretty nice lo-fi sounds. Its speciality are 8-bit pitch effects with ring modulation. Thus, it is a rather dirty companion with a lot of distortion. Perfect to create rough robot and sci-fi sounds.

Red Panda

The same goes with the Red Panda Bitmap. But besides the robot inside, this one is also able to produce cleaner 8-bit video game sounds. Bit-crushing alienates the sounds pretty nice and the also produces intermodulation whose frequencies can be fine-tuned as well.

Walrus Audio

The sound of the Walrus Audio Janus , which combines a fuzz and a tremolo, is much more classical. But for its two joysticks, this pedal also should be added to this list. With a soft fuzz and a slow tremolo you will be able to create floating sounds. Perfect for a Space Invaders soundtrack. What if the guys those days were able to use this pedal…?

Elta Music

Last but not least: The Elta Music Console. More console is not possible. Besides a joystick, this pedal offers the option to vary the sounds by changing the cartridge. And this is where the pedal provides everything from Pac Man to Tetris. Modulated delays, pitch- and reverb effects, filter and synth. The Console does not emulate the 80s, it IS the 80s!