What is GaMBi?

GaMBi is a virtual audio console in your phone that reproduces the hardware of eight classic gaming systems. You can build playlists of your favorite tracks, adjust the sound, and connect to hundreds of other audio applications with AudioCopy and Audiobus to further refine your music.

Getting music into GaMBi

Preloaded music

GaMBi comes preloaded with a full album's worth of licensed music from a wide range of renowned chiptune artists.

Included musicians and albums

  • 1H1D!!!(LMK): Shoot the Volcano
  • Blitz Lunar: Heavenly Spores, Octagonal Battlebots, Parallogram, Serial Gazer, Sirius Bismuth
  • C-jeff: Famihop, Funkurves, Infinite, Lovers, standa thinques
  • hydden: Rockman Like BGM3, Vulture, Meltagna
  • Jeroen Tel: Starball, Cybernoid, Robocop 3, Ubi-Sound, Victrix
  • Jon Dunn: Platoon, Robocop (Game Boy), Ocean Loader 4 and 5
  • Kulor: A Stroll in My LeSabre
  • Hally: Tidsjakten, Meowing, MISSION76496, MoeElektro1, Rave 2a03
  • Richiter: I like it a chiptune
  • Tappy: Cold, Galamon, Natto, Shallot

iTunes file sharing

The easiest way to get music into GaMBi is through iTunes File Sharing. When your device is connected to the computer via USB, you can find GaMBi in the apps section of the device. With GaMBi selected, in the iTunes File Sharing panel drag in supported files from your computer. The next time GaMBi is opened on your device, the songs will be added to the library for playback. Depending on how many songs you add, library setup may take upwards of several minutes. However, much of the library is saved internally and subsequent loads will be much faster.

Learn more about iTunes File Sharing here: http://support.apple.com/kb/ht4094

Open In...

Files openable in GaMBi can be imported directly on the device from apps like Safari, Dropbox, or Mail. Just open a link of a music file of your choice, and when your device presents the "Open In..." menu option, select GaMBi and the song will be imported immediately.

Deleting music

Songs and exports can be deleted from the library via iTunes File Sharing. Files deleted will be cleared from the Library the next time the app is loaded.


GaMBi has been optimized to handle a large size of songs in the library. Up to 10000 files containing 24000 tracks have been confirmed to work, but over 5000 files may incur a slight slowdown when using the search feature on certain devices.

Hierarchical compressed volumes (e.g. ZIP of ZIPs, ZIP of NSFs) are not supported, though popular single archive formats like RSN (RAR of SPCs), 7z (e.g. a zip of a HES with an M3U or a collection of VGM files) are supported.

Playing your songs

Basic controls

Music is selected from the Library, and once loaded into the Queue, can be toggled with the playback controls in the Play tab. When Shuffle is enabled, unplayed songs in the Up Next Queue will be selected at random as playback progresses. The heart button in the Now Playing window can be toggled to songs to the "Favorites" list in the "Sets" tab.

The Library

In the library files can be sorted by system, album, composer, song name, or import date. Not all file formats support all fields, or are tagged in the same manner. By scrolling to the top of the list or tapping on the magnifying glass icon, you can search for albums with matching text.

Hierarchical album formats (like NSF, GBS, or RSN) appear with an arrow on their row, and tapping them leads to a second level of songs in the archive. Single songs in an archive or single song albums have a plus symbol on the right hand side and tapping it leads to a submenu with options for adding songs to the Queue and Sets. Tapping on the left side of each song entry clears the queue and starts playback immediately so you can preview many songs in the library quickly. Entire hierarchical albums can be added to the queue and playlists with the plus key at the top of each album listing.

Building sets

Groups of songs can be assembled and saved for playback later. In the Sets tab use the plus button to make new playlists, and then add them from the slide out submenu. Sets other than "Favorites" can be deleted with the edit menu. While inside a Set you can delete entries or change their order with the edit button as well. Tapping a song in a playlist clears the Queue and starts playback of the Set from that song.

Remix and sampling

Channel selection and EQ

Each of the systems emulated in GaMBi has a different set of audio channels that together produce the classic game sound. Some systems use oscillators and FM synthesis, some audio samples, and some a combination of both. Many of the systems in GaMBi can have their bass and treble adjusted beyond the default settings. Stereo separation of the channels can also be adjusted with the Stereo slider on the EQ tab. Systems which sound cannot be adjusted will be marked "Disabled" next to the EQ sliders.

Channel muting can be toggled for each song below the EQ panel. Channels mutes are reset on track changes.

Bounce stems to audio

WAV files of the current playing song can be generated with the "iTunes" button on the System tab. Before exporting the audio you may choose if you wish each channel to be bounced to a separate file. Files can be copied from your device via the iTunes File Sharing panel when connected to your computer. The length of the rendered audio will be reflected by the Track Length control above the buttons, unless the track has explicit length information contained within. For this reason the "infinite" setting disables exporting. The longer the setting you pick, the longer it will take to process the audio, so use a shorter length if the export takes too long. The mute mask currently enabled will be applied when exporting AudioCopy or iTunes, so you can obtain a mixdown of only selected channels.


The AudioCopy button copies a rendered version of the current track to a pasteboard and can then be pasted into other compatible apps. Learn more about AudioCopy here: http://retronyms.com/audiocopy/.


Audiobus is a protocol for connecting audio apps in real time for enhanced processing. Effects like reverb, delay, or equalizers can be applied to GaMBi's sound and routed to sampler apps, digital audio workstations, or the standard audio outputs. Learn more about Audiobus here: http://audiob.us/ NOTE! Audiobus and Inter-app Audio may not be used in combination with Lock Screen playback. Starting in GaMBi 1.2, Lock Screen playback is enabled by default, so you will have to manually enable Audiobus from the SETTINGS app.

Sampling and intellectual property

Chiptunes are the result of many artists' countless hours of hard work. The content is often copyrighted and before you copy sound out of GaMBi via any of the methods described above, make sure you understand the copyright and limitations.

GaMBi comes bundled with tracks by a number of artists who have been kind enough to allow their inclusion in the software for redistribution. Respect the artists' wishes and restrict your use unless you have explicit consent.

Songs included in GaMBi by Jon Dunn are (c) 1988 Jonathan Dunn, Published by Bucks Music Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Licensed for Personal use only.

All other songs are all rights reserved by the original authors and licensed for personal use only.

Application settings

There are a number of features you can adjust via the "Settings" application on your iOS device.

Disable sleep timer

Does what it says, though leaving this on consumes a lot of battery if you walk away with the device unlocked.

Enable analytics

This sends anonymous usage data to the developers about which features of GaMBi you use. It helps us develop updates, and does not disclose any personal information, so please leave it on.

Background audio

Background audio allows you to keep listening to music when the app is not in the foreground or the device is locked. Turn it off if you want music to stop when you change to another app.

Reset database

In the unlikely event your library becomes corrupted and the app refuses to start, turning this feature on once will remove the database at next app launch and rebuild it, possibly resolving the issue. Rebuilds may take a long time if you have many songs, so use this only when you need it.

Troubleshooting and support

Supported formats

GaMBi supports the following chiptune formats. There are dozens of chipsets, extensions, and versions among them all. Though GaMBi supports the most general configurations, not all are currently implemented. Please check the details below before filing a support request.

Supported file formatNotes & limitations
NSF/NSFEAll expansion chips supported
HESSome formats of M3U supported for album information.
KSSSome formats of M3U supported for album information.
SIDPSID only, RSID not supported currently
RARRAR of archive types (NSF, GBS, HES, KSS, SID) not supported
RSNRAR of SPCs is supported
ZIPZIP of archive types not supported
7z7z of archive types not supported


Q: Loading is the app is taking a really long time!

A: The loading time is proportional to the size of your library. After files are successfully added once, loading will be faster the next time you start the app.

Q: Some of the files I copied over aren't in the library.

A: Not all files can be loaded, there are many things that can go wrong and prevent loading. If there is a file you can't find, make sure it:
  1. is a supported format (see above)
  2. is not in a nested archived (e.g. zips or RARs inside of zips, multiple NSFs inside of a zip, etc.)
  3. is not corrupt (this is hard to tell, if you have a file you think should play but doesn't, send it to support)

Q: Some files in the library don't play or stop soon after starting.

A: Some files may load enough to appear in the library, but not play back due to an emulation error. See the previous sections.

Q: Adjusting the equalizer doesn't seem to change the sound much/changes it too much.

A: The equalizer has been balanced for optimal performance with headphones and external speakers. AirPlay can also send your chiptunes to a set of stereo speakers for best results. Not all systems and rips have the same content, unfortunately, so some chiptunes, especially demoscene/indie productions may distory with the EQ faders shifted too much to the right. Experiment with the kind of music you listen to most and set your preset accordingly. EQ settings are retained between app sessions.

When all else fails

If GaMBi doesn't appear to be operating according to the features in this document, you can send a support request to support AT ichigoichie DOT org.

Useful links

Open source software

Part of GaMBi is built with the help of open source software. Libraries used for device emulation are listed below with the project source pages