What are NSFs?

How would you like to listen to music from NES games without having to load up the game on your console or emu, and without having to sample and store big MP3 files on your hard drive? Let the .NSF genie make your dreams come true!

NSF (NES Sound Format) is a file format invented by Kevin Horton, the most k-rad hardward hakker in the world, a little while back. To put it simply, the file works the same as SIDtunes on the C64: All the data from an NES game used to create the music is stored directly in the file. You can then use a NSF player to essentially emulate only the parts of the NES necessary for sound, to play the music in the NSF file.

The result is a compact format for storing tunes, along with high-quality sound playback thanks to the NSF players. You can do things like turn on and off individual channels, and even play music from games with special sound chips in 'em (like Konami's VRC series, used in the Japanese version of Castlevania III among others).

What to download:

Since most NSF players are in the form of WinAmp plugins, the first thing you'll need to do is download WinAmp, the famous freeware MP3 player, if you haven't already. There are instructions on how to configure plugins with the player on the site, too.

After that, you can download the NSF player itself. The NES archive recommends a couple below. Since not all NSF files work with all players, I recommend you download both.

From Matt Conte. The DOS version requires no WinAmp, but the plugin version is the more updated one, supporting Konami VRC6 and assorted play qualities.

From Neill Corlett, this is another great plugin player. Highly configurable and doesn't take up as much CPU time.

NSF files

Here are some sample NSF files to download and play with NESamp. There are currently 134 NSFs available; more should also be coming all the time.

If you would like to get all the available NSFs at once, I recommend downloading Kevin Horton's NSF collection (as yet unnamed - any suggestions?). This 2mb collection has all NSFs divided into directories by country and company, and all the NSFs are fully tested and have all bugs and extra stuff removed. I highly recommend it! (There are also newer NSFs in here that I'm too lazy to list...)

For single NSF files, choose from the list:

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