List of trackers based on how JDOS-friendly they are

Audit of DOS trackers. Most from Modland ftp.modland.com/pub/software/trackers/DOS/, some OPL trackersmulti from Malfunction's FM Synthesis Heaven https://web.archive.org/web/20160219212751/http://adlib.wave460.net.

My personal laptop's pretty trashed so i'm mostly using my work laptop, which has a security whitelist (boo) but also a custom enterprise implementation of java 8 (yay i gues)), hence jDosbox, referred to hereinafter as JDOS. Changing confing in JDOS is a pain, because config -set will often only work once without crashing, so default setup is SB16 with ems, xms and umb. GUS is optional for funsies if adding it doesn't crash, but changing to a straight conventional memory setup requires rewriting dosbox.0.74.conf and rebooting, so trackers that won't run under memory extenders are viable, but not super convenient. Most of the ones that have issues on JDOS work totally fine in dosbox. I'm pro-dosbox because YMMV for trackers on actual DOS due to the specific requirements of hardware soundcards of the era. You can get FreeDOS working on a modern machine with SBEMU providing some level of audio support if it's got an AC'97 soundcard, but a lot of tracker programmers had to write their own sound drivers from scratch for each specific soundcard, so YM M still V even then.

Leg end
daily driver useful/interesting archival not useful useless/broken
 

 

Name

Screenshots

ACCU Music System

Not a tracker, a musical score program, couldn't get it to make sound, wants hardware adlib soundcard or something?

Adlib Tracker

Not much to say. Early adlib tracker, seems rudimentary, hard to use for a nub like me. 'C64-style' (no patterns).

AdLib Tracker 2

THE MOST ADVANCED OPL3 TRACKER EVER!...This is the most capable OPL3 tracker you can found and it sounds even better than EdLib:)
--Malfunction

Apparently better than edlib even. Got 2 versions off above site, latest is same as on modland, the other is last version to still support opl-2, filename didn't match ML

Adlib Visual Composer

Built by Ad Lib Inc for the Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card, uses the ROL format. Piano-roll style composer. Needs hardware adlib card emulation and drivers to work, so it's a no for the mvp setup. Last version was 1.52, but you can't use that version from ML as a standalone bc it inherits resources from an earlier version. 1.51 is on Intranet Archive, and comes with a bunch of demo songs, a standalone instrument maker, bank editor and a full-colour (EGA) 'jukebox' player.

Akord 2.3 Demo

Great looking tracker, amazing sounding demo song. Worth keeping just for that. But, it's entirely in Polish, and apparently a demo vesrion (not sure what limiatations are due to language barrier).

All Sound Tracker

My holy grail. Does midi, opl AND wav samples, but made specifically to leverage the EMU80000 chip on AWE32 soundblaster cards, which dosbox doesn't emulate. CURSES! Building a virtual box with 86box seems to be the only option, but apptly 86box's AWE sounds crap, and besides, that's not exactly mvp

Amusic

Highly rated by Pouet, the 'FT2 of adlib trackers'.

AT Editor alpha

OPL tracker. According to the docs it loads rad, hsc, cmf, ctr, sat, kmd, saves rad. Couldn't get it to load anything. Seems unuseable.

AXS

a ravey softsynth with integrated tracker. Haven't played with it properly. According to Rez on Pouet, it's "a kind softsynth recreation of the Roland JP8000 with a cute little protracker-like tracker". Sounds promising, manual is immense. Sampler is mostly for drumkits, you're supposed to use the synth for melodies, so functionality is a bit limited - there's a function to populate and repitch a sample over 1 octave, i suppose you could replicate that ad nauseam, but it'd use up your sample slots pretty quickly.

B's Pro Tracker

Not usable. Apparently has its own module format, can't find any existing examples. Doesn't seem to load any standard mod files either.

Beni Tracker v1.3/v1.8

"Adlib tracker programmed in pure Quick BASIC 4.5 utilizing standard QB library and nothing else", as an exercise in QB programming. V1.8 can't open v1.3 PIS files without crashing, and all the files at https://sembiance.com/fileFormatSamples/music/beniTracker/ seem to be 1.3. Those sound very cute, but playback on 1.3 is SLOOOW.

Boom Tracker

Adlib Tracker. Very pretty, but doesn't display song files in the loading screen on jdos, can't be bothered making sound with it to see whether it's any good.

CDFM Tracker

AKA Composer 670, as it's effectively 667 and 669 combined. A combination FM and sampeltracker, the tool Tran used to write the music for Zone 66. It's definitely a dev's tool not a tracker's tool, it's configured by switches at runtime so you're recommended to create a batch file, and it loads and saves files in different formats so there's a converter for them. Maybe one day i'll have a look at this one, but for now maybe just stick with ST3...

Composer 667

Adlib tracker by Tran of Renaissance. Launched with COMPOSP <filename without extension>, whole UI is a single screen, that plus adlib means probably a fair bit of referring to documentation required to scale its learning curve.

Composer 669

8 channel sampletracker by Tran of Renaissance. Gotta disable ems and xms to run it - meh. UI is much more finished than776, it's a little noisy on jdos.

Compoz

Musical-score composer for early Soundblaster's "FM Music Driver", won't run without sbfmdrv.com

Creator

Powerful tracker for the MOD format by Thomas Holl of DELUSION (later authors of X-Tracker). Comes with sample library manager and VGA display mode sampler (which i couldn't get to load any samples). Unfortunately all UI and doc in German.

DamTracker

GUS only tracker, supposedly loads modules via CLI, except it doesn't.

Dark-Tracker

pretty basic single-screen mod tracker. I like how it looks. Sound playback is utter shite - there's a constant clicking which might just be jdosbox, or a terrible sound routine.

Defy Tracker

OPL3 tracker - uses stereo but no new waveforms. Nice interface.
--Malfunction

Delta Music

Has filter effects, waveform-based syntheis, got a great 90s aesthetic, reliably accesses directories in jdos. Works in freedos too. This could be the one.
***edit***
or maybe not because I'm a fussy little prick. doesn't support many protracker-equivalent effects - no fineslide, no sample offset, no note off, NO NOTE DELAY which suuuucks, so there go the wonky rhythms, unless I wanna work at crazy high resolution, at which point you only really get a couple of choices of tempo - no bpm, only ticks, so you're working with divisions of that as your resolution. 0 is at about 380bpm at 8 ticks, then 1 is 190bpm. In between speeds by doing 6 tpl. Sound of the synth instruments are friggin great though. Cool tool to play with, anyway. Gunna try some hip hop drums in it and see whether i can get my dabrye on.

Digistudio (demo / cracked)

Protracker clone for MS-DOS. Demo version, but found a cracked version on chipmusic.org. Demo and cracked version both hang when loading mod in JDOS. Keeping it just to have the cracked version.

Digital-FM

Tracker with instrument editor and bank of instruments.
--Malfunction

Digitrakker

Supposedly very advanced tracker. Wish the "synthesis" tab wasn't greyed out, sounds fascinating. Got 2 versions, one modland one pouet, both display text weird, and crashes after intro nag screens on JDOS.

DigiTrekker

Pre-release version of seemingly v. powerful tracker. Has own DTA format, demo song is a BANGER. Has a weird video mode which requires a VGA fix allowing virtual widescreen, and the mouse only operates in the top 2/3rds of the screen if you don't manually select VESA video card in options menu. VESA didn't work on real freedos though, modern laptop video cards probably post-vesa. Super-intrigued by the tracker though, has built in sample library although it appears there should be a whole bunch of .nti files, whatever they are, bundled with it that aren't there. Also in the library manager there's a button for "sampler" which gives Unable to invoke sampler! errno=2.

Disorder Tracker 2.0 (alpha)

Holy ████ this mf jus invented MSDOS fruityloops! This beast allows layer-based pattern arrangement a-la modern daws, dt2setup.exe enables svga 132 column mode to support the screen real-estate required to make it practical. It's an alpha version, so many features are undocumented, and saving samples and s3m are disabled.

Dynamic Studio Professional - Demo

Extremely pretty GUS-only tracker. Looks kinda like protracker. Demo songs sound nice. It is *very* pretty though. Did I mention how pretty it is? It's a demoversion, no saving, no manual and if you use it for more than 14 days you're a criminal. Has its own DSM format, no idea what its features are, they're undocumented.

EdLib

2nd-best FM tracker ever, apparently. If AMusic is the FT2 of adlib, Edlib is the IT. Included is a hack from Malfunction's site which adds opl3 capability.

Extreme's Tracker

Great sounding tracker, GUS only, and comparatively processor-intensive. It's a bit much for this cereal box when it's feeling sluggish.

Farandole Composer 0.96r11 / 1.0r12

Fascinating GUS-only tracker released as a semi-finished v1.0 and never actually finished. Suffers slowdowns on JDOS, but super interesting. Wacky 132col video mode to display all 16 channels on the one screen, the beginnings of a single-cycle-waveform synth, a graphical wave editor (removed before 1.0 release). Dev had huge plans including adlib FM instrument generator, custom wave instrument designer (tantalising screenshot included), full midi support, a mixer and more. Woulda been a game changer had he had time to finish it.

FastTracker

One of those rare birds that doesn't work in dosbox, plus by definition not as good as FTII so meh. Works in FreeDos with SBEMU, but it's pretty noisy.

FastTracker 2

nuff said.

Only quirk I've noticed is that it crashes on save sample in JDOS which is a pain because it's usually my go-to for extracting samples from mods.

Faust Music Creator

Small AdLib tracker with 8 (why?) sound channels. Player source (ASM) included.
--Malfunction

FM Tracker 1.45

Tracker that supports melody and PERCUSSION mode! A LOT of commands.
--Malfunction

FM Tracker 2

Another AdLib tracker written in BASIC :)
--Malfunction

FM Tracker, The 1.1b (AKA Davey W Taylor's FM Tracker)

Finally got to the bottom of this one - modland doesn't include the tracker itself, only the editor and a tantalising disk image file which must be the tracker. I got it off Malfunctiion's site (via wayback machine, god(s)-or-non-denominational-secular-entity bless those people).

Tracker that supports HSC modules. Loads DFM tunes too.
--Malfunction

FM-Kingtracker

Supports OPL3 (2/4-operarator modes, 18 channels, stereo, 8 waveforms)! ST3-like interface.
--Malfunction

Frankus Tracker

Simple AdLib tracker written in QBASIC.
--Malfunction

Ooh, this one's not even on modland, but i'm not yet super into fm tracking so i don't need to keep it

FunkTracker

Great looking tracker. Later work from Jason Nunn aka JSN0, a seemingly prolific coder from Darwin, Aust. has its own .fnk format, but can't get it to play any songs - just goes to play screen and doesn't start running the patterns or making sound. Pity.

Future Composer 0.3 (demo)

definitely not the same as the famous Amiga Future Composer. Looks bad, no idea what format it loads, can't save b/c demo.

Galliasoft Mod Editor

Incredibly laborious graphical mod editor. Author reckons it's the first of its kind, which is i guess why it's so unintuitive. Gotta set up the INI file med.inibefore you first run it, and once you DO run it, the pattern and sequence editor screens are incomphrehensible. Loads some 56 images in .gip format, solely for the purpose of adding little thumbnails to the instruments in the instrument list. Playback works, but by "conveying' - ie writing a new modfile and playing it with an external player. Screenshot is MPlay, the player it had in the ini file. It's pretty broken but i kinda like it.

GTS v0.9

Unusual score-based tracker with its own GTS format. Saves samples separately to track data. Comes with a utiliy to convert mod files to said format. Froze on loading a converted mod. Very little doc, so i couldn't even figure out how to add a sample. Also came with a voc2sam.exe which I've put in bin , seems like a great super noisy processor.

Game Music System

Interesting tracker that supports AdLib/SoundBlaster (OPL2), Sound Blaster Pro I (2xOPL2- stereo), Sound Blaster Pro II (OPL3 - stereo). Can load RAD modules.
--Malfunction

Gustrack

VGA tracker, gus only. Edits 4ch mods, plays 8ch. Takes .smp files as samples. Seems to break when trying to load a mod or sample, probably JDOS's implementation of the filesystem striking again.

HSC-Tracker

The one and only HSC tracker! Old but it starts AdLib scene (...in my opinion...). Look at oldsk00l!
A LOT of example modules!

--Malfunction

IMAGO Orpheus Music Editor

Has its own .imf format. Supposedly has some really good features and effects if you have a awe32. Without that, it seems like a slightly unfinished impulse/screamtracker clone.

Impulse Tracker

I do like this tracker. Unfortunately the . and .. entries in the fs don't display in JDOS so navigating directories is unmanageable.

Ken's Adlib Music

No idea how to use this. Detailed documentation on the .KSM file format, none on the tracker. Can't even figure out how to load a song - can get to instrument editor, but then it freezes maybe? Comes with a player, plays songs via cli, the songs are pretty good. Not enough reason to keep it around.

Ken's Digital Music/

Can't even get it to open in jdos.

KingMod

Another one of those inexplicable score-based trackers. Loads mod files, plays them back (sounds a bit tinny and grainy), maybe works fine but i hate it..

Liquid Tracker (DEMO)

what is an 'echo pool', and how does it work? Can't wait to find out...!
***
Ok, so it's p to 4 assignable virtual channel sends that apply an echo to a sample. independent stereo channel decay. It'd be much cooler if you could assign the pool parameters with effects commands.
Anyhoo, it's a demo, so song-saving is disabled. boo hiss.

Mod File Editor (MFED)

Unexpectedly good mod mod editor with surprising features for being so basic. Comes in four colours. Weird quirk (maybe only in jdos) where if you're using soundblaster as the output device it'll only play once cleanly, and if you play anything again it'll get a high-pitched tone running behind the whole thing. Can be avoided by using Speaker+Soundblaster, but then you get that crunchy tinny-plus-megabass playback. Has great context-based help with F1 key, and a tile-game screensaver if you leave it alone long enough.

Master Tracker

Rather strange AdLib tracker...--Malfunction

Looks like a protracker-layout adlib tracker. Might be a foot in the door.

Metal Tracker

So turns out Metal Tracker is a player, not a tracker. GUS only player, no gui, apparently unique playback engine. Sounds pretty clean, but do i need it? probably not.

miditracker

unique tracker programmed for-purpose by a guy who had a midi card and an akai hardware sampler but no sundblaster. If you happened to have an Akai X-7000 hooked up to it (and i assume loaded the samples from the mods into the sampler) it would then use midi to play s3m and mod files through it. Because that's a pretty limited use, he also made it able to use general midi with its own .mts format.

Mlat ADlib tracker 1.3

Simple AdLib tracker written in PowerBASIC.
--Malfunction

Not on modland, like how it looks but not enough to keep a copy

ModEdit

unusual UI, a textmode-but-piano-roll-based mod editor. Has that weird JDOS 'high-pitched-beep-when-using-sb' issue. Interesting but not useable enough to rate higher than a 4.

Modimod

A barebones 4ch Amiga mod editor with a lot of command-line switches. Author also created a vga audion synthesising uh... thing, called Vector | archive.org (find in C:\TRK\AUXIL~1\VECTOR12), which looks like an interesting albeit complicated way of ████ing up sounds if i could be bothered figuring out how to use it.

Modulator

Another 4ch mod editor. Single screen layout. No docs, no Can load mods, couldn't get it to play anything back, it just beeped.

Monotone

tracker designed for "simple" sound devices (must produce a tone at a particular frequency, anything else such as multiple channels, volume control etc are considered extras). Run it in soundblaster mode for smooth sines and polyphony, run it in pc speaker mode for crunchy squares and mono-arp 'chords'. A fun lil' tool. I'm running the version off modland, the one off the author's github throws errors on JDOS (untested on dosbox/freedos)

MultiTracker Module Editor

32ch tracker from renaissance. By Starsceram instead of Tran, but has the same feel. The 'first 32ch tracker for soundblaster and gus'. Only supports as far as SBPro, but works in gus,so requires a cfg change. the mux from Tran's excellent Sunspots demo was done in this.

Musical Editor

another score-based editor, adlib, seems to be orientated toward artmusic. UI is entirely in a cyrillic language so I can't figure out how to load files.

Musician

ANOTHER score-based adlib editor with a classical bent. Mouse-driven, Loads files, Sounds fine.

NerdTracker 2

Tracker for NES. ux is a little rough around the edges, some anti-design prolly due both to beta status and dev mischeif. I got the recommended 8-to-1-bit sample converter tool, but UX makes heavy use of the numpad * key which laptops don't have so I haven't explored the sample editor properly.

Note

Somebody can tell me how it works?! Documentation is Korean?? Looks like a MIDI sequencer with ST3-like interface...Supports OPL3 (4-operator synthesis can be enabled!) in percussion mode - 20 channels (15 tone + 5 percussion channels). Supports SOP files.
--Malfunction

kept this under c:\sound\ because it looks like pxtone, note to self, run the doc (korean) through a translator

Protracker For GUS

Protracker clone, GUS only. Loads and plays 4ch mods. Couldn't get into edit mode by clicking edit button, or sampler mode w/ sampler button. Not sure whether a JDOS problem, a mouse problem or an unfinished tracker.

RamTracker

Apparently the world's first midi tracker released. Saves and loads modules in .trk format Complains when you open modules that "Currently loaded soundtrack doesn't match with the MIDI environment! Reconfigure Instruments!!!". dunno what that means. Looks interesting, maybe worth exploring later.

Real Tracker (demo)

Not sure how i feel about this one. Seems stable and functional. Has its own RTM format, looks great if a little normie. Floating-window-based and heavily mouse-driven. Demo songs are mid AF. Can control external midi devices (mpu401 or gus midi) which could be interesting. Built in key remapper and palette editor. Demo has 3x nag screens on loading a module. For further investigation.

Reality Adlib Tracker

Nice, small tracker. Can read AdLib type S3M modules.
--malfunction

I like how this one looks, and it's pretty small

SB Studio

Tracker that can do samples and midii simultaneously - the possibilities are endless! Only runs with EMS and XMS off in JDOS (works fine with ems and xms in dosbox and freedos). That'd involve changing config before starting JDOS though so it's not a daily driver.

Scream Tracker 2

Lays claim to being (at time of release in 1990) the only 4ch module tracker on PC. The birth of the PC scene, and seemingly an ok tracker in its' own right. Great sample library support. v2.24 is the only version i can get to run on dosbox that successfully closes without crashing. Docs mention it doesn't play nicely with ems and xms but i didn't notice any problems, would probably occur on a real dos system though.

Scream Tracker 3

This can be an adlib tracker OR a sample tracker. Not sure whether you can combine both in the one module though. Suffers the same irritating 'JDOS doesn't display . and .. in file dialogs' bug which means it's not usable.

Sonic Sequence (Demo)

An amazing graphical adlib synth and sequencer. Looks super powerful, HEAPS of features, and gui makes them accessible to a nub like me. BUT, it's got the naggiest nag screens I've ever seen. Every time you change from one screen to another, and every time you try to save or load songs, it pops up a 'this box won't appear in the full version' thing and then you click OK and it pops up the registration blurb. Eugh...

Sound Club

If the tin contains what it says on the label, this one's awesome. GUI piano-roll based sequencer that can combine FM and digital samples (It looks like it does it by digitising the FM instruments). Takes .mod, .rol and .cmf files, has its own proprietary .sn format. Looks like a bit of a beast, worth a look at some stage.

Surprise! Adlib tracker

Tracker with instrument arpeggiators.
--Malfunction

TC 669 Trekker

GUS-first 669 tracker, another one from Darwin's most prolific son,JSNo. The archive on modland is actually TC669 *player*, not TC669 trekker - exe files for both have the same name. Found the tracker from here, setup is a pain, you have to set the program's directory as an environmental variable, couldn't get it to work in JDOS or dosbox. Tracker begins initialising, detects environmental variables then stops. Player is unreliable, sometimes plays (noisy), sometimes freezes. Pics are of the player, i assume the tracker looks mostly the same.

TakeTracker

GUS protracker clone. Seems good but v. unfinished. Has limited soundblaster support but config is bad. Sound quality is nice, but seems to play back all sampeles 1 octave lower than they should. Weird.

Tetra Compositor

one of the earliest trackers on pc. Used to get bundled with soundblaster cards apparently. The one on Modland seems bugged out - unreadable colours, maybe modified? good version plus demo songs, instruments and docs from archive.org. Has its own .nst song and .nti instrument formats, but loads 4ch mods and rips samples from them. Graphical sample editor, which is impressive. Only loads help file if installed to c:\tetra but the helpfile is replicated in /docs. Comes with a bank of instruments the use of which is inscrutable. Current mood is that it's not good enough for the time it would take to work out whether it's good enough. Deal breaker is it doesn't appear to have an 'exit' command.

Tetra Music Editor

Loads and plays mods, though its implementation of the arp command is WILDLY entertaining. Has some kind of sample lib support. One to look at when i retire maybe lol

Trackjoy

GUS tracker with its own .joy format. Basic but seems serviceable. either some weird playback or some weird samples in the demo song. Another one for a rainy day only

Ultra Tracker

great looking GUS tracker with its own .ult format and its own sample format. Nag screen is a pain, very slow scrolling display on opening the program and exiting.

Unis669

another gus-only 669 tracker from JSNo . has its own extended version of the 669 format with additional commands. Can get it to load 669 mods and play individual instruments, but not play an actual song or load any kind of pattern editor. Inclined to think just buggy.

VangelisTracker

Extremely verbosely documented but seemingly underexecuted beta tracker out of Spain. Loads a variety of formats via cli. Maybe just JDOS problems, but a lot of the UI doesn't load and it's mouse=driven so i can't get it to play any of them. No idea of keyboard shortcuts, bit of a gap in documentation there.

Velvet Studio

Ft2-style interface, with some very interesting features including an fx builder which applied script-based transformations to wav files. Comes with a good pdf manual, which is a rare touch of polish. Doesn't work on JDOS, which sux - seems to get as far as trying to load protected mode with some dos extender then it dies. On Freedos it loads the gui but then freezes. Not sure whether due to mouse driver issues or sound issues.

Whacker Tracker

Uninspiring tracker, ui clearly inspired by protracker. Has a buncha drivers, can't figure out how to load them, sounds terrible.

X-Tracker

My white whale. The successor to D-Lusion's earlier tracker Creator, it has built-in sample editor, IBM Common User Access menu and keyboard shortcuts, inputs multiple sample and mod formats. Demo version has saving and sampler disabled, and doesn't include the library manager.

XMS Tracker

A triumph of style over substance. Keeping it for the docs, which aare all exes with sweet ascii art and choons, but it's a ripoff of amusic - format documentation on the Modland FTP is labeled "AMusic ripp-off (.xms).txt"

Looks like unfinished, cracked Amusic! Hmmm...
--Malfunction