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Last updated: August 23rd 2006

It's real!

Yes! The most complete and innovative Spectrum emulator is here and it rocks!
World's first 100% exact multicolor effects in full-screen, high-fidelity sound reproduction with surround effect and user-definable stereo panning presets, run-time selectable resolutions, real TZX FlashLoading, physical tapes through the soundcard, tons of disk interfaces with support for physical disks in PC drive, IF-1 emulation, Sinclair network over the Internet (TCP/IP), MB-02+ emulation, lots of Spectrum models and many more cool things for a huge list of features!

RealSpectrum is intended as a high-fidelity Spectrum emulator with no compromises. It reproduces the Spectrum hardware with a previousely unseen accuracy and it has been designed to support the most advanced features for the most realistic audiovisual experience. You will be using the closest thing to a real Spectrum machine :-)

RealSpectrum release #14B "Finale" (v0.97.26)

Download MSDOS version (RSDOS):

AMD version
AMD K6, K6/2, K6-III, Duron and Athlon processors
Pentium II version (i686)
Intel Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Celeron, Pentium III and Pentium 4
Pentium version
Intel Pentium and Pentium MMX processors only
Standard ROM files
Freely distributable ROMs required by the emulator
User's Manual
The complete user's guide for on-line reading
On-line manual
Manuale in Italiano (beta9)
Manuale utente completo in lingua italiana per la lettura on-line
Leggi on-line

Download Windows version (RS32):

Important notes!
Additional notes about the Windows version (RS32), please read!
RS32 notes
AMD version
AMD K6, K6/2, K6-III, Duron and Athlon processors
Pentium II version (i686)
Intel Pentium Pro, Pentium II, Celeron, Pentium III and Pentium 4
Pentium version
Intel Pentium and Pentium MMX processors only
Standard ROM files
Freely distributable ROMs required by the emulator
User's Manual
The complete user's guide for on-line reading
On-line manual

NOTE: The standard ROM package now contains also the DISCiPLE and +D rom files with pre-booted operating system; these roms are included with explicit permission of Datel.

IMPORTANT: Please read the manual! The accompanying HTML manual explains how to use RealSpectrum in detail, so that you can get the most of it. Besides, it contains useful suggestions and troubleshooting.

NOTE: Make sure you download the correct version for your CPU because you get a respectable +10% performance boost. Also, the Pentium II build won't run on K6's and Pentiums.

Additional downloads:

sockvxd.exe (for DOS version only)
VxD module required for network emulation over the Internet (TCP/IP)
cwsdpmi extender
DPMI extender release 5 (needed under pure MSDOS only)
Softcrack software (v9.2 and v9.4) and original documentation
HDF utilities
Tools to read/write HDF files to/from real hard-disks (by G. Lancaster)

Latest development builds (alpha):

NOTE: Development builds may be unstable or partially working, and they are provided for evaluation purposes only. The archives must be unpacked over a previous install of the latest official release.

RealSpectrum MS-DOS
No updates available.
Build 0.97.36 with RealDisk support for Windows 2000/XP/2003 (requires the installation of this driver) and IDE bugfixes

The multicolor day

Why "the multicolor day"? Because it was the day when we publicly announced RealSpectrum, the world's first Spectrum emulator capable of 100% exact contended memory and multicolor emulation! Yes, after many studies we have finally discovered all the ULA secrets and we are now able to show even the hardest multicolor demo effects exactly like your real Spectrum does on TV! You can see some screenshots here, showing some hard pieces of software doing very nice tricks with the rasters that only RealSpectrum can show in this way! It's been a long and hard work because the ULA does much more weird things than you may think and everything must be exact for all the programs to work correctly! But, as someone said in a famous demo, we made it, we made it... :-)

Here is the current development status report, where you can see how the coding is going on. Check it often for the latest features added to the project and to know when the final version will be released.

Development status
Expected date for the next release: development stopped.

May 1st 2005. A new test version of RS32 is available for download from the "Latest development builds" box above. Build 0.97.31 finally brings back the long missed RealDisk feature for all modern Windows operating systems, including Windows 2000, XP and 2003. The functionality is completely equivalent to the DOS version, with the ability to read, write and format both standard and copy-protected disks. In order to access RealDisk, you must first download and install the free FDRAWCMD driver; more information about the driver can be found at the author's homepage, where a 64-bit version is available too.
Please check that the type of your PC disk drive matches the one reported in the ALT-F6 control panel (default: 3.5" 1.44MB). If it's different, move the cursor over the line labeled "Realdisk drive" and press SPACE repeatedly until the description matches your actual configuration.
This build is highly experimental, so please report any problems to the usual address.

November 11th 2004. The MSDOS version of RealSpectrum has been updated to v0.97.26 too.

November 6th 2004. Oops, in the last release the tape saving option in ALT-F7 didn't work anymore after the update to the menu layout (forgot to change a menu index, thanks Andrea!). Make sure that you download the refreshed version 0.97.26. Sorry for the inconvenience! The DOS version is coming next week around Wednesday.

November 2nd 2004. A micro-update of RS32 is now available (R14B), which corrects a small bug in the RZX options menu which could cause a crash with external snapshots not placed into the same directory as the RZX file itself. As a bonus, we have also added support for the CodeMasters CD, so you can now load the games of this collection into the emulator; read the changelog or chapter 6 for more details. The DOS version of RealSpectrum will be updated in the next days.
RealX is progressing, please be patient a little more. The Linux version of RealSpectrum, instead, is still starving in our to-do list because of lack of time :-(

July 21st 2004. RealSpectrum R14 is finally out, and we're a bit sad to announce that this is the last release planned for the glorious v0.xx series. We have dedicated so much time, passion and resources to this project over the past four years and it's now very difficult to put all this behind of us. Personal computers have changed a lot during this time: now everybody use Windows 2000/XP and a DOS-minded application like RealSpectrum, which was great at the Windows 98 era, now just looks inadequate for today's GUI standards, although it still provides many unique functionalities.
That's why we have started RealX, a brand new emulator built upon all the good and bad things that we have learned with RealSpectrum. RealX now requires all of our time, so we have to stop to support RealSpectrum; of course you can still send us bug reports and comments and we might release a small update for urgent things, but don't expect anything for sure.
The version counter has stopped at 0.97.23, just a little below the fatidic v1.00: this is just a way to remind ourselves that we couldn't manage to achieve the goal of the "ideal emulator" with all the features that we wanted and most importantly without all the bugs that we didn't want ;-) All our expectations are now for RealX.
Ok, now don't forget to check out the release notes to see what's new in R14. Happy Speccying! :-)

Linux version: Now that RealSpectrum has reached the end of its development cycle, we'll try to make a quick conversion of R14 to Linux during the summer.

The most complete and up-to-date list of features is available into the manual.

Probably you have already realized that RealSpectrum is offering the best video rendering accuracy to date. Read on:
  • World's first 100% exact multicolor renderer! We have digged out all the ULA secrets (pant!), so we are now able to show all the amazing raster effects like on the real Spectrum!
  • Super-fine MCR. The multicolor renderer is clock-precise, so it reproduces all the horizontal raster effects exactly (see the border in DOE and MDA for example).
  • Selectable resolution. RealSpectrum can run at any (S)VGA resolution and supports all VESA1/2/3 modes and tweaked X-Mode. Depending on the screen size, the number of upper/lower and lateral border lines is automatically adjusted.
  • Video recorder. Produce AVI movie files recording your favourite games and demos, including both audio and video or video only. There are several settings to play with to achieve the best quality / file size balancement.
  • Scanlines. At high resolutions we enable scanlines rendering to make the image more similar to the TV output.
  • Graphic interface. All user interaction happens through a graphic windowing system which we are currently developing.
Video resolution can be changed on the fly from the GUI, as well as the other settings like gamma and VGA synchronization.

In our opinion, audio is no less important than video so we are paying a special attention to the sound quality. Even if the work is not yet finished, RealSpectrum is already sounding pretty good as you may guess from the specs already implemented listed here: 
  • Digital mixing AY38912 and YM2149 emulator. Good envelopes reproduction. All the digital modplayers (such as DigiSynth, Morpheus, Soundtracker 2 and so on) are working well.
  • Mono/Stereo and 8/16-bit sound output. If your soundcard supports stereo playback, RealSpectrum can work in stereo mode enabling some amazing effects.
  • 256-steps stereo panning. Each channel can be panned independently to 256 positions ranging from extreme left to extreme right. There are three presets: NONE (centered), ABC and ACB stereo modes, plus you can define your own custom settings.
  • Surround sound! The surround effect enhances the sound depth very nicely, even when the channels are all panned to center! Surround is obviousely available on stereo soundcards only.
  • Beeper vs AY loudness balancement. You can choose the relative power of the AY respect to the beeper's volume (256 steps), so you can boost your favourite AY songs! :-)
  • Sound recorder. You can dump the audio to a WAV, YM or AZX file for your Speccy tunes CD :-)
  • Digital sound interfaces RealSpectrum emulates Covox, Stereo Covox, Soundrive, Music Machine and SpecDrum using a 4 x 8-bit stereo interpolated digital mixer for high quality.
  • AY-LPT circuit support. With just a few ICs and resistors you can connect a real AY-38912/10 chip to any LPT port of your PC and get the perfect sound quality of the "real thing"! (To do: 4-bit speech quality improvements).
All these settings can be changed in realtime from the sound control panel (GUI).

Z80 core
The CPU emulation is ultra-accurate, fruit of our own investigations into the Z80 architecture. Our Z80 core is extremely stable and almost undistinguishable from the real chip.
  • Undocumented features. Not only all the unofficial instructions are emulated, but we have also reproduced the undocumented behaviour of the flag register in all circumstances.
  • Clock-precise emulation. Everything happens at the exact moment when the real Z80 does it (hopefully :-)); the bus lines accesses, interrupt sensing and processing, data transfers and so on are perfectly calibrated and distributed into the various internal machine states.
  • I/O side effects. We have emulated the floating bus behaviour and the issue-3 port 254 oscillations. We are also able to reproduce the famous "snow effect", although it's not very useful and we have not yet decided whether to include it or not.
Other features
Some more aspects:
  • File formats. Click here for a detailed list. Snapshots: Z80 and SNA (all versions, both read/write). Tapes: TAP, WAV, CSW, TZX and real tape recorder connected to the soundcard (all for both reading and writing). Audio disk-writer: WAV, YM and AZX. Music player: AY. Videorecording: AVI. Disks: MGT/IMG, TRD/SCL, DSK/DSK+, MBD, OPD, D80 and real floppies inserted into PC drive (to do: FDI). IF-1 cartridges: MDR. Input recording and playback: AIR. Cheats: POK. Custom ROMs and IF-2 cartridges: ROM.
  • TZX FlashLoading. When tape loading becomes the same thing as disk loading! Most commercial turbo-taped games can be loaded in zero time, levels included. Works with all Alkatraz, Speedlock, Bleepload, Paul Owens, Softlock, PowerLoad and Digital Integration games (more to come).
  • FastLoading. An alternate loading acceleration technique which reduces loading time down to the lowest value possible regardless of the speed of your PC.
  • Peripherals. RealSpectrum emulates a wide range of interfaces: all Multifaces (I/128/III), Multiprint, Interface-1, Kempston joystick and mouse, DISCiPLE and +D, TRDOS, +3DOS, MB-02+, Opus Discovery, D80/D40, Scorpion SMUC and support for various IDE interfaces.
  • Spectrum models. RealSpectrum supports a very wide range of Speccy models: 16K, 48K, 128K, +2, +2A, +3, Didaktik, Pentagon and Scorpion.
  • Networking. Emulates the Sinclair Network of the Interface-1 and MGT DISCiPLE via TCP/IP over the Internet! Includes a live chat, a file exchange system and the NetPlay feature for multiplaying.
  • Action recorder. You can record and playback all the keypresses and joystick movements into AIR files, great for creating collections of game solutions that anybody can watch like a movie, and for taking part in the online game tournaments.

For any questions, comments or suggestions write to ramsoft@bbk.org

RealSpectrum in action!

And here are some screenshots taken from RealSpectrum running some critical multicolor effects; all the images are complete pictures including the full Spectrum border! (Resolution: 400x300)

Overscan Demo by Busy Soft

Shock Megademo by E.S.I

There by Exodus

Black Lamp - (C) Software Creations

Defenders of the Earth - (C) Enigma Variations

MDA Demo - by Busy Soft

Echology by Busy Soft

No More Intelligence 2
by Dynamte Dynastie

No More Intelligence 3 - No Panic
by Dynamite Dynastie

Digi Synth by Prisoner

Hercules - by Busy Soft

Rage - by X-Trade

RealSpectrum is a program © 1999, 2000, 2001 RAMSOFT ZX Spectrum demogroup
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