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pxtone (format)



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pxtone is a sample based music editor from Studio Pixel of Cave Story fame.
  1. Capabilities
  2. Tools
  3. Restrictions on submit
  4. Playback (for voting)
  5. Render to MP3
  6. See also
The pxtone format is a specific format for the music editor pxtone, aka ピストンコラージュ(Piston Collage), a mostly sample-based piano roll sequencer created and utilized by Daisuke "Pixel" Amaya, the developer of Cave Story and several other games (as well as Org Maker, the music editor that preceded pxtone). It can be downloaded here
- look for the word Download and grab the most recent version. If you delete the file "japanese.ico", the interface will switch to English.

The original pxtone software is called "pxtone collage" and comes with several different programs related to the editor: ptCollage.exe (the main editor), ptPlayer.exe (a playback mechanism), and a pair of synth generators named ptVoice.exe and ptNoise.exe. These can be used in addition to samples, which can be of .wav or .ogg format. If you want to learn how to use the original software, there is ample documentation on this lyceum article, as well as an English manual linked on the pxtone download page

A more modern fork of pxtone, "pxtone collab", was created in 2020 by BotB's own side. This fully accurate + compatible alternative is named ptcollab
in reference to one of its flagship features, seamless online collaboration with others. It also offers a number of huge quality-of-life features and upgrades compared to the original pxtone collage:
* cross-platform support
* MIDI input (including polyphonic!)
* auto-vibrato
* automation lines
* microtonality (in the form of alternate equal divisions of the octave)
* .wav loop point unrolling
* and a large number of helpful sequencing shortcuts.

If you are completely new to this format, ptcollab is highly recommended as a starting point. The pxtone collage guide on the lyceum will still be helpful in learning the unique limitations and functions of the software, though there may be differences in workflow.


Despite its interface resembling a modern piano roll DAW, the workflow of pxtone might be reminiscent of s3xmodit and other tracker-based music production: you can add samples and tones (known as voices), but said samples are bound to units with which it is possible to switch between different voices, making units more akin to channels in a tracker rather than instruments. The fact that each unit is monophonic will likely be the biggest difference in workflow for anyone already used to piano roll sequencing. If you want a chord, you will have to clone the unit(s) or swap voices in other units.

Unique to pxtone is the ability to add synthesized voices from two supplementary programs that come with pxtone collage: ptVoice and ptNoise. ptVoice is primarily used for melodic timbres while ptNoise is used along with some external samples for percussive sounds.

Many basic sequencer effects are available to control for each unit, like velocity, volume, panning, pitch fine-tune, stereo separation and a uniquely powerful portamento effect. In addition, customizable "delay" and "overdrive" effects can be utilized - up to 4 delay and 2 overdrive settings per song.

ptcollab offers many more modern features like polyphonic MIDI input, automation line drawing, auto-vibrato, and its flagship ability to seamlessly collaborate on a project online with others, while staying fully compatible with the .ptcop format. Be sure to check out all its useful sequencing and editing shortcuts in the Help menu, as well as the features shown off in its release history

One notable limitation of the format is that, while tempo and time signature can be set, they cannot be changed within a song.

You are also limited to 100 voices (samples/ptVoices/ptNoises) and 50 units (channels, essentially). It's usually easier to duplicate units if you want to create chords with one sample, but if your song is huge it might be a good idea to keep these limits in mind.


- pxtone collage
is the original editor software used to create pxtone songs.
- pxtone collab
(ptcollab) is an alternative editor that targets the pxtone engine but also adds a bunch of features such as collaborative editing, MIDI input, cross-platform support, and many sequencing shortcuts.

Restrictions on submit

The entry must be saved in the .ptcop or .pttune format. The filesize limit is 12.5MB. If you happen to be over the limit, consider swapping out large .wav samples for .ogg instead. In ptcollab, the samples can be swapped out by clicking "Change" on the Voice tab. (If you need to save them from your project first, use ptcollage to do this - unfortunately this feature is not currently available in ptcollab.)

Playback (for voting)

In the original pxtone software, you may use 'ptPlayer.exe' for playback or open the file in 'ptCollage.exe' as you would any other project.

The more modern fork pxtone collab/ptcollab
can also be used for playback by opening the .ptcop file in ptcollab and hitting play.

Render to MP3

In pxtone collage, you can render a WAV through the file menu (file -> Output [*.wav]). Convert this to an MP3 however you want (try Audacity).

ptcollab can also render to WAV files (and should produce identical output to pxtone) which can then be converted to an MP3. It also has built-in volume and fade-out mechanisms should you desire that.

See also

- I Am New To pxtone - extensive info on using pxtone collage + features of the format
- midi2ptcop
- pxtone box
, another MIDI converter
- pxtone web
(ptweb), online player of pxtone songs also by side. Many songs are posted here to listen to!
- Org Maker
, Pixel's previous music software utilized in Cave Story
- How to change the UI font size in pxtone collab

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