VOGONS


Reply 120 of 139, by Tali

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Audigy 2 ZS procured. Name, however, is still up for debate. To recoup, the other "party members" are: Seer, Bard, Crusader, Shaman, [nameless P3], [nameless Athlon], Emperor, Assassin, and, finally, Sorceress.

brownk wrote on 2020-10-24, 14:59:
Tali wrote on 2020-10-21, 18:06:

And an ATI fan notices the logo in your avatar 😉

Seriously, for a VESA system you don't get much cooler than that!

There once was a time when ATI would release a card and a lot of folks hailed it with excitement and some glittered their eyes with jealousy. 😉

Congrats with your SYS. I heard it's handy!

Used to have Mach 64... all the way till TNT 2. Celeron 300A with that was actually sufficient to enjoy the crap out of Unreal and Unreal Tournament like no tomorrow. Blazingly fast 2D stuff. Not so much 3D, but, then again, that wouldn't be fair to ask. TNT2, however, fixed that problem.

As for SYS, I need some form of volume control for the speakers. And it seems to be just the right thing. I'm a bit averse to cheap eBay ones now that I've tried one and it produced horrible hum... Hope SYS does better.

Reply 122 of 139, by Joseph_Joestar

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Heh, somehow I imagined the NC box to be more... blue. 😁

Interesting artwork though.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 123 of 139, by Tali

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Over these days I was quite busy with work and more work. But I did manage to get around to replacing the foam in one of the Beolab speakers. Not that there was anything wrong with how they sounded, but these particular models, especially the early ones, are prone to foam rot.

See, these come in two varieties: older ones have grey-brown foam, while newer ones have white. Brown one rots, becomes sticky, attaches in flakes to boards... and is conductive. White one simply doesn't do anything of the sort. The old ones, however, are guaranteed to have a proper, analogue class A/B amp for each channel, while the new ones may or may not have that. At some point B&E decided to put digital amps instead. Now, I may not be a purist, so it wouldn't matter to me plugging this into a PC, but I intend to use it with a turntable. And I'd hate this to be the only non-analogue stage. Therefore getting an older pair, with risk of brown foam.

P9ptUsR.jpg

So I opened one of them, and lo and behold, it's brown. And rotting nicely. So emergency measures in place, I ordered some fresh white foam (supposed to be official B&E, but I'm sure they don't make it themselves). Whatever. It has arrived, and cleaning began. Note to anyone who decides to do the same: it's messy. Use a newspaper or something, cleaning the table is a b1tch. Even with technical alcohol. Speaking of which, that stuff melts with alcohol, making it easier to take away... and smear it somewhere else. So, like I said, messy.

wdz2neD.jpg

With the new foam installed, it is now so much cleaner. Note that there is nothing random about these, so even cable management I did was a bit wrong. The picture shows speaker wire on top of internal connection wires... As I found out later, that's not how to do it. It is supposed to go behind internal connection wires and on top of the foam to prevent it touching the phase inverter tube and the drivers. This prevents buzz on heavy bass (and those babies are quite capable in this regard).

NYTzTAI.jpg

Lid attached. Note that it uses T10 Torx screws, not Allen screws. There is a tiny difference that may cost you a broken screw, and these aren't easy to come by. I've ordered some replacement ones just in case, but, perhaps, I won't need them. It turns out, even if your Allen wrench won't turn one of these any more, a nice fresh Torx bit will still work just fine. Still, it is best to use proper tools for the job. So, "pirates, ye be warned".

KiPxJxk.jpg

And here they are for the first listening. I've moved them more to the sides for proper stereo effect, and began listening to all the music I have in my collection. From AC/DC to Scorpions to Gorky Park to Ellie Goulding to Depeche Mode... suffice to say, if it existed and sounded well, whatever the genre, I would try it. End result: eargasm. And it doesn't seem to be a problem that I'm using a PC sound card as input. So if someone says "good speakers on PC is a waste", don't heed that advice. Granted, I'm using SoundBlaster ZxR... Realtek might be a different picture. Still, I'm pretty sure any sound source will benefit from a good set of these. Plus, this was just a test. Ultimately they go to the turntable...

P.S. At this point I've replaced foam in one to test if they sound the same via comparison using Ear Mk.1. Seems to be no loss in quality. So the second one is coming next. Then I've got that Korg 01W/FD to fix. I've received all the switches, the new backlight, new damping foam for keyboard mechanism and a FDD emulator. All I need now is time... and a better soldering iron. 😀

P.P.S. I've also tried some MIDI through the Sound Canvas... and oh my! Literally everything sounds better. Albeit, not quite as nostalgic...

Reply 124 of 139, by Tali

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Another update long overdue. After a lot of fiddling, Seer booted Windows 3.11 with working net. That, AND sound. Had to do a few tweaks, though.

First, that XT-IDE controller was awesome in a sense that it could boot a large PATA SSD, but it was lame in a sense that it had its default address configured to 300h. Worse still, XTIDECFG, while happily loading config from the card, seemed unable to load the image itself properly. As a happy coincidence, I had my little Willem handy, so I downloaded the image through that. Then placed the ROM back into XT-IDE card, booted the configurator, set the address and BAM! It works and lives at 320 now. Why 320? Well, there is something constantly fighting for 300, could it be AWE32? At any rate, configuring it to 310 helped, but it would still hang with IDE at 300. CTCM would start configuring devices, and I would lose my HDD. At 320? No issues whatsoever.

Second, had to get rid of Aztech NX PRO. It just didn't seem to wish to play well with AWE32 and a bunch of controllers on the same system. Will keep it for if (ok, ok, everyone knows it's more of a "when") I get around to building something 286, or even NuXT-based. Plus, it needs a new volume potentiometer badly. So its place is now taken by a vanilla ESS1868, which, by the way, is whisper-quiet (or, rather, whisperless-quiet 😀, and sounds just as good as it used to. So ESS for SB/PRO + AWE/16. Just no MIDI, but with a gameport and an entire mountain of synths... not a problem.

Finally, having solved these conflicts, I managed to (finally) boot Windows with networking, and, after a bit of work, was happily copying stuff from a share on a hyper-modern NAS over a gigabit network. 1980's tech talking to that of 2020, imagine that!

uR6no07.jpg

And now I have some games to play... and a decent wallpaper. Sound in windows works, too. Even if I didn't bother setting it up properly and just threw the supplied Sound Blaster 1.5 driver at the job to talk to ESS. Good enough for now, I say!

YbZWliz.jpg

Warcraft 1 is a bit slow, as well as Doom... but Dune 1 runs awesome, and, more importantly, Lotus actually works, and it is very finicky about speed. Maybe I should test Wing Commander? After all, that's what this machine was made for (or, at least, inspired by requirements of).

Reply 126 of 139, by Joseph_Joestar

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Tali wrote on 2020-12-22, 17:18:

Second, had to get rid of Aztech NX PRO. It just didn't seem to wish to play well with AWE32 and a bunch of controllers on the same system.

I experienced similar issues when trying to pair up my OPTi 82C930 with my AWE64. They just didn't want to coexist peacefully, despite separate resources being assigned to each card. When I swapped out the OPTi card for a Yamaha YMF724 everything suddenly started working fine.

So its place is now taken by a vanilla ESS1868, which, by the way, is whisper-quiet (or, rather, whisperless-quiet 😀, and sounds just as good as it used to.

You know, now that I have an AWE64 Gold to compare it too, I concur that the ESS 1868F is pretty much at the same noise level (aka almost zero) as Creative's top tier ISA card. Kinda weird considering how much more expensive an AWE64 Gold is and how my El cheapo ESS is of "sawed-off" variety, yet it still produces almost no noise.

Warcraft 1 is a bit slow

That might not be such a bad thing. I remember having to slow down my rigs significantly for that game so that the water animation (waves) wouldn't look like an acid trip or something. It's way too fast on anything newer than a 486. On a related note, I imagine some early '90s adventure games like Indiana Jones and Space Quest V would work quite well on your rig.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 127 of 139, by Tali

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@mothergoose729

Thanks, with your permission, I might just pilfer one or two, who knows? Except, Paladin I already considered before... and discarded. The only remaining machine to pack so much chrome is the Tualatin, and it has a very distinct, turbine-like Jet 7 cooler, so I might have to call it something else.

@Joseph_Joestar

Regarding Warcraft, I think it was just perfect on Bard, with 133 MHz of 5x86/VLB goodness. But Bard was definitely a bit too fast for some earlier stuff.

Generally speaking, aside from changing the LEDs on the cases of a few machines (Seer - needs white, Bard - needs orange, Shaman - needs white), most of them are done. Emperor works, though I need to do a few more software tweaks to make Vista work with current update mechanism, and my focus now is to get Assassin done. Mobo is installed in the case, I just don't have the time to finish the build (maybe on holidays?). After that, next is either Tualatin or Barton, both still nameless. Barton has the GPU en route, an actual FX5950, after which it will have everything (including Audigy 2), while Tualatin already has some exquisite hardware in the shape of Delta Chrome and Vortex II. Just need to order SSD and a case for either, but that is routine.

But I still wish to complete maintenance on Korg 01W before that, plus, there are two more synths (modules this time) that need a loving touch. Kawai GMega needs battery resoldered (better changed to a separate holder), while a very rare (and useless for PC music) Oberheim Viscount MiniGrand needs not just a battery socket, but also some touchup on the front panel plastic. Suffice to say, I want it to look factory-new if I can get it that way. So that is also on the to do list.

Reply 128 of 139, by pshipkov

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NC was a road-paver, but MidnightCommander and especially Dos Navigator became the deal later ion.
First time seeing NC box. Thanks for sharing.

Can you build a dog house with all these GM bricks ? 😉

Reply 129 of 139, by Tali

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pshipkov wrote on 2020-12-22, 21:25:

NC was a road-paver, but MidnightCommander and especially Dos Navigator became the deal later ion.
First time seeing NC box. Thanks for sharing.

Can you build a dog house with all these GM bricks ? 😉

Gotta have a dog for that! Seriously, I don't have that many... yet. MPU-105 should arrive soon, however, and, perhaps, I'll try to hunt for another one. That would let me run up to 10 devices from 5 sources (thanks to 104), one of which is the Korg keyboard, and the other 4 would be Seer, Bard, Crusader and Shaman. I don't think P3 needs any MIDI, plus, I intend to use it for mostly early HW T&L games (Delta Chrome is miles ahead in quality when compared to GeForces of the time... form those games that it works with, ofc), and Athlon XP with GF5950 ought to take care of the rest, plus of the games that require vertex fog. Would be an interesting comparison, actually, to see how Unreal engine games look on a Voodoo II (SLI, so 1024x768 possible), S3 Savage 4 (MeTaL), S3 Delta Chrome (D3D) and GF 5950 (D3D or OpenGL). Not in terms of speed, since all machines are very (intentionally) different in that regard. But I digress...

As for NC, that was, is and will be the king of DOS for me. MC, Navigator, those are more like also rans for me. If going that way, might as well take FAR then. Though MC is kind of still useful in Linux. Regarding the box, I think there were different boxes for different versions. This is a nice one, though I prefer the white one with a big cap on it, like in version 3.0 (this article has a newspaper pic with that box somewhere in the middle)

Reply 130 of 139, by pshipkov

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Good article.
Lots of good memories with NC as well.

As for P3 - I have been messing with that stuff recently as well.
Dumped the other day bunch of info in another thread.
Slot cartriges were cool for sure.

Reply 131 of 139, by Tali

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pshipkov wrote on 2020-12-23, 08:43:
Good article. Lots of good memories with NC as well. […]
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Good article.
Lots of good memories with NC as well.

As for P3 - I have been messing with that stuff recently as well.
Dumped the other day bunch of info in another thread.
Slot cartriges were cool for sure.

Well, to me Slot 1 was a Pentium II affair, I view slot on P3 pretty much like Super 7 for P2 competitors. A way to milk previous gen. Then again, pre-Tualatin P3 to me is essentially rebranded P2 with a few new instructions, so I am still unsure why Intel went with the rename. Also, unlike Super 7, Slot 1, correct me if I'm wrong, wasn't discarded because of reaching the limit of its potential, more due to costs. Anyway, this whole P2/P3 story is very odd, therefore fascinating to me. I had both P2 and P3 in the good old days, and I liked both. But while comparing 386 to 486 was like an entirely new beast (thanks, VLB), and P1 wasn't all that "special" until MMX to me, it was still a distinct step after 486 (which I skipped - P1, I mean). P2... that was something else. Even Celeron 300A (yes, that one, hence, perhaps, not "even", but rather, "especially"). P4 had a weird start, but it did show some power in the end, and P4->Core 2 was a major leap. But P2-P3? Can't say there was any change, almost like Cyrix 6x86 and MII, different name, almost the same package. Maybe some newer instructions (SSE). Odd. Why the rename? And that also makes P2 the shortest CPU generation in Intel's history.

On a different note, installed the ESS driver on Windows 3.11. Runs like a charm, and comes with the Rack, which I remember having for a different sound card. Must be one of those 3rd party shake and bake app suite that got licensed to any sound card maker that didn't have/want to write their own players. Still, awesome. Question, however: does anyone know here (and has anyone had any experience) if Windows 3.11 can run with and support multiple sound cards? Back in the day I don't think I knew a lot of people with a single sound card, let alone multiple... plus, by the time computers became more or less affordable here (ok, still not, but, at least they cost less than cars... sometimes), it was Windows 95 time, and, given rampant piracy, pretty much anyone who could ran that.

Reply 132 of 139, by Tali

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Another pack of "things" just cleared the customs. Some time this week I'll get it.

I've also acquired a brand new Samsung LCD for my other home, and, since it's not retro tech, I'd normally skip on this info. However, this particular model has got my attention for more than the "normal" reasons. While it is a decent VA matrix, which itself is a reason to own one, this particular model seems to cope well with weird DOS era signals. Case in point, I have one S3 Trio that other LCDs just refuse to keep the image. They would reset ever so often, 5-15 seconds usually, and, of course, that means going blank for a bit. This one - no issues whatsoever. And the inbuilt scaler seems good enough for my reasonable requirements. Oh, and it still has an honest VGA connector at the back in addition to HDMI. Model name is Samsung lc27f396fhuxen in case someone is interested.

Downsides, if these are them, would be Full HD instead of 4k (I still prefer to see my pixels anyway), and 27 inches (again, to me it's just the right size, 24 would be smallest I'd be happy with, and 30 would be the biggest I can fit somewhere and see the whole screen at a glance). It is also mildly curved, which may or may not be your thing. Finally, I haven't tried it with *all* retro video cards, so there is no guarantee it would work with each and every one. Still, FreeSync may be the reason it is less picky about specific frequencies. Oh, and it can keep aspect ratio when scaling too.

Reply 133 of 139, by Tali

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Yep, got the package.

MIStPma.jpg

Need to test if either card works, naturally, but that will wait. Assassin is next in line, afterwards I check these. And yes, I do expect both to work, but I also expect the fans on the GPU to require replacement. Still, tests first.

Reply 135 of 139, by Tali

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Unfortunately I have little time to finish working on Assassin, and even Seer needs a few touches. But I have another project in progress now.

I've ordered a TTL TOSLINK/Optical converter (for 16 USD I'm not going to bother building my own), and I will try to see how clean the signal off of that C-Media card will be. I have a near studio quality sound card with optical in on my main rig, so my two questions are:
- is that CMI8330 producing weird noises in analog part (99% sure it is so), and
- whether I can get it to play digital out in DOS.

Of the answer to both is true, I can plug anything at the end of that TOSLINK cable and enjoy nice digital sound from one of the most compatible cards out there, minus the hiss. If not... well, like I said earlier in this thread, I used to own one back in the day, and I absolutely loved it. But now the hiss is just killing me. And it's not like background hiss or anything, it is some weird, almost aliasing-like hiss on top of everything it plays, even FM. Weird.

Now, I'm not the first here to try that, there's actually a brilliant post here about the very same thing. Except I don't intend to route it through a separate sound card, now there are plenty of decent stand-alone DACs available that I could use. Nor do I intend to fiddle with building my own signal level converter.

I could use it as a stand-alone solution for some Pentium-based build, perhaps. Or an early K-6... since it has Sensaura support, it would be just about right, and if this works, it will also sound cleaner than most things of the time.

Thing is, I do have a Cyrix 6x86 planned with a GUS, but that thing is PR300, and the next fastest machine I have is an AMD 5x86. So, perhaps, some early Pentium might be useful... perhaps.

Or I could switch things around, giving Cyrix the CMI8330, and keeping the GUS for the P1.

Reply 136 of 139, by Joseph_Joestar

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Tali wrote on 2021-01-09, 09:34:

Of the answer to both is true, I can plug anything at the end of that TOSLINK cable and enjoy nice digital sound from one of the most compatible cards out there, minus the hiss.

Very interesting. On paper, the CMI8330 has some amazing capabilities, so I'm looking forward to seeing how your approach works out.

My PC Chips M571 motherboard has an integrated CMI8330 of the SoundPro HT1869V+ variety. I haven't gotten around to testing it since I currently lack the proprietary audio cable + bracket.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 137 of 139, by Tali

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-01-09, 12:06:
Tali wrote on 2021-01-09, 09:34:

Of the answer to both is true, I can plug anything at the end of that TOSLINK cable and enjoy nice digital sound from one of the most compatible cards out there, minus the hiss.

Very interesting. On paper, the CMI8330 has some amazing capabilities, so I'm looking forward to seeing how your approach works out.

My PC Chips M571 motherboard has an integrated CMI8330 of the SoundPro HT1869V+ variety. I haven't gotten around to testing it since I currently lack the proprietary audio cable + bracket.

HT1869V+ is exactly what I have, except in the stand-alone card variety. Mine lacks the wavetable header, which could be a problem to some, except I do not see it as such for myself, since I'd plan to use HardMPU for that anyway.

Reply 138 of 139, by Tali

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Yay! Ordered a board for Crusader! Gigabyte ga-586stx, same as that ASUS SPAX chipset (sis5582), except with no onboard audio and other surprises. Should be able to get it up and happily running with GUS Extreme.

Also ordered some replacement fans for that 5950 Ultra by ASUS (for the Athlon).

Reply 139 of 139, by Tali

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Them MIDI mountains, those just keep growing!

yWNCPS1.jpg

Seriously, got that Roland MPU-105 finally. Works fine, looks almost like new. Except the missing rubber feet (something easy to solve), it even had its original wall wart. Knowing myself, and having an opportunity to snag two more, I just did. So I will have eventually three nice little mountains, with plenty of "space" to connect more of those rare and obscure modules I seem to like so much. But that is not something to be rushing into, there are other things to do.

Also ordered an SSD for Assassin, along with a sticker for the case. When they arrive, it will be actually complete (now I need to offload the files onto a NAS before I move away from its heavy, old, and, regrettably, bad sector infested RAID array it lived with for the last 10 years (in a different case and while not being called "Assassin").

Next in line: fix Korg 01W or build Crusader. Have to decide which first. Probably Korg, as I want to move it off the desk, and I won't do so until it's fixed. In any case, Crusader is waiting on a mobo being shipped, so no harm in delaying that.

I could also test the 5950 with the Athlon, just to see if video boots and has no artifacts, but, again, that requires some desk space.

EDIT: Clarification
104 will switch between sources, which are the 4 computers (Seer, Bard, Crusader, Shaman), and the keyboard,
then the input will be divided into three 105's,
which will send the signal to multiple modules (for simplicity's sake in vertical order for each "mountain", and I do intend to keep those things on a separate shelf eventually)