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Which soundcard on which systems?

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First post, by Robin4

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Can somebody tell me, which soundcard i can use in those systems?

-XT 8086
-0286

Is it a good choice to use an Roland lapc-i in an 80386 computer? I dunno if there where games that could benefit the most of that 386 40mhz processor speed.

Where there XT personal computer with soundcard? I thought in those days you had only the pc speaker availble and maybe disney sound source..

Reply 1 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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XT: Speaker only for sure
286: A Sound Blaster 1.5 or 2.0

386: A Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 + Roland MPU401 interface

For Roland:

Late 80s - early 90s: Roland MT-32 and CM-32L
early 90s onwards: Sound Canvas

Reply 2 of 23, by Robin4

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Does XT mayby use Covox?

For the pc speaker on the XT system, is it maybe handy to using an simple soundcard for that and if possible to connect the pc speaker to it (if PC_SPK header is avaible)

Reply 3 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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Robin4 wrote:

Does XT mayby use Covox?

Hmmm hard to say. I mean games that have support for Covox, usually always support Sound Blaster anyway. So looking at it from this view, Covox was always the second or third choice.

Kings Quest 4 was the first game with Adlib and also Roland support. So that gives you an idea of the time frame.

Anything before that and you likely had more fun with consoles and home computers (Master System or C64) and heaps better sound.

For the pc speaker on the XT system, is it maybe handy to using an simple soundcard for that and if possible to connect the pc speaker to it (if PC_SPK header is avaible)

That's a great idea! The card doesn't even have to work, just use it as an amplifier!

Reply 4 of 23, by sliderider

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:
Hmmm hard to say. I mean games that have support for Covox, usually always support Sound Blaster anyway. So looking at it from t […]
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Robin4 wrote:

Does XT mayby use Covox?

Hmmm hard to say. I mean games that have support for Covox, usually always support Sound Blaster anyway. So looking at it from this view, Covox was always the second or third choice.

Kings Quest 4 was the first game with Adlib and also Roland support. So that gives you an idea of the time frame.

Anything before that and you likely had more fun with consoles and home computers (Master System or C64) and heaps better sound.

For the pc speaker on the XT system, is it maybe handy to using an simple soundcard for that and if possible to connect the pc speaker to it (if PC_SPK header is avaible)

That's a great idea! The card doesn't even have to work, just use it as an amplifier!

Do you really want to amplify the sound coming through the tinny speaker on an XT? It's hard enough to listen to as it is without adding more power to it.

Reply 5 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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sliderider wrote:

Do you really want to amplify the sound coming through the tinny speaker on an XT? It's hard enough to listen to as it is without adding more power to it.

YES! 🤣

Reply 6 of 23, by Robin4

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sliderider wrote:
Mau1wurf1977 wrote:
Hmmm hard to say. I mean games that have support for Covox, usually always support Sound Blaster anyway. So looking at it from t […]
Show full quote
Robin4 wrote:

Does XT mayby use Covox?

Hmmm hard to say. I mean games that have support for Covox, usually always support Sound Blaster anyway. So looking at it from this view, Covox was always the second or third choice.

Kings Quest 4 was the first game with Adlib and also Roland support. So that gives you an idea of the time frame.

Anything before that and you likely had more fun with consoles and home computers (Master System or C64) and heaps better sound.

For the pc speaker on the XT system, is it maybe handy to using an simple soundcard for that and if possible to connect the pc speaker to it (if PC_SPK header is avaible)

That's a great idea! The card doesn't even have to work, just use it as an amplifier!

Do you really want to amplify the sound coming through the tinny speaker on an XT? It's hard enough to listen to as it is without adding more power to it.

But i really sounds better if it can be amplified.. And you can volume it up or down..

Reply 7 of 23, by pewpewpew

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

YES! 🤣

Quick side question - is there a resource or thread discussing the variation in PC-speaker sound?

Like right now with my zombie pair, the p5tx does polite a 'bip' for the DOS disk prompts during install. The ppro does a really loud full beep that rivals the smoke alarm. Then the ppro is silent the rest of the time like the speaker is disconnected, whereas the p5tx does entirely normal boot beeps.

I'm thinking that's going to indicate a wide variation of what PC-speaker sound 'sounds' like for games, and you lads will have already covered this rather well, somewhere.

Reply 8 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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Modern machines don't have a "real" speaker at all. They use a little Piezoelectric speaker. Often it's on the mainboard or comes with that 4 pin plug and you can remove it and use in another machine.

And yea, these are usually quieter and not as "rich".

The older PCs had a "real" speaker in the machine. And as you found they could be quite loud and in games like F15 or Indi 500 really really annoying 🤣

IMO routing it through a PC sound card will give you the best experience.

Reply 9 of 23, by pewpewpew

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Oh, actually both of these have true paper & tin speakers as The Creator meant AT computers to have. They even match, originating from identical spec 486's. Just the boards have moved on.

So you've found most AT boards put out pretty much the same game sound through PC speakers, just different volume?

(And yeah, the one is Loud. Already searched to see what might be done about that. Enjoyed that the most popular fix was "tape".)

Reply 10 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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So I played around with the PC speaker and many sound cards have the option to route the PC speaker signal through the sound card. Most cards have 2-4 mixer inputs (AUX, CD, PC speaker...) and you can also change the mixer levels through a utility.

For this video I just used a very basic Sound Blaster 16 (Vibra 16).

Now I didn't have a "real" PC speaker, just this piezo speaker that most of us know. So the first part shows you what that one sounds. The second part shows you how it sounds routed through the Sound Blaster 16 and hooked up to Logitech speakers.

Because the camera doesn't really capture what it sounds like very well, the final part is a recording through line-in on another machine.

In short, routing the PC speaker signal through a sound card gives you a fuller and richer sound 😁

For the cable I just used one of these CD-Audio cables. I had to "move" 2 pins, but it's not hard and quite obvious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUZFrGCjUtw

Reply 11 of 23, by pewpewpew

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>just this piezo speaker that most of us know

Ah. Got it. Difference of perspective. I was thinking you'd have a variety of experience with the AT era PC-speakers.

Man, that peizo's just impossible. Makes putting the signal through a card necessary quite regardless of other advantages.

Reply 14 of 23, by pewpewpew

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Thank you so much. Love the liquid tone on Monkey Island.

In the brief period where game makers are tailoring sounds for the speaker, they had to have had an 'average' target defined. I'd be interesting to know how they derived it, how representational it really was, and of course what it was.

Reply 15 of 23, by Mau1wurf1977

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Hehe not sure if they worried that much about such details. I mean most of these games had support for Adlib and maybe even Roland. So they might have just developed a PC speaker Midi "translator" or something like that?

I doubt someone sat there and "optimized" the PC speaker sound. Having said that, you never know, stranger things have happened 🤣

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Reply 16 of 23, by Malik

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:
XT: Speaker only for sure 286: A Sound Blaster 1.5 or 2.0 […]
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XT: Speaker only for sure
286: A Sound Blaster 1.5 or 2.0

386: A Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 + Roland MPU401 interface

For Roland:

Late 80s - early 90s: Roland MT-32 and CM-32L
early 90s onwards: Sound Canvas

Robin4, Mau1wurf1977 said it all. 😁

Robin4 wrote:

Does XT mayby use Covox?

To give the answer, it's the other way round : Covox can be used in an XT.

May depend on which Covox we're talking about. I'm not sure if the later Covox cards can be used in an XT though.

5476332566_7480a12517_t.jpgSB Dos Drivers

Reply 17 of 23, by VileR

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Mau1wurf1977 - cool video!
when I was a wee one my dad was tired of the LOUD and annoying pc speaker games I was playing on our XT clone (the dwarf's lightning magic in Golden Axe on a 4.77MHz cpu = 14 minutes of ear-splitting goodness... true story because I actually timed it once). So he installed an actual volume knob for it, that went into one of the ventlike slots of the front case bezel - that was a pretty cool mod for back then 😁

In one of my later machines I had a sound card without internal PC-SPK input, so I hacked a crude replacement by routing a cable from the speaker, through the opening of an unused slot on the back, and into the card's "line in". Looked funny as shit, but works surprisingly well if you're in that sort of pinch.
I think Access Software had instruction manuals for building custom audio cables for your PC speaker, just to show off RealSound in their games....

pewpewpew: the only "standard" that could've existed back then was the speaker from original IBM machines, all of which had the big honking 3" dynamic speaker.

You gotta remember that in the really early days (when the PC speaker was the only option), people used to do VERY interesting things with it, all of which could only work well on an actual speaker, and very badly (if at all) with a piezo buzzer:

  • Games as early as 1982 had synthesized speech (as well as a host of shareware fun programs where you could type in text and have the PC read it out loud)
  • Other games (e.g. Windmill Software) actually implemented a form of filtering and envelopes, making it halfway passable as a single-voice synth
  • Multi-channel music (Music Construction Set, as well as some BASIC polyphony program that somehow made my PC speaker sound just like a Tandy/PCjr)
  • Digital PCM audio playback (I think first introduced en-masse with Access Software's RealSound; later much more common, but only when SB and clones were already running rampant)

as for the OP... nothing prevents you from installing a Sound Blaster in an XT, as long as it fits into a 8-bit ISA slot.
it may not be rigorously "period-correct", and you won't benefit from it in a lot of games, but you could run "8088 Corruption"!

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Reply 18 of 23, by SavantStrike

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VileRancour wrote:
Mau1wurf1977 - cool video! when I was a wee one my dad was tired of the LOUD and annoying pc speaker games I was playing on our […]
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Mau1wurf1977 - cool video!
when I was a wee one my dad was tired of the LOUD and annoying pc speaker games I was playing on our XT clone (the dwarf's lightning magic in Golden Axe on a 4.77MHz cpu = 14 minutes of ear-splitting goodness... true story because I actually timed it once). So he installed an actual volume knob for it, that went into one of the ventlike slots of the front case bezel - that was a pretty cool mod for back then 😁

In one of my later machines I had a sound card without internal PC-SPK input, so I hacked a crude replacement by routing a cable from the speaker, through the opening of an unused slot on the back, and into the card's "line in". Looked funny as shit, but works surprisingly well if you're in that sort of pinch.
I think Access Software had instruction manuals for building custom audio cables for your PC speaker, just to show off RealSound in their games....

pewpewpew: the only "standard" that could've existed back then was the speaker from original IBM machines, all of which had the big honking 3" dynamic speaker.

You gotta remember that in the really early days (when the PC speaker was the only option), people used to do VERY interesting things with it, all of which could only work well on an actual speaker, and very badly (if at all) with a piezo buzzer:

  • Games as early as 1982 had synthesized speech (as well as a host of shareware fun programs where you could type in text and have the PC read it out loud)
  • Other games (e.g. Windmill Software) actually implemented a form of filtering and envelopes, making it halfway passable as a single-voice synth
  • Multi-channel music (Music Construction Set, as well as some BASIC polyphony program that somehow made my PC speaker sound just like a Tandy/PCjr)
  • Digital PCM audio playback (I think first introduced en-masse with Access Software's RealSound; later much more common, but only when SB and clones were already running rampant)

as for the OP... nothing prevents you from installing a Sound Blaster in an XT, as long as it fits into a 8-bit ISA slot.
it may not be rigorously "period-correct", and you won't benefit from it in a lot of games, but you could run "8088 Corruption"!

Hey, a volume knob! That's a great idea. It sounds like he probably just installed a potentiometer on it, which would work beautifully.

Hmmm. I've got a potentiometer lying around here...

Reply 19 of 23, by pewpewpew

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VileRancour - Yes, that's what I was thinking of by "tailoring". Thank you.

IBM set the standard, but their machines were rare at home. Instead we had that mishmash of early clones. Hence I'm kinda curious what software designers thought an average pc-speaker's sound was, and how close that worked out for them.