VOGONS


First post, by carlostex

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Guys as some of you know recently i was able to upgrade my non REV Sound Blaster 2.0 with CMS.

So i wanted more. How about my 386 covering all the sound standards that cover the games suitable for playing in my 386?

PC Speaker -- check
Tandy/PcJunior -- impossible
Covox Speech Thing -- check, i have a Covox clone and a Sound Galaxy 16
IBM Music Feature Card -- pretty much impossible
Disney Sound Source -- check, again via Sound Galaxy
CMS/Game Blaster -- check, via Sound Blaster 2.0 upgrade
Roland MT-32/CM-32L -- WANT, WANT, WANT
Adlib/Sound Blaster -- check, via several options

My options:
1. Use only Sound Blaster 2.0 for CMS/Adlib/Sound Blaster
2. Use Sound Blaster 2.0 for CMS and Sound Blaster Pro CT1330 or 1600 (i have both)
3. Use Sound Galaxy Pro 16 for AdLib, Sound Blaster and Sound Blaster Pro standards
4. Yamaha Audician 32 Plus for AdLib, Sound Blaster and Sound Blaster Pro standards, which is sooooo much less noisy than any Sound Card i have

Problems:
Sound Blaster 2.0 does not get along well with Sound Galaxy Pro or the Yamaha card. I can get Sound Galaxy to almost work but digitized speech on Wing Commander 2 will get screwed up. Some games work others do not

Sound Blaster 2.0 does not get along with the Yamaha card, 90% of the times the amaha card will be confuse and will not initialise. a Pity because SB 2.0 output into the Yamaha Line In gives awesome CMS experience.

Sound Blaster Pro and Sound Blaster 2.0 seem to get along fine, all games i had worked, digitized speech in Wing Commander 2 was fine but the Sound Blaster Pro's are much noisier than the Yamaha card.

I also have Sound Blaster 16's and an AWE64 Gold.

I just love the Audician the card sounds absolutely great in every Adlib, Sound Blaster or Sound Blaster Pro game. Dune sound track never sounded better for me.

I believe with a real Game Blaster the problem would be solved, but i won't pay 100 bucks for one.

Of course i need a Roland device preferably a CM-32L.

What would you guys do?

Reply 1 of 17, by d1stortion

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I've always wondered about actual playback differences between the OPL3-SAx and a real OPL3, much like with the CT1747 clone. But yes, in any case it's a very good sounding chip and the YMF71x cards are indeed probably the quietest around for ISA. They also don't have the problem of audible bus transfers etc. which every ISA sound card I own has, even if they lack audible line noise. The value of this card is quite incredible, especially considering how it was apparently just a budget solution back in the day...

Reply 2 of 17, by SquallStrife

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Covox/DSS support is a nice curiosity, but practically useless. Games that use it output digital samples, so they're going to sound the same no matter what card they're played on. Don't be too disappointed if you end up just using your parallel port unit for that.

With that in mind, the SB2.0 seems like the best compromise. Sure you miss out on the one or two games with Dual-OPL2 support, and 44kHz mono SFX, but that's going to be a good trade-off for the headache of getting a SB and Audician playing nice together.

Instead, consider grabbing a GUS, so you can run scene demos on your 386 like a boss. 😜

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Reply 3 of 17, by elianda

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Typical 386 combinations were SB 2.0 or Pro + GUS or later SB16 + GUS.
Today things are easier, so I would recommend a third party SB Pro compatible solution with Waveblaster header, like Aztech Soundgalaxy series.
So you can add a Wavetable and gain plain DOS GM over MPU-401 compatibility. You can also plug a SC-55 or MT-32 to the external connector of the card. Such setup paired with a GUS is close to perfect.

Just to give some examples what I use in my 386 systems:
* Terratec EWS64S + Primax Altrasound (GUS)
* SB16 with Waveblaster I + GUS PnP
* Ensonique Soundscape 2000 + Primax MusicSound (GUS)
in my 486 I use an onboard ESS 688 with a GUS ACE.

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Reply 4 of 17, by carlostex

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Well the Sb2.0 and the SB Pro both dual opl2 and opl3 get along fine, but d1stortion is also right about audible bus noise, which can be pretty noticeable on the SB 2.0

Audician 32 is a dream, great sound quality, even digital speech in games like wing commander sounds much cleaner and natural than i had ever hear.

I bet i could get the Audician to work fine with a real Game Blaster.

About the GUS, i actually found a guy in Portugal who had one i offered 35 euros for it but he did not want to sell it to me.

Reply 5 of 17, by Mau1wurf1977

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With the Sound Blaster 2 you can disable the output filter and then sounds also sound a lot clearer.

http://www.mediafire.com/?lhapzisap9rnll7

On a 386 the Sound Blaster 2.0 is fine. I had a 1.5 with my 386 and it's all you need to be honest.

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Reply 6 of 17, by carlostex

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Yeah but the output quality of the audician is so much superior that i end up with a sour taste in my ears.

So my dream is adlib and soundblaster via the Audician, CMS via a real gameblaster and a CM-32L for roland sound.

These are in my opinion the most important sound standards for games suitable on a 386.

At least, i can use the SB Pro for AdLib and SB sounds and CMS via SB2.0 . But for this to satisfy me i need to get a mixer.

With the audician the line in is suficient. The absence of noise in that card is very appealing.

Reply 7 of 17, by keropi

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Interesting thread as I am revising my 386DX/40 built as well...

I am using a CT1320C+CMS chips and a SW-60XG atm... I am going to keep the 1320 and trade the yamaha for a mpu, I am thinking of connecting there a CM-32L, a SC-55 mk1 and a MU-50 or MU-80... ofcourse it will take some time to get all these modules (especially the CM-32L) but there is nothing to do other than wait...
will also check the 1350B since we have a confirmed solution thanks to carlostex 😁

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Reply 8 of 17, by vetz

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Nice thread!

I'm in the same situation myself with building my 386DX/33. I was thinking of going with the Soundblaster Pro 2 (CT1600) along with my CM500 connected to the Midiman MM401 card.

My concern is how big of a deal is CMS? Aren't there other options in those games? I thought the Soundblaster Pro was generally a better option than the first non-pro SBs.

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Reply 9 of 17, by Mau1wurf1977

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I played around with the CMS and what I found is that the games support Adlib or MT-32 anyway. So I did my few recordings and that was it 😀

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Reply 10 of 17, by badmojo

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carlostex wrote:

Yeah but the output quality of the audician is so much superior that i end up with a sour taste in my ears.

This is one of the things I like about vogons - we're all here fiddling around with prehistoric hardware and applying various levels of our modern expectations. A game crashed to desktop on my Windows 95 machine the other night and I was outraged - "How dare you!" I said, "this machine is period perfect!"

But of course Windows 95 crashed a lot, and old sound blasters were noisy. I like a bit of noise out of 386, because that's part of the experience.

In my 386 I have a Sound Blaster 2.0 (no revision, so good work on the CMS!), and a Roland MPU-401 to drive an MT-32. The 2.0 doesn't have a mixer so I can't easily mix the MT-32 with the SB's FX, but I don't think that's an issue for 386 era games - I'm under the impression that you either had the option of Sound Blaster / Adlib, OR MT-32 for sound. Not both at once.

Dune 2 ('92) for example needed a patch to allow both at once.

Last edited by badmojo on 2013-05-16, 23:04. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 11 of 17, by elianda

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A open 386 system with the plugged cards:
ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys3/cards.jpg

ATI VGA Wonder XL / 3Com Etherlink III / Primax MusicSound / Ensoniq Soundscape 2000 / Acer Multi I/O

Mainboard: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys3/ali_system.jpg
Front: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys3/ali_front.jpg
(Highscreen Kompakt Series III for 386 SX)
CPU closeup: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys3/386cpu.jpg
Whole case topview: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys3/ali_top.jpg

Performance with different cards on the board:
386_Ali.png

Different 386 system top view: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/386dx40_sys2/386desktop.jpg

Sony CD-ROM Controller / #9 GXiTC / EWS64S / TSENG ET4000 / Primax AltraSound / 3Com Etherlink III / Adaptec 1542B / Serial-Parallel I/O card

Performance:
tuned_mem.png

a third 386 system side view: ftp://78.46.141.148/pictures/cases/386_1.jpg

Goldstar Prime 2 / TSENG ET4000 / 3Com Etherlink III / GUS PnP / SB16 + Waveblaster I

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Reply 12 of 17, by Mau1wurf1977

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badmofo wrote:

I'm under the impression that you either had the option of Sound Blaster / Adlib, OR MT-32 for sound. Not both at once.

Yes that's true. I believe the very first game to support MT-32 and Sound Blaster is Wing Commander 2.

Later CD-ROM games like Fate of Atlantis would also support both and happily run on a 386DX.

I always recommned investing into a simple Stere mixer (I have a 4 channel mixer and it cost around A$100). The mixer quality of the Sound Cards isn't the best...

It also means you can balance Music and speech on-the-fly, which is quite handy for many games.

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Reply 13 of 17, by elianda

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I think the importance of CMS is a bit overrated.
What most games do use is at least SB 1.x and OPL2. MT-32 is probably as common as GM in this time.
SB 2.0 would be nice if continuous sample playback is used due to the auto-init DMA feature.
SB Pro adds Stereo capabilities.

If a GUS would be a nice secondary card depends on your usage scenario.

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Reply 14 of 17, by Markk

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elianda, I used to own the first 386 board you have. It's a Soyo. I still have the manual and I have it scanned. If you need I can send it to you.

Reply 16 of 17, by elianda

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I use a Behringer 1202FX.

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Reply 17 of 17, by keropi

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elianda wrote:

I use a Behringer 1202FX.

it can be used for 4xStereo inputs and 1xStereo output, right?

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