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ISA sound cards redux

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Reply 20 of 32, by gmaslin

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Wow! You guys are uber-impressive 😊
Seriously, I'm growing more and more confident every day that I can make this happen. Okay, here is where I'm at:

1/4" to 1/8" adapters ordered and expected by the weekend (patch cables)
midi foot controller (waiting for midi to sound card cable)
instruments (always ready)
CPU: Asus CUBX (i440BX) P3-850, Radeon DDR64 (fanless), 640MB SDRAM (8ns 4-2-2-2), 2xWD1600AB (raid 1), LiteOn 20 DVDRAM

The first question is the OS. Linux appears to have the edge because the two prevailing FX programs on that platform are current, support VST and have a huge library of FX. I need some help understanding the difference between the VST plugin and a filter. I understood a VST plugin to be an instrument and not necessarily an instrument effect like distortion or reverb. Is a filter more like a traditional stomp box effect in that it changes the input signal to create the new sound? I haven't decided on the sound card yet but I think i should use the Soundscape VIVO90 or the Acer Magic S20 if the OS be linux for the following reasons:

a) the linux FX software above appears to rely only on the CPU MMX for processing the waveform so the processing power on the card is ignored
b) the AWE64 appears to become noisy when used in duplex mode (from -90dB to -60dB) and the function described seems to be duplexing
c) the AWE64 CT4520 appears to lack a 48KHz sample rate

so let me have it, am I on the right track or do I have my head up my backside?

Reply 21 of 32, by swaaye

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The Ensoniq card may indeed have the best signal quality.

I'm curious as to how well that P3 850 will handle software generated effects. I suppose it may well be more powerful than the DSPs that would have been used on those mid/early 90s synth chipsets you have.

Reply 22 of 32, by NJRoadfan

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If you need effects, just find someone dumping a pile of Soundblaster Live! cards for cheap. Well supported by ALSA Linux, hardware effects, and 48khz sampling rate. Just be aware that any audio running through the EMU10k when effects are active will be re sampled to 48khz regardless of the input rate.

Reply 23 of 32, by gmaslin

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NJRoadfan
From many accounts, the 'Live' card didn't sound as good as the AWE64. The reasons why this might be so are speculated on other forums.

swaaye
Members on the guitarix forum have advised me this CPU shouldn't run into trouble until I start chaining FX with the convolvotron. I ran into an interesting article here describing a way to use the processors on the sound card. It suggested to me some very profound questions about the logic stream that I submit below:
Using the processing scenario described in that link, the signal comes in from the instrument and the waveform is edited by the effect but:
a) is the effect superimposed on the incoming signal as a midi description or
b) is the incoming signal converted to digital and merged with the effect?
The former implies an output only function because there is only one analog path. The latter has two analog paths and must duplex.

Reply 24 of 32, by NJRoadfan

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Run the audio out of the rear output jack. A better DAC is used on that output as opposed to the front line output. I never noticed it though since I bypassed the DAC and ran my Live with the Digital DIN output to my Cambridge Soundworks DTT2500 speakers.

Reply 25 of 32, by gmaslin

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NJRoadfan
Are you suggesting that the amplified output is quieter and less edgy on the 'Live' than the line output? I am less familiar with the SBLive than the cards I have listed so I'm struggling to understand you. Are the DTT2500 powered speakers that convert SPDIF? Do you know if the wavetable FX merges or modifies (doesn't digitize) the incoming signal as described in my previous post?
Does anyone know where I can find a list of wavetable FX and their editable parameters?

Reply 26 of 32, by NJRoadfan

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There is no amplified output on Live! Series cards, just "front speaker" and "rear speaker" line-level outputs (the card supports surround sound). The DTT2500 system has a SPDIF input and is separate from the Live! card. The incoming signal is digitized in order to apply effects. Some general info on the system used by Creative can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Audio_Extensions

The only catch is I don't think EAX is supported by any Linux drivers. I don't know what programmable effects are available in the Creative driversas I never really played around with the EAX effects outside of the preset reverb profiles they provide in the drivers.

The 3rd party kX Project drivers for Windows lists included effects on their website: http://kxproject.com/dsp.php?language=en

Reply 27 of 32, by gmaslin

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NJRoadfan
Thanks for the KX project referral. I never knew anything like this existed, it appears to be able to produce any effect I might want. It won't work directly with any of the cards in my list because it requires the EMU10K but the source code is available 😉 I was put off by some of the input noise comments made by members and the fact that KX seems to digitize the analog input prior to merging the effect. What would stop a DSP from overlaying the digital effect on the output? In that much more efficient scenario, there is only one D/A conversion making the combined analog output. Those curious about the processing power of the soundcard should note:
EMU8000 = ~150 MIPS
EMU10K = ~1000 MIPS
I haven't been able to find the MIPS rating for the DSP on the other listed cards or how the MIPS rating above would compare to the P3-850 MMX performance. Indications from similar processors hint at 2600 MIPS for the entire processor but since the MMX (SSE2) functions are a subset of the processor and I am unfamiliar with the internal command structure of the chip and the OS optimizations of that unit, it's anyone's guess.

Reply 28 of 32, by elianda

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You should distinguish between the signal processing with the DSP code and the signal routing between the cards components. Most PC cards are not that comfortable to have a configurable routing, thus you have to live with a fixed routing setup.

About the MIPS comparison, to compare the scores for a DSP and a CPU as the P3 does not tell you much, because the chips use a completely different architecture.

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Reply 29 of 32, by gmaslin

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My Debian Wheezy install went without event on the hardware and I had no trouble configuring the VIVO90 card to work. The JACK interface took some fiddling (rights issues) but is now configured properly with guitarix. I am loving the variety and parameter settings of the FX. The sound output is very timely, clean and quiet for all the FX individually but when I use too many of them simultaneously with extensive delay/reverb, the latency becomes very noticeable. Needless to say, I'll be looking for optimizations and additional FX. These come in a variety of formats and I haven't figured out how to install them or use them with guitarix. I will have to live with this setup a while before stating it would be ready for a live show but so far, I'm impressed. I still haven't hooked up a foot controller so all the FX are currently controlled by keyboard and mouse.

eliandra
When you say 'a fixed routing setup', are you saying that the programs must use either the CPU's MMX subset or the DSP to process the FX? In my setup above, the JACK program appears to be interacting mostly with the sound card (doing A/D conversion) while the FX works on the MMX unit (FX merging). What linux program set or driver will route the FX processing to the sound card DSP in such a way that the FX are 'imposed' on the analog input rather than merged with the converted digital signal? Is there a way to test and measure the DSP performance once it has been successfully routed in the aforementioned manner?

Reply 31 of 32, by p1p1p1

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Hello, im just playing with my AWE32 and AWE64 cards, i have AWEPLAY, sure without source code, im happy i have found it using archive.org, but i can not find SF2LOAD by same author anywhere, Stiletto can u help please somehow?

Reply 32 of 32, by Stiletto

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p1p1p1 wrote on 2020-03-27, 01:25:

Hello, im just playing with my AWE32 and AWE64 cards, i have AWEPLAY, sure without source code, im happy i have found it using archive.org, but i can not find SF2LOAD by same author anywhere, Stiletto can u help please somehow?

http://www.hammersound.net/hs_software.html
BTW, anti-leech link to SF2LOAD is broken there, should be:
SF2LOAD 2.1: http://www.pvv.org/~thammer/localfiles/software/sf2lv21.zip
SF2LOAD 1.3: http://www.pvv.org/~thammer/localfiles/software/sf2ldv13.zip

They may be only for Win9x DOS box or Win32 command prompt and not pure DOS, I forget.

[EDIT] Looks like that's the case, see my references here:
Re: ISA sound cards redux
Allegedly SF2LOAD 1.3 and 2.1 can work under HX DOS Extender but with issues.

But also, particularly these:
Re: Creative Wave Blaster...yuck?
Re: Can't find AWE banks loader for DOS :(
Indicating that there's architectural issues.

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Stiletto