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Reply 60 of 114, by jwt27

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My vote goes to any YMF71x card. AudioTrix 3D-XG seems perfect but I don't think I'll ever find one.

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Reply 61 of 114, by squareguy

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So nobody has yet voted for or mentioned the PC speaker;)

Maybe I'm crazy. I got the Roland SCC-1 in today and had a little time to listen. It sounds great but I only had time to listen to Duke Nukem 3d and Doom. I actually think I prefer the OPL3. Maybe it's the nostalgia or maybe my brain just thinks that old games should have that synthesizer sound. I will play with it for at least a week or two and see.

The Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 arrived this evening and I will try it out tomorrow. I really want to compare it to the Audician 32.

Perhaps I am one of those who prefers OPL? I really need to try it with more games when I have time. I definitely do not like the AWE32 in its default DOS configuration. I will also try an Ensoniq VIVO 90 soon, the first sound card I ever had but I do not think I will use it for this project since I think it relies on TSRs in DOS. I'm getting there slowly.

The one great thing about the Audacian 32 is that it is still available as new old stock. I might order a couple more just to have on hand.

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Reply 62 of 114, by carlostex

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People might find me weird but i think that Tyrian for instance sounds better on FM synthesis than any GM or other wavetable type cards. It's a cherry picked example but it's the proof of really showing what FM could do.

Reply 63 of 114, by FGB

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As a FM fan you should consider buying a PAS 8-bit and / or CT1330A if you have a 386 machine. I think Cloudschatze did some nice recordings from.. .Dragonsphere... don't remember.. But I think a CT1330A is hard to get.. maybe they pop up 2-3 times a year while a PAS 8-Bit is so rare.. it's in the AdLib Gold ballpark in that department.

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Reply 64 of 114, by carlostex

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I do have a bare CT1330A. The dual OPL2 PAS is way to rare and probably too expensive for me to compete with the eBay 'big boys'.

The recordings by Cloudschatze you mentioned come from a thread in QuestStudios named 'Dual OPL2 Supremacy'. To be honest i was actually aware of this since i was a kid. This because i used to play 2 specific Microprose titles a LOT. These were Formula One Grand Prix (World Circuit in the US) and Fleet Defender. I was so used to listening these game tunes on my Sound Galaxy 16 (OPL 3 clone) that when i tried F!GP on someone's computer that had a CT1330A Sound Blaster Pro i immediately noticed differences. The tunes on the Pro 1 card sounded more polyphonic than the cards with OPL3's. At the time i couldn't understand this difference totally until much later i found the differences between an OPL2 vs an OPL3. I almost immediately remembered that experince when i was a kid.

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Reply 65 of 114, by squareguy

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It's funny you say that. I ran across this card today in the junk bin of a local computer shop. It's mine now hehe and I will try it out soon. It looks like a Packard Bell version of the Sound Galaxy Pro II 16 with a modem tossed on it. Has a real OPL3, Aztech AZT2316 and Crystal CS4231A.

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Reply 66 of 114, by squareguy

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I'm seriously thinking about grabbing a SB16 to have on hand. I have read that the lowest noise ones are with the Vibra chipset and that of those the CT2940 and 2980 are the most desirable. To complicate matters I have read that maybe not all CT2940's are the same hardware and not all have real OPL3s. Is that right? So what I am looking for is this. Sound Blaster 16, real OPL3, low noise (for creative hehe) and I do not care about wavetable header, CD-ROM interface, or hanging note bug.

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Reply 67 of 114, by Mau1wurf1977

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squareguy wrote:
Maybe I'm crazy. I got the Roland SCC-1 in today and had a little time to listen. It sounds great but I only had time to liste […]
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Maybe I'm crazy. I got the Roland SCC-1 in today and had a little time to listen. It sounds great but I only had time to listen to Duke Nukem 3d and Doom. I actually think I prefer the OPL3. Maybe it's the nostalgia or maybe my brain just thinks that old games should have that synthesizer sound. I will play with it for at least a week or two and see.

The Sound Blaster Pro 2.0 arrived this evening and I will try it out tomorrow. I really want to compare it to the Audician 32.

Perhaps I am one of those who prefers OPL? I really need to try it with more games when I have time. I definitely do not like the AWE32 in its default DOS configuration. I will also try an Ensoniq VIVO 90 soon, the first sound card I ever had but I do not think I will use it for this project since I think it relies on TSRs in DOS. I'm getting there slowly.

The one great thing about the Audacian 32 is that it is still available as new old stock. I might order a couple more just to have on hand.

Wow that's surprising. But then, I had a Sound Canvas (wavetable module) as a kid so it is different for me. But to me General MIDI is just on a whole different level.

The Audician is a nice card! Have you tried other DOS drivers and played around with the settings? Apparently some settings should be disabled (Stereo xpand or something like that).

I also could never disable the WSS resources it takes up.

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Reply 68 of 114, by carlostex

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Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

Wow that's surprising. But then, I had a Sound Canvas (wavetable module) as a kid so it is different for me. But to me General MIDI is just on a whole different level.

The Audician is a nice card! Have you tried other DOS drivers and played around with the settings? Apparently some settings should be disabled (Stereo xpand or something like that).

I also could never disable the WSS resources it takes up.

Try to cover the 16 bit ISA slot part with a piece of paper. I never tried this myself, or put the card on an 8bit ISA slot. It will probably deny the card WSS and the IDE part.

Reply 69 of 114, by jwt27

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carlostex wrote:
Mau1wurf1977 wrote:

Wow that's surprising. But then, I had a Sound Canvas (wavetable module) as a kid so it is different for me. But to me General MIDI is just on a whole different level.

The Audician is a nice card! Have you tried other DOS drivers and played around with the settings? Apparently some settings should be disabled (Stereo xpand or something like that).

I also could never disable the WSS resources it takes up.

Try to cover the 16 bit ISA slot part with a piece of paper. I never tried this myself, or put the card on an 8bit ISA slot. It will probably deny the card WSS and the IDE part.

I tried this once but it didn't work. IIRC setupsa.exe /s still assigned WSS resources, and setupsa.exe without parameters wouldn't save any settings (WSS I/O error). Tried it in the 5150 too but it wouldn't run the setup program at all (not enough memory IIRC)

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Reply 70 of 114, by HighTreason

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This is a tricky one, I own more sound cards than most anything else, CPUs are the only thing outnumbering them here.

As it's hard to choose, I'll choose one for each interface;

ISA: The easiest one to pick, Gravis Ultrasound - any version, though I'm rockin' a "Classic" which recently got new memory. Whilst you lose a lot of FM compatibility, it really performs best in machines made later than 1995 in my opinion, meaning that games from the machine's era are generally able to support it and when they don't, you at least get good quality PCM. Plus demoscene rulez!. A close second would be the Pro Audio Spectrum Plus as it's a good all-rounder and has awesome FM (Very bassy) and PCM capabilities - I only know one game that won't work with it and that's LameDuke, but it doesn't like a few real Sound Blaster cards either and being a prototype that's probably to be expected. I'll neglect the SCC-1 thank you, the GUS is doing the same job but better and isn't taking up another slot. As for the MT-32, can I use it as a paperweight? I don't see any use outside of that, plus the GUS has a compatibility mode for that one too... I shouldn't have to go out of my way because the programmers sucked too hard to use MOD music.

PCI: In this case, it'd be a Yamaha YMF-724, the SPDIF output and excellent compatibility when used with an SB_LINK is unmatched in my tests and the XG synth, although not on par with a real MU-series module, is a nice addition - again ruling out the SoundCanvas and also being useful for quickly testing compositions for the MU90R before adding the final effects and proper patches. A close second here would be an FM801, a fantastic card that is often forgotten.

PCI-E: Does this count? They all suck, nobody makes decent sound cards anymore but with the limited capability of the modern Windows driver model, who can blame them. Probably something cheap as the studio-grade cards usually have VIA or C-Media chips from the $5 cards with stickers over them, noteably M-Audio are the chief culprits having once sold me a $70 card to replace a $5 Envy24 that was identical except the no-name Envy was gold plated and didn't have the silly break-out cable, it also had one more input and MIDI that worked properly - features the M-Audio could not match, the M-Audio also had a noisier signal than the cheap card - go figure.

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Reply 71 of 114, by carlostex

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HighTreason wrote:

This is a tricky one, I own more sound cards than most anything else, CPUs are the only thing outnumbering them here.

As it's hard to choose, I'll choose one for each interface;

ISA: As for the MT-32, can I use it as a paperweight? I don't see any use outside of that, plus the GUS has a compatibility mode for that one too... I shouldn't have to go out of my way because the programmers sucked too hard to use MOD music.

If you don't play games or you don't need any LA sound ability, then i agree the MT-32 isn't of much use. It's true the GUS has a GS/GM and MT-32 compatible mode, although it only works for games who don't re-configure the MT-32 with custom patches. Plus even in games that don't it does not sound as good as a MT-32.

But i agree the GUS is a great card, not only i use it for games but for my favorite MOD music as well.

Reply 72 of 114, by Mau1wurf1977

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My GUS experience is different. Got the card, installed it. Listened to a few demos, then tried a few games I know and packed it away never to be used again 🤣

AWE 64 Gold + MPU401AT + MT-32 (Old) + CM-32L + SC-55 is, as I already mentioned earlier, and most know, my recommended setup.

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Reply 73 of 114, by Sutekh94

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My pick goes to any of the Yamaha YMF71x/72x series cards. Proper OPL synth, plus cards like the 724 have the added bonus of XG MIDI.

squareguy wrote:

I'm seriously thinking about grabbing a SB16 to have on hand. I have read that the lowest noise ones are with the Vibra chipset and that of those the CT2940 and 2980 are the most desirable. To complicate matters I have read that maybe not all CT2940's are the same hardware and not all have real OPL3s. Is that right?

Unfortunately it's true - not all CT2940's have proper OPL3. Usually you can tell if one has proper OPL by looking for two small Yamaha-marked chips; in this case, the YMF289-B (the OPL synth itself) and the YAC516-E (the DAC I believe). The one I have does have proper OPL3 and it sounds pretty darn good.

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Reply 74 of 114, by HighTreason

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I started writing this before Sutekh94 wrote a reply, so it was in response to the posts above that one. The YMF chips are something I have no gripes with.

Whereas those, other than the AWE64, are devices I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, though I wouldn't really waste money on another Gold either as the standard one is easy to mod if you really want the SPDIF that bad, the added memory is not really used unless you're composing at which point you may as well just use BassMIDI on a newer box... I do like my Awe 64 Gold though.

My MT-32 experience is different from Carlostex's; mine amounted to owning a very old MK 1 MT-32 that was in perfect condition. No games that loaded custom patches actually worked, instead the MT-32 displays an error code, the master volume is useless as in games like Police Quest it keeps getting ramped up to a random volume I suppose the composer selected... I don't see how you'd think the GUS didn't sound as good but what's the point in opinions if they're all the same?

I then tried to write music for it and something broke in the FX unit, all the parameters jammed permanently. Then I tried to program it and it died completely. This sucks as I wanted to sell it on and make some of the money back, all I got out of it was an AC adapter for my CZ-1000 and watching the previous owner literally break down in tears. Now all I have is a silly looking black box that's bent out of shape and suffered corrosion due to me since spilling things on it. Also my CZ kicked it's ass for less than half the price and nobody ever takes me up on my challenge to try and beat it with an MT-32. As a last note, it has a typical Roland trait whereby it ignores something they helped standardize, in this case, violating the MIDI specification.

Also, I guess I had prior experience with Roland that put me off; I had used an SC-55 and SC-88 Pro under the impression that as a competitor to the Yamaha MU series (I used an MU80 at that time) it would be on par with them, especially given the higher price tag. Much like the MT-32 that came later, I found it to have a thin, tinny sound, naff-all patches, horrible SysEx messages, lag and limited polyphony. The SC-55 also blew it's internal amp and I barely made any money back by the time I finished fixing it. The SC-88 was basically the same shit in a different box, had a few more patches but sounded somehow worse; all treble and shitty drumkits. I keep an SCC-1 for Duke Nukem 3D, but beyond that, it's horrible and I hate every minute of using it... Plus it sounds like Mario Kart on the SNES and that game sucked, so did it's music. Yay for F-Zero!

Prior to the SoundCanvas I had used a Roland D-50 that I borrowed, the MT-32 reminds me of this thing - likely as it was the same shit in a different box like most Roland products - I switched it on, pressed a key, heard the same crunch sound that the MT-32 would make years later and observed it break down... Similarly the owner of that broke into tears. I also used a Jupiter 4... for all of ten seconds and promptly switched it off as it was incapable of playing the chords I wanted, then there was that System 100, very unreliable, monophonic too. You might say I didn't have a good start with Roland and therefore developed a severe distrust of them.

Also, communities like this are so full of people who love IBM/Roland/3DFX and I start wondering if they really like it, like it because they think they should/are told to, just don't know any better or whatever. I was going to start a "...Which graphics card..."-type thread in the vain of this one but I'm sure I can predict the results. 😁

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Reply 75 of 114, by Mau1wurf1977

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Your experiences are certainly very strange...

Roland gear is made very well (Japanese) and I haven't heard of many (any) people with such negative experiences as you have.

Here some more tunes, these ones are from Dynamix games: http://www.philscomputerlab.com/dynamix-games.html

Roland starts at 6:18

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Reply 76 of 114, by HighTreason

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Roland gear is well made? I'm sorry as I can't phrase this without sounding like a dick, but I cannot take that statement seriously.

Screw the games and their hack composers - they just took it in the ass from directors and executives or whoever formed the partnership with Roland, try writing your own music for it, then try writing it on something else, when you're done come back to me. Just for the sake of it, here's some stuff by something worse than a hack composer; My attempts to use an MT-32 you can actually hear where the initial breakage occurs around 2:20 and cranking it up there's a definite crack before the volume drops, the channel was stuck with it's reverb and mod parameters where they were forever after that. There's also a multi-track tune made with the CZ-1000 using no external effects that was glued together around about the same time. The CZ-1000 is not sample-based and came out two years prior to the MT-32 as a budget synth.

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Reply 77 of 114, by Mau1wurf1977

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Agree to disagree 😀 Yes Roland gear is extremely well made. Built like a tank and great Japanese quality.

Had zero issues and I have a lot of Roland gear. Maybe you had a bad unit but dismissing all Roland gear because of that? And the SCC-1 is a terrific card and sounding like Mario Kart? What the heck?

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Reply 78 of 114, by HighTreason

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I always agree to disagree... Because I disagree with people a lot. Sometimes I even disagree even when I don't 😉

I pose you this challenge then, video yourself standing on the MT-32, put all of your weight on it, jump on it lightly and I shall do the same with my Yamaha and we'll see which is better made - I'll even go first if you want. If your MT-32 dents, you have to give me $100 dollars OR forever claim that Roland products are inferior.

I was dismissing Roland gear because of many different devices. The System 100 is pathetic compared to a Prophet 5 which was polyphonic, had digital patch memory and was even given MIDI in later models. I could go on about the Jupiter, Juno, JX and so on that I used. I would say the D/MT systems speak for themselves.

Yes, the SoundCanvas does sound like the SNES version of Maio Kart... No way can you deny that the bass, drum and brass are from a Roland module; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcsCkWVl4rU that's so clearly that Roland snare... makes me feel sick. I'd even render a MIDI on my SCC-1 but I can't be bothered.

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Reply 79 of 114, by Mau1wurf1977

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HighTreason wrote:

I pose you this challenge then, video yourself standing on the MT-32, put all of your weight on it, jump on it lightly and I shall do the same with my Yamaha and we'll see which is better made - I'll even go first if you want. If your MT-32 dents, you have to give me $100 dollars OR forever claim that Roland products are inferior.

It's no wonder your gear keeps breaking 😀 I look after my things.

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