VOGONS


First post, by dnewhous

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Wasn't there some glitch where a soundblaster 16 couldn't be run in soundblaster pro mode?

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Reply 1 of 26, by jesolo

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Yes, it's a bug that exists at hardware level that prevents stereo playback of Sound Blaster Pro supported software on any Sound Blaster 16 or subsequent range of ISA based cards (including the AWE32 & AWE64).

Reply 2 of 26, by PhilsComputerLab

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Let's tread carefully here, Internet myths die slowly...

Firstly there are two main types of Sound Blaster Pro. The original SB Pro with dual OPL2 chips, and then the SB Pro 2 with a OPL3 chip.

Compared with the SB Pro 2, the SB 16, and later, are fully stereo compatible what FM music is concerned.

However when it comes to digital sound effects, it is not. In all cases, the SB 16, and later, will play everything the SB Pro would. Meaning you never "don't hear something" or similar bug.

So what people need to ask themselves is, what game:

- Supports stereo digital sound effects through SB Pro option
- Does NOT support Sound Blaster 16 directly

You will quickly find that this list is very small 😀

So really, it's a non issue.

More annoying is the reversal of L and R on the Sound Blaster Pro. That's why you find all these games with an option to swap stereo channels. Some games will do this without letting you know when you select SP Pro.

Last edited by PhilsComputerLab on 2015-11-01, 09:48. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 3 of 26, by jesolo

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Phil has hit the nail on the head.
There are very few games that only supports the Sound Blaster Pro's stereo capability (for digital sound playback).

Where I've found this to be a problem was with demos (like Future Crew's demos).
Some earlier demos only supported Sound Blaster and Sound Blaster Pro (some also supported the Gravis Ultrasound but, I never had the privilege of owning one).
Trying to play back these on a Sound Blaster 16 would only output mono sound.

PS: I believe that the Sound Blaster Pro II only had one OPL3 chip (since this chip did support stereo playback).

Reply 4 of 26, by PhilsComputerLab

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jesolo wrote:

PS: I believe that the Sound Blaster Pro II only had one OPL3 chip (since this chip did support stereo playback).

Of course 😊

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Reply 5 of 26, by carlostex

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A SB16 is fine, but most early models are even noisier than true SB Pro cards which for me is a big no no. For some however the line noise, the cracks and pops are part of the early computing experience.
It is also important to notice that a Sound Blaster Pro 2 is not a real substitute to a Sound Blaster Pro 1. Although on paper OPL3 can do what 2 OPL2 chips can, the way some games are programmed make OPL2 sound superior as far as voicing and stereo spacialization effect. That's why SB Pro 1 and Pro Audio Spectrum are very sought after cards today. The OPL2 is however speed sensitive, which Creative probably noticed and among other reasons a new Sound Blaster Pro was introduced with OPL3 instead.

Phil correctly mentioned the Internet myth that has been going around for a lot of time in which was thought that FM music on SB16 would be mono. The SB16 is in fact stereo FM compatible. And i again agree it being not digitally compatible with the SB Pro is not a big issue.

On my experience the SB16 is least interesting series of cards from Creative. Almost all games that support SB16 will also support a GUS which has far superior digital capabilities. And for SB Pro i use a YMF 71x based card which is probably IMHO the best substitute of a SB Pro 2, being SB Pro compatible, and with better sound quality than a true SB16.

Reply 6 of 26, by boxpressed

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Interesting. I didn't know that the SB16 not being SB Pro compatible is basically a non-issue.

Let's say that you have an SB16, and there is a game that doesn't natively support the SB16. When you are selecting digital sounds and music from the setup program, do you choose Sound Blaster or Sound Blaster Pro?

What I think I'm hearing is that you select SB Pro, and you will get stereo music and mono digital sounds.

Reply 7 of 26, by PhilsComputerLab

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It does depend.

A few older games do support the SB Pro, Wing Commander Academy for example lets you select SB Pro for sound effects, but I'm not sure if it will give you Stereo. Either way, when I looked into it, the list was very very small, I didn't end up bothering.

Older games with Stereo FM are quite rate, most support it through the PAS. Sierra games for example. With later games, such as Space Quest V, you do get FM Stereo.

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Reply 9 of 26, by Scali

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I think the issue was mostly that Wolfenstein 3d, arguably the most revolutionary and popular game of the day, supported SB Pro for stereo sound. This added a new dimension to the game, because you could actually hear where the enemies were coming from.
On an SB16 the game was just mono, like on the original SB. I think that's mostly why it was such a big deal at the time.

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Reply 10 of 26, by 5u3

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Scali wrote:

I think the issue was mostly that Wolfenstein 3d, arguably the most revolutionary and popular game of the day, supported SB Pro for stereo sound. This added a new dimension to the game, because you could actually hear where the enemies were coming from.
On an SB16 the game was just mono, like on the original SB. I think that's mostly why it was such a big deal at the time.

Nice theory, but the "stereo" effects in Wolf3D work perfectly fine on a SB16. That's because the game plays mono sound effects and uses the mixer to pan them to the left/right channel. The drawback of this method is that only one sound effect can be played at the same time, but it's much faster than "true" stereo mixing.

Reply 11 of 26, by Scali

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5u3 wrote:

That's because the game plays mono sound effects and uses the mixer to pan them to the left/right channel. The drawback of this method is that only one sound effect can be played at the same time, but it's much faster than "true" stereo mixing.

It's not mixing though 😀
Panning and mixing are two completely different things.

Anyway, the point remains: there only needs to be a single popular game that doesn't work properly on SB16 to tarnish its reputation, which apparently happened.

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Reply 12 of 26, by firage

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Going the other direction, I don't think there were too many DOS games that ever actually used 16-bit sample depth. The SB16's advantage was basically arbitrary - some games would force a lower sample rate with the SBPro for no good reason.

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Reply 13 of 26, by PhilsComputerLab

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firage wrote:

Going the other direction, I don't think there were too many DOS games that ever actually used 16-bit sample depth. The SB16's advantage was basically arbitrary - some games would force a lower sample rate with the SBPro for no good reason.

That is true unfortunately 🙁

At least it makes the card quite useful in early Windows 95/98 games.

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Reply 14 of 26, by jesolo

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philscomputerlab wrote:
firage wrote:

Going the other direction, I don't think there were too many DOS games that ever actually used 16-bit sample depth. The SB16's advantage was basically arbitrary - some games would force a lower sample rate with the SBPro for no good reason.

That is true unfortunately 🙁

At least it makes the card quite useful in early Windows 95/98 games.

Under DOS, I noticed this when trying to choose the "high" DMA channel in games like Doom or Duke Nukem 3D. The games would just freeze up (not sure whether this actually has anything to do with 16-bit playback).
Back in those days, disk space was crucial and mixing your samples at 8-bit sample depth would have saved a couple of bytes.
Also, playing back at a lower sample rate consumes less system resources.

I remember when playing MOD files under Windows with Mod4Win. If you had a MOD file with more than 8 channels, and you mixed at 44.1 KHz in 16-bit stereo, it quickly started to struggle (even on an AMD 486 DX4-100). Under DOS, the overhead wasn't that much and Inertia Player could happily play large MOD files on a 486 DX4-100 (slightly off topic).

Reply 15 of 26, by Scali

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jesolo wrote:

I remember when playing MOD files under Windows with Mod4Win. If you had a MOD file with more than 8 channels, and you mixed at 44.1 KHz in 16-bit stereo, it quickly started to struggle (even on an AMD 486 DX4-100). Under DOS, the overhead wasn't that much and Inertia Player could happily play large MOD files on a 486 DX4-100 (slightly off topic).

That probably has more to do with the mod player than with Windows.
There's a huge difference in performance between different mod players. A software mixing routine's performance depends on many factors, such as:
- The mixing rate
- The resolution (8-bit vs 16-bit)
- The accuracy of the resampling routine (interpolation)
- Level of optimization and corner-cutting

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Reply 16 of 26, by stuvize

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I have never owned an original SB pro but I have noticed with SB pro2 and SB16 in wolf3D that the door sound effects stop working sometimes opening the menu and returning to the game fixes it. Is this due to the mono sound FX of SB pro2 and SB16?

Reply 17 of 26, by 5u3

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Scali wrote:

Anyway, the point remains: there only needs to be a single popular game that doesn't work properly on SB16 to tarnish its reputation, which apparently happened.

Which game would that be then? AFAIR this issue has been discussed several times already, and Wolf3D was often mentioned (no wonder, since it is one of the first DOS games to take real advantage of stereo sound effects), but it simply doesn't qualify because the SFX work correctly on all SB cards.

Reply 18 of 26, by badmojo

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stuvize wrote:

I have never owned an original SB pro but I have noticed with SB pro2 and SB16 in wolf3D that the door sound effects stop working sometimes opening the menu and returning to the game fixes it. Is this due to the mono sound FX of SB pro2 and SB16?

I've had this problem too but it wasn't the fault of the sound card, but I can't quite remember how I fixed it. It might have been a resource thing - I have a feeling that changing from IRQ 7 to 5 fixed it, or something along those lines.

If it's broke, then fix it!

Reply 19 of 26, by Great Hierophant

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Tertz wrote:
philscomputerlab wrote:

You will quickly find that this list is very small

It's a good place to list them. At least some most popular.

You can find a list of games that support Stereo FM through the SB Pro 1.0 or PAS here :

http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2012/04/u … me-support.html

As far as a list of games that support the stereo DAC feature using DSP commands, I have never found a game that uses this method.

In short :

For FM Stereo, an SB16 is compatible with the SB Pro 2.0
For Mixer Stereo, an SB16 is compatible with the SB Pro 1.0 & 2.0
For DSP Stereo, an SB16 is compatible with nothing.

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