VOGONS


First post, by clueless1

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I came across one of these. I can't remember for sure, but I believe it was in a Win98 Dell. What do you guys know about it? I've already read all the old reviews on it, but I wanted some expert feedback.

It looks like it was primarily a Win9x PCI sound card and competed with the Sound Blaster Live! But there are WinXP drivers for it (I don't think the SBLive! was ever officially supported in XP). Any shared thoughts/experiences greatly appreciated.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
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Reply 1 of 17, by Tetrium

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SB Live! did have drivers for XP I thought? I thought it was Vista that didn't support Live! anymore (not sure about this though, maybe it was just discontinued support for EAX or something?).

I do know there were some OEM Live!s which were more troublesome to get the right driver, but I don't know anything about your particular card, except that I'm not sure yours is a SB or that it even uses a Creative Labs chip?

What's the model number?

Last edited by Tetrium on 2016-01-10, 13:24. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 2 of 17, by CHiLL72

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Turtle Beach did release WDM drivers that should also work in Windows XP, but I remember they were a bit temperamental. It's been a while since I tried them though.
More information and downloads here: http://support.turtlebeach.com/files/311/

Waveblaster MIDI boards: https://waveblaster.nl - online now!

Reply 3 of 17, by clueless1

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Tetrium wrote:

SB Live! did have drivers for XP I thought? I thought it was Vista that didn't support Live! anymore (not sure about this though, maybe it was just discontinued support for EAX or something?).

I do know there were some OEM Live!s which were more troublesome to get the right driver, but I don't know anything about your particular card, except that I'm not sure yours is a SB or that it even uses a Creative Labs chip?

What's the model number?

No, the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz did not use a Creative Labs chip. I do know it was based off of a Crystal chip:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_Beach_Systems#PCI_bus

I've already read all I could find on the internet about it. I was just hoping someone on here had some real-world experience with the card that might be able to share some details and experiences that one doesn't find on Wikipedia or in reviews by random Joes.

You're absolutely right about the Live! It's my memory that failed me. I knew support and drivers ended at a major OS break. I thought it was XP, but it was Vista as you say.

Thanks!

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 4 of 17, by gerwin

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At the time it was reviewed positively by tech savvy users. It contains the Crystal/Cirrus Logic CS4630 controller and two DACs; Yes two separate DACs, and both are 20-bit.
I used this card for a while in a Windows 2000 System, where it worked well. The mean reasons to use it there were its solid Windows 2000 driver and the Waveblaster header for Midi Daughterboards. SB Pro emulation for DOS is very basic.

In hindsight I would need to re-review all my PCI sound cards in relation to forced resampling: Crimes against music: forced resampling
(Personally: Modern integrated audio + USB midi adapters + Emulation Software have made me lose interest in PCI sound cards. So my knowledge is rusty on this subject)

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 5 of 17, by JayCeeBee64

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I have a Santa Cruz, and used it at various times in PCs with Windows 98 SE (Pentium 3) and Windows 2000 (Pentium 4) for quite some time.

HgsHa4ul.png qKzWZ6Hl.png

Not a bad sound card overall, I would say it's more for music listening than gaming; as gerwin said DOS sound (via TSR) is pretty basic - no hardware MIDI or CD audio, no mixer utility, OPL3 emulation is not very good, DOS games have a tendency to crash/freeze unexpectedly. In Windows games it has issues with either VXD (sound delays, skipping, stuttering) or WDM (missing samples, inconsistent volume/framerates) drivers, most likely buffering/resampling problems. They are also a PITA to install/remove. Still, it's one of the few PCI cards with a wavetable header, and it does work very well in Windows.

lZqddg7l.png

Here it is with my TB Cancun FX MIDI DB 😀 . Music playback is excellent with either digital audio (MP3, FLAC), MIDI, or tracker (MOD, S3M, XM, IT) files; very low noise floor and full range with either good speakers or headphones.

Would I use it again? Probably, if I want to build a retro PC with a PCI only board for music playback; that's where it excels at. For gaming I would frankly go with an SB Live! or Aureal Vortex, they're better suited than the Santa Cruz.

Ooohh, the pain......

Reply 6 of 17, by clueless1

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JayCeeBee64 wrote:

Would I use it again? Probably, if I want to build a retro PC with a PCI only board for music playback; that's where it excels at. For gaming I would frankly go with an SB Live! or Aureal Vortex, they're better suited than the Santa Cruz.

Awesome, that was going to be my next question. I was wondering which would be a better choice in a Windows XP gaming machine--the Santa Cruz or the SBLive! This PC will mostly be for playing GOG games. Would there be any difference between the Santa Cruz and Live! for GOG games that offer General MIDI? I know DOS Box can support General MIDI when their DOS games offer that as an option. I'm talking just the card--no wavetable add-on. Thanks.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 7 of 17, by swaaye

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I have one as well. It's quirky but can sound nice because Sensaura is a solid 3D audio solution. But if you want EAX to work properly you should go Creative.

If you want to play games, these are my suggestions.
XP- Audigy or XFi
9x- Live, Audigy or Vortex 2
DOS- probably an ISA SB16.

Live can work on Vista and later but not with more than 2GB RAM because of some limitation with the driver. Alchemy doesn't support it on a hardware level though so no DS3D/EAX. This is because Live does not have OpenAL support. I think you could use Alchemy Universal and have software Alchemy however.

Live, Audigy and XFi are more capable MIDI cards than the competition, because of soundfont support and full featured hardware synthesizer(s). In DOS however you do not use the hardware synth and can not use soundfonts. A software synthesizer is used and it stinks. These cards are also no good for FM synthesis. This does not apply to DOSBox which does its own FM synthesis and uses Windows MIDI output.

Reply 8 of 17, by JayCeeBee64

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clueless1 wrote:
JayCeeBee64 wrote:

Would I use it again? Probably, if I want to build a retro PC with a PCI only board for music playback; that's where it excels at. For gaming I would frankly go with an SB Live! or Aureal Vortex, they're better suited than the Santa Cruz.

Awesome, that was going to be my next question. I was wondering which would be a better choice in a Windows XP gaming machine--the Santa Cruz or the SBLive! This PC will mostly be for playing GOG games. Would there be any difference between the Santa Cruz and Live! for GOG games that offer General MIDI? I know DOS Box can support General MIDI when their DOS games offer that as an option. I'm talking just the card--no wavetable add-on. Thanks.

I would still go with the SB Live!, it's just better overall for gaming; the Santa Cruz does have a soft synth (DLS based) but it pales in comparison with the soundfonts SB Live! can use. Also, since you'll be using Windows XP you have to install WDM drivers - and the issues I mentioned before with the Santa Cruz (missing sounds, inconsistent framerates) could show up without warning in GOG games.

Ooohh, the pain......

Reply 9 of 17, by ZanQuance

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It took me forever to get one of these cards, but it's now my second favorite PCI soundcard especially for 3D audio (First place goes to the Vortex2 of course),
and while I haven't run into any issues with mine so far, it doesn't mean you wont and that others haven't, so your mileage may vary.
The OPL3 emulation for dos gaming is pretty awful and I would avoid using it for such, there are loads of wrong/missing notes and just sounds wrong.
It offers full DSP acceleration for Sensaura 3D which is my second favorite behind A3D 2.0, and it's compatibility with DS3D, A3D1/2 and EAX2 games makes for a good all-rounder where 3D audio is concerned.
There are some modified drivers for it which work well under Win7-32bit, but like the Vortex2 there are no 64-bit OS drivers, but at least it has full XP support unlike the Vortex2 which only ever worked correctly under Win98.

I love it for 3D audio and gaming in general. However it's been ages since I've heard the Live! so I can't offer a fair comparison, but I do have this Audigy4 here in hand and it blows monkey chunks on my system with major popping and clicking during games. 🙁

The Aureal Vortex2 (which I am now becoming rather an expert on thanks to my reverse engineering efforts) is a real monster of a chip for 3D audio, it greatly suffers from a lack of driver and API support for anything other than Win98 and even then it's a bit dodgy. (Stick to the 2041 drivers)
It has some decent OPl3 dos support which sounds much better than the Santa Cruz's.
The HRTF 3D positional audio in A3D 2.0 games is fairly second to none and some of the best you'll hear. Realtime Wavetracing Reverb and Occlusions is a shining feature of A3D 2.0, however the parameters are not often adjusted properly in games and is subjective whether it improves your gaming experience or not.

I would recommend the Santa Cruz just for the experience of Sensaura 3D under XP.

Reply 10 of 17, by clueless1

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Hi there,

When you guys talk about the OPL3 emulation being poor, are you talking about in WinXP (eg, running a GOG DOS game through DOS Box), or are you talking about in Win98's MS-DOS mode? If you're talking about in XP via DOS Box, could you set the game to General MIDI, and would it emulate General MIDI better than it emulates OPL3?

How does one "experience" Sensaura 3D? Does a game have to support it?

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 11 of 17, by ZanQuance

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I speak of ms-dos OPl3 playback, but I would assume it sounds the same using the 98 SBFM playback output. I think DosBox can also use the card if available for OPl3 mode but I don't use it all too often so I can't say for sure.

Sensaura 3D just works on any DS3D, EAX 1/2, A3D 1/2 games automatically. Like if you were playing Half-Life 1 you would enable EAX and A3D mode in the options (older versions only) and Sensaura would kick in and give great 3D audio. Likewise in other games. I did notice there were some versions of the Audio3D.dll wrapper which worked better than the other versions for A3D games though. [edit: old attachment removed]

Last edited by ZanQuance on 2018-04-15, 21:14. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 12 of 17, by Kamerat

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Noticed somthing about this card when running Windows 98SE. You can actually monitor the usage of the Crystal 4630 in System Monitor, it shows up as Crystal SoundFusion(tm).

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 13 of 17, by ibm5155

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That's why I love my Game Theater 64 (Isa sound card).
-Works under ms-dos, with a good opl3 emulation.
-over Windows, it uses the esfm that isn't the same as opl3, but any dos games can use the "real" opl3 so I'm fine.
-build in 4mb wavetable, and ca be expanded to 16mb
-5.1 (tbh I never used this)
-Windows 3.11\DOS\95\98\2000\XP Drivers (Well, the 2000 drivers Works just fine with XP)

On the time, I actually didn't searched for this card, I just wanted a sound card, and that one looked like the weirder one (also the biggest one, with one more inch it could be a full sized isa board D:) at least, it sounds great in midi,opl3 and even under Windows *__*

Reply 14 of 17, by clueless1

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I took some sound recordings of the MIDI in X-Wing Collector's CD on the Santa Cruz before pulling it and putting the SBLive! in. Honestly, the MIDI sounds better than even with an 8MB soundfont on the SBLive! If there's interest, I can post them. They are in .wav format. Can I just attach them to posts here? Or are they too big? They are roughly 2MB per file.

The SBLive! software is much more robust though, and compatibility seems a bit better than with the Santa Cruz. Since this is in a GOG machine, chances are there will end up being a few games I play on here that take advantage of General MIDI, so I'm considering putting the Santa Cruz back in. Decisions, decisions...

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 16 of 17, by Doornkaat

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zapbuzz wrote on 2020-12-14, 10:47:

i found (Santa Cruz TB400-2541-02) and (Montego A3D 64 Voice PCI Sound Card TB400-3355-01 Dell P/N 00007005)
which is better in the above mentioned 2? I want to use one in a windows 2000 / xp box

The original Vortex chip (AU8820) is rather mediocre. That is the chip on the Montego A3D in almost all cards. (It appears there are some fringe cards already using the much better AU8830 chip.) I don't know wether there are decent drivers for Win2k since Aureal went belly up in 2000.
The Santa Cruz is an overall good card with decent drivers for Win2k and XP. I would use that card.😎

Also next time please open a new thread instead of necropisting in an old one if your question is not directly related to the original discussion.👍

Reply 17 of 17, by appiah4

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Santa Cruz is the best Win9x gaming sound card there is AFAIC. Just don't use its FM Synthesis, pair it with a cheap Audiodrive ISA card.. 😀

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