Ad Lib Museum

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Ad Lib Museum

Postby adlibmuseum » 2016-2-09 @ 01:01

Hi,

I found so much valuable information on this forum, that I thought this post would be appropriate here. Please forgive me if I'm wrong.

I always was kind of obsessed with the Ad Lib, Inc. company, although to be honest, my first soundcard was a Avid Technology "Sound Booster Pro" (I think a re-labeled SB Pro 1.0, without CD-ROM port). My father bought it for me, as he liked the idea of digital sound and it was fully Ad Lib compatible after all.

I'm on a mission to document each and every Ad Lib product, hardware and software. Right now my collected information is only available on Gopher protocol - not kidding :lol: , it's the protocol that was competing with http in the early '90s. With gopher, I can concentrate on the content instead of the layout, but of course I will be making everything available on my adlibmuseum.com domain, on a proper website, once I have written all the stuff that I've planned.

If you have Lynx (text browser) installed, you can browse it at "gopher://gopher4all.com/1sections/retro/adlib/", the pages should be optimized for 80 columns/24 lines. Don't use the "gopher" Linux program, it's broken.
Otherwise you can use the public gopher proxy from Floodgap.com http://gopher.floodgap.com/gopher/gw?gopher://gopher4all.com:70/1sections/retro/adlib/ , if you'd like.

I'd really appreciate any help, especially with the "mystery products" (Ad Lib PC TV, Systel, MSC 16 Plus, etc.). But also on the Ad Lib Gold stuff, I never had that card, sadly, so I'd like some help with describing the bundled software, for instance. Much more content is planned, I'll be writing about the Ad Lib Media Connector, Ad Lib CyberRAM, their later boring stuff (speakers, networks, VGA cards) and I'll be posting the Ad Lib Multimedia 1996 PDF newsletters and PDF flyers, etc., thanks to WayBack Machine (archive.org). I'm adding new stuff almost daily.

As you can probably tell, English is not my native language, so if you see strange texts, please let me know as well.

I'll be looking forward to any feedback.

Kind regards,
Vincent
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby popfuture » 2016-2-11 @ 15:28

Hi adlibmuseum,

I think this project you are working on is pretty cool. I never owned an adlib. In my first PC we got the Pro Audio Spectum 16 and later the GUS. I have always been rather curious about the adlib card though. Ultima 6 supports it directly. I would like to get my hands on a music-only adlib card someday. I am interested in how it performs in the absence of DMA support, such as on a newer industrial motherboard with ISA support. There's certainly no good reason for putting an old adlib card in a modern computer other than "just to see if I can do it" but maybe that is enough. :blush:

I wish you the best of luck in your project.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby brassicGamer » 2016-2-11 @ 15:40

*predicts someone promoting the suitability of the Vogons Wiki for this project*

edit: my God - it's amazing! You're obsessed, man! In a good way of course :)
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Jepael » 2016-2-11 @ 20:03

Nice site. I'm also pretty obsessed about the innards of OPL chip. Sadly I sold my Adlib as at that time it was useless, I already had SB 1.5 when I got the Adlib card.

Regarding putting an Adlib card to a modern ISA motherboard, in theory it should work. Adlib only uses two IO ports. It does not use IRQ or DMA channels. Power supply wise it only needs +12V, -12V and +5V, so it works without -5V that is not present on more modern ATX power supplies. The only issue could be that the CPU runs software too fast and the OPL2 chip cannot handle it, because it needs certain amount of delay between port writes (as mentioned the problem with faster computers). This problem can be reduced by adding IO wait states, turning off caches or using CPU slowdown programs.

But if it does not work, don't worry, just put another sound card that can live without -5V, and preferably one with OPL3 chip. It can work with smaller delays than OPL2 chip. Sound wise, there should be only a little bit of difference FM sound cards. The only thing that could be significant is that the Adlib has a low pass filter after the DAC (so called DAC reconstruction filter, 4th order Butterworth type if you are into that sort of things), which appears to be non-existent on other cards so they sound sharper. I bet the LM386 power amplifier on the Adlib is not very hi-fi so other sound cards with line level outputs may sound better when connecting to hi-fi equipment.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Malvineous » 2016-2-11 @ 21:55

brassicGamer wrote:*predicts someone promoting the suitability of the Vogons Wiki for this project*

I'm already working on that :-) But not going to start promoting it until it's at a point where it's ready for more contributors...
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby adlibmuseum » 2016-2-14 @ 16:54

Thanks for the replies!

edit: my God - it's amazing! You're obsessed, man! In a good way of course :)


:lol:
It's been on my mind for many years, so a lot of the content already existed in my mind :-)

brassicGamer wrote:*predicts someone promoting the suitability of the Vogons Wiki for this project*


I've not really thought about the site's format, perhaps adding it to an existing site/wiki would be a good move.
For now I think I will go on with my own site, but I'll definitely contribute to similar projects and would actually
love to see the information I've gathered spread on other sites (especially if the site is credited :-) ), after all
all information that I have was either googled or obtained from public shareware sites/CD-ROMs anyway.

I once had a very nice e-mail conversation with an ex-Ad Lib Inc. employee about 15 years ago... sadly that
conversation is lost. :depressed:

I've one specific request: is there anybody who has the uncompressed contents of the Ad Lib Gold disks and is willing to
ZIP it and send it to me one way or another? I've downloaded the setup disks from two sites, but the files are compressed
in a seemingly internal format, so I can not decompress it (the Setup does not allow installing the files to harddisk
as Ad Lib Gold is not detected on DOSBox). The reason that I'm asking is because I'd love to take a look at RL2 files
with a hex editor, to see if it resembles classic ROL files in one way or another.

Regards, Vincent
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Beegle » 2016-2-14 @ 17:16

Nice project.
Here are the RL2 files you requested.

Curious about the Adlib employee you spoke to 15 years ago. Can you still give a name even if the conversation is lost?
Thanks,
Ben
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ADLGOLD - RL2 Files.rar
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby popfuture » 2016-2-14 @ 17:39

Jepael wrote: But if it does not work, don't worry, just put another sound card that can live without -5V, and preferably one with OPL3 chip. It can work with smaller delays than OPL2 chip. Sound wise, there should be only a little bit of difference FM sound cards. The only thing that could be significant is that the Adlib has a low pass filter after the DAC (so called DAC reconstruction filter, 4th order Butterworth type if you are into that sort of things), which appears to be non-existent on other cards so they sound sharper. I bet the LM386 power amplifier on the Adlib is not very hi-fi so other sound cards with line level outputs may sound better when connecting to hi-fi equipment.


This is a very interesting statement. I was listening to a SB2.0 recording of the Dune soundtrack, by Stephane PICQ, earlier today, one of the best OPL compositions IMHO. One problem with the SB2.0 rendition seemed to be the sharpness of the sound. It can hurt my ears in places. I was just thinking about how a low pass filter would help a lot. I don't recall if Dune has direct Adlib support (or if OPL2 runs out of voices on it) but now I'm curious how the soundtrack would sound with the filter of the original Adlib.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-2-14 @ 19:14

adlibmuseum wrote:...I'd love to take a look at RL2 files with a hex editor, to see if it resembles classic ROL files in one way or another.


The .RL2 files were created with the unreleased "Visual Composer 2" software, so there's probably more than a little resemblance to the earlier format. Presumably, VC2 would have made it simple to create stereo versions of the earlier .ROL files besides.



Here's a little Ad Lib write-up I posted on the Quest Studios forum back in 2009. It was mostly meant to advertise the lesser-known relationship between Ad Lib and Mediatrix, but also served as a comprehensive repository of Ad Lib information, software, and demonstration recordings. The intent was to scan all of the pictured manuals (whereby clicking on each manual downloads/opens the PDF copy), but I've only yet managed to get the User's Guide done, as well as a conversion of the Music Championship manual, the scans for which were graciously provided by forum member "sklawz."


The Ad Lib Legacy

"I will tell you the beginning..." - William Shakespeare

Looking back, perhaps it can be said that the humble Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card, released in mid-1987, was responsible for the widespread development and emergence of PC-based music. With this relatively inexpensive product, coupled with ever-increasing developer support and groundbreaking software interfaces (such as the Macintosh-inspired "Visual Composer"), Ad Lib Inc. enjoyed a nearly three-year reign at the top of the burgeoning soundcard market.

Here, too, began the long-standing relationships with Yamaha LSI, whose multi-generational contribution to the personal computer - the FM Operator Type-L - became standard equipment on many soundcards throughout the next decade, and with composers Henri Chalifour, Gerard Jones, and Raymond Skilling, whose musical talents would be commissioned to demonstrate and promote a number of soundcards.


Image

Synth - Yamaha YM3812 (OPL2)

"Highways" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL2
"Elecrock", Yamaha OPL2
"Gargoyles" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL2
"Spy's Eye", Yamaha OPL2
"Bach's Aria", Yamaha OPL2
"Vivaldi's Spring", Yamaha OPL2
"Oh! When the Saints!", Yamaha OPL2
"Railroad Story", Yamaha OPL2
"Clockmaker", Yamaha OPL2
"Soft Acid Rain", Yamaha OPL2
"Crystal Eve", Yamaha OPL2
"Softblue", Yamaha OPL2
"Breathing", Yamaha OPL2
"Classy Night", Yamaha OPL2
"Dance Beat", Yamaha OPL2
"Do it !", Yamaha OPL2
"* Very Busy *" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL2

Additional resources:
Image Image Image Image Image




"All that glitters...." - William Shakespeare

Ad Lib's interdependency with Yamaha proved disastrous however, as production delays with Yamaha's first multimedia chipset resulted in an extended, and costly, vaporware marketing campaign for Ad Lib's successor card, the Gold PC-1000. Unable to maintain solvency, Ad Lib Inc. declared bankruptcy and closed their doors on May 1, 1992. After several months of negotiation, Ad Lib's assets were sold to German conglomerate Binnenalster GmbH, and following a drastic reduction-in-force, "Ad Lib MultiMedia Inc." was born.

With new ownership, Ad Lib MultiMedia Inc. went on to ship the remaining Ad Lib Gold stock, developed the Gold Sound Standard, and later released the (arguably) lackluster MSC/ASB 16/32/64 cards.

~ The End ~
...
Or was it...?


Image

Synth - Yamaha YMF262 (OPL3)
PCM - Yamaha YMZ263B (MMA)
Effects - Yamaha YM7128 (SP)

"Buildings Over Buildings" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"The Cave" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Flight Commando" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Gold Highways" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"The Rhythm of Industries" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Kraken" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Lords of the Unknown" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"tHE mACHINE" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Mirrors of the Sea" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"New Era" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Ultimate Landscapes" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM
"Walk in the Park" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL3 + PCM

Additional resources:



"A rose by any other name..." - William Shakespeare

Behind the scenes, another Quebec-based company, Mediatrix Peripherals Inc., had also been involved in a bid to acquire Ad Lib's assets. Though unsuccessful in their attempt, a different kind of opportunity presented itself following Binnenalster's dismissal of the the engineers at Ad Lib. Seeking to preserve and utilize this talent, Mediatrix hired these individuals, and set them to work on a new task - the design of the AudioTriX Pro.


Image

Synth - Yamaha YMF278B (OPL4)
PCM - Crystal CS4231
Effects - Yamaha YSS225 (EP)

"Aliens at the Supermarket" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL4
"Hawk of Lite" - Gerard Jones, Yamaha OPL4
"Fashion" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL4
"Technovox" - Gerard Jones, Yamaha OPL4 (44-voice, Wavetable+FM)
"Euroman" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha OPL4 (44-voice, Wavetable+FM)
"Fiddler³" - Gerard Jones, Yamaha OPL4 (44-voice, Wavetable+FM)


Additional resources:



Image

Synth - AdMOS QS1000
PCM - Crystal CS4236

Image

Synth - Crystal CS9233
PCM - Crystal CS4232
Effects - Crystal CS8905

Additional resources:



"The setting sun, and music at the close..." - William Shakespeare

Here, our narrative concludes with the 1997 release of the AudioTriX 3D-XG, bringing to close a full decade of soundcard design, talent, and innovation - a legacy that began with Ad Lib, and lived on through Mediatrix!


Image

Synth - Yamaha YMF715E (OPL3-SA3), Yamaha DB60XG
PCM - Yamaha YMF715E (OPL3-SA3)
Effects - Yamaha DB60XG

"Techno Spy" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha XG
"Chamber" - Gerard Jones, Yamaha XG
"Great Spaces" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha XG
"Aliens at the Supermarket" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha XG
"Maria" - Gerard Jones, Yamaha XG
"Fashion" - Henri Chalifour, Yamaha XG


Additional resources:
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby adlibmuseum » 2016-2-14 @ 19:54

Wow!!! Blown away...
Can I link to this stuff on my site? (providing full credits of course).

I already was so happy with the YouTube videos of Juke Box Gold you posted on YouTube some time back....

BTW, is it known whether Visual Composer 2 was a graphical DOS application? And is it known whether it was meant to be released later, or was it strictly for internal usage?

One of the things I liked most of the Ad Lib company was their impressive add-on software (1987/1988), like Visual Composer and Instrument Maker. Now I know about their earlier products (Exercette music teaching computer, released around 1982), I understand better why they did such a good job on this.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-2-14 @ 20:36

adlibmuseum wrote:Can I link to this stuff on my site? (providing full credits of course).

Yes, certainly. I can probably be persuaded to scan the other manuals as well, if there's any interest.

BTW, is it known whether Visual Composer 2 was a graphical DOS application? And is it known whether it was meant to be released later, or was it strictly for internal usage?

I presume it used the same DOS-based GUI as the original Visual Composer, based on the fact that the "AdLib Gold FM Timbre Editor" that is included in the GSS SDTK retains the same look as the original Instrument Maker. Had the bankruptcy never happened, I also imagine it would have been released in some fashion. I corresponded with Henri Chalifour a number of years ago, who, at the time, mentioned that he still had a copy of Visual Composer 2. Disappointingly, I never heard from him again after that.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Scali » 2016-2-15 @ 10:03

Very cool! I have little to add myself, I've never owned an actual Adlib card, only compatible cards such as the Sound Blaster.
But Adlib music was always a 'guilty pleasure' for me. Coming from C64 and Amiga, the Adlib/SB didn't sound as good to me (it mostly lacked the 'attitude' that the dirty SID adds to the mix, it's all very clean and nice). But if Adlib music is done well, it can give some very good results. My favourite game music from those days are Dune and Tyrian.
I also really like the Adlib tune that No-XS made for my 1991 Donut intro.

So I love this idea of an Adlib museum, where we can see (and hear!) more about these Adlib cards.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-2-15 @ 17:17

Here are two additional resources that should be interesting to any Ad Lib enthusiast:

"The Sound of One Chip Clapping: Yamaha and FM Synthesis"
https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle ... 434192.pdf

This is an MIT Japan Program paper, written by Robert Johnstone, that provides a remarkably comprehensive history of John Chowning's development of FM synthesis, and Yamaha's licensing and production of the technology. Ad Lib's involvement with Yamaha is covered, along with the OPL2, while IBM's Music Feature Card and Yamaha's SW20-PC even receive brief (albeit unnamed) mention.


Rich Heimlich, an early industry consultant and proponent, was interviewed last year as part of, "Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound." Here is the PC Gamer write-up, which includes a link to the 42-minute interview excerpt:
http://www.pcgamer.com/author-of-sound- ... -pc-audio/

In the interview, Rich makes a revelatory assertion - Sim Wong Hoo, of Creative Technology, apparently orchestrated the Yamaha MMA chipset "delays" that resulted in Ad Lib's demise.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-2-15 @ 17:32

Scali wrote:...the Adlib/SB didn't sound as good to me (it mostly lacked the 'attitude' that the dirty SID adds to the mix, it's all very clean and nice).

Krysalis brought some dirt. :lol:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=19264&start=140#p345119
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Scali » 2016-2-16 @ 15:19

Cloudschatze wrote:Krysalis brought some dirt. :lol:
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=19264&start=140#p345119


Yea, that's more like it!
It seems to try to sound very similar to the C64's Last Ninja music in some places.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby brassicGamer » 2016-2-16 @ 19:25

Cloudschatze wrote:Here are two additional resources that should be interesting to any Ad Lib enthusiast:

"The Sound of One Chip Clapping: Yamaha and FM Synthesis"
https://dspace.mit.edu/bitstream/handle ... 434192.pdf


I love reading that kind of thing. There's a great quote in there:

"With a modicum of programming skills, one can accomplish some truly astonishing things."
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby gerwin » 2016-2-17 @ 23:21

Cloudschatze wrote:Rich Heimlich, an early industry consultant and proponent, was interviewed last year as part of, "Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound." Here is the PC Gamer write-up, which includes a link to the 42-minute interview excerpt:
http://www.pcgamer.com/author-of-sound- ... -pc-audio/
In the interview, Rich makes a revelatory assertion - Sim Wong Hoo, of Creative Technology, apparently orchestrated the Yamaha MMA chipset "delays" that resulted in Ad Lib's demise.

Thanks for the heads up. It is a great interview for sure. Though I would have loved to hear more about later generations of ISA soundcards, for example.
More importantly, he finally spilled the beans on Creative, like he suggested to do, in 2009. From Creative I would expect this, but it is still surprising to me that Yamaha played along with this.

Agrajag27 wrote:(from Rich Heimlich)
One of these days I have some stories to share about Creative and some things they did but I'm sort of waiting for a few people to pass on before I spill the beans. Hoping I'm still around after that to tell it.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby carlostex » 2016-2-20 @ 19:26

Quite interesting the interview with Rich Heimlich. When he mentions the LAPC-I he also talks about the competing card from Turtle Beach being 900$ at the time? Which card was that? Wasn't the TB MultiSound the first Turtle Beach card? AFAIK it was released with around 400$ price tag.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Great Hierophant » 2016-2-21 @ 18:40

The story of Sim Wong Hoo dictating the fate of the MMU to be found on the Adlib Gold seems a bit incredible at first. (It's a good story and well-told, besides Sim is still around to contradict Heimlich if he believed it was untrue.) Creative was Yamaha's biggest customer for its FM Synthesizer chips. However, Adlib was also a customer which also bought Yamaha chips and had commissioned Yamaha to build it a board with 12-bit DAC/ADC. Creative was also working on its board which would become known as the Sound Blaster 16. Yamaha knew that time was of the essence for both companies.

Yamaha was in the position to play the companies off against each other. The sooner it could get the MMU to pass Q/A, the sooner Adlib could really get back in the game with its Adlib Gold. That would mean more competition and more chips being bought from Yamaha. Creative could not afford to go without Yamaha chips in 1992 because of the hundreds of games requiring it for music. However, sometime in 1994 it had developed an acceptable sounding FM Synthesis clone chip (CQM) which would allow it to rid itself of its dependence on Yamaha. Perhaps Yamaha had feared that Creative was able to do this in 1992 that is why they decided to give in to Creative's pressure to delay the MMU until after the launch of the SB16.
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Re: Ad Lib Museum

Postby Cloudschatze » 2016-2-21 @ 19:36

carlostex wrote:Quite interesting the interview with Rich Heimlich. When he mentions the LAPC-I he also talks about the competing card from Turtle Beach being 900$ at the time? Which card was that?

The MultiSound did originally list for $995 in mid-1992, but given that date, would have been more of a contemporary with the SCC-1 than the LAPC-I.

Great Hierophant wrote:However, sometime in 1994 it had developed an acceptable sounding FM Synthesis clone chip (CQM) which would allow it to rid itself of its dependence on Yamaha.

Not quite that soon. Dave Rossum, of E-MU, patented CQM in April of 1995. It wasn't formally announced by Creative until August, 1995.

Perhaps Yamaha had feared that Creative was able to do this in 1992 that is why they decided to give in to Creative's pressure to delay the MMU until after the launch of the SB16.

Yamaha held exclusive license over FM technology until the patent expired in 1994. Neither Creative, nor anyone else, would have been able to market a derivative FM solution prior to that expiration.

I don't know that Creative would have had any real leverage over Yamaha; perhaps just a better relationship. Consider their exclusive partnership for the Yamaha-produced CT1747 chips a few years later. In any event, and as the MIT paper suggests, "Yamaha was not hurt by Ad Lib's demise."
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