VOGONS


First post, by TheCoach

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I found this thing for 8 Euros on a local sales listings site

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But I can't really find any info on this thing, I tried googling a lot of the chips and labels on the board but the closest I get is false positives with SB pro, which this clearly isn't.
My main question is does this thing have a synthesizer and if it does then is it any good? I am seeking something that gives me the classic OPL sound, the kind you had in the ISA soundblasters that I grew up with.

I am really tempted by this thing, but I'm worried it's going to just be bad.

Reply 2 of 10, by gdjacobs

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The card is a Freetek Pro32 PNP. It has an ALS100 sound chip which provides SB/SB Pro/SB 16 compatibility as well as a Crystal/Dream 9233 chip (and associated ROM chip) for sample based MIDI synthesis. The 9233 is a fairly common solution for onboard MIDI synthesis, but there's certainly nothing wrong with the way it sounds. The ALS100 is somewhat mediocre without being outright awful.

For 8 euros, I'd say it's worth it. I think it's important to try different ISA sound cards to find a setup you like. You'll need a driver for the ALS100 chip, but the 9233 will operate on the standard MIDI interface provided by the ALS chip and requires no additional software.

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Reply 3 of 10, by sf78

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I have a few Avance Logic cards and my main gripe is the hissing noise some of them emit. You have to turn down the volume to eliminate it, but then you also lose some of the sound in general. ESS Audiodrive would be a better SB clone.

Reply 4 of 10, by Scali

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sf78 wrote:

I have a few Avance Logic cards and my main gripe is the hissing noise some of them emit. You have to turn down the volume to eliminate it, but then you also lose some of the sound in general. ESS Audiodrive would be a better SB clone.

I disagree 😀
Original SB cards have quite a bit of hissing from their FM synth. The ESS sounds too 'clean' and 'hifi' to really capture that lo-fi budget SB spirit.

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Reply 5 of 10, by keropi

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*personally* I wouldn't bother with it... it's a meh card all around, a cheap solution for the 90s where we didn't know better and money was an issue. 😀

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Reply 6 of 10, by sf78

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Scali wrote:

I disagree 😀
Original SB cards have quite a bit of hissing from their FM synth. The ESS sounds too 'clean' and 'hifi' to really capture that lo-fi budget SB spirit.

Well, I only had SB pro 2.0 (and still do) back in the day and it doesn't hiss at all. I know some other models had variable sound quality, but this card seemed to hit the right spot. Of course it also depends on your system how much other noises and static your sound card picks up. But yeah, I wouldn't pay 8€ for a card that isn't really that good at what it's supposed to do. Many other clone cards out there for similar money (or less).

Reply 7 of 10, by brostenen

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I have an ALS based card, and I think it is a nice card. Not top of the line, nor bottom in the line.
It is fairly average in it's "soundblaster" soundquality. It is an DreamSynth based card.
The FM is horrible, so I will not be using it for early Dos gaming. It's perfect for 94 to 96 gaming.

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Reply 8 of 10, by TheCoach

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Thanks for the info, I'll message the guy and probably buy it, it's cheap enough so it doesn't really hurt and these things don't grow on trees anymore.

Reply 9 of 10, by gerwin

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+1 to what gdjacobs wrote,
If you don't have another General Midi Device then this card does add a good midi synth, but with just a 1MB sample ROM. The full version of the sample ROM is 4MB, which can be found on cards like the Maestro 32/96, and that one sounds excellent. The 1MB set is a cut down version of the 4MB set.

The ALS100 chip is the main controller chip, and I have never seen it together with the Dream synth before. In this configuration the ALS100 uses the Dream chip for FM music too. ALS100 should be very compatible, but the output signal is usually very faint. Not a problem in itself, but amplify the output and the noise floor becomes audible.

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Reply 10 of 10, by boxpressed

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This card is good buy for 8 euros because of the wavetable. I review a card that uses the same synth and patchset (Aopen AW32 Pro) in my wavetable thread: My Wavetable Sample Thread

The Dream patchset may actually predate the legal settlement between Dream and Roland, so it may contain compressed Roland samples. The quality of the GM music is about as good as you're going to get with 1MB, and it is superior to some synths with 2MB patchsets.