Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-02 @ 11:45

jheronimus wrote:Honestly, with an AWE32 I don't know why you would bother with OPL3 at all. The extra RAM is really useful — I highly advise you to play around with soundfonts. You might not need an external GM module after all. So why listen to AdLib music when you have a really capable wavetable device? I know some people really love FM synthesis, but there are very few games that make good use of it.

Also, you could always just install a second soundcard that has true OPL3 and MPU implementation without bugs. Any Yamaha card will do for that just fine. You'll have to work with IRQ conflicts and reroute audio output with an extra cable, but that's about it.


The real issue here for me is that a) soundfonts are Windows (9x?) only, b) 30-pin SIMM modules with 4MB or 16MB capacity are about as rare as GUS cards where I live. Mine is equipped with 2MB and the number of soundfonts you can fit onto that is, well, very, very low. I believe the only one that I found bearable was 2MBGMGS.SF2/CT2MGM.SF2 (Creative); there was also a finegm.zip I found somewhere that was a 1st gen soundbank (.SBK) attempting to replicate the GUS sound. Whether GUS is better as a synth than AWE is debatable in itself, and I don't remember appreciating it at all.

Short story long, 2MB in DOS is only useful for enabling MIDI or MT-32 emulation in my experience, and that only works half the time. If you are lucky.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby jheronimus » 2018-11-02 @ 12:11

Yes, AWE is pretty useless in DOS, unfortunately.

As to SIMM rarity — yes, but compared to other sound hardware it's not too bad. I got mine relatively cheap. Someone got their hands on several sets of memory from high-end 386 motherboards (I think?), so I paid 45 bucks total for 2 sticks of 16MB and 2 sticks of 4MB for my AWE32 and GUS respectively. I think that kind of RAM was popular in some of the older Macs, so you might have some luck there.
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Socket 370: Pentium III 1000; 256MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
User avatar
jheronimus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 885
Joined: 2015-12-10 @ 00:09
Location: Moscow

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-02 @ 12:19

jheronimus wrote:Yes, AWE is pretty useless in DOS, unfortunately.


Well, not quite that bad, to be honest. Even if you can't load soundfonts the AWE Synth can be accessed by a lot of later DOS games, and these games are fairly high profile (Doom 2/Ultimate, Duke 3D, Descent 1/2, X-Wing CD, TIE Fighter CD, Blood, Tyrian, Screamer, Gabriel Knight, Heretic, Hexen, Magic Carpet 2, System Shock, Warcraft 1/2, UFO, XCOM:TFTD are the first that sprang to my mind, yes it's a long list but I love my AWE32 :) ) ; so it's a fairly decent card for an early Pentium DOS system regardless. Certainly a better option for 1994+ games at the very least.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-02 @ 13:18

jheronimus wrote:So why listen to AdLib music when you have a really capable wavetable device? I know some people really love FM synthesis, but there are very few games that make good use of it.
Good or not, some games only have FM synthesis support, no MIDI.

appiah4 wrote:Even if you can't load soundfonts the AWE Synth can be accessed by a lot of later DOS games, and these games are fairly high profile (Doom 2/Ultimate, Duke 3D, Descent 1/2, X-Wing CD, TIE Fighter CD, Blood, Tyrian, Screamer, Gabriel Knight, Heretic, Hexen, Magic Carpet 2, System Shock, Warcraft 1/2, UFO, XCOM:TFTD are the first that sprang to my mind, yes it's a long list but I love my AWE32 :)
I have some of these games on the list on VOGONS wiki, but not all of them. Are you positive about all of them? If so, I could add them. And if you recall any more titles that support the AWE Synth, please update. :)
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-02 @ 14:00

dr_st wrote:
appiah4 wrote:Even if you can't load soundfonts the AWE Synth can be accessed by a lot of later DOS games, and these games are fairly high profile (Doom 2/Ultimate, Duke 3D, Descent 1/2, X-Wing CD, TIE Fighter CD, Blood, Tyrian, Screamer, Gabriel Knight, Heretic, Hexen, Magic Carpet 2, System Shock, Warcraft 1/2, UFO, XCOM:TFTD are the first that sprang to my mind, yes it's a long list but I love my AWE32 :)
I have some of these games on the list on VOGONS wiki, but not all of them. Are you positive about all of them? If so, I could add them. And if you recall any more titles that support the AWE Synth, please update. :)


Happy to contribute. I went back and checked them all. I could not check Screamer, but aside from Gabriel Knight (strange, I remember playing it on an AWE32 but I guess I had GM or MT32 emulation enabled) the rest have AWE32 support.

Also see here for an already compiled list:

http://files.mpoli.fi/unpacked/hardware ... welist.txt
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-02 @ 18:05

Great list! Now I have some work processing it for the wiki. :P
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-17 @ 17:19

appiah4 wrote:
dr_st wrote:
appiah4 wrote:Even if you can't load soundfonts the AWE Synth can be accessed by a lot of later DOS games, and these games are fairly high profile (Doom 2/Ultimate, Duke 3D, Descent 1/2, X-Wing CD, TIE Fighter CD, Blood, Tyrian, Screamer, Gabriel Knight, Heretic, Hexen, Magic Carpet 2, System Shock, Warcraft 1/2, UFO, XCOM:TFTD are the first that sprang to my mind, yes it's a long list but I love my AWE32 :)
I have some of these games on the list on VOGONS wiki, but not all of them. Are you positive about all of them? If so, I could add them. And if you recall any more titles that support the AWE Synth, please update. :)


Happy to contribute. I went back and checked them all. I could not check Screamer, but aside from Gabriel Knight (strange, I remember playing it on an AWE32 but I guess I had GM or MT32 emulation enabled) the rest have AWE32 support.

Also see here for an already compiled list:

http://files.mpoli.fi/unpacked/hardware ... welist.txt

I started going over the list in alphabetical order, and there are quite a few games there that are wrong (in the sense that they don't seem to have special AWE support), while other entries are not games but various audio-making programs and utilities. Still, some entries were correct.

I've also added all the games you tested (thanks again!), except for X-COM: UFO Defense (a.k.a. UFO: Enemy Unknown). In the version I tested, it did not have any AWE-specific options in the sound setup menu (unlike the sequel - Terror from the Deep - which did). Are you sure about this particular game? Maybe AWE32 support was added in a later patch?
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-18 @ 11:23

Have a look
Attachments
BE226F01-E95E-411E-AF18-8F49B0BAE6B9.jpeg
73702161-4BD5-4AB2-A516-E16A4C6A6524.jpeg
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby realnc » 2018-11-18 @ 11:50

dr_st wrote:I started going over the list in alphabetical order, and there are quite a few games there that are wrong (in the sense that they don't seem to have special AWE support)

Note that you can add AWE support yourself to quite a few games. If the game uses the Miles drivers/libraries, you can overwrite them with versions that support MIDI through AWE. Creative still has these files on their DOS drivers page.

There's also at least one game that doesn't use the Miles drivers but has an AWE patch: Ultima 8.
User avatar
realnc
Member
 
Posts: 245
Joined: 2010-10-13 @ 11:02

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-18 @ 14:11

realnc wrote:
dr_st wrote:I started going over the list in alphabetical order, and there are quite a few games there that are wrong (in the sense that they don't seem to have special AWE support)

Note that you can add AWE support yourself to quite a few games. If the game uses the Miles drivers/libraries, you can overwrite them with versions that support MIDI through AWE. Creative still has these files on their DOS drivers page.
I really should try it then. I guess it would work if the game has a MIDI soundtrack to start with? Is it supposed to effectively produce the same audio as 'General MIDI' would, just through the EMU8000?

realnc wrote:There's also at least one game that doesn't use the Miles drivers but has an AWE patch: Ultima 8
I will add it to the list. Thanks.
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby realnc » 2018-11-18 @ 14:25

dr_st wrote:I guess it would work if the game has a MIDI soundtrack to start with?

Yes. For non-MIDI games, you can just select SB16 anyway. There's no games using the Miles drivers that don't support SB16.

Is it supposed to effectively produce the same audio as 'General MIDI' would, just through the EMU8000?

Not sure what that means, since the AWE cards are General Midi devices. Their problem is that they're not accessible through MPU-401 and port 330 (or 300, or any other MPU-401 port), but instead have a proprietary interface.
Last edited by realnc on 2018-11-18 @ 14:27, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
realnc
Member
 
Posts: 245
Joined: 2010-10-13 @ 11:02

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-18 @ 14:26

This thread peompted me to remove the Dreamblaster S2 from my AWE32; I will use it on my 486 system instead.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-18 @ 14:32

realnc wrote:
dr_st wrote:I started going over the list in alphabetical order, and there are quite a few games there that are wrong (in the sense that they don't seem to have special AWE support)

Note that you can add AWE support yourself to quite a few games. If the game uses the Miles drivers/libraries, you can overwrite them with versions that support MIDI through AWE. Creative still has these files on their DOS drivers page.

There's also at least one game that doesn't use the Miles drivers but has an AWE patch: Ultima 8.


Can you link to this and/or a tutorial?

Also I believe someone on VOGONS was working on a soundfont loader for MS-DOS did that ever happen?
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 2563
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby realnc » 2018-11-18 @ 14:38

appiah4 wrote:
realnc wrote:
dr_st wrote:I started going over the list in alphabetical order, and there are quite a few games there that are wrong (in the sense that they don't seem to have special AWE support)

Note that you can add AWE support yourself to quite a few games. If the game uses the Miles drivers/libraries, you can overwrite them with versions that support MIDI through AWE. Creative still has these files on their DOS drivers page.

There's also at least one game that doesn't use the Miles drivers but has an AWE patch: Ultima 8.


Can you link to this and/or a tutorial?

There was a thread long ago here:

viewtopic.php?t=5217

Also, these files are also available on Creative's site. Select "DOS":

https://support.creative.com/Products/P ... er%20AWE64

I'm not sure which files are newer though (user-posted ones on the forum thread, or the ones Creative provided.)

As to a tutorial, you just copy the files and overwrite the existing ones in the game's directory.

Also I believe someone on VOGONS was working on a soundfont loader for MS-DOS did that ever happen?

Sorry, no idea about that one.
User avatar
realnc
Member
 
Posts: 245
Joined: 2010-10-13 @ 11:02

Re: Soundblaster AWE32 Advice

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-18 @ 15:21

realnc wrote:
dr_st wrote:I guess it would work if the game has a MIDI soundtrack to start with?

Yes. For non-MIDI games, you can just select SB16 anyway. There's no games using the Miles drivers that don't support SB16.
Yep, I know that well. Some games with CD audio, for example, used Miles for digital audio only.

realnc wrote:
Is it supposed to effectively produce the same audio as 'General MIDI' would, just through the EMU8000?

Not sure what that means, since the AWE cards are General Midi devices. Their problem is that they're not accessible through MPU-401 and port 330 (or 300, or any other MPU-401 port), but instead have a proprietary interface.
I never thought about formulating it this way, but it makes sense. Almost all games I know of that have explicit AWE support also have General MIDI support; I guess the developers simply added whatever abstraction layer is required to repackage the same MIDI track that would normally go over "General MIDI" and send it over the EMU's proprietary interface.

In theory, one could modify the MIDI contents itself to better match the AWE wavetable ROM, but I guess almost no one did that (Eradicator is one example that often comes up for a game that did something AWE-exclusive).

This explains why in Windows AWE cards work seamlessly as "General MIDI" - Creative simply added the necessary generic translation layer in their drivers. I wonder why the DOS emulation capabilities are so broken, though, or why Creative went through the trouble of inventing their own proprietary interface.
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1474
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Previous

Return to General Old Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Baoran, Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot], Tiido, Tronix, user33331 and 9 guests