Sound cards - from best to worst

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby gerwin » 2009-6-24 @ 21:05

I made an ISA Soundcard Overview that might be suitable to add to this stickified topic. It is pretty big and technical. Also it is not yet complete.
Data obtained from many datasheets, internet articles and pictures as well as some actual soundcards. Suggestions and Corrections are welcome.

EDIT1: Thanks for the suggestions elianda! I added Aztech, and expanded AdLib and Guillemot. The spec sheet of the CS4236 does not mention 64kHz, but 48/50kHz max? LPT port devices and such are not ISA, but they can be included anyway of course. I know about the Synrise archive, it is a good database, but often about quoting advertising texts instead of listing the Chipsets.
Surely there are plenty of soundcards missing from the list. Actually it is quite impossible to get info on every card made, as some are very obscure and long forgotten clones. I know some chipsets better than others, I am no expert on Analog Devices / Avance Logic / Opti / Miro / GUS / Orchid etc, so if someone knows more then just add them, and PM the updated list or something.

EDIT2: Added some more, so v1.02 is up.
EDIT3: v1.03 is up! Just some layout changes and typo fixes.
EDIT4: v1.04, using the suggestions by swaaye, added Gallant.
EDIT5: v1.05, some updates, added Zoltrix.
EDIT6: v1.06, added Miro.
EDIT7: v1.06b, adjusted Turtle Beach, added Wordpad version as requested.
EDIT8: v1.07, added Shuttle, adjusted Yamaha, OPTi, Ensoniq, etc.
EDIT9: v1.07B, added Dream, and some small updates.
EDIT10: v1.07C, revised Aopen and completed AdLib.
EDIT11: v1.08, Added some ESS, Crystalake and Yamaha.
EDIT12: v1.09 Added Reveal and Orchid + small fixes (old download counter was 4078)
Attachments
soundcards ISA.txt
ISA Soundcard Overview v1.09
(35.91 KiB) Downloaded 1719 times
soundcards ISA.zip
ISA Soundcard Overview v1.09
Wordpad, zipped
(11.12 KiB) Downloaded 404 times
Last edited by gerwin on 2013-8-23 @ 00:15, edited 18 times in total.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2009-6-24 @ 22:33

Very nice work, following things I noticed:
CS4236 can go up to 64 kHz.
Maxi Sound 64 Home Studio has a 'rather' misplaced WBH, because you can use it if you don't stick memory to the PS/2 Slot. (I used it also with Memory Upgrade, though the WT-card bended risky, but worked)

The early GUS classic has no mixer.

Don't forget that there are also SoundBlaster cards that are not from Creative.
The situation must have been somehow strange in the days, I guess the original SB was so successfull, that Creative couldn't produce enough. So they allowed resellern to relabel compatible cards of third party companies as SoundBlaster. But they stopped this shortly after again (my guess is also because the third party cards were better in some aspects than the originals).
f.e.:
CPS Hamburg sold a SoundBlaster 2.5 labeled http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/cps_sb2.5.jpg
picture of original Box (backside): http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/verpa ... 25back.jpg
The card is a relabelled Sound Galaxy NX II (written below the sticker), the badly overpainted FCC-ID suggests this already.

This brings me to the fact, that alot of these cards are missing in your list.
Just to throw you some names:
Golden Melody Soundcards
some more OPTI chipset based cards...
Hoontech Soundtrack 97
also note this site http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/unknown/unknown.htm
(or this as a start for checking companies http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/complete.htm as the synrise list is quite comprehensive)

Also do not forget the cheap solutions like LPT-port resistor grid array, Covox, Disney Sound Source...
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby 5u3 » 2009-6-26 @ 11:23

Wow, that's a very nice list! I'm sure it will come handy for many retro-gaming/hardware nuts. :wink:

Some nitpicking:
  • SB16 DSP v4.16 doesn't have the "hanging-notes"-bug, like DSP v4.05. However, cards equipped with v4.16 don't have a WaveBlaster header, only the external (joystick port) MIDI interface.
  • All GUS classic cards have eight DIP memory sockets and can be upgraded to 1024 KB RAM. Revision 3.7 and higher come with an onboard analog mixer, earlier revisions just have a "mute" function for CD/Line-In/Mic channels.


Keep up the good work! :happyhappy:
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby swaaye » 2009-6-26 @ 17:31

Yeah that's a nice guide you have going.

ESS
*ES1878 (no 3D, no IDE)
*ES1879 (no IDE)
http://web.archive.org/web/200003011716 ... stech.com/

Ensoniq
*Soundscape S-2000: non-PnP. no IDE
*Soundscape II: IDE. non-PnP. has ESP connectors. It's an Elite minus the DB (possibly different patch set)
*Soundscape Elite: much different patch set than other cards. heavier percussion. non-PnP. 2MB
*Soundscape OPUS: PnP. uses unique I/O ports (compatibility problem)
*Soundscape VIVO: PnP
*SoundscapeDB: available in both 2MB and 1MB. Probably just a revision.

Reveal
* Sound FX Wave 32 (SC600): a clone of Soundscape S-2000

Don't miss out on this site for info:
http://www.yjfy.com/Museum/Museum.htm
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rosetaylor01 » 2009-7-22 @ 13:10

I have sound card file roundup posted on Usenet back in the day. It covers quite a few cards and gives you the heads up on each
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby gerwin » 2009-7-23 @ 17:33

rosetaylor01 wrote:I have sound card file roundup posted on Usenet back in the day. It covers quite a few cards and gives you the heads up on each
I assume you mean the one I attached to this post.
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Heimlich.txt
Rich Heimlich patch set overview
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby retro games 100 » 2009-7-23 @ 18:32

@gerwin, I'm very interested in reading your "Soundards ISA" text document attachment, from one of your posts above. However, when I click on this link to read it, the text document opens in another browser window with no formatting, so there are no carriage return / line feed combos. Perhaps it's a bug in IE8 / Windows XP SP3? (I've noticed that since I've been using IE8, when I compose a Vogons message and my text fills the input message box, the formatting goes "mad", and I have to continue writing my message inside notepad.exe!)

Edit: Many thanks for including a Wordpad attachment version - now I can download it, and easily view it. Good job! :happy:
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby swaaye » 2009-9-09 @ 19:59

I've uploaded some drivers for old sound cards that may be hard to find:

Ensoniq
Ensoniq Soundscape & VIVO official FTP archive and final drivers
Ensoniq AudioPCI final drivers and wavesets

Aureal
Vortex 1 Win9x 1189 driver
Vortex 2 Win9x 2048 driver with 3D demos
A3D Drivers 3.12
A2D Drivers 3.12 (translate A3D to DS3D/EAX for non Aureal cards)

Creative
Sound Blaster 1.5
Sound Blaster 2.0
Sound Blaster Pro
Sound Blaster Pro 2.0
Sound Blaster 16 / 32 / AWE collection

Philips Seismic Edge PSC704 (Thunderbird 128 chip)
Windows 9x v6.74
Windows 2K/XP v1.16
DOS drivers

Soundfonts (GM/GS/MT-32 compatible)
need SFArk
Chaos 4MB SF2 intended to replace the default AWE GM/GS bank
Creative/E-Mu 2MB SF2
Creative/E-Mu 4MB SF2
Creative/E-Mu 8MB SF2
Synergi Free 8MB
Last edited by swaaye on 2009-9-18 @ 20:10, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2009-9-13 @ 21:19

I am not sure, is this one rare or just rare because noone got it working properly?
viewtopic.php?t=22769
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Menkau_ra » 2009-11-22 @ 21:00

As i understood correct, if I have a AWE64 Gold for me the best choice would be an external Roland module? I am thinking to buy SC-55. So will the combination of AWE64 Gold + SC-5 allow me to play all Dos games with the best sound?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2009-11-28 @ 21:57

No, since there are games that sound best on GUS.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby swaaye » 2009-11-28 @ 22:13

Menkau_ra wrote:best sound?

Best = subjective. Use what you think is best. That's all that matters.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Menkau_ra » 2009-11-28 @ 22:15

What games will sound better on GUS?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2009-11-29 @ 08:25

Well basically every game with digital playback, since GUS resamples always at 44.1 kHz/16 Bit with Interpolation.

Though most noticeable is this with games that play multiple digital channels at the same time, because the older software mixing algorithms are usually not optimized for quality but for speed.
Well first games where a GUS is of advantage might be the Pinball series from Digital Illusions (Dreams / Dream 2 / Fantasies / Illusions a.s.o.) and last maybe something like Death Rally. There are alot of games with GUS support, to say which game benefits the most - well try it.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby swaaye » 2009-11-29 @ 22:43

Which games really utilize GUS hardware and don't just use it as a dumb DAC.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby 5u3 » 2009-11-30 @ 11:37

swaaye wrote:Which games really utilize GUS hardware and don't just use it as a dumb DAC.


Good question. I bet a majority of the games supporting the GUS just use the "dumb" method (mixing channels by CPU). It had to be implemented anyway to support "standard" sound cards, and checking for sample RAM size / uploading samples just adds more complexity. Some games rely on the Ultrasound MIDI emulation for music, but only use the standard patch banks.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Menkau_ra » 2009-12-20 @ 15:56

OK, I will paraphrase my question. If I have awe64 + db60xg + sc-55, is there a reason to buy a GUS to play games?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby pianoman72 » 2009-12-20 @ 17:02

No reason, that should be more than enough.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Menkau_ra » 2010-1-22 @ 16:39

If there are many versions of a DREAM chip, is there any difference between them?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2010-1-22 @ 17:53

Yes, have you checked the datasheets?
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