Sound cards - from best to worst

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby retro games 100 » 2011-4-23 @ 02:34

retrosound wrote:Best sound cards You see in my collection here:
www.rc4wd.republika.pl/komputery1.html

Great website! :happy: I notice you have a Guillemot Maxi Sound ISIS. I've got a question about it. I am running Windows 98. If I run a DOS game, inside Windows 98, and I select General Midi (address = 330) for the music, the DOS game causes a "blue screen of death". I have checked all of the sound card's resources (including address = 330 is OK), and these resources seem to be set up correctly. Have you experienced this kind of problem, using this sound card? Thanks a lot for any ideas!
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby retrosound » 2011-4-23 @ 08:38

Thanks
I had similar problems with Maxi Sound ISIS, she simply works unstable on Via chipset boards. I remeber that only Intel BX440 works good but had another problems with - no saw RAM in slot. The Best card for DOS games is Terratec EWS64 ! - no problems at all with RAM, daughterboards use. She emulates SoundBlaster pro of course in DOS and all daughterboards in MPU-401/330 port works good. If you want may use wavetable RAM memory dlls instead daughterboard ROM. She sounds best at all in DOS environment

P.S If anyone would be interested ? I have Terratec EWS64XL with panel for sell ! I have ebay account and PayPal so no problem with international deal. Polish auction portal with: http://allegro.pl/terratec-ews64-xl-vin ... 89895.html
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Sound Blaster AWE32 with 32MB RAM + CT1910 daughterboard - hard to find
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby schlang » 2011-4-24 @ 21:57

sry, 85$ is too much for me
PC#1: K6-III+ 400 | 512MB | Geforce4 | Voodoo1 | SB Live | AWE64 | GUS PNP Pro
PC#2: 486DX2-66 | 64MB | Riva128 | AWE64 | GUS PNP | PAS16
PC#3: 386DX-40 | 32MB | CL-GD5434 | SB Pro | GUS MAX | PAS16

Think you know your games music? Show us: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=37532
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-04 @ 00:59

So I finally got around to reading all 10 pages of this thread.


I don't think it's fair to call any one card the best. Once you get to general midi with 1MB (or more) of rom or ram, it all becomes subjective as to what you find sounds better (and it varies by game). Once you get beyond 4MB, it gets even harder to nail down which sounds better. Some here probably even prefer cards that are only capable of belting out what the OPL2/OPL3 can deliver, as they have their own unique sound :happy:.

There are limitations to certain designs though. Like my beloved Awe64. It sounds great, but only if you can load sound fonts into the ram it's got, so you need to be running on a win9x or above platform. Otherwise, it fails miserably trying to keep pace with some of these other solutions. [/i]
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2011-5-04 @ 02:12

Yes it's totally subjective!

I know people that prefer the Creative OPL3 Clone on the AWE64.

Whatever makes you happy!
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elfuego » 2011-5-04 @ 06:44

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:Yes it's totally subjective!

I know people that prefer the Creative OPL3 Clone on the AWE64.

Whatever makes you happy!

I agree. But still, anyone will be hard pressed to find anything much (subjectively) better then a Yamaha DB50XG or Roland MT32/SC55 for midi, so we could safely agree on that at least. :)
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2011-5-04 @ 06:48

In terms of vintage hardware I feel the same, but then I played around with 50+ MB soundfonts on my X-Fi and documented it all here:

viewtopic.php?t=27016&highlight=xfi

There is a level of GM quality beyond Yamaha / Roland, but only for DOSBox. The thread has heaps of recordings, so have fun LOL
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-04 @ 13:39

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:In terms of vintage hardware I feel the same, but then I played around with 50+ MB soundfonts on my X-Fi and documented it all here:

viewtopic.php?t=27016&highlight=xfi

There is a level of GM quality beyond Yamaha / Roland, but only for DOSBox. The thread has heaps of recordings, so have fun LOL


I think that's why I prefer my Awe64. I've got one of those simmconn converters and a 32mb simm in it (well, I have a 32 coming, right now I've got a 16 in it so I'm at 20 megs and will hit 28 within the week). Awe32 would work just as well, but the S/N ratio isn't as good, so it's adding true OPL3 capability at the expense of audio quality (although just how much you lose IDK, as I haven't heard one in person).

At any rate though, with 28MB of ram, the Awe32/64 can sound pretty incredible, although it's one step away from just running Dosbox as you have to use Win9x to make it all work.


If I was booting into a pure DOS install, then things would be different.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-04 @ 13:48

Sorry for asking (kinda a soundcard newb here), but if playing a game in 9x, do you load these into the soundcards memory manually? Or does it load automatically?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2011-5-04 @ 13:52

Tetrium wrote:Sorry for asking (kinda a soundcard newb here), but if playing a game in 9x, do you load these into the soundcards memory manually? Or does it load automatically?


Yes you load the soundfont into the memory of the Sound Card. Creative has a windows utility for that. It's very convinient and straight forward.

Once the soundfont is loaded, you are ready to play General Midi games.

The downside is that your game needs to work from within W98.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-04 @ 13:56

Thanks, I never even knew that. My first PC had this Soundblaster 128 PCI and all I did was click the game icon (which was on my desktop, of course :P) and sound came out of my speakers, LOL
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Mau1wurf1977 » 2011-5-04 @ 14:01

Neither did I!

And under XP, Vista, 7 any modern Creative Card can do the same. This works great in combination with DOSBox. Check the thread I linked earlier, it has some really nice recordings. Brings new life to games such as Doom and Descent and IMO takes it to the next level beyond what Yamaha and Roland. It has to be put in perspective however, considering that we are talking 4MB vs 50+ MB...

Under W98 you need to have physical Ram on your Soundcard. The AWE64 Gold only has 4MB, which isn't enough. Creative changed the memory upgrade option from using standard desktop ram (AWE32) to some Creative stuff.

But you can buy adapters now, RG100 did a nice writeup on that beast...
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-04 @ 14:27

I think I may actually have a Creative AWE32 which had somekind of add-on card (separate card, connected by a small ribbon cable) which had a couple SIMM slots

Edit:Btw, where do I find these soundfont load proggies that you mentioned earlier? Do they come with the downloadable driver?
And how about soundfonts for soundcards from different manufacturers like Vortex (yes I know it's PCI :P) or ESS or whatever else is out there?

And cheers for the info!
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elfuego » 2011-5-04 @ 16:49

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:In terms of vintage hardware I feel the same, but then I played around with 50+ MB soundfonts on my X-Fi and documented it all here:

viewtopic.php?t=27016&highlight=xfi

There is a level of GM quality beyond Yamaha / Roland, but only for DOSBox. The thread has heaps of recordings, so have fun LOL

Well thats also subjective :happyhappy: I still prefer the vintage stuff over any soundfont.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rfnagel » 2011-5-04 @ 23:36

elfuego wrote:Well thats also subjective :happyhappy: I still prefer the vintage stuff over any soundfont.


Yep yep, quite subjective :)

(anyone who knows me here knows that) I want the most realistic sound possible (e.g. a trumpet that sounds like a _real_ trumpet, so much so, that a real-world instrumentalist would have trouble discerning between the two <grin>, etc...).

I myself could care less about hearing MIDI tracks on their original target hardware platforms, although it *is* a nice change of pace (and quite interesting) to hear them as such.

It's like how debate-ful (is that even a word LOL?) that the SC-55 is. So many people say "That's how the composer WANTED you to hear the music!".

I *completely* disagree... IMO that is simply the better (or best) hardware that was available at the time that the composer decided to use, and they (like I) simply wish for the most realistic sound possible (and hope that the end user can hear it as such).
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby ripsaw8080 » 2011-5-04 @ 23:58

Well, the argument about the "intended" MIDI device is that the composer chose the instruments, velocities, aftertouch, expression, pitchbend, etc. based on the result they heard on a particular device. The result, whether subjectively better or worse, will be different with a different device. But with GM it's hardly a given that the SC-55 was the device the composer used, unless that is somehow known with certainty.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rfnagel » 2011-5-05 @ 01:16

ripsaw8080 wrote:But with GM it's hardly a given that the SC-55 was the device the composer used, unless that is somehow known with certainty.


I was thinking of DOOM/DOOM2, Duke3D, and Warcraft II... AFAIK those were composed on an SC-55.

IIRC the Redbook audio for WC2 was generated by one, nit sure about the single track on the Duke3D Atomic CD though (it doesn't sound like one to me).

Anyhow, those were the games I was thinking of, and AFAIK they were composed on an SC-55 (or at least it's popular belief that they were).
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby DonutKing » 2011-5-05 @ 01:45

I think I may actually have a Creative AWE32 which had somekind of add-on card (separate card, connected by a small ribbon cable) which had a couple SIMM slots


Isn't that what they call a 'Gold Finch' board or am I confused with something else?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rfnagel » 2011-5-05 @ 05:28

DonutKing wrote:Isn't that what they call a 'Gold Finch' board or am I confused with something else?


The GoldFinch connector was an audio connector (left out, right out, ground, etc..) that could be connected to the line/aux inputs of your sound card (or a matching GoldFinch connector, if your sound card had it).

(Edit) See attached pic.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-5-05 @ 09:01

From memory, it looks almost exactly like that. I'll get it out of it's box and post a pic of it later (right now I'm waiting to be picked up for a "garage" sale thingy).
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