VOGONS


First post, by Minutemanqvs

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Hello all!

I'm slowly building my 486 system based on an Asus PVI-486SP3 v 1.21, ATI 3d Rage Pro and 64MB RAM. The storage is an SD adapter and I have 2 SD cards, one with DOS 7.1 (following Phil's Computer Lab tutorial) and one with Windows 98 SE so it gives me the opportunity to play with both OS. Until now it lacked a sound card but I had the opportunity to get an ESS Solo-1.
IMG-1389.jpg

Under Windows 98 the card works perfectly well, I can play mp3 files, hear the Windows startup sound etc...I can also start the DN3D setup utility and configure the sound card correctly, selecting the "Test Sound FX Card" and "Test Music Card" play the correct sounds.
IMG-1405.jpg
IMG-1407.jpg

But then, when starting DN3D only the "Music" works, not the "Effects".
The driver install configured the card like that, on IRQ 5 as I want it 😀
IMG-1403.jpg

Now under DOS I took the same configuration file (ESSOLO.INI) and it seems to initialize the card the same way (obviously):
IMG-1400.jpg

Same behaviour as on Windows, selecting the "Test Sound FX Card" and "Test Music Card" play the correct sounds.
But...when starting DN3D the game/system completely freezes this time, requiring a hard-reset:
IMG-1393.jpg

If I configure the game without "Sound FX Card" it starts correctly with "Music" only...

The same behaviour can be observed on other games...Doom locks up the same way, Caesar 2 I can hear the first note being played before the system freezes, same for Warcraft 2.

So I'm a biz puzzled about why I can actually "test" the FX in the game setups, but then it locks when actually running the games. Any clue?
I also came across ESS Solo-1 easy(ish) setup with ESSOLO.INI (No Windows/ESSOLO.SYS Required!) and can change the required settings as needed.

In case it matters, the options available in the BIOS:
IMG-1401.jpg
IMG-1402.jpg

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 1 of 14, by Shponglefan

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Could you post a listing of your CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT files?

I recall having this exact issue on one of my own test setups recently. Unfortunately I didn't write it down, but I think it might have been related to loading the ESSOLO.SYS file.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 2 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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So it's based on Phil's files, and I added the ESS stuff. I'm starting in the "EM" configuration.

autoexec.bat:

@ECHO OFF
PROMPT $p$g
PATH C:\DOS
SET TEMP=C:\DOS
GoTo %config%
:EMC
:XMC
:CMC
LH C:\DOS\MSCDEX.EXE /D:OPTICAL
LH C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.COM
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 T4
C:\SOLO1\ESSVOL.EXE /v:10 /l:0 /w:10 /m:0 /c:0 /s:10 /a:0 /p:0
:EM
:XM
:CM
LH C:\DRIVERS\CTMOUSE.EXE /R2
LH C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.COM
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 T4
C:\SOLO1\ESSVOL.EXE /v:10 /l:0 /w:10 /m:0 /c:0 /s:10 /a:0 /p:0
:E
:X
:C

and config.sys:

[COMMON] DOS=HIGH,UMB FILES=40 BUFFERS=40 LASTDRIVE=H […]
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[COMMON]
DOS=HIGH,UMB
FILES=40
BUFFERS=40
LASTDRIVE=H

[menu]
menuitem=EMC, Expanded memory + Mouse + CD-ROM
menuitem=XMC, Extended memory + Mouse + CD-ROM
menuitem=CMC, Conventional Memory only + Mouse + CD-ROM
menuitem=EM, Expanded memory + Mouse
menuitem=XM, Extended memory + Mouse
menuitem=CM, Conventional memory only + Mouse
menuitem=E, Expanded memory
menuitem=X, Extended memory
menuitem=C, Conventional memory only

menudefault=EM,10

[EMC]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE RAM
DEVICEHIGH=C:\DRIVERS\VIDECDD.SYS /D:OPTICAL
DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

[XMC]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
DEVICEHIGH=C:\DRIVERS\VIDECDD.SYS /D:OPTICAL
DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

[CMC]
DEVICEHIGH=C:\DRIVERS\VIDECDD.SYS /D:OPTICAL
DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

[EM]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE RAM
DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

[XM]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

[CM]

[E]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF
DEVICE=C:\DOS\EMM386.EXE RAM

[X]
DEVICE=C:\DOS\HIMEM.SYS /TESTMEM:OFF

[C]

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 3 of 14, by Shponglefan

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Try removing (or setting to REM) this line in your CONFIG.SYS:

DEVICEHIGH=C:\SOLO1\ESSOLO.SYS

In my testing on both a 486 and Pentium 100 systems, I had to remove this line in order to get the card to work properly. I would still work fine just using ESSOLO.COM and the BLASTER environment variable in AUTOEXEC.BAT.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 4 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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Unfortunately it's still the same...

I also tried loading no driver or config at all with autoexec.bat/config.sys and just set some PCI settings like described in the second post on ESS Solo-1 easy(ish) setup with ESSOLO.INI (No Windows/ESSOLO.SYS Required!) Astonishingly the DN3D setup utility can output sound this way, but the same behaviour still persists, games crash as soon as they initialise sound.

Really what I don't understand is why the SFX sound works in the game setup utilities and crashes once the real game is run.

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 5 of 14, by Shponglefan

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I dug out my test setup to jog my memory and realized I have the same motherboard (Asus PVI-486SP3 rev 1.21) that was having this issue.

Unfortunately I never did solve it. I had instead switched my test rig to a Beyond 486IP-B-2-A motherboard.

Both boards use the same chipset: SiS 85C496/497. I'm not sure why the ESS Solo-1 works with the Beyond board, but not with the Asus.

The problem does seem related to digital audio specifically. FM and General MIDI both work.

FWIW, I did try a number of things to get it working including tweaking various BIOS options (mainly anything related to the PCI bus), trying different hardware configurations (IRQ, DMA, physical slots), and different software configurations (e.g. disabling various drivers, EMM386, etc.).

When testing, Blackthorne exhibited some unique behavior. When launching the game it would exit complaining of a sound error and suggest running setup again. Re-running setup and configuring audio, then re-launching the game and all audio worked fine.

Wolfenstein 3D also works with digital audio with no issues. But the other games I recall testing (Duke 3D, Blood, Doom, Doom 2, Sam 'n Max, Day of the Tentacle...), all of them either failed to launch or would crash the moment digital audio was played.

I've set up my test bench with this motherboard again. I'd like to get to the root cause of the issue. One thing I haven't tried is different BIOS versions or an entirely different BIOS.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 6 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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I'm using BIOS #401A0-0306, not the "2a4iba09" beta version which renders the system slow as a snail.
My board initially came with #401A0-0203

I also tried changing the graphic card to a Matrox Mystique to check if there was some kind of bad interaction, but apart setting my sound card to IRQ 10 it didn't help. I was going to start the same tests as you by playing with BIOS settings.

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 7 of 14, by Shponglefan

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My board also has BIOS 401A0-0203 (05-22-1995).

Since you've already updated to the latest (non-beta) that rules that out being a solution. I would also suspect that any of the in-between bios versions probably won't solve the issue.

I might try extracting the BIOS from my other Beyond motherboard. It's a completely different BIOS; not sure if it will work with the Asus board, but it might be worth a shot.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 8 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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If in the end there is no solution, there are enough other options 😀

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 9 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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Well I just started up the 486 with absolutely no change since yesterday, with "your" config (= nothing in config.sys) and Duke 3D worked like a charm...but next cold boot, nothing again. yay.

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 10 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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I managed to get 5 new boots where the sound was perfectly working (on 10 boots). What I tried as settings, without success:

Looking at https://theretroweb.com/motherboard/manual/32715.pdf
- Toggle JP29 (VESA WAIT STATE CONFIGURATION)
- Toggle JP30 (BUS SPEED CONFIGURATION)
- Toggle JP9 + JP10 (DMA CONFIGURATION)

But what I have done since it works "better" is to install an Am5x86-133 instead Am486 DX4-100, thus changing JP21-28. I don't know if it's only a coincidence. Of particular attention to me was JP23 which configures WT or WB CPU, but the same option exists in the BIOS https://theretroweb.com/motherboard/manual/ad … 18656392446.pdf

It really looks like a timing issue somewhere.

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 11 of 14, by Shponglefan

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This evening I tested the ASUS PVI-486SP3 using the BIOS from the Beyond 486IP-B-2-A. The latter uses a 1994 AMIBIOS.

Unfortunately, I couldn't even get the ESS Solo-1 to detect for the most part. Running ESSOLO.COM would typically result in a freeze with the error message: Error: ESS Audio IO Port resource not assigned!!

ESS Solo-1 AMIBIOS test.jpg
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After some trial and error, I eventually managed to get it to detect on IRQ 10. However, sound testing still didn't work as it just resulted in repeated stuttering.

I'm at a point where it seems there is just something fundamentally incompatible with this motherboard.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 12 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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Can you try disabling Chipset Features Setup > Onboard IDE Prefetch Buf?
I have working sound since 20 reboots since I changed that...DN3D, Warcraft 2, Caesar 2...all work fine.

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.

Reply 13 of 14, by Shponglefan

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Tested it this evening. I can confirm disabling Onboard IDE Prefetch Buffer worked and I was able to get digital audio playing back in games without freezing.

The one game I did have a problem with is Doom (v1.2). While sound effects played, they were accompanied by a static distortion noise following the sound effect. Interestingly, I did not have this problem with the other 486 motherboard (Beyond 486IP-B-2-A) I had previously tested with the ESS Solo-1.

Doom 2 (v1.9) worked fine and no issues with the sound. Since the Doom engine did have sound related bug fixes and other changes between these versions, I assume a later version of Doom would work as well.

Other games tested included Blackthorne, Duke Nukem 3D, Sam & Max, TIE Fighter, and Wolfenstein 3D. All games played back digital audio correctly.

486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 14 of 14, by Minutemanqvs

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Ahhh, I'm glad that you could confirm the "resolution" of this issue! So I hope that it helps someone in the future 😀

Thanks for your time, now we can enjoy the ESS Solo-1 on our boards!

Searching a Nexgen Nx586 with FPU, PM me if you have one. I have some Athlon MP systems and cookies.