Getting around that soundcard mess

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby CkRtech » 2017-10-12 @ 02:46

badmojo wrote:we've still managed to steer his thread towards the "best ISA sound card" abyss!
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby appiah4 » 2017-10-12 @ 04:36

jade_angel wrote:Yeah, like with so many things, if there were one clear "always best" option, there would have been consensus long ago. For me, it's a tossup between ESS1868/1869 and AWE32/AWE64 - basically, ESS for anything that wants to do FM music (yes, I know, ESFM is not OPL, but IMHO it sounds as good or better) or if I want to use a wavetable daughterboard. AWE32/64 for anything that can use the 16-bit sound modes and the AWE synth, but not really for FM, because CQM is goombas. A few things can use the 16-bit modes on the ESS, too (and all can under Windows, yay consistent APIs). With an MT-32 or an SC-55, it's a tossup, you can use either one - IIRC the AWE series don't have the hanging note bug, and none of the ESS cards do AFAIK.

The Audician32 and other YMF718 cards aren't half bad either. As good as ESS, in my opinion, though their Win3.1 drivers have an annoying but fixable bug, and, for what little it's worth, OS/2 doesn't ship with drivers for them, but does come with drivers for the Audiodrive. (Not that OS/2 support matters, or that installing drivers from elsewhere is a real problem, but if I *had* to find some kind of fault, that's it.) They have a real OPL3, too, for better or worse.

I have two 486 machines, one has a Yamaha, the other an ESS. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.


For the record Yamaha does have drivers for OS2 they just dont ship with Connect or 4.0 they may even ship with 4.52 for all I know..
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1998:6P2BX2|P3-450|256MB|Voodoo3|MX300
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby jade_angel » 2017-10-12 @ 13:18

Yeah, I found them, just separately. They actually might ship with 4.52, true - didn't check that.

In the original spirit of the thread, however - can folks think of specific games for which something other than an SB Pro (or ESS/YMF/etc) is the optimal choice, where you really want a PAS, or GUS, or Aztech, or AWE64 or similar?
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby appiah4 » 2017-10-12 @ 14:15

jade_angel wrote:Yeah, I found them, just separately. They actually might ship with 4.52, true - didn't check that.

In the original spirit of the thread, however - can folks think of specific games for which something other than an SB Pro (or ESS/YMF/etc) is the optimal choice, where you really want a PAS, or GUS, or Aztech, or AWE64 or similar?


Any game that has an AWE32 oor GUS music option makes them superior options to Pro/16 FM music IMO.

Tomb Raider has an ESS option that has much better filtered sigital audio.
1992:MB457|U5SX486-33F@40|16MB|TVGA9000B|ES688/S2
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1998:6P2BX2|P3-450|256MB|Voodoo3|MX300
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby firage » 2017-10-12 @ 14:36

jade_angel wrote:In the original spirit of the thread, however - can folks think of specific games for which something other than an SB Pro (or ESS/YMF/etc) is the optimal choice, where you really want a PAS, or GUS, or Aztech, or AWE64 or similar?

I posted a link to a page listing some of those earlier. Games supporting GUS hardware mixing, for example, definitely sound significantly better using one.

SB Pro compatibility goes a long way, but you need a 16-bit standard to get the best out of a bunch of games: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=54670
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby j^aws » 2017-10-13 @ 00:13

You can have the broadest range with just these two cards for games:

- AWE32, CT3980
- SB Pro 1, CT1330A

You'll need to hook a toggle switch to the port jumper on the CT1330A, so that switching between the two cards avoids conflicts. You could probably also use a AWE32 CT3900, although I have one, I suspect a clash due to both cards being non-plug&play.

These will give you:

- OPL2 and dual-OPL2
- OPL3
- EMU8000
- SB 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, Pro 1
- SB 16
- AdLib
- Intelligent Mode MIDI via SoftMPU
- External MIDI modules
- MIDI daughter cards

You are set for an amazing range of sound options.
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby firage » 2017-10-13 @ 04:36

Yep, it's a cool dual card setup. The AWE32's "type 2", stuttering, etc. MPU bugs shouldn't be an issue if you offload digital SFX to the CT1330A for affected games.

Worth mentioning that the OPL2 widely requires a 486 or slower due to speed sensitivity.
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby j^aws » 2017-10-15 @ 19:18

^^ Yes, OPL2 is speed-sensitive, but this seems to be game-specific. I have used it on faster than 486 machines. I should've made a list for affected games when I was testing.
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-10-15 @ 19:31

I think this thread scared the OP right off. Not that I dislike the dialogue.

I just got the old school game bug back about a year ago, and honestly I'm willing to bet most of the games he has in mind are the standard Sierra, ID, etc because that's how I felt and most fresh blood think that way too. The SB16 recommendations at the start of the thread were perfect. $20 and he's off with near complete compatibility and it probably sounds exactly as he remembers.
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Re: Getting around that soundcard mess

Postby badmojo » 2017-10-15 @ 22:26

BeginnerGuy wrote:I think this thread scared the OP right off. Not that I dislike the dialogue.


Yes I like this topic too! I have a handful of machines for which I've carefully selected the "perfect" sound card for over the course of a few years of trial and error, and now that they're perfect I've pretty much lost interest in them! I really miss the thrill of the hunt for that card that meets my particular requirements (availability, nostalgia value, compatibility, "period correctness", price, etc)
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