Multi soundcard build — ideas?

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

Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby jheronimus » 2018-4-16 @ 10:31

Hi, all.

I finally gathered enough hardware to cover most sound/music standards under DOS. As such, I'd like to build a single machine that hosts:

- an AWE32 CT3990 PnP with 32MB RAM;
- a GUS PnP Pro with 8MB RAM;
- a MusicQuest MPU controller card clone;
- an MT-32;
- an SC-55.

(I also have a Yamaha SW60XG, but realistically I don't think I can fit another wavetable device)

I have space for two builds on my desk, and the other machine is a Pentium 3@500 with Voodoo 5 and AWE64 Value with 8MB RAM. So I don't exactly need a "fast" DOS machine or Glide compatibility (or 3D in general). That includes pseudo 3D FPS games, like Duke Nukem 3D or Dark Forces. So here are some examples of games I'd like to play on this build:

- Crusader: No Remorse;
- Wing Commander 1/2/3;
- Ultima Underworld 1/2;
- System Shock;
- Lands of Lore;
- Legend Entertainment quests (like Eric the Unready).

I'd probably pick Windows 95 (RTM release) as my OS. I don't want Windows 98SE (it's already on my Pentium 3) and I don't want later releases of Windows 95 that come with Active Desktop/IE4. I also can't use DOS+Windows 3.11 as I need to use AWE32 with soundfonts and protected mode games.

So it looks like I need a machine that covers years between 1990 and 1995 and supports speeds between 386@33 and Pentium@133 but doesn't specifically need Pentium capabilities (no Quake or Magic Carpet). Thing is, I really want to keep this machine different enough from my Pentium 3 build, which is why I'm trying to narrow down the games list as much as possible.

With that in mind, what kind of machine would you build?

I've already seen some builds here, including batyra's incredible Socket 7 build but I was interested in hearing what kind of machine you guys actually use for projects like this.

I'm heavily leaning towards a fast 486/VLB machine. It can go one of two ways:

- AOpen VI15G (SIS471 chipset) + Intel DX4@100 (writeback cache) + Cirrus Logic 5428 or S3 805 (getting the latter tonight) + dual IDE HDD setup. Probably the most stable fast 486 I can build;
- QDI V4P895GRN/SMT V1.1 (Opti 895 chipset). Being an Opti 895 board it's better suited for running AMD 5x86 — I can probably even try 160MHz to get 40MHz FSB. This should get me closer to early Pentium performance (sans FPU) at the cost of stability.

Obviously I like this idea because it's different enough from a Pentium 3. Also, turbo on DX4 should give me mid-386 performance for Wing Commander. But maybe there are other considerations that make Socket 7 a better pick for this project?
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Slot 1: Pentium III 500; 384MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; AWE64 Value w/8MB + Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
User avatar
jheronimus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 2015-12-10 @ 00:09
Location: Moscow

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby dr_st » 2018-4-16 @ 11:58

jheronimus wrote:As such, I'd like to build a single machine that hosts:

- an AWE32 CT3990 PnP with 32MB RAM;
- a GUS PnP Pro with 8MB RAM;
- a MusicQuest MPU controller card clone;
- an MT-32;
- an SC-55.

Yeah, good luck with that. :)
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1333
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby jheronimus » 2018-4-16 @ 13:27

dr_st wrote:Yeah, good luck with that. :)


Well, obviously I'll have to go through IRQ hell with that. My plan was to start disabling all the hardware I don't need: COM/LPT ports on I/O (except for one), IDE interfaces on the soundcard, SB emulation on the GUS. If that fails — maybe I'll switch AWE32 to SB16 CT2230 or SB Pro2.
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Slot 1: Pentium III 500; 384MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; AWE64 Value w/8MB + Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
User avatar
jheronimus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 2015-12-10 @ 00:09
Location: Moscow

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby dosgamer » 2018-4-16 @ 14:18

I don't see a problem per se. But I prefer non-PnP cards. I have an ES1688F card in my K6-2 500 rig along with a Roland SCC-1. The ES1688 is great because a) it is non PnP but all the resources can still be changed in software on the fly b) unlike SB16/AWE it has full SBPro compatibility and the ESFM OPL emulation sounds great c) the MPU401 can be disabled via the command line tool d) you still get 16-bit sound in Windows and games that directly support the ESS AudioDrive.
Coppermine Celeron 800 @ 1.12GHz (8x140) - Asus P2B Rev. 1.12 - 256MB PC133 CL2 - Voodoo5 5500 AGP - SB AWE64 CT4520 - Roland SCC-1 - Intel Pro/1000GT - 1.44MB Floppy - ATAPI ZIP 100 - 120GB IDE - DVD-ROM - DVD-R/RW/RAM - Win98SE
User avatar
dosgamer
Newbie
 
Posts: 77
Joined: 2017-2-07 @ 04:59

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby jheronimus » 2018-4-17 @ 10:47

I ended up building a DX4-100 machine yesterday. Long story short — Windows 95 sucks on it.

I picked the original RTM version because it doesn't need a lot of space. The boot time is long (and I haven't even added an AWE32 which loads a soundfont at each boot), the system itself is somewhat sluggish (but tolerable). But Doom is absolutely unplayable.

I don't think switching to 5x86 will help, so at this point I have two options:

1) try AWE32 under Windows 3.11 — I've just learned from badmojo's post that you can load sf2 soundfonts that way. Question is, does Win 3.11 somehow allow you to play protected-mode games with AWE32?
2) remove AWE32 and switch to some sort of SB16. I have a CT2230 (I think it's not fully PnP, actually), a SB Pro2, a CT2770 Value, a Vibra CT2940 and a CT2700 (non-PnP, but pretty noisy).
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Slot 1: Pentium III 500; 384MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; AWE64 Value w/8MB + Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
User avatar
jheronimus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 2015-12-10 @ 00:09
Location: Moscow

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby dr_st » 2018-4-17 @ 11:51

jheronimus wrote:I ended up building a DX4-100 machine yesterday. Long story short — Windows 95 sucks on it.
Can't you find something slightly better? Like a high-end Pentium? That ought to make a world of difference...

jheronimus wrote:1) try AWE32 under Windows 3.11 — I've just learned from badmojo's post that you can load sf2 soundfonts that way. Question is, does Win 3.11 somehow allow you to play protected-mode games with AWE32?
My experience with any semi-complicated (probably protected mode) games in Win3.11 has been terrible. Usually it will just crash. For example, I don't think I ever got the DOS version of DOOM to run under it (and I tried, out of sheer curiosity). Eventually I gave up any attempts of playing DOS games under Windows 3.11.

jheronimus wrote:2) remove AWE32 and switch to some sort of SB16.
Why would you remove the AWE32, though? Minus the soundfonts, it's just like an SB16. And some games (DOOM included) can utilize the built-in AWE synth for noticeably better audio compared to the FM synth.
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1333
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby jheronimus » 2018-4-17 @ 12:24

dr_st wrote:Can't you find something slightly better? Like a high-end Pentium? That ought to make a world of difference...


Well, obviously, the most practical option would be to make a Super Socket 7-based build. But like I said, I'd like to keep this rig different enough from my Pentium 3. But if everything fails — then yeah, I'd better move to a faster system.


jheronimus wrote:Why would you remove the AWE32, though? Minus the soundfonts, it's just like an SB16. And some games (DOOM included) can utilize the built-in AWE synth for noticeably better audio compared to the FM synth.


Honestly I'm not a fan of AWE32's built-in soundfont. If custom soundfonts don't work, then a regular SB16 would need less resources (since I won't be using MPU401 or wavetable) and give me true OPL3 (my CT3990 only has CQM).
Last edited by jheronimus on 2018-4-17 @ 15:49, edited 1 time in total.
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Slot 1: Pentium III 500; 384MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; AWE64 Value w/8MB + Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
User avatar
jheronimus
Oldbie
 
Posts: 825
Joined: 2015-12-10 @ 00:09
Location: Moscow

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby dr_st » 2018-4-17 @ 12:54

If you have a genuine OPL3 SB16 (and not such an AWE32) - then yes - makes sense. :)
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1333
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby carlostex » 2018-4-17 @ 15:48

dr_st wrote:
jheronimus wrote:As such, I'd like to build a single machine that hosts:

- an AWE32 CT3990 PnP with 32MB RAM;
- a GUS PnP Pro with 8MB RAM;
- a MusicQuest MPU controller card clone;
- an MT-32;
- an SC-55.

Yeah, good luck with that. :)


Good luck with that? With the hardware the OP listed its a pretty easy build.
User avatar
carlostex
l33t
 
Posts: 2042
Joined: 2010-4-03 @ 21:39
Location: Portugal

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby badmojo » 2018-4-17 @ 23:25

dr_st wrote:My experience with any semi-complicated (probably protected mode) games in Win3.11 has been terrible. Usually it will just crash. For example, I don't think I ever got the DOS version of DOOM to run under it (and I tried, out of sheer curiosity). Eventually I gave up any attempts of playing DOS games under Windows 3.11.


I got DOOM to run here using some specific instructions for the .PIF (blocked now I'm at work so don't have a URL) but it would lock up with FX set to Sound Blaster and performance didn't seem great. Also couldn't get general midi to work - am guessing that the creative drivers for Windows 3.11 don't include an emulated MPU401 like they do by default in Win95; not sure if this is a surmountable problem or not.

Out of interest have you tried CQM in DOOM with some reverb / chorus? Sounds pretty gosh darn good I think!
If it's broke, then fix it!
User avatar
badmojo
l33t
 
Posts: 2894
Joined: 2011-10-11 @ 04:14
Location: Australia

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby dr_st » 2018-4-18 @ 05:08

carlostex wrote:Good luck with that? With the hardware the OP listed its a pretty easy build.
Well, connecting the stuff is no problem, but managing resources and getting everything to work in parallel may be a challenge. And then you may run into the occasional game that expects stuff at fixed port/IRQ allocations (or so I heard).

If you have positive experience with a similar setup, please share. :)

badmojo wrote:Out of interest have you tried CQM in DOOM with some reverb / chorus? Sounds pretty gosh darn good I think!
No, I don't think I have. I guess that on an AWE, I would just prefer to use AWE synth in DOOM over FM. I wasn't even sure that reverb/chorus apply to the FM synth... But I will remember to try next time I'm around that setup. :)
User avatar
dr_st
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1333
Joined: 2015-4-09 @ 07:18

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby Plasma » 2018-4-18 @ 06:28

It shouldn't be too bad. I have a GUS PnP, SB16, and RAP10 together. You can disable the GUS resources you aren't using with IWAVECFG. Put the SB at 220/5/1, GUS at 240/11/7, SB MIDI at 300 and MusicQuest at 330/2.
Plasma
Member
 
Posts: 107
Joined: 2016-12-12 @ 08:38

Re: Multi soundcard build — ideas?

Postby PARUS » 2018-4-18 @ 06:50

Some games won't work with sound on IRQ more than 7. It is better to put GUS on IRQ3. GF1 can. I don't know if Interwave can or can't IRQ3. If it doesn't then put it on IRQ7 and disable Parallel if necessary.
User avatar
PARUS
Member
 
Posts: 308
Joined: 2013-4-14 @ 04:03


Return to Sound

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests