So conflicting advice from you two! I'll have to compare myself...but that's really not going to help as I'll have to swap out cards between tests and will forget what the one I just ran sounded like 🤣.
What's weird is the one in Phil's video, pic below, which people reference a lot about these ESS's, seems to be pretty close to the bottom one I pictured above.
You can see Phil's (to my layman's eyes) is missing BOTH the crystal oscillator AND the 2x separate amplifier chips...yet he still thinks it's one of the best cards for DOS... weird how there's so many flavors of these.
Just for fun, anything unusual stand out about my original ESS, an ES1869F version with wavetable header but no IDE? This is the one I've been using for the last couple months to great fanfare (besides playing speech too slow in some 2002ish Win98 games). Has oscillator but combined amp?
I think I should also post as a reminder to people that getting ES1868F's to work in both Windows 98 AND DOS can be very hard (I had issues with both cards on a MMX 200). In researching my issues I found at least a dozen people on this forum and others with similar problems as me. Took around 12 hours of trying everything in the book and numerous drivers to get it working (no exaggeration, I think that driver combo #10 finally worked). It's not ALWAYS as easy as it shows in the videos sometimes - thankfully my ES1869F installed PERFECT and easily every single time - don't know if that was because it was on a different computer or what.