First post, by MaxWar
The Grand OPL3 Comparison Run!
Ok ok.. this may not be the definitive name for it since its not exactly an accurate description of what it is but hey I Like this name so that's how I call it for now!!
OMG LOOK! A SOUND CARD!!!
Q: What the heck are you talking about MaxWar ?
A:Before i go into more details, i will tell you what this is about. Its about comparative recordings of different sound cards playing FM music. I can hear some of you thinking: "But we already have a sound card recording thread! " YES WE DO!!
The Grand OPL3 Comparison Run is a project on its own so i think it deserves its own thread. I have about 1.5 gig of high quality flac recordings so far, you can download the up to date package while you read the rest of the post. https://docs.google.com/open?id=0BzsnL20-4a37enp6QWhpUGZRZms <- OK google drive will warn you that it cannot scan for viruses and stuff, THERE ARE NO VIRUSES.
Q: So how did you suddenly have this "great" idea ?
A: I just LOVE soundcards, I love them all but i have a special place in my heart for ISA soundcards. I also happen to have a substantial amount of them. For quite some time I had this plan of doing comparative recordings of all my sound blaster clones, for fun but also to decide, Which ones are the bests!
Q: So you are doing all this recordings just to find ''the best" sound cards for FM?
A Yeah, i mean i want to find the worsts too :p Anyway, Im doing this mostly out of curiosity and love for sound cards.
Q: Seriously, I can understand why you would want to compare say, a sound canvas with a Yamaha DB50XG, but common, Adlib FM is old and sounds pretty much the same on all cards with only minute differences, why is this so important?
A Well, the cards do not sound EXACTLY the same, the subtlety of the differences between them (And sometimes the not-so subtlety) is what makes the whole venture such a delight. 😁
Q: By the way why is this thread a Q&A ?
A: I thought it would be original and make for a more fun and leisurely read than a pragmatic block of text. Sry if I was wrong.
Q: Alright, you only have recordings of about a dozen cards here, why pester us with such an underwhelming achievement?
A I will add many more but mostly, id like anyone to be able to participate too!!
Q: OH REALLY?
OMG LOOK!! ITS GOT A REAL OPL3!!
Q: Alright MaxWar, now you'd better explain exactly what you are expecting of us before we grow tired of reading all this silly Q&A nonsense!
A: Basically, any relevant participation is welcome. About 9 months ago i had hinted about this project on this very forum and fellow member ACE volunteered to help me with it and provide recordings from his own substantial sound card collection. We started exchanging information and ideas about the project, it grew quite ambitious and we started doing some recordings but it was put to a halt at some point. Now it must be resumed, I will contact ACE eventually but from now on this project is open to ANYONE who wishes to provide some relevant help, be it some recordings, help with the website, dropbox referrals or simply providing information or discuss ideas about how this project can be made better or expended ( I have a few myself ) .
Q: Wait... Website? You mean, you want to build a website for this thing?
A: Well, I initially though to simply do it in a forum thread but thought it would be much more convenient on a webpage, for many reasons. Ok, im not exactly experimented in websites but so far I already put my basic data on the web, See ?:
Q: You are kidding right? I could have put together a better website when I was in third grade...
A : I know, i put all my efforts in doing good recordings so far, anything else was secondary. This website is a draft. At first i wanted only 3 things on the page.
1. A good picture of the Card, good enough to read whats on the chips.
2. A Link to the drivers used
3. The recordings themselves.
But lately I started writing some stuff about the cards as i tested them, usually its just some ideas and notes thrown more or less at Random in the description but can also be more serious and detailed observation. The latest cards i did have more stuff written down. I think it could be nice in the longer run if this could evolve into a kind of review for each cards.
Q:How did you chose which game to use in the recordings?
A : Originally I wanted to limit myself to Sharewares so everyone could have them and record a small number of songs, about 4 songs. Since then, several more games were added. Its still mostly shareware or freewares with a couple exceptions.
1. Descent Intro. It makes good use of the FM, has a lot of sounds and various effect, it is compatible with OPL2 but benefits OPL3 for stereo. I was also curious if any card would not have the slowdowns.
2. Duke nukem 2 Intro. I wanted at least a genuine OPL2 FM composition in the mix. And yeah, i like duke nukem 2 😉
3. Dune - Palace music: This one is not shareware but Dune has, I think, one of the most splendid FM soundtrack out there. I really think it is magnificent and makes great use of the OPL chips so i included it. It is also one of my favorite childhood game ^^.
4. OMF2097 Intro. Ok this is not FM at all but i decided to use at least one digitized soundtrack to see how the different cards compared on this aspect. *Since then i came to believe OMF may not have been a good choice after all as there are some issues with it, to be discussed)
5. DooM E1M2 : Using a doom music came after a recommendation from ACE, we originally decided on E1M1, but I now favor E1M2 as it has some interesting envelope use and is a generally quiet soundtrack, which is good to compare background noise.
6. Wolf3d Level 1 , once again a recommandation from ACE, it is quite old school and you often hear weird things in the soundtrack, its generally a good base of comparison.
7.CybersphereDemo - Info screen. Here we have a genuine OPL3 game, it makes full use of the OPL3, not just for stereo like Descent. It cannot run on a OPL2. It has a very badass soundtrack too. I am experiencing severe speed slowdown issue with the game though, the Info screen in the DEMO version is the only place with no slowdows. This game is now freeware but the Demo is still available on the net.
8. Xwing music. Not a shareware but ACE really insisted on this one. It is a somewhat capricious game and will often produce all sorts of glitches when it plays on clone cards. ACE also has alot of testing already done comparing different cards with this game. He made a youtube series about the many sounds of Xwing. I personally decided to stop using it as i found it was complicated to use for a public type of test. There are 3 versions that will not react the same on FM and is also sensible to the speed of the computer. The floppy, floppy + patch and CD versions all react differently sound wise.
9. Secret of Monkey island Intro. The excellent soundtrack here shines bright on the MT32 but the Adlib version can be a little strange and can glitch very bad with some cards. I have yet to test it on many cards as it is the latest addition. I find it is a good comparison base because it seems to have a tendency to glitch.
If someone wants to do recordings I encourage them to use as many of these songs as possible. If you want to add more songs or think some of the choices are off, the matter is open to discussion.
HOLY COW! THIS THING EVEN HAS CMS CHIPS ON IT!!!
Q: Ok, I have a sound card and i want to make some recordings of it for this project, what are the requirements?
A : This is where I will be strict on this project, and it is important. I would ask that everyone use the same recording method and high standards that i used so far. I insist on that not only for consistency but to allow objective comparison between recordings of different cards. The output quality of sound cards is a subtle matter and comparing it through recordings will require some rigor. The recordings must be good quality and be done in a consistent manner otherwise the project loses a lot of its "scientific" value. If you do not want to follow this quality standard guideline please do not bother making recordings. It's not, I hope, as harsh as i make it sound but i really insist on quality here.
I wrote a "somewhat detailed" Guide about doing recordings in the appropriate way, its on the website here.
If you want to submit recordings please read, thank you. https://sites.google.com/site/soundcardcompar … ecording-method
Q: I already have made some recordings in the past, since they already exist will you take them as is?
A: You can submit them and i may include them in the collection if I judge they are adequate, but i probably won't unless they are very close to the requirements explained above.
Q: Do you only want to compare ISA sound cards?
A: No, i plan to add several PCI cards to the comparison in due time. I think some recordings should be done using DOSBOX too, to see how it compares with the real thing 😀 Or any sort of wacky FM emulation, be it hardware or software is more than welcome by the way.
Q: Will you give proper credits and references to people who helped?
A: Absolutely! Furthermore, some totally awesome threads and other works about sound cards have been done here in Vogons and elsewhere, I may reference them from time to time. Whenever I use the work of another in any substantial way I will give a reference to original content.
Q: The download speed is quite low and what kind of web hosting are you using for this stuff?
A: This is a poor man's website 🤣. All made out of free services
I used google site as its free and ads free. It comes with a built in simple html editor that is easy to use and it has a convenient built in layout, perfect for a noob like me. All the pictures are hosted on Photobucket and the audio Files are on my dropbox account. The cool thing with Dropbox is that public files are hot linkable, unlike Google drive which has an intermediate page. Now the problem is i only have 500 MB left on my dropbox. This is where you guys could help me with referrals. Each referrals that register will give me another 500 mb, up to like 20ish gigs.
If you want to contribute by giving me dropbox referrals that would be greatly appreciated, just PM me with an email. If you have a better idea for free hosting please inform.
Feel free to ask any questions or comment on anything. If you spot as mistake in something i wrote or a bad link on the page or anything, please advice, i have a tendency to make mistakes.
Wow thats it! I finally made this project puplic! 😅
I will keep this thread updated with any new additions regardless of the interest level it gets.
FM sound card comparison on a Grand Scale!!
The Grand OPL3 Comparison Run.