Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

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

Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby 11justsomekid » 2017-4-03 @ 20:20

I planned on getting an ESS Audiodrive ES1869F as my first sound card, but I've also thought about a Yamaha A151-A00. I haven't heard any samples, so I don't know what it sounds like. Anyone here know what it's like? Also, I've heard of people using soundcard solely for sound effects. Does the ES1869F need one, and if so, would that yamaha work?

Thanks!
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby keropi » 2017-4-03 @ 20:30

Both are good but the Yamaha one will have a real OPL3 embedded in it's main IC and also great sbpro support. I would get the Yamaha card personally.
ESS is also very compatible like the yamaha but they used their own OPL core , which sounds very good but it's not the real deal LOL LOL LOL
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby badmojo » 2017-4-04 @ 00:30

ESS all the way! The Yamaha cards sound nasty!

Seriously though get both and see what you prefer, they're a dime a dozen.
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-4-04 @ 07:03

The only real problem with the ESS is that it's FM is not 100% the same as a true OPL3. The only real problem with the Yamaha ISA chipsets is certain rarely used PCM modes not being included. The most important game this affects is Duke Nukem 2 where a small number of sound effects won't play.

As Badmojo said, they're cheap, so get both if you can.
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2017-4-04 @ 07:10

I'd also get both seeing they are fairly cheap and both are very good :)

Play with both, listen to them, make up your mind.
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby badmojo » 2017-4-04 @ 09:47

Oh and snag yourself a Crystal CS423X based card too - these are my latest faves!
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby iKarith » 2017-4-04 @ 11:46

I personally chose the Yamaha card because it's so quiet compared with the average Creative Labs card, and it's got the real OPL chip. I used to consider crappy audio with vintage computers part of the experience until I started watching some of Phil's videos where he's gone to some effort to get the best sound quality out of these old games. It's impressive, and it doesn't seem to require spending a lot of money, especially if you have access to a cheap device for things like MUNT and a good MIDI interface for older titles and a good sound font with a soft-synth for newer titles.

If I could find something more compatible than the Yamaha that sounded as clean as it does, I'd probably pick one up. I don't recall the AudioDrive being a particularly quiet card, although I've only really seen Creative's rendition for comparison.

A noise comparison would be great--but cards made by folks like Yamaha, Turtle Beach, and Roland are going to win out. But then, I remember having a Turtle Beach card back in the day and it was awful for games compatibility even if the music sounded great. *shrug*
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-4-04 @ 12:03

Crystal Semi cards have great performance, although avoid CS4235 cards as they're known to be defective. The real jewels out there are CS4232 cards with real OPL3 chips. Another interesting option is the CMI8330 chipset as it emulates a few additional modes (SB16 for when you want to play Crusader) and supports SPDIF output while suffering a bit in FM quality.
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby 11justsomekid » 2017-4-04 @ 13:01

I think I have a plan: I'll get the ES1869F first, as it's cheaper, and I know what exactly sounds like, then I'll get the A151-A00 soon after.
badmojo wrote:Oh and snag yourself a Crystal CS423X based card too - these are my latest faves!

gdjacobs wrote:Crystal Semi cards have great performance, although avoid CS4235 cards as they're known to be defective. The real jewels out there are CS4232 cards with real OPL3 chips. Another interesting option is the CMI8330 chipset as it emulates a few additional modes (SB16 for when you want to play Crusader) and supports SPDIF output while suffering a bit in FM quality.

Just listened to an example of Onestop.mid played on a Crystal, and, to me at least, it sounds very similar to a SB16. Did I just listen to a bad sample, or is it true?
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-4-04 @ 13:16

What synth?
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby 11justsomekid » 2017-4-04 @ 16:10

gdjacobs wrote:What synth?

Beats me, but here are the videos I compared:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTPTNTeE4xc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2Jxf353FWI
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby jade_angel » 2017-4-04 @ 17:53

In my opinion, the Yamaha is more authentic, the ESS is more capable, especially the 1869 (will turn in potentially better than SB16 performance under Windows and OS/2, or in games that support the Audiodrives natively, which some do). I think the ESS FM synth sounds better than the OPL3, but that might be because I had an Audiodrive before I ever got hold of a card with the real deal, and so that sound is what I'm used to.

For reference - Doom E1M1, ESS 1869: https://youtu.be/YXFYWJ7dbz0?t=1252
Doom E1M1, SB Pro 2.0 (OPL3): https://youtu.be/YXFYWJ7dbz0?t=2015

Both sound pretty good, but IMHO the ESS sounds a little richer.

EDIT: fouled up the URLs
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-4-05 @ 00:51

11justsomekid wrote:Beats me, but here are the videos I compared:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTPTNTeE4xc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2Jxf353FWI


Apples and oranges. The first one is a sample based synth, the second one is using OPL3 FM.
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby 11justsomekid » 2017-4-05 @ 02:30

gdjacobs wrote:
11justsomekid wrote:Beats me, but here are the videos I compared:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTPTNTeE4xc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2Jxf353FWI


Apples and oranges. The first one is a sample based synth, the second one is using OPL3 FM.

Sorry, I'm not very educated one soundcard stuff, so what does that crystal sound like?
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-4-05 @ 15:40

FM synth: true OPL3 chips (on Turtle Beach cards, for instance) sound like they should. I feel the Crystal FM clone sounds quite tinny.
PCM (WAV) audio: very clean, high fidelity
MIDI: depends on the daughtercard/module/extra MIDI chipset you use. Crystal based cards with wavetable often use Dream chipsets which sound quite good (IMO). The Crystal MPU401 has no bugs that I'm aware of (so long as you avoid the CS4235 chipset).
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Re: Newbie question: Cheapo soundcard split: ESS or Yamaha?

Postby 11justsomekid » 2017-4-05 @ 17:49

gdjacobs wrote:FM synth: true OPL3 chips (on Turtle Beach cards, for instance) sound like they should. I feel the Crystal FM clone sounds quite tinny.
PCM (WAV) audio: very clean, high fidelity
MIDI: depends on the daughtercard/module/extra MIDI chipset you use. Crystal based cards with wavetable often use Dream chipsets which sound quite good (IMO). The Crystal MPU401 has no bugs that I'm aware of (so long as you avoid the CS4235 chipset).

I don't see soundcards very often, but if I find a Crystal somewhere, ill grab it, but im not sure enough to get one online. Besides, I ordered my ES1869F, and is shipping here now!
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