Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

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

Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-23 @ 09:02

Last night I took apart, cleaned up and completely upgraded the whole system and then I tried to install the ISA riser card.. It did not fit; it's a completely different connector. It's apparently a GX1 riser card sold to me as a GX110 riser card. So..

Image

Now I have to make do with a PCI only setup to cover Dos, Win9x and Win2k gaming. My current thinking is the Following:

- PCI Creative SB Live! CT4780 Dell OEM
- PCI ESS Solo-1 (For SB Pro emulation and ESFM, Line Out connected to Live! Line In)

So my questions are:

1. Is this a viable setup on an intel i810E motherboard?
2. I am installing the Live! card mostly for SF2 MIDI capability, SB16 Emulation will not be installed. Is this necessary? How good is ESS Solo-1 software Synth, and can it load SF2 files?
3. I can also use a Dreamblaster X3M with the Solo-1 as an external GM device. Maybe I should simply do only this?
4. Do I just install SB Live! drivers, followed by Solo-1 and DOS games automatically run on Solo-1's SB Pro emulation?
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby badmojo » 2017-11-23 @ 22:13

Yep sounds like it'll be more trouble than it's worth to me - sound fonts are fun but a physical GM module wins every time for me.

A Vortex 2 based card is also a good option for DOS / Win9x gaming - most have a wavetable header that works in pure DOS and nice SB Pro emulation. Great Win9x cards too.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-24 @ 03:17

badmojo wrote:Yep sounds like it'll be more trouble than it's worth to me - sound fonts are fun but a physical GM module wins every time for me.

A Vortex 2 based card is also a good option for DOS / Win9x gaming - most have a wavetable header that works in pure DOS and nice SB Pro emulation. Great Win9x cards too.



Vortex 2's FM Synth is hardly better than live in terms of quality and accuracy though.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-11-24 @ 04:04

For the best FM out of a PCI card and great SB Pro as well, get a Yamaha YMF-724 or YMF-744 based card. That is because it has authentic OPL3 built in.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-24 @ 05:41

cyclone3d wrote:For the best FM out of a PCI card and great SB Pro as well, get a Yamaha YMF-724 or YMF-744 based card. That is because it has authentic OPL3 built in.


But it does not suppord DDMA IIRC, and requires SB-LINK to work well and I don't have that on my motherboard. Failing genuine OPL3, I can live with ESFM.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby LSS10999 » 2017-11-24 @ 06:03

ESS Solo-1 is the most legacy-compatible PCI audio solution and you should have very few issues with DOS programs and games using it. Its ESFM can be considered mostly authentic under DOS, with very slight deviations.

Besides... have you tested whether the output chain (ESS Solo-1 Line Out -> SBLive Line In -> SBLive Line Out -> Speaker) work without configuration? Back then I often find myself having to use multiple sets of speakers with this situation, as the audio card might require some driver-level mixer configuration to get it work which, under DOS, may not be doable. You might need to get at least a 4-channel external mixer (or simply a separate set of speakers) for this configuration in case the output chain does not work.

EDIT: I think that was for your 4th question... if this is under Windows, the audio of the DOS games under Windows will go to the driver that is actually assuming control of the legacy resources (I/O, IRQ and DMA). Without installing Live's SB16 emulation (or disabling it) the Solo-1's driver will be able to assume control of the legacy ports if it's available.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-11-24 @ 06:23

appiah4 wrote:
cyclone3d wrote:For the best FM out of a PCI card and great SB Pro as well, get a Yamaha YMF-724 or YMF-744 based card. That is because it has authentic OPL3 built in.


But it does not suppord DDMA IIRC, and requires SB-LINK to work well and I don't have that on my motherboard. Failing genuine OPL3, I can live with ESFM.


It supports DDMA on compatible boards and DSDMA via the TSR. Unfortunately, DDMA in later chipsets has to be white listed into the config tool via a patch, so it's not quite an out of the box solution.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby badmojo » 2017-11-24 @ 06:30

appiah4 wrote:Vortex 2's FM Synth is hardly better than live in terms of quality and accuracy though.


That’s a good point, it’s bloody awful :lol:
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-24 @ 09:12

LSS10999 wrote:ESS Solo-1 is the most legacy-compatible PCI audio solution and you should have very few issues with DOS programs and games using it. Its ESFM can be considered mostly authentic under DOS, with very slight deviations.

Besides... have you tested whether the output chain (ESS Solo-1 Line Out -> SBLive Line In -> SBLive Line Out -> Speaker) work without configuration? Back then I often find myself having to use multiple sets of speakers with this situation, as the audio card might require some driver-level mixer configuration to get it work which, under DOS, may not be doable. You might need to get at least a 4-channel external mixer (or simply a separate set of speakers) for this configuration in case the output chain does not work.

EDIT: I think that was for your 4th question... if this is under Windows, the audio of the DOS games under Windows will go to the driver that is actually assuming control of the legacy resources (I/O, IRQ and DMA). Without installing Live's SB16 emulation (or disabling it) the Solo-1's driver will be able to assume control of the legacy ports if it's available.


I believe SB Live! can be at least initialized for real DOS at minimal memory cost to achieve a working mixer to pass the ESS audio stream through with just INITIALIZE.. We will have to see though :D
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-27 @ 12:05

Well, I'm thinking of using this $4 PCI soundcard I just bought new for this purpose. It's an ES1946S Solo-1E. I'll let you all know how well this project goes.

Image

I also have bought a second hand ES1938S Solo-1 PCI, but I'm curious about ES1946S so I will try that first. Apparently it's a laptop chipset, but it's on a PCI card, and seems to have absolutely no ICs on the board so I have no idea what to expect.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-11-27 @ 23:20

One downside is that it doesn't use ESFM, IIRC.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-11-28 @ 04:49

Sweet!
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby PARUS » 2017-11-28 @ 05:27

It is impossible to use SB Live's Line In in pure DOS. I'm looking for this issue decision. I want to make alternate DOS mixer which will have most routes setup (all possible in-out channels) of emu10k chips in pure DOS. A good programmer wanted.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby dr.zeissler » 2017-11-28 @ 08:28

The ESS-SOLO1 is BY FAR! the best dos-compatible PCI-soundcard.
Games like DN2 do work just fine, there are lot's of ISA! Cards that have issues with that game.
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Re: Multiple PCI sound card setup for DOS/Windows Gaming?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-11-28 @ 08:51

PARUS wrote:It is impossible to use SB Live's Line In in pure DOS. I'm looking for this issue decision. I want to make alternate DOS mixer which will have most routes setup (all possible in-out channels) of emu10k chips in pure DOS. A good programmer wanted.


Well, that is kind of a bummer, but for my case it will be a Win9x/2k PC so I can do the routing with no issues.

I guess I could get around this by routing the Live! card through the Solo-1 in Win9x/2k and just using the Solo-1 in Pure DOS..
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M|S2
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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