Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

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

Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-20 @ 20:21

I've got a Sound Blaster AWE32 (CT-3980) in my dedicated MS-DOS 6.22 machine. To this card I've got a DreamBlaster X2 wavetable card connected. Recently I've acquired a Roland SC-55 and a Roland MT-32 is on its way (using MUNT at the moment), which will be daisy chained to the SC-55.

So here's the thing: I've now got four audio output sources for music:

- The EMU8000 chip on the AWE32 (port 220)
- The DreamBlaster wavetable card installed on the AWE32 (port 330)
- The Roland SC-55 on the UART port (port 330) with SoftMPU
- The Roland MT-32 on the UART port (port 330) with SoftMPU

My current workaround for preventing the DreamBlaster, SC-55 and MT-32 sounding all at the same time is using MIXERSET.EXE to mute the output of the EMU8000 and DreamBlaster when using the SC-55 or MT-32 and muting the SC-55 and MT-32 with a rack mixer to which everything is connected.

Now, today I've found a Sound Blaster Live! (CT4830), which is a PCI card. Would it be useful to use this card as a dedicated MPU-401 output (using SoftMPU) and change the MIDI I/O port of the AWE32 to 300, to create a separate port for the Rolands? Or wouldn't this be advisable?

A HardMPU card would be even nicer, but I've only got two ISA slots on my motherboard, one of which is taken by the AWE32 and the other is taken by a dual gameport card. I do however have loads of PCI slots still available, so there's the why behind this question. :)
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-20 @ 21:22

I would also be interested in experiences using SB Live alongside an ISA sound card, the Live for windows games, and the ISA card for DOS games, and potentially to use the Live as a midi interface as well for some DOS games.

Please post a follow up based on your findings.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-20 @ 21:40

squiggly wrote:I would also be interested in experiences using SB Live alongside an ISA sound card, the Live for windows games, and the ISA card for DOS games, and potentially to use the Live as a midi interface as well for some DOS games.

Please post a follow up based on your findings.


I did this very thing way back in the day when I was still running Windows 98SE.. not for the midi port part, but one card for DOS and one card for Windows. I even made a little switchbox that I still have all these years later to switch the speakers between the DOS and Windows cards.

I even still have the ISA card I was using back then. An Opti 930 based card with onboard wavetable and clone OPL3.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-21 @ 01:34

cyclone3d wrote:I did this very thing way back in the day when I was still running Windows 98SE.. not for the midi port part, but one card for DOS and one card for Windows. I even made a little switchbox that I still have all these years later to switch the speakers between the DOS and Windows cards.


Any conflicts between them in windows? I guess DOS wont even see the PCI one.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-21 @ 01:43

squiggly wrote:Any conflicts between them in windows? I guess DOS wont even see the PCI one.


Nope, no confilcts. I don't remember if I had to mess around with IRQs or installing the PCI card in a specific slot or not, but it is easily made to work.

DOS will not even see the PCI card unless you initialize it in DOS.

That being said, one of my retro rigs has multiple ISA sound cards in addition to a PCI AOPEN AW744L II sound card in it and it works just fine with all of them installed at the same time.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-21 @ 01:57

There are DOS drivers for the Live, so there shouldn't be a problem with DOS detecting it, despite being a PCI card. DOS also works fine with other PCI interface cards, like graphics and ethernet controllers, so why wouldn't it with soundcards?

Windows will be much less of a hassle, as Windows itself handles the handing out of IRQs, DOS doesn't, it relies on the BIOS and the controllers on the cards themselves, as far as I know. DOS also doesn't do IRQ sharing like Windows, again, for as far as I know.

But that's really my question here: has anybody got experience with pure mode DOS (no Windows; pure, clean DOS was the whole reason I built this machine) and combining an ISA and a PCI soundcard? :)

cyclone3d wrote:That being said, one of my retro rigs has multiple ISA sound cards in addition to a PCI AOPEN AW744L II sound card in it and it works just fine with all of them installed at the same time.

And it runs on pure DOS? Or is it Windows or multiboot?
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-21 @ 05:37

TimMer1981 wrote:There are DOS drivers for the Live, so there shouldn't be a problem with DOS detecting it, despite being a PCI card. DOS also works fine with other PCI interface cards, like graphics and ethernet controllers, so why wouldn't it with soundcards?

Windows will be much less of a hassle, as Windows itself handles the handing out of IRQs, DOS doesn't, it relies on the BIOS and the controllers on the cards themselves, as far as I know. DOS also doesn't do IRQ sharing like Windows, again, for as far as I know.

But that's really my question here: has anybody got experience with pure mode DOS (no Windows; pure, clean DOS was the whole reason I built this machine) and combining an ISA and a PCI soundcard? :)

cyclone3d wrote:That being said, one of my retro rigs has multiple ISA sound cards in addition to a PCI AOPEN AW744L II sound card in it and it works just fine with all of them installed at the same time.

And it runs on pure DOS? Or is it Windows or multiboot?


It runs Windows 98 SE, but I also just boot to DOS for DOS stuff.

Cards are:
AOPEN AW744L II (for OPL3 mainly, but it has good SB support as well)
AWE64 Gold!
Yamaha SW60XG
Gravis Ultrasound PnP

The easy way to set stuff up like this is to make a boot menu in config.sys and autoexec.bat and have different options of what you want to actually initialize.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-21 @ 12:20

cyclone3d wrote:It runs Windows 98 SE, but I also just boot to DOS for DOS stuff.

Cards are:
AOPEN AW744L II (for OPL3 mainly, but it has good SB support as well)
AWE64 Gold!
Yamaha SW60XG
Gravis Ultrasound PnP

The easy way to set stuff up like this is to make a boot menu in config.sys and autoexec.bat and have different options of what you want to actually initialize.

I know, but that wouldn't solve this particular problem: if I initialize port 330 it would activate the DreamBlaster and the Rolands. :depressed:

That's why I thought of the possibility of two independent MIDI ports (for which I unfortunately need to use a PCI card).

I'll start experimenting the hard way with this; apparently nobody has ever tried combining a ISA soundcard with a PCI soundcard in pure mode DOS. Which isn't weird: it's quite an exotic setup. :P
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-21 @ 15:15

TimMer1981 wrote:I know, but that wouldn't solve this particular problem: if I initialize port 330 it would activate the DreamBlaster and the Rolands. :depressed:

That's why I thought of the possibility of two independent MIDI ports (for which I unfortunately need to use a PCI card).

I'll start experimenting the hard way with this; apparently nobody has ever tried combining a ISA soundcard with a PCI soundcard in pure mode DOS. Which isn't weird: it's quite an exotic setup. :P


I can test pretty easily. I'll just initialize the AWE64 and the AOPEN card at the same time. I also don't see why you couldn't have two different ISA cards and just have the midi ports set to different addresses.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-21 @ 20:00

cyclone3d wrote:
TimMer1981 wrote:I know, but that wouldn't solve this particular problem: if I initialize port 330 it would activate the DreamBlaster and the Rolands. :depressed:

That's why I thought of the possibility of two independent MIDI ports (for which I unfortunately need to use a PCI card).

I'll start experimenting the hard way with this; apparently nobody has ever tried combining a ISA soundcard with a PCI soundcard in pure mode DOS. Which isn't weird: it's quite an exotic setup. :P


I can test pretty easily. I'll just initialize the AWE64 and the AOPEN card at the same time. I also don't see why you couldn't have two different ISA cards and just have the midi ports set to different addresses.

Windows 98(SE) comes with DOS 7.1, which is not the old DOS as we know it like 6.22, so the test won't say much about using PCI soundcards in DOS 6.22 when already using an ISA soundcard.

What the exact differences are between 7.1 and 6.22 I don't know, but I've had several old DOS-games crashing and giving all sorts of problems under 7.1 which worked fine under 6.22. Even SETVER didn't help, so it wasn't a simple version check. Also, I tested with a FAT16 partition, that also wasn't the problem. Maybe it was my particular hardware, maybe it wasn't. But there are differences, that's for sure. Here's another guy who ran into the same problems as me:

People say that the DOS version doesn't matter but in my experience it does matter. Up to v6 the backwards compatibility was exquisite of course, but with v7 (Win98 "restarting in DOS mode") some games stopped working. Not just a couple of games but quite a lot of them, at least in my old machine, I can't tell for others' machines. So if what you want is a DOS which will be compatible with your old games, go for v6. Of course you're limited to 2 Gb but there's no way you're going to need more in a DOS partition, is there? Otherwise you could enable more than one partition or move files to and from the FAT16 partition in Windows.

As for the changes between DOS v6 and v7 I know of a certain one. When I set up a DOS v6 partition in my old Win98 machine I encountered the problem of getting sound with a SBPCI128. Of course I used the SB16 emulation drivers that the card came with, and that Win98 used when booting DOS v7. But at first they didn't work, until I replaced the v6 EMM386.EXE with the v7 one. It was the only way the drivers worked and, even a DOS v6 with a v7 EMM386.EXE ran a lot of games which didn't run in DOS v7. So EMM386.EXE is different, but also surely MSDOS.SYS and IO.SYS. What I mean is that there's a different between DOS v6 and v7, not to talk about using FreeDOS and such.

To be clear: I sincerely appreciate your offer :) , but because of this it will be a waste of your time really. Unfortunately Microsoft has a habit of creating obscure compatibility problems between versions. :depressed:
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-21 @ 20:25

Well, I can do a DOS 6.22 setup pretty quickly. Not like it takes much time at all to set up a blank drive with DOS 6.22 on it.

I'll just set everything up on the 98SE box and then copy the needed folders and autoexec.bat and config.sys over to the DOS 6.22 drive.

I'm going to need to test anyway for builds I am working on so not really wasting my time.

Win98SE does not like having too many Gameport adapters though. It runs out of free I/O addresses to assign them to.

For the midi ports though, you should be able to have a decent number depending on the addresses available for use on the different cards.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby gerwin » 2017-12-21 @ 20:38

TimMer1981 wrote:There are DOS drivers for the Live, so there shouldn't be a problem with DOS detecting it, despite being a PCI card. DOS also works fine with other PCI interface cards, like graphics and ethernet controllers, so why wouldn't it with soundcards?

I don't think I see this bit in the conversation yet: The SB Live! pure DOS driver does emulate an MPU-401 interface, but it is used for its own softsynth. You cannot drive midi hardware with this DOS emulation driver. That functionality is not included.
The Aureal Vortex 2 and YMF-724 are PCI chipsets that do allow for driving midi hardware from within pure DOS.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-21 @ 21:24

gerwin wrote:
TimMer1981 wrote:There are DOS drivers for the Live, so there shouldn't be a problem with DOS detecting it, despite being a PCI card. DOS also works fine with other PCI interface cards, like graphics and ethernet controllers, so why wouldn't it with soundcards?

I don't think I see this bit in the conversation yet: The SB Live! pure DOS driver does emulate an MPU-401 interface, but it is used for its own softsynth. You cannot drive midi hardware with this DOS emulation driver. That functionality is not included.

Well, that sucks... :depressed: Thanks for the information though! :)

The Aureal Vortex 2 and YMF-724 are PCI chipsets that do allow for driving midi hardware from within pure DOS.

I'll check them out, thanks! :)

cyclone3d wrote:Well, I can do a DOS 6.22 setup pretty quickly. Not like it takes much time at all to set up a blank drive with DOS 6.22 on it.

I'll just set everything up on the 98SE box and then copy the needed folders and autoexec.bat and config.sys over to the DOS 6.22 drive.

I'm going to need to test anyway for builds I am working on so not really wasting my time.

Win98SE does not like having too many Gameport adapters though. It runs out of free I/O addresses to assign them to.

For the midi ports though, you should be able to have a decent number depending on the addresses available for use on the different cards.

Well, as you see this is not going to work. Thanks a lot for your assistance anyway! :)
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-12-21 @ 22:09

Any of the Yamaha YMF-7x4 chipsets support the midi port in DOS.. not just the 724.

Do you have any other PCI sound cards at all that have DOS support? Or even another ISA sound card?

Barring that, you can hook up external modules to a serial port. SoftMPU supports that.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby gerwin » 2017-12-21 @ 22:14

Forgot to mention the ESS Solo PCI, that one is good too.
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-22 @ 00:53

cyclone3d wrote:Any of the Yamaha YMF-7x4 chipsets support the midi port in DOS.. not just the 724.

Do you have any other PCI sound cards at all that have DOS support? Or even another ISA sound card?

Barring that, you can hook up external modules to a serial port. SoftMPU supports that.

I have a bunch of Creative Sound Blaster PCI cards (couple of Live cards, Audigy, E-MU 1212M) and a SB32 ISA card (CT3670). The ISA option is off the table, as I don't have any spare ISA slots left. The PCI cards won't function, as I now understand.

The serial port route isn't an option for me unfortunately, as I have a SC-55 MKI (and an MT-32), without the mini-DIN port like the MKII has. This topic also mentions this problem: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=57&t=38238

gerwin wrote:Forgot to mention the ESS Solo PCI, that one is good too.

I'll go the Aureal Vortex2 route, as this hopefully will also give me the option of setting the IRQ and ports (will try to set to 2/9 and 330, like the original MPU-401, as some games seem to need this). :)

Thank you guys! :)
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Re: Do or don't: PCI SB Live as dedicated MPU-401 interface next to ISA AWE32 in MS-DOS 6.22?

Postby TimMer1981 » 2017-12-29 @ 14:27

Got the Vortex 2 working perfectly next to the AWE32. Changed the base address to 240, DMA is 3 and IRQ is 3, so no conflicts with the AWE32. :)

Only use the UART (MPU-401) port of it, maybe someday I'll try the other functions as well.

Just one weird thing about it: manually setting the IRQ of its particular PCI slot to IRQ 9(2), for ultimate MPU-401 compatibility, works fine with the BIOS, but not with the card itself. It seems to be impossible to change the IRQ, maybe because the IRQ change is artificial?

Anyway: happy camper here. No more changing the settings of the AWE32 via batchfiles each time I started a different game. MT-32 and SC-55 are on port 330, DreamBlaster is on port 300. :)
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