Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

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

Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby harddrivespin » 2017-12-21 @ 11:03

The 486 rig has a baby AT mobo with 6 ISA slots and I happen to have a few sound cards. The first is an IBM MWave from 1999 or so, probably AWE32, the other is some AZTECH sound card from ~1995 that is most likely AWE32 or SB16, and the last is an OEM Packard Bell AWE32 card.

Which should I choose? Or are all of these bad and should I buy one? I will be using this rig for DOS (1985-1995) games like Civilization and maybe DOOM 1993.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby Phreeze » 2017-12-21 @ 11:09

awe32 is cool, use it :)
sure that the oem is an awe32 ? or a sb32 (knocked down awe32, but plug n play)
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby harddrivespin » 2017-12-21 @ 11:12

Not actually sure as I've test none of the cards- It could very well be SB32 or something else.

I'll stick to AWE32 since I may also try playing some early Windows games on the 486 machine.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby jade_angel » 2017-12-21 @ 19:13

Yeah, the AWE32 is great. The Aztech isn't bad - most of them are SB Pro clones, IIRC. The MWave is weird - I remember there were some oddities with them, but I can't recall what.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby jesolo » 2017-12-21 @ 19:29

Practically all Creative cards have a model number printed on the PCB, starting with CT (for earlier models).
The Aztech cards can usually be identified by their FCC ID number, starting with I38-XXXXXXX.

If you can provide those model numbers, then we can perhaps make a better recommendation.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby harddrivespin » 2017-12-22 @ 12:28

jade_angel wrote:Yeah, the AWE32 is great. The Aztech isn't bad - most of them are SB Pro clones, IIRC. The MWave is weird - I remember there were some oddities with them, but I can't recall what.


IIRC Mwave was often rather faulty, plus being proprietary IBM Aptiva stuff finding drivers for it would be really, really hard.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-12-22 @ 14:14

The biggest problem I see with SB16/AWE is that it doesn't have any support for SB Pro modes. Most DOS titles appropriate for a 486 SX (or a fast 386) would benefit from SB Pro compatibility.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby jade_angel » 2017-12-22 @ 16:24

That's a pretty good point here - see if you can find a cheap ESS Audiodrive, maybe. The ESS1868 is a *very* good chipset, all in all.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby badmojo » 2017-12-22 @ 21:27

gdjacobs wrote:The biggest problem I see with SB16/AWE is that it doesn't have any support for SB Pro modes. Most DOS titles appropriate for a 486 SX (or a fast 386) would benefit from SB Pro compatibility.


Benfit how? If they have stereo, then they probably have SB16 support. Wolf3D "stereo" effect works with a SB16. I'm pretty sure there are threads around here dedicated to debunking this theory.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-12-23 @ 01:18

Sorry, I should have continued the statement with "more than SB16 compatibility". In particular, an SX would be a bit wimpy for Asylum Sound games, and that's always what comes to my mind when thinking about the benefits of running SB16.

A PAS 16 would probably be even more useful, though. For now, though, my ESS card will be hanging out on my 386DX board.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2017-12-24 @ 05:06

Once I get my 486+VLB setup going, I plan to use the simplest, most compatible non-PNP sound blaster I have, which is a CT1600 SBPro 2. I might throw a second card into the mix just to experiment. A PAS16, Logitech Soundman, Yamaha, ESS Audiodrive or CT1740 SB16 (with bug-free DSP) are about as exotic as my cards get. It'd be nice to add something like an Ensoniq Soundscape, but they are hard to find (except for the VIVO... I have one of those and don't want to mess with the TSR).

Honestly though, it seems like most of the features of newer cards would be more suited to something faster than a 486. Unless you're trying to recreate a setup you had at the time, I'd save all the fancy (16bit) cards for a later DOS system with a Pentium MMX or K6. I doubt there were many games that benefited from 16bit audio that didn't also run better on a Pentium.
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Re: Good SB card to use with my 486SX rig?

Postby chinny22 » 2017-12-27 @ 13:36

Anther thing to consider is how many games are using adlib? as you'll want good a card with a true OPL chip
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