"Special" sound cards that really make a difference in games?

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

"Special" sound cards that really make a difference in games?

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2017-12-24 @ 05:49

I know there are thousands of threads here about various sound cards and using them in specific games, but I think it'd be nice to have a compiled list of sound cards that genuinely add something special to a retro rig. We all know that there are good all around ISA cards that are compatible with lots of games (Yamaha, ESS, Aztech, SBPro, SB16, etc.), and those are great to have if you're putting together a system and just want to be able to play games with FM MIDI and Soundblaster support... but if you have a bunch of less common cards or are looking for something unique, it'd be nice to be able to consult a list\thread for reminders on what certain cards have to offer. These would be cards that are worth having in a system for certain games (or all games) because they make a noticeable difference in the experience.

I would request that if you know a card has a certain feature, please list any games you have actually heard it used in and can verify that it makes a difference. Even if it is a more common feature, if it makes a huge difference in a certain game or on a certain card, post about it here! Any relevant threads or websites with more info are welcome.

If this is somewhat vague, here is an example of what I'm talking about.

Soundblaster 2.0 CT1350B (CT1336 BUS chip only) = Creative Music System compatibility. The basic idea here is that you can drop a couple of generic Phillips SAA-1099 chips into empty sockets, along with one programmed GAL (either from someone on a site like this or you can program it yourself), then load the CMS driver in DOS. This allows you to hear CMS music in games that support it. The difference between CMS and Adlib\OPL2 music is pretty significant. It is stereo, it has a very unique sound, and I really like it (though I'm sure its technically worse than Adlib in many games). I briefly tried it in PakuPaku and it was awesome. Listening to an archive of old CMS music files using the CMS player application is also very satisfying. The only way to hear CMS music (aside from recordings online) is with an original CMS\Gameblaster card, or certain early Sound blaster cards with chips added. Also, if you go through with a CMS upgrade on a Sound Blaster, make sure you are running the Soundblaster Version of the cmsdrv driver... it will say what version it is when it runs. Read more about CMS here.
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