CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

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

CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-05 @ 15:03

Everybody's familiar with that 4 pin cable going from your CD-ROM down to a header on your sound card of choice. Personally, I never really understood what it was doing though. I could never tell if it was actually being used because CD music seemed to play regardless.

However on my current build, I still haven't gotten CDs to play yet. I'm wondering if this is a software issue (no adequate program to recognize and play CD music formats) or a hardware issue (put the plug in backwards, bad cable, bad ports?

What's the general procedure for connecting CD music on an old machine? Is there a way to verify that it's working? I mean, you install the cards and all, connect the cable to the sound card header and plug it into the CD-ROM, boot up the machine and try to play some music. That's what I did anyway and it didn't work, so what would be the next step?

I'm using an ESS AudioDrive card and have the AudioRack software installed with the 3 sound decks (the bottom one being the CD player). Currently the CD player is all grayed out but the other 2 (wav and midi) work fine. I was going to download a 3rd party cd player but thought I'd ask about this cable thing first.
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Re: CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby derSammler » 2018-2-05 @ 15:28

It's analog output to be routed through the sound card to your speakers. Back then, this was the normal way to hear CD audio, and it's still the only way that never fails. Later, CD drives became able to read CD audio digitally. This was supported by Win98 and up - if the drive was able to, but must be enabled by the user. When using digital read-out of CD audio, the cable is not needed (at the expense of additional CPU usage).

Older drives often have a Play button on the front panel. That's a quick way to test CD audio.

ps: if you can't even use the CD player, it has nothing to do with the cable. There's no way to detect the presence of the cable by software.
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Re: CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-2-05 @ 16:24

I see. So then it's probably a software problem. Also, the drive seems a little sketchy and won't read certain cds as it is. Maybe I just need to find a nice brand new audio cd to test it with and confirm functionality with a 3rd party application also.

I haven't eliminated the possibility that I may have the cable backwards. I know the pinout is Right-Ground-Ground-Left but when it comes to wiring, I never assume anything... seen all kinds of weirdness before. Especially since ESS cards are known to have the channels swapped already. I think that's why there are 2 analog headers. In case the cable is keyed, one of the headers does not have a socket on it so you can reverse it.
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Re: CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby bellarmine » 2018-2-09 @ 06:47

Gahhhrrrlic, are you running win9x or win31? If the latter, does your cddrive work at all with data cds? ESS AudioRack CDplayer being grayed out in my experience, means than you don't have the DOS CD-ROM drivers loaded for win31 to see your drive (vide-cdd.sys & mscdexc.exe). Once you get AudioRack CD working, make sure the CD volume in your soundcard mixer is turned up. I also assume your sound card is working as well (windows 'dings' etc).

As for the cable, just find one that fits both the CD drive and the jack labled CD-IN on your sound card, and you should be good wiring wise.

Cheers! Bellarmine
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Re: CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby derSammler » 2018-2-09 @ 09:38

And if the cable is connected backwards, it's not a problem either. Since the inner two are GND, it will only swap the channels.
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Re: CD Music Cable to the Sound Card

Postby firage » 2018-2-09 @ 18:56

Not always RGGL/LGGR, it can vary and it's best to check the markings or documentation. Same with the cables, not always straight. If the drive is a very late one, DVD era, it may simply not have functional analog audio.
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