Velociraptor wrote on 2020-05-24, 12:11:
I still don't understand what PnP means for sound cards. I must have done 30 years ago but I don't recall. Does it simply mean that windows will negotiate which resources to use with the card directly, but non-PnP means I have to set the card and the machine to the same thing for it to work?
PnP means the same for sound cards as for any other cards:
1) at boot time, BIOS assigns available resources pretty arbitrarily if non-PnP OS is selected. It will not (er, should not - implementations weren't always bulletproof) assign resources set as "Legacy/ISA" in BIOS.
2) after boot, OS or tools can re-assign cards' resources to anything that's available.
In Windows exact resources assigned to hardware shouldn't matter, as software talks to APIs, not directly to the card. In DOS it does matter, both because software addresses the hardware directly and because by tradition only certain resources are selectable in most games.
So what a DOS PnP enabler does is assign desired, usable resources to PnP cards - and tells the cards to listen to those adresses. IMHO a complete, utter waste of time, effort and multiple places where something could go wrong, versus simply setting the card's resources directly without PnP. But as PnP works nicely with Windows 9x, cards released after 1994 will allmost inevitably be PnP.
I think I really want soundblaster digital sound. That's all really. The end result would hopefully be soundblaster digital sound, OPL3, and MIDI out.
Soundblaster as in original, 8b mono Soundblaster 1.x digital sound? Then just about anything will suffice. If you want stereo, you want SBPro2 or SB16. SB16 adds 16b resolution, which sounds much better - but is rarely used to full effect. WSS gives you very similar specs, unfortunately with even less support in DOS games (although it's impressive where supported, i.e. Descent).
I'm fine with this - are you meaning in addition to the SB live for windows?
Yes. SBLive is pretty awful in DOS, just don't bother with it. Conversely, there's nothing in Windows that you can't do with the SBLive. Using non-PnP ISA cards for DOS makes this very easy: Windows won't detect them, so no need to even install drivers (or get irritated by question marks in Device Manager). Not initializing the SBLive under DOS does the same: the card simply isn't there for DOS software. Note that this is in pure DOS. Things could get complicated in Windows DOS mode. I thoroughly recommend pure DOS to keep life simple.
So card number one is going to be doing my OPL3 music in games, or where supported Roland output. Card number two is going to do only my digitised sound. That seems to cover all 3 bases for me.
"ut if I wanted one build as you are describing, I would use an Azetch 2316 (i.e. my Waverider32+ card with AZT2316A and onboard ICS wavetable) and either an AWE64 Gold or CT3670 ("Soundblaster 32" i.e. AWE64-lite with no RAM onboard but a nice 30p SIMM slot) next to it."
I've never owned a card with sound fonts (I think that's what the AWE and waveblaster are?) and when I've listened to comparisons with Rolands they've not sounded as good. Your final recommendations here don't match your 2 card suggestion was and I don't understand how each role is filled by it.
These aren't recommendations, these are literally the cards I have here. But I'd also recommend them in the described roles:
- The AZT2316A card supplies OPL3, SBPro2, bug-free MPU-401 MIDI interface (it also has its own MIDI module onboard, but although it's not bad, it's not in the same league as the Rolands - Aztech Sound Galaxy Pro II MMSN824 would be the corresponding card without wavetable.
- The CT3670 or AWE64 supplies (late, noise-free) SB16, and add the novelty of the AWE stuff. I agree it's pretty underwhelming compared to Roland or similar synths, but it's more flexible, and better-supported than the similar Gravis Ultrasound. In the hands of a good programmer (i.e. somebody not just pretending he has a poor man's SC-55mk2) it can be nice. Additional advantage to these two: no single-cycle DMA click bug and no Vibra bugs either due to their very late DSP.
But I just have too many sound cards so my builds tend to have a high degree of overkill 😉 A simple MMSN824 and CT2950 SB16 would suffice for everything originally mentioned.