AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

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

AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 01:53

I have seen in several threads quite the rave about the Awe64 Gold, so to start, would anyone that knows care to explain why? What’s so special about the card and in what situation (machine and/or OS) would you use this card and not any other?

Second, what exactly is the difference (besides the good plated connectors) between the Gold version and the regular vesion? I don’t mean any of the value editions that were released later, I believe those were the 4500, 4520 and ones like that. I mean the original 4380.

Reason I ask besides gaining knowledge is because atm there’s no way I would buy a gold one (the only one listed locally is ablut 100 USD), however I can get a regular original one for about 10 bucks. So wondering if it’s worth it too or just the gold gets the praise.

On a semi-related note, it seems I got a hold of the “semi-AWE64”, the AWE32 CT3670... Any point in getting either of the Golds having this one?
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby fitzpatr » 2018-11-15 @ 02:36

The real advantage to getting the Gold is the integrated 4MB Soundfont RAM. This allows the use of soundfonts to change the sound of the instruments used for MIDI files played through the EMU8000.

The gold-plated connectors, while nice to have, really won't make a huge difference as long as the contacts are clean.

The SIMMCONN Revival project is meant to allow the installation of standard SIMMs to expand the RAM of AWE64 cards (standard and Gold) up to 28MB.

The CT3670 should be quite sufficient for most needs, especially if you get SIMMs to expand the memory.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 02:40

fitzpatr wrote:The real advantage to getting the Gold is the integrated 4MB Soundfont RAM. This allows the use of soundfonts to change the sound of the instruments used for MIDI files played through the EMU8000.

The gold-plated connectors, while nice to have, really won't make a huge difference as long as the contacts are clean.

The SIMMCONN Revival project is meant to allow the installation of standard SIMMs to expand the RAM of AWE64 cards (standard and Gold) up to 28MB.

The CT3670 should be quite sufficient for most needs, especially if you get SIMMs to expand the memory.


Thanks for the info. Yeah, the idea was to get a couple of SIMMs for it. Will have to be in the US though, locally I cannot get any larger than 1MB... :(
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-15 @ 07:30

It is worth mentioning that all 3 types (CT3670 with 0 RAM, Value with 512KB RAM and Gold with 4MB RAM) still have the 1MB built-in sample ROM, which supports wavetable-quality music in games that natively support the AWE synth:
https://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Li ... _AWE_synth
http://files.mpoli.fi/unpacked/hardware ... welist.txt

The RAM only becomes useful if you want to use external soundfonts.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-15 @ 07:44

I have yet to hear this magical SNR difference between Value and Gold, the whole gold plated RCA thing is snake oil as far as I'm concerned, my ears can not discern the difference.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby tayyare » 2018-11-15 @ 08:09

^^ Completely agree with that. Besides, as it is already mentioned above, SIMMCONN will eliminate the RAM size difference, too.

But a "Gold" feels much cooler than a "Value" however :blush:
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 09:52

Yes, maybe coolness factor has a little bit to do with it too...

Now also keep in mind, as I keep seeing “value” being mentioned. The card that I’m referencing, 4380, is not the value edition, it’s the original AWE64. Value cards came later as far as I know?
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-15 @ 15:08

walterg74 wrote:Now also keep in mind, as I keep seeing “value” being mentioned. The card that I’m referencing, 4380, is not the value edition, it’s the original AWE64. Value cards came later as far as I know?
Yes, indeed, but it was just a rebranding. Originally the two cards were called "AWE64" and "AWE64 Gold", and then they changed AWE64 to "AWE64 Value" to improve the differentiation. Functionally, a 4380/4500/4520 are all (mostly) identical. For sure, the amount of RAM is the same.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 15:44

dr_st wrote:
walterg74 wrote:Now also keep in mind, as I keep seeing “value” being mentioned. The card that I’m referencing, 4380, is not the value edition, it’s the original AWE64. Value cards came later as far as I know?
Yes, indeed, but it was just a rebranding. Originally the two cards were called "AWE64" and "AWE64 Gold", and then they changed AWE64 to "AWE64 Value" to improve the differentiation. Functionally, a 4380/4500/4520 are all (mostly) identical. For sure, the amount of RAM is the same.


Hmm.. was it just a rebranding? The cards look to have slightly different components. Are you saying there is no difference at all between these three cards?

BEF8F249-AC7A-4EA5-A3C6-BB11F01FAF07.jpeg


6ACEB650-8AAD-48B4-80B3-7BD7EC44B848.jpeg


183FBD15-5A48-4D23-9299-BC5BDF855D9C.jpeg
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby dr_st » 2018-11-15 @ 15:52

There are no differences as far as the onboard RAM and RAM expansion capabilities go.

There are always minor differences between revisions. Like you can see - the CT45xx had the IDE header removed (as it was pretty useless by then); the CT4520 added color-coding on the outputs, and integrated the two main chips (8903 + 1745A) into a single 8920 - this allowed a slightly smaller form factor, but I don't think any performance parameters were affected.

There are also versions of said cards missing the AUX connector.

What one should beware is the (fortunately rare) "neutered" version of the CT4520, which has the same number on the PCB, but has the AWE chip, ROM and RAM missing. That card was some special OEM edition which was really an SB16, but due to some bizarre decisions shared the PCB and number of the AWE64. That card is completely useless for DOS gaming, since it cannot produce FM music at all.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 16:16

dr_st wrote:There are no differences as far as the onboard RAM and RAM expansion capabilities go.

There are always minor differences between revisions. Like you can see - the CT45xx had the IDE header removed (as it was pretty useless by then); the CT4520 added color-coding on the outputs, and integrated the two main chips (8903 + 1745A) into a single 8920 - this allowed a slightly smaller form factor, but I don't think any performance parameters were affected.

There are also versions of said cards missing the AUX connector.

What one should beware is the (fortunately rare) "neutered" version of the CT4520, which has the same number on the PCB, but has the AWE chip, ROM and RAM missing. That card was some special OEM edition which was really an SB16, but due to some bizarre decisions shared the PCB and number of the AWE64. That card is completely useless for DOS gaming, since it cannot produce FM music at all.


Hmmm ok... So if I can choose between either of those 3 it doesn’t really matter, and if ine costs like half of the other then I should just grab that being it will be the same for all practical purposes..?

What about what I asked regarding where this is a good fit?

Thanks!
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby realoldguy23 » 2018-11-15 @ 16:56

walterg74 wrote:What about what I asked regarding where this is a good fit?


I'd say Socket 3 (486) to Socket 8 (PPro)/Slot 1. My Value is in a PPro and I'm happy with it. :) Never longed for the Gold.

DOS Games of the second half of the 90's support the AWE natively and require at least a fast Pentium if you want to have fun with them (i.e. Duke 3D, Descent).
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby chinny22 » 2018-11-15 @ 17:19

According to this the 4380 is a value? If you run diagnose how much memory does it say it has?

http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/201 ... tions.html

But yes the only real difference it the on board RAM which only matters if you intend to use sound fonts. and is disabled as soon as you add ram expansion anyway.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby zyga64 » 2018-11-15 @ 19:08

You may easily upgrade AWE64 value ram do 2MB. Just desolder 512kB chip and solder 2MB (from old SIMM), and move two smd resistors which are close to ram chip to oposite position. I did this two times in the past - for CT4500, as well as for CT4520. With 2GMGSMT.SF2 soundbank, FF7 midis sounds great :)
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby Error 0x7CF » 2018-11-15 @ 19:10

zyga64 wrote:With 2GMGSMT.SF2 soundbank, FF7 midis sounds great :)


Isn't FF7 one of a relatively short list of games that actually supports AWE? Why use a soundfont?
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-15 @ 19:16

Error 0x7CF wrote:
zyga64 wrote:With 2GMGSMT.SF2 soundbank, FF7 midis sounds great :)


Isn't FF7 one of a relatively short list of games that actually supports AWE? Why use a soundfont?


The 2MB soundfont is miles better than the 1MB AWE ROM.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-15 @ 19:34

How much memory you need for AWE64 to be able to use really good soundfonts? I have CT1930 connected to my awe64, but I know it can't match those simmconns.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby walterg74 » 2018-11-15 @ 19:52

Error 0x7CF wrote:
zyga64 wrote:With 2GMGSMT.SF2 soundbank, FF7 midis sounds great :)


Isn't FF7 one of a relatively short list of games that actually supports AWE? Why use a soundfont?



I am confused here… I thought the whole point of using soundfonts was to emulate midi in a general sense…

Is that not the case and it is only use either for making music under windows or for games that support it which seems to be a very short list?
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby zyga64 » 2018-11-15 @ 20:55

walterg74 wrote:
Error 0x7CF wrote:
zyga64 wrote:With 2GMGSMT.SF2 soundbank, FF7 midis sounds great :)


Isn't FF7 one of a relatively short list of games that actually supports AWE? Why use a soundfont?



I am confused here… I thought the whole point of using soundfonts was to emulate midi in a general sense…

Is that not the case and it is only use either for making music under windows or for games that support it which seems to be a very short list?


You're right. Soundfonts are for midi instruments. More onboard memory means better instruments. Thats true for ISA cards.
PCI cards: SB Live!, SB Audigy, Ensonic AudioPCI, Yamaha 7x4, etc. can use system memory for instruments.

After you load sounfonts/patches, whatever you call it, you may use it with any midi programs: for composing, for games, for playing midi files in i.e. Winamp. Just choose midi device you want to use.
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Re: AWE64 Gold vs non Gold: What’s the deal?

Postby badmojo » 2018-11-15 @ 22:23

zyga64 wrote:After you load sounfonts/patches, whatever you call it, you may use it with any midi programs: for composing, for games, for playing midi files in i.e. Winamp. Just choose midi device you want to use.


Yes the limitation being that they need to run under Windows, which most GM era games do in my experience.

I've owned most versions of the AWE64 over the years and besides the onboard memory thing, the only difference I've noticed is that having a 3.5mm jack is slightly easier to deal with because it saves me hunting around for an RCA audio cable for the one PC that needs one. I sold off my Gold years ago.
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