VOGONS


First post, by appiah4

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I've come across an RWA010 sound card and I'm contemplating buying it for collection purposes, I was wondering if anyone ever used one of these? Supposedly SB Pro compatible, has integrated FM Synthesis (though Yamaha licensed or an in-house clone I do not know).

Datasheet is here: http://kab00m.ru/storeds/Chips/rwa010.pdf

and this is the card I found:

a4c80807f5b806ee6430403e1520e07c.jpeg

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 2 of 24, by Dorunkāku

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I have never heard of this before.
Now I need to have one!

Anyway I found these drivers:

https://archive.org/details/audio-wizard
and
https://archive.org/details/mako-iii-64

Reply 4 of 24, by eightbit

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Dorunkāku wrote on 2022-04-17, 12:19:
I have never heard of this before. Now I need to have one! […]
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I have never heard of this before.
Now I need to have one!

Anyway I found these drivers:

https://archive.org/details/audio-wizard
and
https://archive.org/details/mako-iii-64

Excellent, thank you. I found the second link which appears to only have Windows 95 drivers, but the first link looks like it will do the trick!

Reply 5 of 24, by eightbit

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This is the board I have coming. Pretty intrigued and looking forward to giving it a go. It has a waveblaster header which is a plus as well.

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Reply 6 of 24, by RetroGamer4Ever

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That card is the low-end configuration for that chip, which is apparently a rare item to begin with, as few cards used Rockwell audio outside of the combined modem/soundcard ones. The higher-end config can offer two additional chips, one being a Music Processor with 1-2MB ROM of Kurzweil Wavetable MIDI and access to up to 8MB of additional sampling memory. The other chip is an Effects processor that offers reverb, chorus, 3D sound, etc. for the MIDI chip. No known use of all three chips exists and the only known use of the Music and Effects Processor together is in the Turtle Beach HOMAC wavetable daughterboard, which was only available with the musician-oriented Turtle Beach Pinnacle Project Studio card that had an unknown chip with a Kurzweil synth set that seems identical to the board, but also used the included daughterboard for MIDI, though it's been shown that packages of the card did not have the daughterboard, so I'm not sure if it was an earlier packaging that came with the board or a later one, though a later review of the card did not have it included in the packaging sent for review, so a DB50XG was used instead. The MIDI from that HOMAC daughterboard is considered passable, but inferior to the daughterboards from Roland, Yamaha, and the GS-compatible offering from Turtle Beach.

Reply 7 of 24, by eightbit

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Thanks for the info. I am just interested to see how it handles ordinary SB16 and SBPro compatibility. If it sounds to my liking I'll use this with a Dreambalster X2GS in my 486 rig.

The most difficult part really was finding the drivers for it. I scoured the net all weekend and was only able to come up with the Windows 95 driver set. Thanks to that Audio Wizard ISO I now have the Windows 3.1 two disk driver set which I am fairly certain includes the PnP DOS tools to init the card under DOS as well.

Reply 8 of 24, by appiah4

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eightbit wrote on 2022-04-17, 01:25:

I have one of these coming (well, the card looks slightly different but the same Rockwell chip) and I am curious about it. What drivers did you use?

I never ended up getting it I'm afraid..

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 9 of 24, by eightbit

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appiah4 wrote on 2022-04-18, 17:36:
eightbit wrote on 2022-04-17, 01:25:

I have one of these coming (well, the card looks slightly different but the same Rockwell chip) and I am curious about it. What drivers did you use?

I never ended up getting it I'm afraid..

That's a shame! Looking around these are incredibly rare. I'll let everyone know how it works 😉

Reply 10 of 24, by janih

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I also have one of these. The layout on mine seems a bit different than on appiah4's picture. For example the wavetable header is unpopulated. I have to test this some day.

My card seems to be "DCS Multimedia S717" and this Audio Wizard software probably came with it: https://archive.org/details/audio-wizard

Funny that someone made new Linux ALSA drivers in 2015 for Rockwell WaveArtist RWA010: https://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1503.1/00120.html

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Reply 11 of 24, by RetroGamer4Ever

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A lot of old soundcards end up in Linux boxes because old hardware from the 90's and early 2000's is abundant in Europe and Asia, so it's not surprising that someone did a new set of Linux drivers.

Reply 13 of 24, by the3dfxdude

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If you read the patch notes for the ALSA driver, the guy said it was inspired by an OSS driver that was available, because there was not enough information out there otherwise. The people responsible for OSS was a commercial company, so they probably got the info when supporting a customer or had NDAs with various vendors to get drivers written. So it's not unusual for there to be free source code, but no documentation.

Reply 15 of 24, by eightbit

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janih wrote on 2022-04-20, 08:57:

I also have one of these. The layout on mine seems a bit different than on appiah4's picture. For example the wavetable header is unpopulated. I have to test this some day.

My card seems to be "DCS Multimedia S717" and this Audio Wizard software probably came with it: https://archive.org/details/audio-wizard

Funny that someone made new Linux ALSA drivers in 2015 for Rockwell WaveArtist RWA010: https://lkml.iu.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/1503.1/00120.html

You are now a member of the "Rockwell Elite"....now there are three of us if I am counting correctly. 🤣!

Reply 16 of 24, by the3dfxdude

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So what I remember about rockwell is their modems, which were somewhat common, probably low end market. Which for me, I didn't like them and eventually avoided and tossed them. It doesn't surprise me they made dedicated sound cards either. I wonder if I did come across at least one back in the day and tossed it too. So I think they might have been more common than we think in the OEM or budget computer arena. I've probably put them out of my memory because of their bad modems.

Reply 17 of 24, by eightbit

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the3dfxdude wrote on 2022-04-21, 02:56:

So what I remember about rockwell is their modems, which were somewhat common, probably low end market. Which for me, I didn't like them and eventually avoided and tossed them. It doesn't surprise me they made dedicated sound cards either. I wonder if I did come across at least one back in the day and tossed it too. So I think they might have been more common than we think in the OEM or budget computer arena. I've probably put them out of my memory because of their bad modems.

Yep, I remember them too. I scoured around the net looking for any Rockwell modem/audio card that utilized the Rockwell WaveArtist chip but could not find a single one that used it (either the RWA010 or RWA030). So these cards at least it seems are using something completely different than any of the sound/modem offerings.

Reply 19 of 24, by the3dfxdude

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eightbit wrote on 2022-04-21, 04:07:
the3dfxdude wrote on 2022-04-21, 02:56:

So what I remember about rockwell is their modems, which were somewhat common, probably low end market. Which for me, I didn't like them and eventually avoided and tossed them. It doesn't surprise me they made dedicated sound cards either. I wonder if I did come across at least one back in the day and tossed it too. So I think they might have been more common than we think in the OEM or budget computer arena. I've probably put them out of my memory because of their bad modems.

Yep, I remember them too. I scoured around the net looking for any Rockwell modem/audio card that utilized the Rockwell WaveArtist chip but could not find a single one that used it (either the RWA010 or RWA030). So these cards at least it seems are using something completely different than any of the sound/modem offerings.

Rockwell spun off its semiconductor division as Conexant. It's hard to see whether the modem/audio division survived very long, since they were declining rapidly on analog modems, which is why they were spun off. There is essentially no mention of audio products on the Conexant site. However, Rockwell/Conexant had a website for the audio products created just before the divestiture is I believe at:
https://web.archive.org/web/19990208011519/ht … playground.com/

But it's in flash and it doesn't work.

The best mention of the product is here.
http://www.rss.rockwell.com/platforms/persona … n.html#top_page

Which does say that the chip technology is used in their combo modem/audio cards... I wouldn't suggest that due to the part number, that it wasn't shared. They designed their own chips, and the difference between both functions is quite low. Anyway, they definitely did have the capability, and probably continued using it in their designs (they did tv/capture chips too) for some time, even if they killed the product line quickly. But it did last long for drivers to be needed. Too bad their website isn't very friendly back then.