VOGONS


Reply 20 of 26, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Pretty sure the clipping isn't related to it being an MT-32 title. All that means is that the instruments are off and if the game used custom sysex stuff (which Civ doesn't) it wouldn't do that. It just happens to trigger a badly clipping string sound - a quite loud, sustained low one.

Edit:
Also checked whether the bad behaviour I had been seeing (system hanging after trying to run setup in Master of Magic or Colonization, awful clicking in SB mode in Tyrian, extremely bad Doom2 performance and sound disappearing after a few notes, including crash of the MIDI synth) was motherboard-related. So I moved the card to a system with a Full Yes 82430I motherboard - i430FX, 5x ISA and pretty much my reference for trouble-free compatiblity. I normally run 4 sound cards in this system (GUS, PAS16, either Aztech NXPro or some SB16, and a MusicQuest MIDI card) and within the constraints of the available resources, everything 'just works'.

Results:
- MoM and Col setup still crash in exactly same way.
- SB mode clicks like hell in Tyrian
- Doom2 does work better, SB sound is bad and clicky too, but at least doesn't crash out and MIDI keeps playing.

Also tried WSS in Descent and failed to get it to work with any combo of driver or synth. As soon as you try to test WSS, the whole sound card seems to go down and sometimes system hangs.

Conclusion:
It wasn't my motherboard/Cyrix CPU. This card's compatibility is awful and its behaviour when it's outside its comfort zone is worse. Oh well...

Reply 21 of 26, by jtchip

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I wasn't suggesting the clipping is related to an MT-32 title, just that I hadn't noticed it but then I don't use it with good speakers.
Mine's currently in a 440BX system and I don't have compatibility issues, apart from having to start Descent twice when using WSS. Doom [2] is click-free, as is Tyrian 2000 (in SB or WSS digital audio). I don't have MoM or Col. It was previously in a 430FX system but I don't remember what it was like with DOS Games. Back in the day, it was used with a 386 with ETEQ chipset, then later a VLB 486 with VIA chipset and I don't remember any compatibility issues (doesn't mean there weren't any, just not with the games I tried).

Reply 22 of 26, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Had a brainwave that my choice of IRQ 7 might be causing some issues, even though LPT1 was disabled on both boards I tested the card on. So fired it up and changed to IRQ 5. Difference: absolutely nothing. Still:
- clicking like mad in Tyrian with SB
- Doom2 unplayably slow and no sound with SB
- MoM, Col etc hang system when trying to start install program.

Seeing as we're using same drivers (tried both version) I can only conclude there's something wrong with my card. In any event, I've had my fun and will be retiring this to the box of unemployed sound cards.

Reply 23 of 26, by jtchip

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

That's a shame, after all the effort put into upgrading it. The digital audio does sound clean and hiss-free, compared to the PAS16 I also have (which in turn is already cleaner than the SB16s my friends had at the time).
The card does have a fair number of tantalum and SMT caps so I wonder if those could be failing but then I'm clutching at straws.

Reply 24 of 26, by bristlehog

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

I think it's not your card that is faulty per se. You have an exemplar with an early revision of ECHO ESC614 chip, which had a bug, expressing itself as clicking while using DMA. It was fixed in later ESC614A revision.

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 25 of 26, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
bristlehog wrote on 2020-01-15, 11:28:

I think it's not your card that is faulty per se. You have an exemplar with an early revision of ECHO ESC614 chip, which had a bug, expressing itself as clicking while using DMA. It was fixed in later ESC614A revision.

Actually should have updated this thread sooner. The crashes etc had nothing to do with the sound card, but were memory related - somehow I'd messed up my EMM386.EXE to the point of not having usable XMS and EMS. Changing it to a simple EMM386.EXE RAM 4096 fixed all those issues. (I'm afraid after a few months I don't recall exactly what settings I had before)

The bad sound though... that's still there.

So the balance is still a greater sense of acheivement than with any other sound card (except possibly the Snark Barker I soldered myself), but a very much underwhelming end result. I look at it with a smile, but I can look at it because it's in a transparent storage box, not in one of my systems.

Reply 26 of 26, by jtchip

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Good to know the crashes were solved. FWIW, I checked my card and it has an ESC614, no 'A' suffix, and it works fine without clicking.
@dionb could you upload the Windows 3.1 drivers I posted earlier to vogonsdrivers? Thanks.