New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

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

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby hard1k » 2019-8-11 @ 21:06

Hello everyone,

So I'm delighted to present you another sound card project that we've already developed till the prototype stage: AWE64 Legacy

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Project team: Alex_NsD, CoolTweak, H_Rush, hard1k
Logo: mrDraud

Our project is inspired by this one made by anthony, but has gone a little further.
So, to sum up, it's a newly designed sound card built up from scratch, based on the original chipset of the 2nd gen Creative SB AWE64 Value (CT4520): Creative CT8920-NBQ chip and Creative CT1972-UAS/EMU8011-01 WaveROM.

New and reworked features include:
1. The onboard 28 MB of RAM - basically, it is an integrated SIMMConn Value (credits: Xu Wang aka SIMMConn) with an integrated 32Mb SIMM72.
2. True Yamaha OPL3 chipset (YMF262+YAC512) - the schematics were borrowed from the Resound OPL3 card (credits: TexElec). We still have to find the best way to make this function work along with the integrated CQM disabled/moved to 0x398h, we hope to get some assistance from you guys who wrote in this thread.
3. Waveblaster header.
4. Redesigned analog part.
5. Onboard S/PDIF RCA output.
6. Gameport moved from the bracket to the onboard pin header.
7. AWE64 Gold-styled 2xRCA analog output.
8. Switchable 3,5mm Spk-Out / Headphones-Out with OPA Amplifier (2xRCA output is enabled by default, 3,5mm has to be toggled in the mixer).
9. Full set of conventional 3,5mm analog inputs: Mic-In, Line-In.

We are currently testing the first prototype, and the tests have already proved it as a working concept - the card is detected (after some correction of minor bugs in the design) and plays MP3s as intended, but we still have some troubles with MIDI (most probably due to damaged WaveROM and/or GAL). We will continue the tests and keep you posted in this thread about any significant progress.

Any additional ideas or suggestions will be more than welcomed. We want to create the best possible product without compromising on its features.


P.S. We plan to produce a commercial batch of these, but it is too early to give any estimates on the price. No preorders at this moment, please consider this project as work in progress.
New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted at Amibay)
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby badmojo » 2019-8-11 @ 21:09

Well, I want one! Great work guys.
If it's broke, then fix it!
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby dreamblaster » 2019-8-11 @ 21:10

Wow ! this looks amazing !
what a wonderful project !!
Visit http://www.serdashop.com for retro sound cards, video converters, ...
OPL2LPT, OPL3LPT, X2, S2, S2P, MCE2VGA, ... many projects !
Special vogons LPT bundle : https://www.serdashop.com/Parallel-port-retro-sound-bundle
Thanks for your support !
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby Tiido » 2019-8-11 @ 21:22

For OPL3 ports move, try to make a new PnP EEPROM with OPL3 given ideal IO location you desire and acceptable IO locations that also don't contain 388. Hopefully Creative's utils respect the EEPROM settings. Windows definitely will.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby GL1zdA » 2019-8-11 @ 22:29

Nice, will have to keep an eye on this project.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby mothergoose729 » 2019-8-11 @ 22:54

Beautiful looking PCB. I am very interested in this!
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby H_Rush » 2019-8-11 @ 23:42

This is a prototype. Audio ports and pin connectors will be black in the release version. It will also have a gold covered back panel.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby swaaye » 2019-8-12 @ 03:02

I feel like making this thread a sticky. 8)
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby Shagittarius » 2019-8-12 @ 03:24

I'll be keeping an eye on this, interested to learn more as dev continues.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby doogie » 2019-8-12 @ 03:37

Wow, it's really nice looking! Considering the pricing on AWE32/64 cards these days I am most certainly interested.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby White » 2019-8-12 @ 04:21

Good luck with your project!
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby xjas » 2019-8-12 @ 04:41

This is pretty neat! Nice looking prototype. The fact that this could fit in a slim PC without the bulk of an AWE64+SIMMCONN+SIMM is a big plus. Rear-bracket MIDI connectors (even if on a breakout cable) would be beneficial, IMHO - a lot of people are still gonna want to run an MT32, SC-55, etc. on these (including me.)

On that note I run a lot of MIDI gear in my music studio off an AWE64. Hit me up if you need info/testing of MIDI stuff on original hardware.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby hasnopants » 2019-8-12 @ 06:22

Good luck, looks awesome!
Current Systems:
DIP40|8088|640K|HERCULESGB102|AdLib
S7|P233MMX|128M|S3ViRGEDX/DM3D|CT1740
S370|P600MMX|1G|SIS630/DM3DIIX2|SB0220
S775|P43.4|2G|6800GS|SB0090
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby bregolin » 2019-8-12 @ 12:15

Great work, keep it up! Definitely interested
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Custom PIII 750, 64MB, SB AWE64, Voodoo 3 3000 AGP / Win98SE
Sony Vaio z505 SuperSlim - PIII 550, 192MB, YMF744, NeoMagic 256AV+ / Win98SE
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby BloodyCactus » 2019-8-12 @ 12:22

Are there many CT8920 chips in the supply chain?
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby CoolTweak » 2019-8-12 @ 15:01

Donors for creating Awe64 Legacy.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby derSammler » 2019-8-12 @ 15:18

So you are destroying existing AWE64 cards to build your custom ones? Not sure about others, but in my opinion, it's completely pointless to destroy real retro hardware for a modern replacement.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby keropi » 2019-8-12 @ 15:28

jm2c, I don't think that harvesting AWE64 Values is that terrible... they are re-incarnated to something better plus there is a bazillion of them. You can't really buy those Creative ICs, basically it's the only way.
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby hard1k » 2019-8-12 @ 15:32

Exactly. Moreover, we don't expect to build more than 30 cards given their very high overall cost, so it will be a very niche product for those who just think that a regular AWE64 is simply not enough. And very few original cards will get cannibalized on the way, and those will be the cheapest and most common ones - in my book it's a better destiny for them than just get recycled after being stored/listed on some local classifieds for ages.
New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted at Amibay)
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Re: New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy

Postby 640K!enough » 2019-8-12 @ 15:42

derSammler wrote:So you are destroying existing AWE64 cards to build your custom ones? Not sure about others, but in my opinion, it's completely pointless to destroy real retro hardware for a modern replacement.

If they end up with a superior result, where is the great harm in the effort? It's not like they are destroying some ultra-rare, high-end hardware; it's just a fairly common, base-model Creative card. If they can de-activate or supplement the CQM with genuine OPL3 and also manage quieter output, it's already a net gain.

If Creative weren't so apathetic or openly hostile toward community projects, there may have been other options. As it stands, they were left with no choice. It will be too expensive for me, but I still applaud the effort. It can be a great educational or professional development experience to undertake something like this.
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