Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

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

Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-23 @ 06:42

My 486 is finally set up and everything is working 100% (at least seemingly so) so over the weekend I should be able to record some OPL3 (OPTI82C929A/YMF262) vs OPL3-SAx (YMF-719E) vs ESS1868F vs CS4232/CS4289 recordings.

This might actually be the first video of my YouTube channel project. :)

Specifically, which game(s) would you like me to record?
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Tiido » 2019-8-23 @ 07:15

I'm most familiar with the main theme of Supaplex, it is a nice track but unfortunately not a very good test track since it doesn't use sounds that would show up more subtler differences.
You could perhaps use the same track as was in the video shown earlier that compared various sound cards. AdlibTracker2 would also be an option, I cannot recommend any track on top of my head though. I'll have to whip it out at some point and find few nice candidates.

gdjacobs wrote:Interesting. Can you contrast with the AD1848 WSS codec?

It'd be interesting to have a standard test pack for comparing different FM synth clone implementations.


AD1848 has only 16 registers (1st generation) while CS4231 has 32 registers (second generation). All WSS codec chips are compatible in the first 16 registers to maintain backward compatibility but additional registers (that need to be specifically enabled) have differences among different manufacturers. I.e AD1845 has clock selection and power down is register 29 while CS4231 and YMF71x have nothing and later Crystal chips have master volume in there instead (which YMF71x puts into its own special control registers block unrelated to WSS).

Making an FM test program is in my todo list, there's bunch of hardware things I need to finish first though...
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-23 @ 07:36

AdlibTracker2 for some reason never seems to not run on any of my systems and causes a general protection error or fatal exception or some such.. I kind of have to troubleshoot that eventually (probably has to do with some kind of memory management issue) but that would delay the recordings.

I could use an alternative such as Reality Adlib Tracker 2 though. ALLOYRUN.RAD is one of my favorites, so I am considering using that as well.

I also like to record a few games too How about Dune's Arrakeen Palace and Monkey Island 2 Intro?

The three of them should make for a good enough comparison?
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby oeuvre » 2019-8-23 @ 13:38

record and hear!
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby badmojo » 2019-8-23 @ 20:57

DOOM and Dune2 seem to be commonly used for comparisons, well known I guess. I’m looking forward to hearing the results!

What makes for good FM is all very subjective of course, and I’d argue that not all OPL3 implementations are created equal. The PAS16 does it best in my mind, very warm sound.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-23 @ 22:43

CS4232/CS4289 recordings. Pardon me, I am no expert but that does not sound like CrystalFM to me, it actually sounds more like a genuine SB Pro, albeit slightly more filtered and mellow.

Compare my ALLOYRUN.RAD recording with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ibdIm-ZBB4&t=262s

I listened to them side by side and they are all but identical.. It is clearly not the same as CS4236: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ibdIm-ZBB4&t=174s, take the timbres and vibrato for example, my recordings sound exactly like the SB Pro and nothing like CS4236. So, subscribe me to the CS4289 is a YMF289 camp.

I will also record DOOM and Monkey Island 2 before I switch to ES1868.
Attachments
DUNE CS4232-CS4289.mp3
(4.34 MiB) Downloaded 4 times
ALLOYRUN.RAD CS4232-CS4289.mp3.zip
(4.1 MiB) Downloaded 5 times
Last edited by appiah4 on 2019-8-23 @ 23:07, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-23 @ 23:01

Well,
After some testing today with AT2 with musics, specially Wheelchair.dfm and comparing to YT video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6IITanvS6Y&t=240s I got into some conclusions:
Cards with CS4232 & :
CS4289 - Sounds the same as CS4236 from video.
YMF289- Sounds like YMF289 from video.

I also tried the card I made, the Orpheus (still in tests)

CS4237 IFM activated and YMF289 deactivated , sounds like CS4236 IFM.
CS4237 IFM deactivated and YMF289 activated , sounds like YMF289 soundcard.

This doesn't say that Crystal FM sounds bad, I really like it, for my taste it's better than ESS. I like it crisp and still can handle low freq. (My opinion, not saying it's better than others).
With this, all I can tell is: if you have a cs4232 card with ymf262, keep it like that. If you have a CS4232 with CS4289, no place to solder a ymf262 and you are an OPL3 purist, change that to a ymf289, otherwise leave it as is.
Since I'm not an OPL3 purist I have 2 give reason to some users here, but hey, we are all here to learn something.
Here's a peak at my soundcard :

orpheus.jpg
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-23 @ 23:04

appiah4 wrote:CS4232/CS4289 recordings. Pardon me, I am no expert but that does not sound like CrystalFM to me, it actually sounds a lot like a genuine SB Pro (albeit slightly more filtered and mellow but I personally like it better than SB Pro's harshness).

Compare the ALLOYRUN recording with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ibdIm-ZBB4&t=262s

I listen to them side by side and they are all but identical.. Subscribe me to the CS4289 is a YMF289 camp.


Try with Wheechair.dfm, you will notice difference there, on Alloyrun, no much difference.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-23 @ 23:18

Here is DOOM E1M1.

I don't want to argue but it sounds pretty much like OPL3 to me..
Attachments
DOOM CS4232-CS4289.zip
(2 MiB) Downloaded 7 times
A500:Rev6|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
i386:Am386SX25|4M|GD5402|ES688
i486:U5S33|8M|GD5428|YMF719|DB-S2
i586:P133|32M|T64+/MX2|V1|CT3980/32M
i686:K6-2/400|128M|Rage|V2|CT4520/32M
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-23 @ 23:22

appiah4 wrote:Here is DOOM E1M1.

I don't want to argue but it sounds pretty much like OPL3 to me..

Try wheelchair.dfm with cs4289 vs YMF262/289.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-23 @ 23:38

I can't play the DFM file on RAD Tracker v2.0, is it available in .RAD format?

In the meatime, I've also recorded Monkey Island 2 on CS4232/CS4289 and started adding them to an album on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-470084971/s ... comparison

I'll probably do ES1868 next.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-24 @ 00:23

appiah4 wrote:I can't play the DFM file on RAD Tracker v2.0, is it available in .RAD format?

In the meatime, I've also recorded Monkey Island 2 on CS4232/CS4289 and started adding them to an album on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-470084971/s ... comparison

I'll probably do ES1868 next.

Use ADT2 adlib tracker2. Adt2play to play songs.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby badmojo » 2019-8-24 @ 00:50

appiah4 wrote:Here is DOOM E1M1.

I don't want to argue but it sounds pretty much like OPL3 to me..


Nar sorry I don't agree, quite different to OPL3 to my ears!
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-24 @ 01:10

badmojo wrote:
appiah4 wrote:Here is DOOM E1M1.

I don't want to argue but it sounds pretty much like OPL3 to me..


Nar sorry I don't agree, quite different to OPL3 to my ears!

You mean Yamaha OPL3?
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby badmojo » 2019-8-24 @ 06:02

Yes I meant Yamaha OPL3 - "quite different" was probably a bit reactionary and I was listening on unfamiliar speakers at the time, but it doesn't sound like OPL3 to me. Side by side with this for example I think the Crystal synth is noticeably different and while it's not bad at all, it's not quite as good. ESFM is the OPL3 alternative for me, I think it's consistently great.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby gdjacobs » 2019-8-24 @ 06:14

appiah4 wrote:CS4232/CS4289 recordings. Pardon me, I am no expert but that does not sound like CrystalFM to me, it actually sounds more like a genuine SB Pro, albeit slightly more filtered and mellow.

Compare my ALLOYRUN.RAD recording with this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ibdIm-ZBB4&t=262s

I listened to them side by side and they are all but identical.. It is clearly not the same as CS4236: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ibdIm-ZBB4&t=174s, take the timbres and vibrato for example, my recordings sound exactly like the SB Pro and nothing like CS4236. So, subscribe me to the CS4289 is a YMF289 camp.

I will also record DOOM and Monkey Island 2 before I switch to ES1868.

The snares have a twang on both the CS4236 and the CS4289 that isn't present with Yamaha chips. Alloyrun sounds much closer than others do, though.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Tiido » 2019-8-24 @ 07:11

ALLOYRUN.RAD is definitely already showing that the Crystal chip is not doing what Yamaha is. The snares have a metallic tone in them while OPL3L shows pretty much just noise. That shows the modulation index isn't going high enough on the crystal chip.
Doom track has the cymbals all having different pitch and slight tonality change, the pitch difference actually suggests that Crystal's chip takes different amount of time to do its thing than OPL3L does, i.e original YMF262 has 49715.9...Hz sample rate, OPL3L does 49515.789...Hz that is interpolated to 44.1KHz and perhaps Crystal runs at a different internal rate (that is still interpolated to 44.1KHz).
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby appiah4 » 2019-8-24 @ 10:18

To be honest to my untrained ear it sounds (at least at girst) more like an original SB Pro than an SB16 does but that may have to do with filters and whatnot. Overall yes on further listening I have to agree that there are pitch differences and instrumemts behave differently (though fwiw to me they sound more mellow and organic on cs4289 compared to the harsh digital nature of ymf2xx chips, which is a positive) yet it is an OPL3 clone I can easily recommend or use.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby Marmes » 2019-8-24 @ 11:04

Well, for me, Crystal FM I( don't call it OPL3) up to some point resembles more OPL3 than ESS FM, ESS FM may be an example for some that there are alternatives to OPL3 that sound nice or even better depending on taste. For me, having a card that I can choose is just great! I can hear Crystal FM which I really enjoy or OPL3 :D.
As for OPL3 right now I will be ordering soon a card from Tiido, because I think it's be best implementation of YMF71x on a card that has ever been done.
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Re: Picking a sound card for a low-end 486

Postby matze79 » 2019-8-24 @ 13:53

yeah crystal is just fine but... some are bugged as hell.
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