VOGONS


First post, by utahraptor

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Requirements:

  • stereo sound blaster 16 support
  • A real OPL3
  • wave table header
  • Midi connector

Wishlist:

  • Obtainable 😂
  • No hanging note bug

I am not sure how important the hanging note thing is, but it comes up a lot.

Anyway, I am looking for suggestions of some models that have these features and are not too uncommon or rare.

Reply 1 of 37, by gdjacobs

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utahraptor wrote on 2020-09-02, 14:22:
Requirements: […]
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Requirements:

  • stereo sound blaster 16 support
  • A real OPL3
  • wave table header
  • Midi connector

Wishlist:

  • Obtainable 😂
  • No hanging note bug

I am not sure how important the hanging note thing is, but it comes up a lot.

Anyway, I am looking for suggestions of some models that have these features and are not too uncommon or rare.

The only single card which fits this criteria is the ALS100 (not plus, not ALS120, etc.).

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 2 of 37, by dionb

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Two ways to approach this:
1) Early DSP SB16 (eg. CT1740, CT1750 with 4.04/4.05 DSP): all requirements met, downside rather noisy.
2) ALS100 (non-plus for full SB16 compatibility) on a good board with wavetable header. OPL3 is usually a 100% clone, which sounds just like real thing. Sound quality dependent on board. Additional bonus: no SC-DMA clicks and no slowdown if MIDI and DA playing at same time.

Reply 3 of 37, by Joseph_Joestar

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dionb wrote on 2020-09-02, 14:34:

2) ALS100 (non-plus for full SB16 compatibility) on a good board with wavetable header. OPL3 is usually a 100% clone, which sounds just like real thing. Sound quality dependent on board. Additional bonus: no SC-DMA clicks and no slowdown if MIDI and DA playing at same time.

I can confirm all of the above and will also add that, in addition to being fully SB16 compatible, an ALS100 also has proper SBPro stereo support, unlike a real SB16.

And if you're curious how the 1:1 OPL3 copy sounds, here are some of my recordings.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 4 of 37, by Jo22

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dionb wrote on 2020-09-02, 14:34:

Two ways to approach this:
1) Early DSP SB16 (eg. CT1740, CT1750 with 4.04/4.05 DSP): all requirements met, downside rather noisy.

That's retro noise. It's not a bug, it's a feature! 😁
(Seriously, though, I kinda love the noisy, bassy, low-kick sound. Reminds me of a Mega Drive Model 1.)

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 6 of 37, by digistorm

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-09-02, 15:29:
dionb wrote on 2020-09-02, 14:34:

Two ways to approach this:
1) Early DSP SB16 (eg. CT1740, CT1750 with 4.04/4.05 DSP): all requirements met, downside rather noisy.

That's retro noise. It's not a bug, it's a feature! 😁
(Seriously, though, I kinda love the noisy, bassy, low-kick sound. Reminds me of a Mega Drive Model 1.)

I can’t hear the noise of a CT1740 above the noise of an appropriate retro pc of that era anyway 🤣

Reply 7 of 37, by dionb

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digistorm wrote on 2020-09-02, 16:50:
Jo22 wrote on 2020-09-02, 15:29:
dionb wrote on 2020-09-02, 14:34:

Two ways to approach this:
1) Early DSP SB16 (eg. CT1740, CT1750 with 4.04/4.05 DSP): all requirements met, downside rather noisy.

That's retro noise. It's not a bug, it's a feature! 😁
(Seriously, though, I kinda love the noisy, bassy, low-kick sound. Reminds me of a Mega Drive Model 1.)

I can’t hear the noise of a CT1740 above the noise of an appropriate retro pc of that era anyway 🤣

Then you need bigger loudspeakers 😜

Reply 8 of 37, by Cloudschatze

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dionb wrote on 2020-09-02, 18:07:
digistorm wrote on 2020-09-02, 16:50:

I can’t hear the noise of a CT1740 above the noise of an appropriate retro pc of that era anyway 🤣

Then you need bigger loudspeakers 😜

Or, perhaps his card is just appropriately configured. 😉

Reply 10 of 37, by utahraptor

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I am actually not even certain what the stereo requirement is, just that it’s part of the meta. Is it if you want to set a game to SB pro midi mode or does it effect regular sound effects somehow to?

Reply 11 of 37, by kolderman

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utahraptor wrote on 2020-09-02, 20:32:

I am actually not even certain what the stereo requirement is, just that it’s part of the meta. Is it if you want to set a game to SB pro midi mode or does it effect regular sound effects somehow to?

I don't know what you mean but the general concensus there are more important things than sb16 support, and you get much better everything else without it.

Reply 12 of 37, by dionb

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utahraptor wrote on 2020-09-02, 20:32:

I am actually not even certain what the stereo requirement is, just that it’s part of the meta. Is it if you want to set a game to SB pro midi mode or does it effect regular sound effects somehow to?

It sounds like a bit of a mix-up. The stereo issue is with SBPro support on the SB16, no within SB16.

The issue is that Creative implemented stereo in different ways in the SBPro and SB16, so a regular SB16 will have mixed-up stereo in games that support SBPro. I'm not aware of any SB16 stereo problems (SBPro cards simply don't support 16b operation and high DMA, so it doesn't work at all the other way round).

Note that there are a lot of other stereo issues out there, particularly that a lot of cards have left and right mixed up on their wavetable headers, so you music might end up reversed compared to the DA. Some cards even manage to get their OPL3 stereo reversed vs DA too. In general though these are less irritating than DA being reversed, as both MIDI and FM are used for music which is rarely positional in terms of gameplay - most people care more about hearing whether that monster is on your left or right, not about where string and brass section of the orchestra are hanging out.

AFAIK, stereo on all MIDI stuff (including wavetable headers) on Creative cards is OK. They just fail with slowdowns, hanging notes etc - there is literally no SB16 that's completely bug-free on all of those counts. For that reason I wouldn't recommend using MIDI on an SB16 (0r 32/AWE/64). My preferred solution to this and the SB16<>SBPro stereo issues is to just use two cards, one SB16-derivative for SB16 (and AWE if I'm so inclined), the other for SBPro and bug-free MIDI. I can also add other stuff there like WSS (another 16b audio standard, not very widely supported but impressive if it is, as in Descent).

So for example I have a system with a CT3670 SB32 and an Aztech Waverider32 MMSN826. The CT3670 is basically an AWE64 with SIMM slots, so SB16, AWE and very low noise levels, but CQM for FM synth. The MMSN826 has an AZT2316A chip which is hardware SBPro2 compatible, has bug-free MIDI and WSS, and the card also has a real OPL3 and an ICS wavetable built in. This way I get the best of both worlds, with two relatively available and affordable cards (the CT3670 *should* command a premium over all other SB16-like cards except perhaps the AWE64Gold, but it's generally not valued higher than a Vibra :') )

Of course if you only have one ISA slot (or can't be bothered to mess around with two cards), you either need to compromise - or you need a good ALS100 card that does it all. I hope that the one you found is good 😀

Reply 13 of 37, by Jo22

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I think the same. A SB16 or PAS16 comes in handy if you like audio fidelity or run Windows, too.
The SB/Pro has 8-Bit resolution, that gives 256 steps of detail, while the others provide 65536 steps of detail.
Simply said, the SB Pro compares to a SB16 like a GIF picture file compares to a TGA file.
Or a smashed tomato to a harp.
So if you're not only into listening to the roars of swamp monsters, but also MOD music or games that use mixing, an additional 16-Bit DAC is nice to have.
Some 3.1/95 titles use 16Bit Wave files that can't be played on a SB Pro, unless converted to 8-Bit. At least not on the older Windows OSes, since they don't downsample.

Edit: A popular configuration was SB Pro+GUS.
If you really need SB Pro DAC compatibility, you may want to combine a SB Pro with an AWE card also.
If memory serves, the AWEs support Plug&Play and allow the FM Chip to be disabled.
Edit: Unlike the real SB Pro 2, many SB Pro compatibles also silently support Windows Sound System (WSS).
This means that you can use the 16bit 48KHz WSS part in some games, Windows and MOD players..

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 14 of 37, by Cyberdyne

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IDK, for my ears and in games the sampling rate is more important than bitrate. Maybe it is just me.

I am aroused about any X86 motherboard that has full functional ISA slot. I think i have problem. Not really into that original (Turbo) XT,286,386 and CGA/EGA stuff. So just a DOS nut.

Reply 15 of 37, by digistorm

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Sampling rate would be more important I think, but most of the times you cannot choose it. It is often fixed. So the only thing you can improve then is bit depth. 8 bit audio annoys the crap out of me, especially with slowly decaying sounds like echoes that are embedded in a sound effect. It has a typical fizzling noise that you just can't un-hear (well, I can't 😉).

Reply 16 of 37, by dionb

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Let's not dive too far down the rabbit hole 😉

It's his first ISA build and he didn't get started on GUS and Windows games sampling rates. Making sure the SBPro-compatible card also does WSS covers the latter nicely btw, the "W" does stand for Windows. That's the one thing ALS100 doesn't do iirc. Can't win them all 😜

Reply 17 of 37, by Joseph_Joestar

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dionb wrote on 2020-09-03, 10:03:

That's the one thing ALS100 doesn't do iirc. Can't win them all 😜

Oddly, the ALS100 datasheet does mention WSS compatibility, but I have never managed to get it to work in DOS games. And ALSINIT.EXE doesn't offer any options to configure WSS resources either.

I imagine that their WSS compatibility claim simply means "we have a Windows driver which provides 16-bit sound" similarly to what ESS cards do.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 18 of 37, by Jo22

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On the bright side, the ALS100 is SB Pro compatible and does support the SB16 instead, which almost has the same capabilities as WSS (SB16: 16bit, stereo 44Khz).. 🙂

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 19 of 37, by dionb

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Jo22 wrote on 2020-09-03, 10:27:

On the bright side, the ALS100 is SB Pro compatible and does support the SB16 instead, which almost has the same capabilities as WSS (SB16: 16bit, stereo 44Khz).. 🙂

Almost, but not quite: WSS specifies 48kHz. 44 vs 48kHz is the whole sampling rate problem. Whether this is at all relevant here is a moot point though. Almost all DOS-era stuff is 44kHz anyway and problems tended to only crop up when cards stopped supporting 44kHz without resampling.