VOGONS


First post, by hard1k

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Hello everyone,

As we're approaching the release of our AWE64 Legacy project, I've decided to start some arrangements for the next one.
This time it will be my all-time favorite brand and product, the almighty Aureal Vortex2 (AU8830), the last game changer in the computer audio industry.
So, what we have:
- a stock of AU8830 chips of the later revision (B0AAAA), it's located in China, seems authentic, the price is right, already ordered 30 chips:

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- a basic and simple AU8810 design that can be used to accommodate AU8830 too (all Vortex chips are pin compatible, thanks Aureal!)

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The first idea is to make an "A3D-accelerator", a very small PCB with no bracket, and just two MPC connectors (Line-In and Line-Out) so that it could be installed in tiny systems, thin clients or PCI/ISA shared slot along an ISA card occupying the bracket place. Also some very special combo product is in the works, but I won't disclose it yet as there is another person involved.

What would you guys suggest? A new soundcard? What should it be? Or a combo with anything else? Do any of you have any hardware-related docs, a detailed datasheet, for example?

FIRST MAJOR UPDATE

Last edited by hard1k on 2020-11-28, 20:28. Edited 2 times in total.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 1 of 34, by Paar

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I don't know, I'm kind of a sucker for high end cards so I'm not very excited about the budget variant. Any Aureal card should have wavetable header for example (my opinion). Now when I'm thinking about it, is it possible for Aureal card to support PC-PCI link? That's the one thing I am missing from most DOS capable PCI cards and I don't recall I have seen it on any official Aureal card.

Reply 2 of 34, by hard1k

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In fact, existing cards offer a nice variety of higher end options: SQ2500, SuperQuad, Turtle Beach Montego II Home Studio, etc.
And all of them are available and not so expensive, so I don't see a reason for a new card replicating the existing set of features.
That's why I'm thinking about niche use cases, or some combo cards.

No, unfortunately Aureal chips don't provide for PC-PCI (or I am unaware of this, as it hasn't been mentioned anywhere), nor is there any comprehensive reading about their hardware side of things.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 3 of 34, by crvs

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IMO biggest drawbacks of Vortex cards were rather related to drivers, especially for DOS and Win 2k+. There was a promising thread in this forum dedicated to development of an alternative DOS driver - not many recent updates unfortunately, however, some documentation is mentioned there, and the topic starter may also have deeper understanding of the subject.

Speaking about hardware, I'd also say that Aureal's simulated FM synthesis sounds pretty poor (way worse than CQM), if no beter driver - here is the place where true OPL could be even more beneficial. Compatibility could be also improved: original cards are quite picky to PCI slots and prone to conflicts with other adapters, and I still recall pain with VIA chipsets 20 years ago, though already w/o details.

Nonetheless, I still somewhat like Vortex2, so good luck and interesting to see which direction your project takes.

Reply 4 of 34, by matze79

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i anyway would not play early titles with adlib sound on such machines, instead going to put a wavetable on the header and use general midi then.

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Reply 5 of 34, by hard1k

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Well, in the past I already considered making an "Ultimate" PCI sound card (YMF7x4+AU8830 behind a PCI bridge, interconnected via SPDIF) but finally decided to discard that. In my perception, AU8830 is only useful in A3D 2.0/3.0, it's where it shines. It won't suit for a good DOS card (there are better options, YMF7x4 and Solo-1), or an audiophile grade card, and would make for a mediocre all-round card due to the mentioned bad FM implementation, buggy Win2K/WinXP drivers, compatibility problems. So, to be honest, AU8830 should be used only in Win9x (so, no SMP or 512+ Mb of RAM), for playing A3D titles (but hey, there are lots of them, and many of them are A+ ones!), so the CPU power should be decent too (P3-600 at least) as A3D has its impact on the performance. That's why I'm thinking about this specific A3D Accelerator niche.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 6 of 34, by cyclone3d

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Check these out:
http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://galadriel … der/aureal/re/*

http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://galadriel … ureal/techdoc/*

Looks like Aureal had at least some emblance of a datasheet, but I can't find it for download anywhere:
http://www.aureal.com/newaureal/products/pdfs … ortex_final.pdf

Only thing I could find is the readily available preliminary overview datasheet.

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Reply 7 of 34, by hard1k

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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-11-14, 21:52:

Been there, seen that, thanks! I've also found out that guy took part in the OpenVortex project (Linux OSS & ALSA drivers), besides he lives "nearby" (in Chile), so I'm already thinking to try contacting him when all this Covid stuff is over, would be fun to fly there and meet 😀

cyclone3d wrote on 2020-11-14, 21:52:

Looks like Aureal had at least some emblance of a datasheet, but I can't find it for download anywhere:
http://www.aureal.com/newaureal/products/pdfs … ortex_final.pdf
Only thing I could find is the readily available preliminary overview datasheet.

Judging from the filename, I guess that's the same preliminary datasheet (attached) - it's header is the same, "8830 Vortex FINAL".

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New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 9 of 34, by hard1k

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Guys, a serious question - as we'll be designing a new device, we can change the codec chip for a better one.
I'm a noob in codecs, tried to google a bit, there's a load of them available, tried to remove false positives, got to this: http://manuals.opensound.com/sources/oss_ac97.c.html (what can be better than the source code for some linux stuff, right?)
Got the following list from the mentioned source code:
AK4540, STAC9700, STAC9701, STAC9721, STAC9704, STAC9705, STAC9708, STAC9744, STAC9750, STAC9752, STAC9756, STAC9766, STAC9758, TR28028, TR28023, EM28028, CX20468, CS4297, CS4297A, CS4294, CS4299, CS4202, CS4205, AD1819B, AD1881, AD1881A, AD1885, AD1886, AD1887, AD1888, AD1980, AD1981, AD1981B, AD1985, WM9701A, WM9703, WM9704, ES19XX, ICE1232/VT1611A, VT1612A, VT1616, VT1616A, VT1618, ALC100, ALC200P, ALC202, ALC203, EV1938, ALC250, ALC650, ALC655, ALC658, ALC850, CMI9738, CMI9739, CMI9761A, CMI9780, YMF743, YMF753.
The guys from OOAOO used WM9704 for their MX300 Ultra card. What do you think, what is the better option?

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 10 of 34, by matze79

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Just keep vortex 2 it’s a great card I like the idea

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Reply 12 of 34, by Oetker

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kolderman wrote on 2020-11-15, 06:09:

What about a new ISA card based on the als100? It's a good chip often put on crappy cards.

Yes I hope someone builds just that.

Reply 13 of 34, by hard1k

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matze79 wrote on 2020-11-15, 05:06:

Just keep vortex 2 it’s a great card I like the idea

It will be Vortex2, but any Vortex needs an external AC97 codec (that little square chip), and as we're making a new design, we can put any chip we like, that's why the question. Back in the day Aureal could be cost-cutting on the codec to save a few bucks, but now it doesn't matter, I'd prefer to take a better part with better SNR, etc.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 14 of 34, by firage

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The codec on the old cards was the same as on the Live 5.1, surely put a hard limit on the quality you could get.

Wonder if there's something that could be improved in 44.1 kHz resampling in Vortex2 cards; I don't know anything about how it's implemented.

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Reply 16 of 34, by hard1k

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Yes, many of them do. I also find good words about Sigmatel (namely, in the YMF7x4 FAQ) and Wolfson (articles on the net + feedback on different iPod generations, etc).
Would be cool to receive some feedbacks on specific parts though.

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 17 of 34, by Tiido

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The chip has I2S input and output, you could simply drop the shitty codec chips and use modern DAC and ADC instead (lacking mixer though). There's probably some driver change needed to achieve it though...

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Reply 18 of 34, by hard1k

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Tiido wrote on 2020-11-15, 18:26:

There's probably some driver change needed to achieve it though...

That's exactly the reason why I opt for the codec... We still lack a coder in our team, a simple dirty hack always requires lots of efforts and other people involvement 🙁

New sound card project: AWE64 Legacy
New sound card(s) project(s): Vortex2+YMF744 Tribute
Please have a look at my wishlist (hosted on Amibay)

Reply 19 of 34, by gex85

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hard1k wrote on 2020-11-14, 19:38:

In fact, existing cards offer a nice variety of higher end options: SQ2500, SuperQuad, Turtle Beach Montego II Home Studio, etc.
And all of them are available and not so expensive, so I don't see a reason for a new card replicating the existing set of features.
That's why I'm thinking about niche use cases, or some combo cards.

At least for Germany and probably most of western Europe, this is not really the case. Pretty much all Vortex2 cards are rare and expensive.
Vortex 1 cards are easier to come by, but still sell for >20€, usually. So that's not exactly expensive, but not as cheap as all the sub-10€ Audigy2 ZS cards that pop up every day.

That being said, Diamond Multimedia made the Sonic Impact S90, which is not as crappy in quality as many other AU8820 cards, so if retrofitting the AU8830 chip to an AU8820 design is actually an option, this might be a good candidate.

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