VOGONS


First post, by Pino

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System specs:

  • AMD K6-2+ 500Mhz
  • Azza PT-5VMx VIA Apollo MVP3
  • 128MB PC-133
  • MSI FX5200 AGP
  • Generic IDE to SD converter with a 32GB SD Card
  • Generic 250W power supply
  • Generic ATX case
  • Generic DVD/CD writer with SATA to IDE converter
  • Generic 1.44MB floppy drive
  • Creative Pebble 2.0 Speakers
  • Samsung SyncMaster 213T 1600x1200 LCD 21"

    Sound Cards
  • Diamond CMI8738 PCI
  • SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS PCI
  • SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold CT4390 ISA
  • Compaq STB Ultrasound 32 PRO (GUS PNP) ISA

    Introduction
    Everything on this build, except the CPU, was found at my local electronic recycling center and was bought by the weight. Main objective is to have a wide range of different sound options (that is where the poor man's Orpheus joke comes from) and maximize support for 90's games. I have Windows 98 installed on it, but my main focus is 2D games, I don't really care about early 3D games.

    CPU
    The only item I bought from ebay, it's pretty common knowledge here at Vogons that K6-2+ CPUs are very flexible, so using setmul I can get a wide range of speeds. Before buying that I was using a Pentium 166Mhz MMX which is also very flexible and to be honest was enough for my need.

    Motherboard
    Azza is a brand I never heard before finding this card, but I can't complain at all, it's a well rounded VIA MVP3 board with the right mix of expansion slots and solid BIOS fine tune options. Only 512KB of L2 cache, but not a big deal for my use case.

    Graphics card
    Before putting this system together I was using a Slot 1 Pentium 2 on a 440BX motherboard and my go to graphics card was a passive cooled Geforce 6200, after weeks trying to make it work on this VIA motherboard I gave up and was forced to move to a FX5200 which supports older drivers, I have several other graphics cards that I could use but the reason why I stick with newer AGP cards is the DVI ports support. Geforce 4s and below have very hit and miss DVI support.

    Sound Cards
    My approach to multiple sound cards on a single system is different than the usual from other users, instead of trying to make all the cards work at the same time I decided to have have a clean autoexec.bat and config.sys and initialize only the card (or cards) I intend to use for a specific game using .bat files and Unisound.

    - CMI8738 PCI
    There are multiple reviews on the CMI 8738 PCI cards and while it is a hit and miss as a PCI Soundblaster alternative this card is a perfect PCI AdLib, it's a perfect OPL3 clone and the drivers don't require anything loaded into memory. the reason I have it on my system is to be used in conjunction with the AWE 64, with the AWE handling sound effects and AWE music and the CMI handling OPL3 music. The awe64 Line out is connected to the CMI Line in.
    Here is the bat I use to initiate it:

    C:\drivers\CMI\SETAUDIO.COM /G0 /M0 /IO260 /MPU300
    SET BLASTER=A260 I3 D6 T4
    c:\drivers\cmi\C3DMIX /MEE000 /FCC000 /WCC000 /LFF0FF /E00100 /A00100 /C00100 /P00000 /400000 /R0f0ff /D040ff /Q0


    - AWE 64 Gold
    Clean sound, perfect SB16 support, AWE Music with 4MB onboard RAM, the only real problem with this card is the CQM FM synth, which as I said above I can address using the PCI CMI and disabling the FM Synth on the AWE using Unisound
    So when I want to play a game with SB sound effect and OPL music I initiate the CMI as described above and right after I run the following bat file:

    set blaster=a220 i5 d1 h5 p330 t6 f0
    c:\drivers\unisound /c2


    - Compaq STB Ultrasound 32 PRO (GUS PNP) ISA
    Thanks to the Vogons user Cyclone3D guide on this card, it's possible to flash a GUS PNP firmware on this card and it will behave exactly like a original GUS, the only difference been the fact that it has only one memory slot with a maximum 4MB RAM support, I haven't seen any instance where more than 4MB is necessary with a GUS PNP, to simplify the setup process all I did was to use a pre build Ultrasound folder, I also installed the pro patch lite 1.61 which vastly improves the sound quality in my opinion and I initialize the card using Unisound, here is the .bat file content:
    @REM ===== Gravis initialization (1.3) ===== C:\DRIVERS\UNISOUND /C1 /VL90 @SET PROPATS=C:\DRIVERS\PPLT_160 @SET INTERWAVE=C:\UL […]
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    @REM ===== Gravis initialization (1.3) =====
    C:\DRIVERS\UNISOUND /C1 /VL90
    @SET PROPATS=C:\DRIVERS\PPLT_160
    @SET INTERWAVE=C:\ULTRASND\IW.INI
    @SET IWDIR=C:\ULTRASND
    @C:\ULTRASND\IWINIT.EXE %1
    @SET ULTRASND=240,7,7,7,7
    @SET ULTRADIR=C:\ULTRASND
    @REM ===== Gravis initialization ends =====


    - Audigy 2 ZS PCI
    Underrated card in my opinion, the DOS support using Joseph Star's guide is excellent, both from a Win98 command prompt or even in pure DOS.
    It's my only option for General MIDI, but to be honest, I can't find many games that doesn't work with it.
    If a DOS game can be ran from inside Windows 98 that is what I do, so I can use a custom .SF2 font with outstanding quality.
    If a game needs pure DOS and supports General MIDI this is also an excellent choice, you can replace the default sound font with an 8MB .ecw and in my opinion it sounds better than most generic cheap Wavetable cards with 1MB ROMs.
    In Windows 98 I disabled all the other cards from the device manager and installed the Audigy using Joseph's guide.
    In pure DOS this is the bat file I use:
    ECHO Initializing SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS under DOS... SET CTSYN=C:\SBA2ZS SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6 C:\SBA2ZS\SBEINIT. […]
    Show full quote

    ECHO Initializing SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS under DOS...
    SET CTSYN=C:\SBA2ZS
    SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6
    C:\SBA2ZS\SBEINIT.COM
    C:\SBA2ZS\AUDIGY12.EXE
    ECHO Initialization complete.

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  • STB UltraSound 32 front.jpg
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Reply 1 of 12, by Shponglefan

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Four sound cards, I like it! 😁

Especially mixing a pair of PCI and ISA cards too, which isn't something you see very often. That's a unique approach to solving all the FM/digital audio/GM support.

Also, that's interesting to know about the Compaq GUS card. I believe I have one of those cards, but just haven't used it yet. Didn't know it could be flashed with the regular GUS PnP firmware.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 2 of 12, by crusher

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Congrats to your build. Very nice done!

I have one question regarding GUS Pro Patch Lite 1.61.
You wrote it "vastly improves the sound quality".

I also experimented with Pro Patches Lite and other GUS PnP Patches.
I thought it would give me a different sound character depending on loaded patch.
But I can't hear any difference in the various patches.
Is this maybe I'm using my GUS PnP in native DOS and only for gaming?
Do the patches only affect Windows and especially Midi playback?

Reply 3 of 12, by Pino

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Thanks for the comments guys.

Crusher,
Yes the patches gives different sound character in DOS games, and I'm my opinion it makes it better, I don't like the sound from the original patches.

As far as I know the patches don't affect windows at all, for Windows you can use the 4MB patch from the GUS installation CD and that will sound better than any third party patch.

Reply 4 of 12, by crusher

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Thanks for you answer, Pino.
Guess I'm making something wrong then.
I will try PPL and other patches again.
Can you give me an example for a DOS game which sounds better with third party patches?
Maybe I tried the wrong games. Somewhere I read that some games only use the built-in instruments and don't care for loaded patches.

Reply 8 of 12, by keropi

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zuldan wrote on 2024-03-25, 10:42:

GUS noob here. I have a PnP Standard. Do you load the GUS Pro Patch Lite 1.61 patches with setram.exe?

no, PPL patches replace the stock GUS-classic compatibility ones and get loaded directly from games themselves or via ultramid

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , OrpheusII , Action Rewind , Megacard and 🎶GoldLib soundcard website

Reply 9 of 12, by Pino

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keropi wrote on 2024-03-25, 14:37:

no, PPL patches replace the stock GUS-classic compatibility ones and get loaded directly from games themselves or via ultramid

Master keropi, since you showed up around here, what is your opinion on PPL? do you think it's an improvement over the regular patches?
Thanks

Reply 10 of 12, by keropi

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Pino wrote on 2024-03-25, 15:53:

Master keropi, since you showed up around here, what is your opinion on PPL? do you think it's an improvement over the regular patches?
Thanks

🤣
I would say that yes, they are an improvement
you can easily test with something like DOOM E1M1 - a classic tune : personally I like PPL more

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , OrpheusII , Action Rewind , Megacard and 🎶GoldLib soundcard website

Reply 12 of 12, by keropi

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Pino wrote on 2024-03-25, 17:39:

Thanks, yes on DOOM E1M1 it's clear, definitely better. But on some other games I tried I wasn't sure.

I recently created a way to quickly change back and forward between them, will test more games.

yes it is true - some games sound better with either , depending on what samples are used in their BGM
having choices is great , it is easy to have multiple sample sets - either rename the patches directory or point variable to a new dir 😀

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , OrpheusII , Action Rewind , Megacard and 🎶GoldLib soundcard website