Sound cards - from best to worst

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

Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Marek » 2008-4-25 @ 21:11

As you apparently are interested in other soundtracks, I actually did some more:

Sam & Max Hit the Road: Is a Sound Canvas recording of the Complete soundtrack General MIDI file from here: http://s-island.mixnmojo.com/samandmax.php
I remastered the CD-Audio tracks and replaced their MIDI counterparts. The CD-Audio tracks are enhanced version of the in game tracks:
- "A Pleasantly Understated Credit Sequence" has some instruments added, some drums are replaced with non-Sound Canvas versions. The mix is different and I wasn't quite happy with it, as the drums lack much power compared to the MIDI version, but I still wanted the extra instruments on the soundtrack CD. Thus I helped the drums a bit with some small-band expansion.
- "Doug, The Moleman" is slightly longer and also has some instruments replaced.
- "King Of The Creatures" is a full CD quality version of the 22050 Hz mono version from monster.sou.
- "Bigfoot Shuffle" has ambient noise added and is partially played in a different key for some reason. It is also shortened a bit, eventhough the ambient noise is going on for quite a while. I mixed the missing part from the MIDI version right into the ambient noise, which works quite well.
Here is a FLAC example: http://www.sendspace.com/file/tstvxl

Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge: This one is a bit different as it is a slightly remixed version with Sound Canvas drum set used. The reason I did this for is because the MT-32 has the drums a bit weak imho, lacking the dynamics it could use. This seems to be a frequent problem in MT-32 music, probably because musicians drive the instruments to the limit, thus gaining a good quantization noise ratio, and then being forced to use the most dynamic instruments, the drums, conservatively, as the MT-32 would clip otherwise which would produce very audible overflow crackles. The MT-32 is well known for both, quantization noise and overflows. As the Sound Canvas drum samples are very similar to the MT-32 you won't notice much of a difference, except for a more dynamic performance.
All the melodic instruments are truthfully kept, except for Jojo playing the Piano, which is also Sound Canvas.
I recorded all tracks from the DOS executable since ScummVM seems to have the reverb set wrong in some places. The DOS version suffers from slowing down the music flow slightly during room changes, which I corrected digitally during the mastering.
In addition to this, I used "Governor Phatt's Room Remix" and "Underground Tunnels Orchestral Remix" (192 kbps version) from HighLand Productions, as those perfectly capture the original scenes, imho.
Here is a FLAC example: http://www.sendspace.com/file/w9qlrs

Both soundtracks are approximately 2 hours.
DOS-PC: DFI k6bv3+, Pentium 200mmx, 64 MB RAM, Terratec Maestro 32 sound card, Roland MT-32 + SC-155, Winner 2000 AVI 2MB, Voodoo 1, Win98SE
Windows PC: GigaByte GA-MA790GPT, Phenom II X4 905e, 12 GB RAM, M-Audio Delta 44, NVidia 1060 6 GB, Win7 pro x64
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby proffrink » 2008-4-28 @ 13:03

Wow, that Sam & Max sample is amazing (the Monkey Island one is pretty good, too). It really goes to show how good true MIDI music can sound! So, um...full download links? Thanks!
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Marek » 2008-4-28 @ 18:56

Okay, I will make torrents of them available. Might take a few days before I find the time, though.

In the meantime, I have something slightly related. Maybe you know the original demo recording of the Zak McKracken Theme: http://www.lamaweb.com/zak/
Here is a remastered version I did: http://www.sendspace.com/file/ngjx5o
DOS-PC: DFI k6bv3+, Pentium 200mmx, 64 MB RAM, Terratec Maestro 32 sound card, Roland MT-32 + SC-155, Winner 2000 AVI 2MB, Voodoo 1, Win98SE
Windows PC: GigaByte GA-MA790GPT, Phenom II X4 905e, 12 GB RAM, M-Audio Delta 44, NVidia 1060 6 GB, Win7 pro x64
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby proffrink » 2008-4-30 @ 21:04

Well, you don't have to put up the full soundtracks if you don't want to. I just thought they were already up, so that's why I asked. Still, if you wanted to do it in your spare time, that would be great.

I've never even heard of Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, sad to say (unlike it's more famous predecessor Maniac Mansion). That's a very nice remastered version of the first link, though.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Marek » 2008-5-01 @ 23:31

The Sam and Max soundtrack is online.
Get the torrent here: http://thepiratebay.org/tor/4167651/Sam ... as_FLAC%5D
Or here: http://www.torrentbox.com/torrent_details?id=198457
DOS-PC: DFI k6bv3+, Pentium 200mmx, 64 MB RAM, Terratec Maestro 32 sound card, Roland MT-32 + SC-155, Winner 2000 AVI 2MB, Voodoo 1, Win98SE
Windows PC: GigaByte GA-MA790GPT, Phenom II X4 905e, 12 GB RAM, M-Audio Delta 44, NVidia 1060 6 GB, Win7 pro x64
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby proffrink » 2008-5-04 @ 16:35

SWEEEET!!! Thank you, Marek! I will definitely seed!

P.S. I'm in the middle of playing Sam & Max Season 1: Episode 4, great throwback to the days of LucasArts and Sierra Online. For anyone who hasn't tried it yet, it's free and highly recommended!
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Marek » 2008-5-05 @ 07:05

DOS-PC: DFI k6bv3+, Pentium 200mmx, 64 MB RAM, Terratec Maestro 32 sound card, Roland MT-32 + SC-155, Winner 2000 AVI 2MB, Voodoo 1, Win98SE
Windows PC: GigaByte GA-MA790GPT, Phenom II X4 905e, 12 GB RAM, M-Audio Delta 44, NVidia 1060 6 GB, Win7 pro x64
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby samudra » 2008-5-12 @ 17:10

I am seeding that indefinitely.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby GL1zdA » 2008-9-10 @ 11:40

Does anyone use the Yamaha MU-series sound modules? Which would be good for GM games? I found here a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_MU-series , but there's only information about few of them.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Great Hierophant » 2008-9-12 @ 12:28

GL1zdA wrote:Does anyone use the Yamaha MU-series sound modules? Which would be good for GM games? I found here a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_MU-series , but there's only information about few of them.


The MU10XG is the only one likely to have been affordable to a non-musician and has the same specs as a DB50XG. It will give a good sound, but any of the MU series will do justice to game midi.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby aleksej » 2008-9-14 @ 07:06

Have MU-10 and MU-15 modules in my collection. Both sounds just identical to DB50XG in GM mode while playing in games. Of course S/N ratio is much better in comparison with majority of ISA soundcards DAC's.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby GL1zdA » 2008-9-14 @ 11:21

Thanks for both answers.

aleksej, how do you connect the modules, soundcard and speakers? I mean, how do you get both music and SFX? Do you use a external mixer?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby aleksej » 2008-9-16 @ 19:20

On my primary rig, that described in my signature i not use these modules now because awe32 and santa cruz hosting daughterboards. All sound sources (three soundcards, covox and gemtek radioman serial) goes to Midiman Multimixer 10.

On second retro machine i connect midi module output signal to input on AWE64 Gold or wise versa. Both have quite noiseless S/N ratio in their inputs.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby gerwin » 2009-6-24 @ 21:05

I made an ISA Soundcard Overview that might be suitable to add to this stickified topic. It is pretty big and technical. Also it is not yet complete.
Data obtained from many datasheets, internet articles and pictures as well as some actual soundcards. Suggestions and Corrections are welcome.

EDIT1: Thanks for the suggestions elianda! I added Aztech, and expanded AdLib and Guillemot. The spec sheet of the CS4236 does not mention 64kHz, but 48/50kHz max? LPT port devices and such are not ISA, but they can be included anyway of course. I know about the Synrise archive, it is a good database, but often about quoting advertising texts instead of listing the Chipsets.
Surely there are plenty of soundcards missing from the list. Actually it is quite impossible to get info on every card made, as some are very obscure and long forgotten clones. I know some chipsets better than others, I am no expert on Analog Devices / Avance Logic / Opti / Miro / GUS / Orchid etc, so if someone knows more then just add them, and PM the updated list or something.

EDIT2: Added some more, so v1.02 is up.
EDIT3: v1.03 is up! Just some layout changes and typo fixes.
EDIT4: v1.04, using the suggestions by swaaye, added Gallant.
EDIT5: v1.05, some updates, added Zoltrix.
EDIT6: v1.06, added Miro.
EDIT7: v1.06b, adjusted Turtle Beach, added Wordpad version as requested.
EDIT8: v1.07, added Shuttle, adjusted Yamaha, OPTi, Ensoniq, etc.
EDIT9: v1.07B, added Dream, and some small updates.
EDIT10: v1.07C, revised Aopen and completed AdLib.
EDIT11: v1.08, Added some ESS, Crystalake and Yamaha.
EDIT12: v1.09 Added Reveal and Orchid + small fixes (old download counter was 4078)
Attachments
soundcards ISA.txt
ISA Soundcard Overview v1.09
(35.91 KiB) Downloaded 1762 times
soundcards ISA.zip
ISA Soundcard Overview v1.09
Wordpad, zipped
(11.12 KiB) Downloaded 414 times
Last edited by gerwin on 2013-8-23 @ 00:15, edited 18 times in total.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elianda » 2009-6-24 @ 22:33

Very nice work, following things I noticed:
CS4236 can go up to 64 kHz.
Maxi Sound 64 Home Studio has a 'rather' misplaced WBH, because you can use it if you don't stick memory to the PS/2 Slot. (I used it also with Memory Upgrade, though the WT-card bended risky, but worked)

The early GUS classic has no mixer.

Don't forget that there are also SoundBlaster cards that are not from Creative.
The situation must have been somehow strange in the days, I guess the original SB was so successfull, that Creative couldn't produce enough. So they allowed resellern to relabel compatible cards of third party companies as SoundBlaster. But they stopped this shortly after again (my guess is also because the third party cards were better in some aspects than the originals).
f.e.:
CPS Hamburg sold a SoundBlaster 2.5 labeled http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/pics/cps_sb2.5.jpg
picture of original Box (backside): http://mail.lipsia.de/~enigma/neu/verpa ... 25back.jpg
The card is a relabelled Sound Galaxy NX II (written below the sticker), the badly overpainted FCC-ID suggests this already.

This brings me to the fact, that alot of these cards are missing in your list.
Just to throw you some names:
Golden Melody Soundcards
some more OPTI chipset based cards...
Hoontech Soundtrack 97
also note this site http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/unknown/unknown.htm
(or this as a start for checking companies http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/complete.htm as the synrise list is quite comprehensive)

Also do not forget the cheap solutions like LPT-port resistor grid array, Covox, Disney Sound Source...
Retronn.de - Vintage Hardware Gallery, Drivers, Guides, HQ Videos.
Youtube Channel
FTP Server - Driver Archive and more
DVI2PCIe alignment and 2D image quality measurement tool
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby 5u3 » 2009-6-26 @ 11:23

Wow, that's a very nice list! I'm sure it will come handy for many retro-gaming/hardware nuts. :wink:

Some nitpicking:
  • SB16 DSP v4.16 doesn't have the "hanging-notes"-bug, like DSP v4.05. However, cards equipped with v4.16 don't have a WaveBlaster header, only the external (joystick port) MIDI interface.
  • All GUS classic cards have eight DIP memory sockets and can be upgraded to 1024 KB RAM. Revision 3.7 and higher come with an onboard analog mixer, earlier revisions just have a "mute" function for CD/Line-In/Mic channels.


Keep up the good work! :happyhappy:
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby swaaye » 2009-6-26 @ 17:31

Yeah that's a nice guide you have going.

ESS
*ES1878 (no 3D, no IDE)
*ES1879 (no IDE)
http://web.archive.org/web/200003011716 ... stech.com/

Ensoniq
*Soundscape S-2000: non-PnP. no IDE
*Soundscape II: IDE. non-PnP. has ESP connectors. It's an Elite minus the DB (possibly different patch set)
*Soundscape Elite: much different patch set than other cards. heavier percussion. non-PnP. 2MB
*Soundscape OPUS: PnP. uses unique I/O ports (compatibility problem)
*Soundscape VIVO: PnP
*SoundscapeDB: available in both 2MB and 1MB. Probably just a revision.

Reveal
* Sound FX Wave 32 (SC600): a clone of Soundscape S-2000

Don't miss out on this site for info:
http://www.yjfy.com/Museum/Museum.htm
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rosetaylor01 » 2009-7-22 @ 13:10

I have sound card file roundup posted on Usenet back in the day. It covers quite a few cards and gives you the heads up on each
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby gerwin » 2009-7-23 @ 17:33

rosetaylor01 wrote:I have sound card file roundup posted on Usenet back in the day. It covers quite a few cards and gives you the heads up on each
I assume you mean the one I attached to this post.
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Heimlich.txt
Rich Heimlich patch set overview
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby retro games 100 » 2009-7-23 @ 18:32

@gerwin, I'm very interested in reading your "Soundards ISA" text document attachment, from one of your posts above. However, when I click on this link to read it, the text document opens in another browser window with no formatting, so there are no carriage return / line feed combos. Perhaps it's a bug in IE8 / Windows XP SP3? (I've noticed that since I've been using IE8, when I compose a Vogons message and my text fills the input message box, the formatting goes "mad", and I have to continue writing my message inside notepad.exe!)

Edit: Many thanks for including a Wordpad attachment version - now I can download it, and easily view it. Good job! :happy:
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