SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby elianda » 2009-2-23 @ 12:26

Well Internet was not so common in 1996, so information traveled more slowly and Guillemot was not so well known for it's soundcards.
Basically the Terratec EWS64 was known to be THE professional solution. There were some rumors that the MaxiSound 64 Home Studio uses the same chipset and costs only 2/3rd of it. So I stepped into the unknown and bought one.
In review my rating is mixed.
Guillemot dropped the software support (in comparison to Terratec) for this card quite fast. So the state is more or less the default firmware that was also promoted by Dream when the SAM9407 was new. The most advanced app available are the NT maxi sound utilities.
On the other hand, if you don't need all the advanced features like a custom firmware a.s.o. even the default setup gives you the Dreams MIDI playback quality. Also the MaxiSound64 gives you a decent 4 MB ROM Wavetable. (with the drawback that you can not load soundfonts to RAM in DOS and need Win9x for this). So for Plug-In and go it is quite sufficient.
There was probably a not so good commercial success, the card was soon superseded by the Pro version with ESS and Dream. I guess the success of the EWS64 was alot better and that might be also a cause why Guillemot dropped support so fast.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby retro games 100 » 2009-2-25 @ 17:45

I really like the "Plug-In and go" 4MB ROM wavetable. :happy:
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby rumbadumba » 2009-2-27 @ 18:20

elianda wrote:Basically the Terratec EWS64 was known to be THE professional solution.


If anybody wants one, I have a couple, feel free to PM me if you are interested: an EWS64XL with the internal cables and front module, and a Terratec EWS64S.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby gerwin » 2009-3-12 @ 14:45

I was somewhat annoyed and confused by the windows 2000 behaviour of the Crystal CS4232 sound chipset. This chipset is awesome in DOS. But for windows it still needs the Dos-initializer for the MPU-401 to work, even when using the WDM drivers. This leaves you with a non-working MPU-401 in windows 2000/XP. (Same for the dream DSP MPU-401, but I am talking about the crystal WDM MPU-401 here)

As I read about people having a working MPU-401 with the EWS64XL in windows 2000, I wanted to know what made the difference. The difference was probably a hardware fix, so I obtained a generic card with one of the latest versions of the Crystal ISA chipset: the CS4236B-XQ3. This is similar to the chip in the later EWS64XL revisions. I tried it yesterday and had the MPU-401 working instantly in windows 2000. It uses the same WDM drivers as the CS4232. (In Dos it also worked fine with my CS4232 drivers)

These later chip revisions have an integrated Opl-3 clone. Fortunately it sounds quite similar to a real Opl-3. This FM-synth is also available as a midi device in windows 2000/XP.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby elianda » 2009-3-12 @ 15:11

Maybe this is not 100% correct but:
I think the 4232 and 4236 are a bit different in the number of I/O possibilities.
The 4236 seems to have at least two interfaces that can be used as MPU-401.
For the Maxisound it is f.e. a MPU-401 to the port connector/daughterboard and a MPU-401 like interface to the Dream DSP.
On the EWS64XL they are exchanged and daughterboard ressources are the ones where the Dream is on the maxisound.

So it might be the case that the Crystal WDM driver initializes only one MPU-401, maybe the one used on the CS Codec only cards.
In the case where there is a Dream DSP connected you won't hear anything since no firmware was loaded, as long as you don't use the Win2K Dream specific driver.
There is indeed a bit messing around with the multiple MPU-401 interfaces you have. For the MaxiSound there is noticeable, that for daughterboard the mpu401.dll gets installed and for the Dream which is hardware side also a MPU-401 like interface a more specific driver (dream9407.dll). This is probably something like a upgraded mpu401.dll. Then there is as initialization midiondream.exe loaded at each bootup.

So what I wanted to say is, try to find out which MPU-401 ressources of the Crystal the WDM driver tries to use and make sure your Hardware is on that interface. On simple cards the second may not be connected at all.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby gerwin » 2009-3-12 @ 16:53

Well, the CS4232 and 4236B have different I/O possibilities indeed, but according to the spec sheets both have just one MPU-401 interface.
As we already agreed, The dream synth has it's own interface to the ISA bus which is another MPU-401.

AFAIK the CS4232 can only receive and mixdown the Dream music as an analog signal. I read the new feature of the CS4236B is a 'CS9236 Wavetable digital audio interface'. consisting of both a Wavetable and a DSP port.

Anyways, I imagine the crystal guys at the time tried to implement at least two new features in the CS4236B: 1) Make it work in windows without Dos. 2) Implement a lossless connection to a Dream synth (S/PDIF like).
I am not sure though.
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Finally, mute bug resolved

Postby Locutus » 2009-4-14 @ 19:23

Hello guys,

forgive me if I don't read through the whole thread, but I just wanted to let you know that we finally have found a solution to the EWS64XL mute bug. Details follow.

I recently bought an EWS64XL from eBay and eventually ran into the mute bug myself. To remind everyone of the symptoms: Once Sound Baster playback is selected in a DOS game, CD, Line-In and also the wavetable daughterboard would get muted. That was what happened on my system.

With the help of elianda and Lennart (I bet he has an account here too) I got my hands on a DOS utility called cs32mix.exe, which somehow is able to resolve the problem. According to elianda, it's a standard mixing utility for Crystal based soundcards.

There's not much to it, just run ewsinit in your autoexec.bat as usual and afterwards start this tool, apply settings and that should already do the trick. If you have a daughterboard, be sure, to turn up CD volume because CD and daughterboard share the same mixer input (which is also stated in the EWS64XL manual).

I can't explain to you how it works. If anyone knows what exactly is wrong with the original configuration that is loaded by ewsinit, please let me know. By the way, this tool also resolves the clipping issues I had with my daughterboard, although all mixer settings by ewsinit resembled zero or no gain.

Anyway, I think this is a good workaround for the annoying mute bug, because CS32MIX can easily be run from autoexec.bat with command-line parameters for mixer initialization. It will add itself to the autoexec.bat if you hit the "SAVE" button.

Let me know, if it works out for you.

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Standard mixer utility for Crystal based soundcards
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby Silent Loon » 2009-4-15 @ 07:06

Congratulations!
This sounds to good to be true! Can you still load soundbanks and mixer configurations following the ewsinit initialization? Which version of the crystal mixer do you use (I have version 1.80, coming with the TBS Malibu package Gerwin mentioned: viewtopic.php?t=20526 - if this is important after all)?
Perhaps you can post your autoexec.bat file.
Unfortunately I did mess up my EWS64 conf. a little, but I will test this "bypass" ASAP.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby Lennart » 2009-4-15 @ 16:01

Silent Loon wrote:Can you still load soundbanks and mixer configurations following the ewsinit initialization?
Yes, it should function as normal. All the mixer program does, as far as I know, is selecting the volume levels of the different inputs on the Crystal Codec. For some reason the CD/Synth 2 input, which carries the sound from your CD-ROM drive and daughterboard, apparently defaults to zero in some cases.

Silent Loon wrote:Which version of the crystal mixer do you use (I have version 1.80, coming with the TBS Malibu package Gerwin mentioned: viewtopic.php?t=20526 - if this is important after all)?
The program reports itself as version 2.60, copyright 1994-1997. Not sure whether this would make a difference.

Silent Loon wrote:Perhaps you can post your autoexec.bat file.
These two lines are relevant:
D:\EWS64\EWSinit.exe -f -v -b soundset\gssbk320.94b
D:\EWS64\CS32MIX.exe /M=13,13 /W=13,13 /L=13,13 /X=3 /F=13,13 /C=13,13 /I=L

The line with CS32MIX.exe in it was automatically added by the mixer program when I pressed the "Save" button, just like Locutus pointed out earlier. The parameters each control a different audio input of the codec, the values ranging from 0 to 15 specify the volume for the left and right channel of that specific audio input. /I=... sets the "Input" to one of the other inputs. I think this has something to do with selecting a source for recording, but I'm not sure whether this has any effect on the EWS64XL at all.

Silent Loon wrote:Unfortunately I did mess up my EWS64 conf. a little, but I will test this "bypass" ASAP.
Let us know whether it works for you as well :happy:
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby Silent Loon » 2009-4-16 @ 18:07

Well, it really... works!
Tested it with CD-sound and Yamaha DB50XG and could still use the SBPro feature of the crystal chip!

From now on you can call yourself "Conqueror of the XLBeast" - or something like that... :wink:
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby elianda » 2009-6-07 @ 23:31

There is some interesting Trivia I stumbled upon regarding the Dream Chip and the MaxiSound 64 Series.
As you might have noted the MaxiSound 64 has a 4 MB ROM onboard, the EWS64 in comparison brings just 2 MB RAM.
It was no secret that the ROM Soundfont sounds quite similar to a Roland Sound Canvas.

Synrise states that in 1997 there was a lawsuit against Dream S.A. from the Roland Corporation because Dream should have used GM Sounds from the Roland Sound Canvas.
http://www.synrise.de/docs/types/d/dream.htm
(The statement on top of the page).
The successor sound cards of the MaxiSound 64 series does not feature a ROM Soundfont anymore...


Maybe I exchange the EWS64S with the MaxiSound 64 again... ...somewhen this year.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby gerwin » 2009-6-08 @ 10:32

Me thinks it is more complicated then that, as the dream 4MB patch set did not entirely vanish after the lawsuit (1997). Also there is not really one Dream set of 4MB, there are several variants. see: Midi: Dream and Topwave-32 samplesets
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby elianda » 2009-6-08 @ 12:44

I know, but I was specifically referring to the Maxisound 64 ROM SF. Within the last years I have also collected some Dream Soundfonts, there were some from Guillemot, some from Hoontech (Soundtrack97 etc.) and some from Terratec.
Especially Hoontech had some bigger GM/GS Soundfonts with 8, 9 and 11 MB available. Though you can stack these with extra DrumKit SF from Terratec f.e.

But maybe you can give a recommendation which of the loadable SFs is best suited for DOS games?
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby gerwin » 2009-6-08 @ 15:28

Afraid I cannot recommend any software Soundbank, as I possess no sound card with RAM for a Dream synth. I only have Dream synths with a fixed ROM patch set. It was tempting to get me an EWS or Guillemot, but as the Dream Soundbank format seemed poorly supported I decided not to put time in it.

To be honest, I am a bit confused about the main point of the last posts, is it about getting the Dream patch set closest resembling a Roland Soundcanvas?
In my judgement the Terratec Maestro 32/96 was the best match, but I would rather have its midi part in modular form and therefore hope to try a Terratec 4MB daughterboard from around 1995 soon. Dream patch sets after 1996 are nice to, but I slightly prefer the older ones.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby retro games 100 » 2010-3-27 @ 10:14

gerwin wrote:I found this site:
http://ftp.guillemot.com/old%20sound/old%20exe
and looked around a bit.
There was this file dospnp.zip with a utility called 94DINIT.exe, it seems to mention a soundbank to load. But I cannot verify this.

I would like to try the dospnp.zip package, with a Guillemot Maxi Sound 64 PnP version 2 card: PCB model SC8600. However, I can't find the file dospnp.zip on that FTP site. Roughly, where is this file on that FTP site please? Thanks.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby gerwin » 2010-3-27 @ 11:07

1632PNP subfolder
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby retro games 100 » 2010-3-27 @ 11:30

gerwin wrote:1632PNP subfolder

Thanks a lot. I tried running the 94dinst.exe "dream chip initialisation" utility, but it did not work because the soundcard simply cannot be "seen" inside "pure" DOS.

Edit: I tried running 94dinst.exe inside a "dos box" in Windows 98, just out of curiousity, and it seemed to work. There was a "healthy" pause of about 5 seconds, then the C:\ prompt appeared again with no error message.
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby elianda » 2010-8-30 @ 17:49

Digging out this thread again, I got a hardware question for the Waveblaster connectors Line-In feature.
As some might know, the Waveblaster connector features also a analog Line-In that some cards like Yamaha DB60XG can use to apply effects.

The unclear point is, what signal is routed from the soundcard to the Wavetable-Daughterboard.
Lennart gave me the manual for the Medatrix and it seems that it is possible to select it by jumper there. So either the Line-In connector of the soundcard goes to the soundcards codec chip or it goes to the Daughterboard.

I couldn't find such jumpers on the Maxisound 64 or EWS64XL. So someone knows what signal goes to the daughterboards line-in?
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby retro games 100 » 2010-12-23 @ 18:14

elianda, please can you help me get a Guillemot MaxiSound soundcard working? I can't get the General Midi music working, inside pure DOS 6. When I run Descent's sound setup.exe, and choose General Midi (330), it says "Error: Detection system failed to find hardware".

The sound card is the SC8500 V1.6 model. (Please note that the photo shown in my original post is the V1.6T model. I don't know what the difference is, between these two similar models. The V1.6T is another SC8500 soundcard I have.) I have put a 16MB SIMM on to the V1.6 card. Also, I have not attached any wavetable DB card. When I initialise the soundcard hardware, I use this batch file -

cwdinit.exe /o /f
cs32mix /M=13,13 /W=13,13 /L=0,0 /X=0 /F=13,13 /C=13,13 /I=l
94dinit2.exe F=gm94 S=4mg1 P=0x330

I have 2 .INI files in my c:\maxi directory. They are cwdaudio.ini, and dream.ini. Inside the cwdaudio.ini file, these lines can be found:

MPU401IO=300
MPU401Int=Disabled
CDIO=330
CDInt=7

Inside the dream.ini file, these lines can be found:

MPU401IO=300
MPU401Int=Disabled
CDIO=330
CDInt=7

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks a lot, if you can offer any information! :happy:
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Re: SC8500 sound card - what does it do?

Postby retro games 100 » 2010-12-23 @ 19:19

Solved. But I don't understand how I solved it. All I did was this - run duke3d sound setup.exe. Test General Midi @ 330. That worked! That's strange - why did this sound setup.exe work, but not Descent's sound setup.exe? After I quit Duke3d's setup.exe, I ran Descent's setup.exe. That worked too! Perhaps Descent's setup.exe is a bit buggy, and it required Duke3d's setup.exe to "unblock and unlock" the General Midi @ 330 sound channel? Or something like that! :wink:

I've got another question, please. I would like to remove the 16MB SIMM, and just hear the sound card's 4MB of onboard wavetable ROM sounds. How do I run 94dinit2.exe, and tell this init utility that I want to do this? Currently, it looks like this:

94dinit2.exe F=gm94 S=4mg1 P=0x330

However, if I run it like this: 94dinit2.exe (with no parameters)

Then, the S (sound bank file) simply defaults to 4mg1. Is there a command line switch to tell 94dinit2.exe to use the 4MB of onboard wavetable ROM sounds? Thanks a lot for any information! :happy:
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