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First post, by Deniz

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Does anyone have experience troubleshooting PC speaker issues with DOSBox?

I'm playing a game called Star Control. It had good sound effects for PC Speaker, and a lame set of sound effects for adlib/midi or whatever it is that goes through the sound card. I really want to use the PC speaker sounds, so I run the command line starcon.exe /s:internal (I've used this before on hardware running DOS, it works). Unfortunately, as soon as the first sound starts to play, all I hear from my speakers is a continuous buzz.

Does anyone know what the problem likely is?

Reply 3 of 84, by DrJones

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Just a continous buzz or some weird prolonged varying sound?
Not sure if Star Control did digital sound effects via PC speaker or not.

In the latter case it might seem like what I experienced in the past on real hardware. Running DOS games that used digital sound effects on the PC speaker from Win 3.11 caused this. Running them from DOS made the digital playback OK again.

Try changing the PC speakers rate in the config file to a higher value than the default 22050. Other than that, maybe up DosBox cycles to 10000?

Edit:Misread initial question. Corrected with a proper answer.

Last edited by DrJones on 2009-11-19, 12:47. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 7 of 84, by robertmo

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I have checked the game on real 286 computer with pc speaker. It sounds very shitty, nothing special about it.

The reason why the game sounds shitty in dosbox without /s:internal switch is cause it uses mt32 as defalut and official dosbox doesn't emulate it.

You can either use:

/s:adlib
sounds nicely

/s:tandy
if you set machine=tandy in dosbox configuration - this sounds very simmilar to pc speaker although way better (but you will have worse graphics)

/s:mt32
you can use this mode with gulikoza's build http://www.si-gamer.net/gulikoza/ that has mt32 emulation support
This is the best quality. I have compared it with real mt-32 and emulation is done properly

/s:cms
this mode doesn't work in dosbox yet, as it uses same detection method as in Taito games

/s:silent 😉

Reply 8 of 84, by ripsaw8080

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robertmo wrote:

The reason why the game sounds shitty in dosbox without /s:internal switch is cause it uses mt32 as defalut and official dosbox doesn't emulate it.

If you use a sound device switch on the command line then there is no "default", so that is not why the speaker sounds bad. The game defaults to MT-32 when it finds the MPU401 interface, which it won't if you disable the mpu in the conf file. Putting aside any opinions about the relative quality of the speaker sound, it appears not to be functioning correctly in DOSBox.

Reply 9 of 84, by robertmo

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ripsaw8080 wrote:
robertmo wrote:

The reason why the game sounds shitty in dosbox without /s:internal switch is cause it uses mt32 as defalut and official dosbox doesn't emulate it.

If you use a sound device switch on the command line then there is no "default", so that is not why the speaker sounds bad.

I said: without /s:internal 😉
And said nothing about the speaker sounding bad in dosbox 😉
please read not only the first posting 😉

Reply 10 of 84, by ripsaw8080

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Actually, Star Control's MT-32 option sounds fairly good with a standard GM device using an MT-32 patch remap. Can get away with it easier with StarCon because not much in the way of SysEx is done.

At any rate, the OP said that the other sound options are "lame", and wants to use the speaker sound, which just produces a droning sound in DOSBox.

Reply 11 of 84, by robertmo

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ripsaw8080 wrote:

Actually, Star Control's MT-32 option sounds fairly good with a standard GM device using an MT-32 patch remap. Can get away with it easier with StarCon because not much in the way of SysEx is done.

The music is more less OK, but shooting sounds are totally different (totally different "instruments" are being played)

ripsaw8080 wrote:

At any rate, the OP said that the other sound options are "lame", and wants to use the speaker sound, which just produces a droning sound in DOSBox.

It seems Denis doesn't even know what he hears (whether it is "adlib or general midi" cause it is neither of them) and he doesn't knows other possible command line options. So we will have to wait for him to explain.

Reply 13 of 84, by Deniz

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Hi guys, thanks for the few responses that were actually helpful. I will go try out some of the suggestions you mentioned.

The command line switches are as follows (http://www.star-control.com/faq.php#56)
Sound (use one only):
* /S:mt32 Roland MT-32 or LAPC sound and music (SC1 Only)
* /S:adlib Adlib sound and music
* /S:cms CMS sound and music (SC1 Only)
* /S:tandy Tandy 3-voice sound and music (SC1 Only)
* /S:internal Internal speaker sound and music
* /S:silent No sound and music

Graphics (use one only):
* /G:mcga 256 color VGA or MCGA Graphics (SC1 Only)
* /G:ega 16 color Enhanced Graphics (SC1 Only)
* /G:tandy 16 color Tandy Graphics (SC1 Only)
* /G:cga 4 color Color Graphics (SC1 Only)
* /G:bios Loads default color palette from BIOS

Miscellaneous:
* /spartan A "no frills" mode to allow faster play on slower machines

Reply 14 of 84, by Deniz

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Hey, guys.
I got the MT32 device to work with the forked CVS build that was linked to. Are there other ways to get MT32 to work?
Anyway, the sound quality with MT32 was far superior and I was quite impressed when I heard the intro music. However, as robertmo indicated, in combat the sound effects are not much better, still being the "notes" and "chords" instead of digital sound effects that you get with the PC speaker (e.g. the actual sound of a missile launching when you use the Earthling Cruiser's weapon, as opposed to just a tone).

Btw, I wasn't sure if I was using midi or adlib at first because I was used to entering the command line parameter /s:adlib to get my soundblaster to work in the olden days. I dont know what the difference is between adlib and midi, but what I hear is the MPU device, I guess.

So, I still want to get the PC Speaker to work.

Regarding the PC Speaker: I tried upping the PC speaker's audio rate to 44100 Hz, and I also tried upping the CPU cycles to 10,000 but still I got the buzzing sound. I could hear, extremely vaguely, some sound effects in the background, but they were overwhelmingly drowned out by the buzzing sound. I also had the mixer on and had that set to 44100 Hz.

If anyone has any further suggestions to get the PC speaker to work, I would be most grateful. I tried older versions of DOSBox and it didn't help.

-Deniz

Reply 15 of 84, by robertmo

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Deniz wrote:

However, as robertmo indicated, in combat the sound effects are not much better, still being the "notes" and "chords" instead of digital sound effects that you get with the PC speaker (e.g. the actual sound of a missile launching when you use the Earthling Cruiser's weapon, as opposed to just a tone).

You totally missunderstood me.

mt32 sound effects are proper with gulikoza's cvs, but not proper with official dosbox 0.73.

I also said that I have checked PC speaker on a real old computer and I wouldn't call that "digital sound effects". Check tandy mode to hear how PC speaker sounds cause tandy mode is very simmilar but way better! And you will know whether you still want pc speaker 😀 Check adlib too just in case you might like it more.

Reply 16 of 84, by Deniz

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I forgot to mention, I tried Tandy and it worked, but it was stuck in 16-color mode. It would only work when I set the setting "machine=tandy", which also changes the graphics. Is it possible to have the sound be tandy, but not the graphics? (Or is this problem specific to the game software?)

I'm not sure what you mean when you say I misunderstood you.

You're right, they're not "digital sound effects", exactly... but from what I've heard, the Tandy sounds worse than the PC speaker. I tried the command-line switch /s:adlib and it was still the same suckiness.

Reply 17 of 84, by robertmo

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Tandy is just more less like 3 pc speakers playing simultaneously, so in theory it cannot sound worse than pc speaker, it can only sound better as you may have stereo and more sounds played together at the same time. But I have just checked it once more and you are right, tandy has different sound effects.

In some games it is possible to use vga together with tandy, but I wasn't able to make this game do it. Maybe it requires hacking game's autodetection method.

I have sent you a private message with a link to dosbox with better Game Blaster (CMS) support so you can use it together with vga graphics.
Game blaster is more less like 3 tandys (9 pc speakers) playing simultaneously, so even better quality. And you can use it with vga graphics. I have also compared it side by side and cms sfx works exactly like pc speaker plus you have stereo 😀

Reply 19 of 84, by robertmo

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er.. have you tried the Game Blaster (CMS) /s:cms with the build I gave you the link to? It sounds like Pc Speaker, not Tandy. I agree that Tandy sounds poorly, But CMS sounds great - check it!