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 SavantStrike » 2011-5-07 @ 02:35

rfnagel wrote:
Tetrium wrote:So a Live! is actually making sense in any retro rig that's modern enough to use a PCI sound card?


In native DOS you'll be limited to using the Creative software synthesizer that comes with the SBLive. It doesn't use SoundFonts, but rather those Ensoniq "ECW" wavesets that you may know about... and there has only been three of those wavesets ever released (2MB/4MB/8MB versions).

The Creative Labs software synthesizer is not only limited by those three ECW wavesets, but it's extremely "dry" as well... no MIDI reverb or chorus support whatsoever.

On a powerful enough or modern PC, the SBLive or Audigy is a good choice, as you can use the SoundFont MIDI synthesis in Windows with DOSBox... that's exactly what I do now, I have Windows XP Pro SP3 installed, along with my SBLive, and all of my old DOS games I run under DOSBox; works like a champ :)

BTW, also, under W98SE almost all DOS games are fairly well behaved when run under a DOS shell. In that case you can shell to DOS and if the game is configured for General MIDI music output, the game will use the SBLive/Audigy with it's loaded SoundFont.


Tetrium wrote:Are there any other expandable PCI soundcards? How do the Vortex, Yamaha and ESS Solo1 (just to name a few) fit into these?


I know little about those cards, but AFAIK none of them support SoundFonts.


SavantStrike wrote:I'm going to regret asking this, but did that work at all under the Win9x version of DOS? Twin soundcards with 28MB of ram each sounds pretty hot...


I used to run a rig like that with Windows 98SE (I think it would work under W95 as well). It didn't work under a native DOS bootup though. Mostly what I used all three AWE32s for was recording my music to MP3s within Windows, with custon SoundFonts loaded into the AWE32s.

With most any MIDI sequencer (I *still* use the old Cakewalk Professional v3.01, you could select which MIDI track was piped to which MIDI device (which AWE32 card), providing a musician with 96 MIDI channels, and access to three sets of ~28MB SoundFonts :)

Anyhow, like I said, this was mostly all geared towards music composing (with a MIDI sequencer)... it was rather useless for games and such, as they can only access one MIDI device at a time (under DOS, Windows, or otherwise).


Okay, no regrets (I'm not buying more sound cards).

I was half expecting you to say that Creative had some crazy driver implementation where one IRQ would get mapped to multiple cards via some sort of software interface, and you could have 2+ cards worth of sound fonts for games run under the Win9x DOS shell.


I probably will set up with DOSbox again at some point, but I kind of enjoy putzing around with older hardware (though I have my limits, I only run 98SE and PnP hardware with USB emulation support).
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rfnagel » 2011-5-07 @ 21:03

SavantStrike wrote:I was half expecting you to say that Creative had some crazy driver implementation where one IRQ would get mapped to multiple cards via some sort of software interface, and you could have 2+ cards worth of sound fonts for games run under the Win9x DOS shell.


Hehe, something that I (and several (MIDI) buddies of mine) drooled about/wished for, for YEARS <grin> :)
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby SavantStrike » 2011-5-08 @ 02:01

rfnagel wrote:
SavantStrike wrote:I was half expecting you to say that Creative had some crazy driver implementation where one IRQ would get mapped to multiple cards via some sort of software interface, and you could have 2+ cards worth of sound fonts for games run under the Win9x DOS shell.


Hehe, something that I (and several (MIDI) buddies of mine) drooled about/wished for, for YEARS <grin> :)


It's terrifying how much I find myself thinking on the same wavelength as others here. Like if we were all in the same room with a bunch of old hardware, we'd somehow end up violating the laws of physics. At the very least, we'd all end up in a mental institution.

Oh well though, I guess I have to settle for my Audigy +DOSbox when I need more than 28mb of ram.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2011-5-08 @ 03:09

If we were all stuck in a room full of vintage hardware, there would be a bloodbath over who gets what.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby rfnagel » 2011-5-08 @ 04:39

Anonymous Coward wrote:If we were all stuck in a room full of vintage hardware, there would be a bloodbath over who gets what.


I couldn't agree more LOL!

Me: "Touch that WaveBlaster 1, that 5-1/4" floppy/drive, or that 80886 motherboard, and yer DEAD!" LOL!

...gawd, what a geekazoid I am <grin> :)
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Robin4 » 2011-5-14 @ 14:11

Anonymous Coward wrote:If we were all stuck in a room full of vintage hardware, there would be a bloodbath over who gets what.


`hardcore`

Give us an shotgun and lets play old fashion doom! :lol:
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby jmrydholm » 2011-5-26 @ 19:06

Though I love playing Doom's classic Midi tunes, I still love putting Aubrey Hodges' mp3's from the Playstation port! Scary
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby sliderider » 2011-5-26 @ 20:06

What cards have both SB 16 and SB Pro compatibility?
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-08 @ 15:19

Hello,
I just activated my account so you are allowed to call me "Newbie" for a few weeks or so.. but I'm into retro hardware since it wasn't called retro..

but BTT:

Yes there are:

1. The SB16 cards: They are SB, SB Pro and SB 16 compatible... BUT in SB Pro mode they will give you MONO output. So if you want a single-card-solution and need SB Pro, stay away from ALL original SB16 Boards...

2. ALS-100 (+) Plus, ALS-120 and higher DO support SB as well as SB-Pro and SB16. They even have another advantage over Creatives' Solution: The Wavetable-Header works without the annoying "Hanging Notes Bug".

3. C-Media CMI8330 based cards are quite similar to the ALS-solutions.

So there are at least two solutions one can live with if only one ISA-slot is available.. BUT as ALS and C-MEDIA cards are single-chip cards I wonder how good the integrated OPL3 is.. not noise wise but quality wise..

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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-6-08 @ 15:31

FGB wrote:Hello,
I just activated my account so you are allowed to call me "Newbie" for a few weeks or so.. but I'm into retro hardware since it wasn't called retro..

Sounds good! Looking forward to your input here ;D

And welcome aboard, feel free to post pics or stats of your rigs in the...uhm, there are a couple threads about them. Can't remember.

And feel free to read the thread linked at the bottom of my post and submit sites that you think help people who are new to retro computing ;)
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-08 @ 15:44

Thanks for your welcome, Sir.
Much appreciated.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby gerwin » 2011-6-08 @ 15:51

Welcome, it is getting much more busy here then some years ago.

I like the CMI8330 based ISA cards, here is my review: SB16 Clones

But never felt like trying ALS (Avance Logic) based ISA cards, as I found to many complaints on the net. Low volume IIRC.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-09 @ 10:00

hey gerwin and thanks for your welcome, too.

nice thread about the cmedia card. as i have just one isa slot in my retro rig, i might consider this card. at least i will test one ;)
but the questions is: do i really need sb16? how many dos games take advantage of 16-bit samples.. and how big is the difference in quality for an adults ear?
i read you find the OPL3 clone attractive. but how is it in compasison with the really good clones like the in-built clone in the ESS1868F or the HQ clone "LS262" on some Opti929A-based devices?

as i have only one isa slot i'm using this:

Image

The NEC Clone of Yamaha DB60XG gives me GM, GS, XG and MT32 (via map-patch) so I'm fine with wavetable synthesis (And if needed I can switch the NEC DB with one of my other DB's, e.g. the Terratec WSP and I still can connect an external device (if I had one) for real MT32 support)

Image

The ESS1868F is a trouble free (no TSR needed) single chip solution. Very low noise compared to many many other ISA cards. It has a superb built-in OPL3 clone. It has a mini amplifier, but you can jumper each channel to non-amplified output. The card gives you AdLib, SB, SB Pro, WSS. But beware: Some 1868F cards have a terrible background noise which sounds like from the ISA bus data.

Image

Here you can see what to do if space is not there and/or needed for other cards.. the free pci slot here is usually occupied with a Voodoo 3 2000 card.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby jmrydholm » 2011-6-10 @ 14:30

I like the rubber bands! Those things fix everything.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-6-10 @ 20:05

jmrydholm wrote:I like the rubber bands! Those things fix everything.

They dry out after a while though, better is to use those iron wires coated with plastic.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-11 @ 07:45

Tetrium wrote:
jmrydholm wrote:I like the rubber bands! Those things fix everything.

They dry out after a while though, better is to use those iron wires coated with plastic.


Well, I like them for their flexibility and strength. It's clearly a provisoric mount as I often change the configuration in this computer. For example, right now I am recording all of my daughterboards (see http://www.amoretro.de/2011/06/wavetabl ... setup.html for further information about that.) so I often move parts inside and around this computer.

Of course you are right, tetrium, rubber bands get dry after a while (and this while may be a long while, depending on the amount of natural latex in rubber bands). I think you can estimate full elasticity for at least 7 years if temperatur and humidity don't exceed certain boundaries.

But it would be NIGHTMARE if you switch on the computer one day and just hear a sound a short circuit produced because the daughterboard sucsessfully made its contact with the motherboard :lol:

Finally I agree with you. For permanent installation i would prefer plastic coated copper wire..

.. as I'm reading what I just wrote I have to ask myself.. WHAT was the name of this thread... aaah... Sound cards.. well, you can make funky sounds with a rubber band, too..

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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby Tetrium » 2011-6-11 @ 08:03

FGB wrote:
Tetrium wrote:
jmrydholm wrote:I like the rubber bands! Those things fix everything.

They dry out after a while though, better is to use those iron wires coated with plastic.


Well, I like them for their flexibility and strength. It's clearly a provisoric mount as I often change the configuration in this computer. For example, right now I am recording all of my daughterboards (see http://www.amoretro.de/2011/06/wavetabl ... setup.html for further information about that.) so I often move parts inside and around this computer.

Of course you are right, tetrium, rubber bands get dry after a while (and this while may be a long while, depending on the amount of natural latex in rubber bands). I think you can estimate full elasticity for at least 7 years if temperatur and humidity don't exceed certain boundaries.

But it would be NIGHTMARE if you switch on the computer one day and just hear a sound a short circuit produced because the daughterboard sucsessfully made its contact with the motherboard :lol:

Finally I agree with you. For permanent installation i would prefer plastic coated copper wire..

.. as I'm reading what I just wrote I have to ask myself.. WHAT was the name of this thread... aaah... Sound cards.. well, you can make funky sounds with a rubber band, too..

Cheers

It highly depends on the quality of the rubber bands. I've noticed some will even break apart within 1 year! And saving a few pennies by using rubber bands isn't worth getting one single short in all of your life, if you ask me.
What makes it worse is that rubber bands may look perfectly fine, until you touch em! :P

Btw, I posted it mainly as a FYI, wouldn't want anyone's daughterboard to crash and burn like that ;).
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-11 @ 08:20

Tetrium wrote:Btw, I posted it mainly as a FYI, wouldn't want anyone's daughterboard to crash and burn like that ;).


again, you are right and I don't know what to do if my motherboard gets defective from such kind of kollision. It's a very very rare ASUS singlechip super socket 7 motherboard (ASUS SP-98N) with the NLX-form-factor. would be very hard or very expensive to get a replacement for that.
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby elfuego » 2011-6-11 @ 19:38

jmrydholm wrote:I like the rubber bands! Those things fix everything.

Me too! 'Fixed' the broken RAM-hinges on my AWE32 :d But Tetrium is right - they tend to dry out after cca 1/2 year, but easy to change :)
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Re: Sound cards - from best to worst

Postby FGB » 2011-6-11 @ 20:32

elfuego wrote:...they tend to dry out after cca 1/2 year, but easy to change :)


if you notice in time that they are dried out :happyhappy:
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