Sound Blaster 16 Clones

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

Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PARUS » 2015-6-07 @ 08:53

The CMI8330 feck is not SB and ADLib compatibility for me. This is the only chip which 100% supports SB16 standard and has S/PDIF out. Of course AWE64Gold has too but it does not matter because its digital out has a trouble with output signal bit capacity and sampling rate (speech part). If it not matches 16 bit 44 kHz the S/PDIF is not working. And CMI8330 in SB16-games works properly always and its digital out works always too by live refreshing any signal to 16 bit 44 kHz.

But as single SB-card the CMI8330 is not good and hasn't 100% compatibility. Therefore I use it only as second "SB16-card" by way of its spdif in and spdif out channels. The "first" SB with FM synth is Sound Blaster Pro clone. They work together and complement each other.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby kanecvr » 2015-6-07 @ 22:13

Yamaha YMF719-s OPL3 has SB16 compatibility. Worked with every game I tried on it and it sounds really good to boot.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby alexanrs » 2015-6-07 @ 22:31

/\ No SB16, but SBPro. OPL3 is the same between SBPro2 and SB16 anyway.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Rodoko » 2015-6-07 @ 22:44

I forgot to mention that the CMI8330 is not SB16 compatible, according to the SET BLASTER parameters the last one which is Tx parameter is configured with a 4 instead of a 6 which means that is SBPro and OPL2 compatible
If the card was SB16 compatible, the last parameter should be 6
Correct me if I'm wrong
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PARUS » 2015-6-12 @ 00:08

Unfortunately you're wrong. :(
The CMI8330 uses HighDMA channel. It is a feature of SB16. SET BLASTER environment (and its Tx parameter too) is used by Creative configuration managers to read information what kind of Creative SB is installed in the system, then properly configure it. But not always: if Creative card is PnP and the system is DOS7 as a part of Win9X the SET BLASTER is not needed, the card configuration depends on only its Windows configuration. Also SET BLASTER is used by some (very many and not all) old games to get values during sound initialization. Next: the T4 does not mean OPL2, the T6 does not mean OPL3/4. The type of FM synthesis does not depend on the type of SB.

It is right that SET BLASTER parameters absolutely don't needed to initialize cards whose initializers don't use SET BLASTER. There are all or almost all Sound Blaster clones. And CMI8330 is too, its configuration manager uses its own address-keys in command prompt.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Jolaes76 » 2015-6-14 @ 12:17

This is the only chip which 100% supports SB16 standard

NO. In my dictionary, a game which works on a real SB16 -even by falling back to SB 2.0 standard but works- should also work on this card. From the 1st page of this topic it has been pointed out that the CMI8330 has problems with earlier games (up to the 1st generation of SB16s, CT17xx). SB16 is compatible with itself AND SB 2.0. CMI8330 is not.

Then let us focus on later games where you can be sure that selecting SB16 in the setup REALLY means using SB16 drivers and features - so the game does NOT use the SB (1, 1.5, 2.0) "fallback" driver. Inspect late DOS extender era AAA+ games, like Warcraft 2, TIe Fighter etc. Here the CMI8330 will work, probably flawlessly. BUT these games usually support other 16bit capable cards (Gravis, Ensoniq etc.) with their own drivers (Miles, mostly). I think these can also provide the "fluid guns" effect where this thread started out from :)
Last edited by Jolaes76 on 2015-6-14 @ 12:22, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2015-6-14 @ 12:21

Jolaes76 wrote:From the 1st page of this topic it has been pointed out that the CMI8330 has problems with earlier games (up to the 1st generation of SB16s, CT17xx). SB16 is compatible with itself AND SB 2.0. CMI8330 is not.

The failed tests need to be redone to get system speed out of the equation. Meaning i need to test these games on a slower system.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Jolaes76 » 2015-6-14 @ 12:37

I hope you can prove me wrong, I also have a few unused CMI8330s :)
But on my test rig they failed to get detected and played erroneously in some cases. And this was a 100 Mhz DX4 de-turboed, de-cached :( I should have made notes of the problematic games.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PARUS » 2015-6-14 @ 20:49

If real SB16 is compatible with SB2.0 it does not mean that CMI8330 must be compatible with SB2.0 too.
If a game works on a real SB16 by falling back to SB2.0 standard it does not mean that CMI8330 should also.

The earlier games which fall back to SB2.0 work fine on Sound Blaster Pro and clones.
I didn't say that CMI8330 works exactly like a real SB16 in both standards. I mean that CMI8330 works fine in SB16 mode. Therefore "1st" SB in my system is SB clone which has resources IO=220 IRQ=7 LowDMA=1; "2nd" is CMI8330 for SB16 standard only and has IO=240 IRQ=5 LowDMA=0 HighDMA=5. And "some cases" as you said are cases when earlier games don't play sound in SB16 mode, they may be used on SB Pro. Suchlike way lets us to have full operability. And it's better than single SB16 card.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby jesolo » 2015-6-14 @ 21:54

If you really want to know what Sound Blaster model your card supports, check the DSP version.
I usually use Lucasarts' setup programs to "detect" the sound card.
If you select the correct model it will detect it correctly and tell you which DSP model you have.
Alternatively, use a diagnostic utility like NSSI 0.60.

DSP v.2.x is a Sound Blaster version 2.0 compatible
DSP v.3.x is Sound Blaster Pro compatible
DSP v.4.x is Sound Blaster 16 compatible

Most Sound Blaster compatible sound cards had the OPL3 chip with DSP version 3.x.
Some cards, although having an OPL3 chip, only had DSP version 2.x, making it a "hybrid" card (stereo FM synthesis but only mono digital sound playback in terms of Sound Blaster support).
Last edited by jesolo on 2015-6-16 @ 20:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Jolaes76 » 2015-6-15 @ 03:20

I perfectly understand your point of view, yet we do have to see a list of games where the cmi betters a real ct2940 on its own ground. The spdif hack is nice, just too bothersome for most people. And I am aware of the working-but-bitch-to-fit daughterboard header as well. :-)
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby badmojo » 2015-6-26 @ 01:03

I picked this thing up because I was interested in the SB16 compatibility claimed on the box. It turned out to be an ASL120 based card which was very easy to setup, has decent DOS software, and seemed to be make good on its claims in my limited testing. But the hiss! Oh the hiss - it starts the moment the PC is turned on and there's nothing you can do to reduce it apparently - no mixer settings have the least impact on it.

On to the pile of broken dreams it goes.

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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Jolaes76 » 2015-6-26 @ 04:20

From at least 2009, there are several comments on the ALS100, 120, 200 and + variants here on Vogons' that align with your observation. Too bad, really. You might try the home-made EMS shielding route but if the card is a sponge to ISA noise it won't help much. One can also hook the analogue out to some studio equipment to filter out a specific frequency range if the hiss is homogenic, but it is not an option for the casual retro gamer.
I usually do not use headphones with early cards like the Blaster 1, 2, Pro.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PARUS » 2015-7-25 @ 20:32

Jolaes76 wrote:a list of games where the cmi betters a real ct2940 on its own ground.

Excuse me, what do you mean "betters"? How it should be better? It can be "compatible" or "not compatible" with some standard.
This card betters for me because digital out and clear sound. If you leave this idea about spdif then the cmi8330 isn't better or worse.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Jolaes76 » 2015-7-25 @ 21:31

Sorry for the slang. I basically meant this:

1. how many SB16 games is the CMI8330 compatible with ? (using high DMA, 16bit samples/mixing etc.) ALL of them ????
2. does the CMI8330 burden the system(CPU) less, more or the same as an SB16 playing on several channels ?
3. how does the analogue outputs compare ? (the CT2940 is a clear winner to me)
4. are there examples for erroneous playback on a CT2940 where the CMI8330 sounds glitch-free ?
etc.

So leaving out the absence of SPDIF on the CT2940 and the hanging note bug from the matrix, you might still find interesting differences.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PARUS » 2015-7-25 @ 21:47

OK. Now I understand.
1. I didn't see any problems with CMI.
2. To know this it is necessary to plug it into the slow machine. I used it on i440 for checking and now I use it on i865. A fast system would not sensitive and I can't answer this question.
3. CT2940 is much better! CMI8330 analog sound is gruesome!
4. NO. IMHO it's impossible.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Mithloraite » 2015-8-07 @ 16:05

Jolaes76 wrote:I hope you can prove me wrong, I also have a few unused CMI8330s :)
But on my test rig they failed to get detected and played erroneously in some cases. And this was a 100 Mhz DX4 de-turboed, de-cached :( I should have made notes of the problematic games.

The list of such "SB-16 picky" games would be much appreciated. Even 1-2 titles to boot... I'd throw them at this:
http://www.yjfy.com/images/oldhard/video/dt-0196h.jpg

It confirmed to play stereo doors/shooting sounds in Wolfenstein3D like a true SB-16 and it is not some "later" game. Also it boasts a Yamaha chip sort of poorly cut out but it looks just like this on Aztech sb Pro clones. (wich are commonly found with Yamaha chips.) Not to mention its unrealistic width :) (among clones) to carry any wavetable.

Some decisive tests/games would be handy.

P.S.
also it has 2 sound outputs (amp+non amp) and no hissing.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Mithloraite » 2015-8-07 @ 16:31

Jolaes76 wrote: 4. are there examples for erroneous playback on a CT2940 where the CMI8330 sounds glitch-free ?
etc.
So leaving out the absence of SPDIF on the CT2940 and the hanging note bug from the matrix, you might still find interesting differences.

That's interesting indeed. It might be possible really (#4). All "true" SB-16/AWE 32/64 by Creative gave me a problem of occasionally -losing- the doors/shots sound in Wolfenstein. A complete sound effects loss. Only going into the game menu and returning to the game would correct this.
That was detestable. Only the clone let me rid of this problem.

P.S.
Also the Vibras and "true" SB-16 in the past gave a false 'click' sound when pushing a secret wall in Wolfenstein. The intended sound itself is screeching when sliding back but Creative added a loud click (or pop) in the process. Also very bad.
Clones are better at this point too.

P.P.S. Hanging note bug in SB-16 should not be left out. It's unforgivable. Makes the Creative card -useless- for any better MIDI music which DOS games had in abundance.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby PeterLI » 2015-9-02 @ 23:00

I play GM games all the time and rarely notice the hanging note bug with my CTs to be honest.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Mithloraite » 2015-9-06 @ 02:00

PeterLI wrote:I play GM games all the time and rarely notice the hanging note bug with my CTs to be honest.

I think it can depend on one's personal disposition towards occasional music malfunctions (OK or it ruins all impression of a game) and one's personal history and luck with Creative sound cards :)

It also depends on one's favourite game, some are more prone to produce hanging notes than the other (given same Creative cards).

My gaming history is not in favour of Creative.
When I upgraded from some ESS SB-Pro clone to Creative Vibra I got stereo sound in Wolfenstein and it was great. Direction of shooting sounds is important. Unfortunately wavetables appeared and did NOT work OK. Malfunctions were in Heretic mainly and Doom was more or less OK but not always. I tried a "true" SB16 (non Vibra) and it was also bad with hanging notes.
The only good thing about it I was careful to arrange for its return. Already knowing what to expect with Creative Co, heh.

Since I had no solid advice on this matter I thought only a major redesign of the board would put the bug away. I saw that AWE32 are similar to SB-16 and did not buy any. When AWE-64 appeared on the market I risked that and "won", the bug eliminated. But I had to waste extra money on a retail German AWE64 box since there was no other quality offer.

Later I studied the vast experiment by Cloudschatze which dealt with different AWE-32 models. I adore his patience (he did not throw this stuff against a wall!) and I bless the moment I rejected paying anything (in the 90's) for this uhm, product.
As Cloudschatze has found only the first model (ct2760) to be more or less stable and still failing the hanging note test, sooner or later. Hexen was the test game. All later models (ct3980, 3990) and AFAIR ct3900 displayed hanging notes with Hexen.

To me, the moral of the story is, Vibras and SB-16 are a sort of sorry gambling. "Try it if you like it".
As for AWE32, they are good for adding Chorus and Reverb to Adlib/FM music in games :) That's their real (and only) advantage.

For their MIDI music I personally would not bother. Let Creative Co. choke on their bugs and their ill-gotten money for bad stuff.
How Cloudschatze could be so patient as to browse through -so- many buggy cards and test them all diligently... Jedi training perhaps ^___^

P.S.
As far as I have heard SB-32 budget/value models can -not- do even that one good thing, adding Chorus and Reverb to FM music.

And they all garble MIDI music. :) ct3600, ct3620... So the good thing they don't do, and the bad thing they have. :)
Great job on fooling customers, Creative Co.

P.P.S.
anti-offtopic, the Clones of SB-16 are a -bright- alternative when we have such nasty originals. :)
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