Sound Blaster 16 Clones

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

Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby tikbalang » 2009-7-12 @ 06:04

cmi8x38 drivers from cmi website. there were about three variants but it think this was the latest and works for all.
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CMI8X38D.zip
CMI8X38D DOS Drivers
(71.9 KiB) Downloaded 1113 times
ESS PCI DOS Drivers
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby valnar » 2009-7-14 @ 13:14

I received my CMI8330 ISA board a couple days ago and installed it in a DOS/Win3.1 Pentium 166. So far, I love it. It works great at everything I've thrown at it and has a high compatibility mark for me. The only thing I don't like is the (lack of) support for holding the wavetable board. And mounting a WT board also hits the gameport ribbon. Other than that, I have a new favorite DOS sound card.

Everything gerwin said is true. This has to be the easiest PnP ISA card I've ever used. No memory use at all and it just worked. My BIOS is PnP aware though - not sure how a 386 would fare.

Edit: The one thing I don't see is a way to enable the wavetable board in the midi mapper in Windows 3.1. It defaults to a FM mapping with no other option.
Last edited by valnar on 2009-7-14 @ 20:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Harekiet » 2009-7-14 @ 13:25

yeh i have one of those cmi8330 cards as well and it works pretty decently for most stuff. Although i think the specs say it has a 20 channel opl3 implementation instead of the regular 18. Wonder if there's any software that can actually use that :)
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby archsan » 2009-7-14 @ 14:35

Quick question here, gerwin--or anyone using the ISA CMI8330: can the FM/OPL3 be disabled or not initialized (so as not to conflict with another card at 388h)? Thanks!
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby bestemor » 2009-7-14 @ 20:34

@gerwin:
Attached a photograph of my setup, which probably raises more questions then it answers
heh :blush:

...could you narrate that bottom pic a little ?
(as I'm having some trouble figuring out whats in there)
You don't have to explain the setup or anything, only describe/name the item itself.

Bottom left seems to be the Cmedia isa card, on top of that is a Turtle beach Vortex 8820 (A3D?)... so far so good.

...but then I'm slightly confused with whatever is covering the TB card.
(looks like a soundcard, but not occupying any slots?)
I'm guessing that is the "official Vortex-2 I/O bracket" ?
Didn't know these budget cards even HAD such a thing (!)

And then theres that small 'thing' above that again, what looks like a 'usb' cable? from a pci slot or whatnot :confused:

I assume the bottom right is a Korg daugthercard, or ?
(on some weird converter contraption?)

Just curious.... :happyhappy:
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2009-7-15 @ 09:35

valnar wrote:I received my CMI8330 ISA board a couple days ago and installed it in a DOS/Win3.1 Pentium 166. So far, I love it. It works great at everything I've thrown at it and has a high compatibility mark for me. The only thing I don't like is the (lack of) support for holding the wavetable board. And mounting a WT board also hits the gameport ribbon. Other than that, I have a new favorite DOS sound card.

Good to hear it from someone else! Have you tried a joystick with or without the fix yet and which wavetable are you using with it?

archsan wrote:Quick question here, gerwin--or anyone using the ISA CMI8330: can the FM/OPL3 be disabled or not initialized (so as not to conflict with another card at 388h)? Thanks!

Not really, but you can put the soundblaster and adlib I/O to hex 240 and 398 instead of the default 220 and 388. Wasn't the soundblaster base address also an interface to the OPL3?

bestemor wrote: ...could you narrate that bottom pic a little ?

You got most of it right already!
you are looking at:
-a Soyo SY-6BA+III Mainboard (i440BX).
-PCI USB 2 adapter, with the internal fourth port cabled to the outside.
-Montego II Home Studio S/PDIF bracket (cabled to the Montego II, insulated with a piece of paper between them).
-PCI Turtle Beach Montego II soundcard (Vortex-2 AU8830)
-ISA CMI8330 soundcard with joystick fix and S/PDIF voltage adapter, connected to Montego II with both a S/PDIF wire and an analog jackplug wire.
-Waveblaster daughterboard home-made adapter, using PSU power.
-Topwave Korg Waveblaster daughterboard 4MB GM (with attached jackplug socket), midi input routed to both the CMI8330 and Montego II, analog output routed to Montego II.
-A small adapter cable (red/black) to route the mainboard's PC-Speaker signal to the Montego II Aux-in.

Here is another view of the Montego II package: Vogons: Vortex2 card under Win XP
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby archsan » 2009-7-15 @ 12:03

gerwin wrote:
archsan wrote:Quick question here, gerwin--or anyone using the ISA CMI8330: can the FM/OPL3 be disabled or not initialized (so as not to conflict with another card at 388h)? Thanks!

Not really, but you can put the soundblaster and adlib I/O to hex 240 and 398 instead of the default 220 and 388. Wasn't the soundblaster base address also an interface to the OPL3?

Good to know--and no, AFAIK FM Synthesizer address on soundblasters (and maybe most cards with real OPL2/3 chip) is usually fixed at 388h, just like on the original AdLib card. I guess that's to maintain perfect compatibility with original AdLib-supporting games (with no option to change address). With this CMI8830, seems like one can pair it with a real-OPL2/3-equipped card to enjoy the "truer" AdLib/FM.

So, is it rare, this card? How did you find it? I didn't get any result on ggl products or ebay with keyword "CMI8330"...
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2009-7-15 @ 12:21

archsan wrote:no, AFAIK FM Synthesizer address on soundblasters (and maybe most cards with real OPL2/3 chip) is usually fixed at 388h, just like on the original AdLib card. I guess that's to maintain perfect compatibility with original AdLib-supporting games (with no option to change address).

I mean like this:
source The Sound Blaster Pro is capable of stereo FM music, which is accessed in exactly the same manner. Ports 0220 and 0221 (hex) are the address/data ports for the left speaker, and ports 0222 and 0223 (hex) are the ports for the right speaker. Ports 0388 and 0389 (hex) will cause both speakers to output sound.

archsan wrote:So, is it rare, this card? How did you find it? I didn't get any result on ggl products or ebay with keyword "CMI8330"...

use some of the other search keywords such as AV310 or Soundpro or audio excel.. I have seen a few on ebay.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby valnar » 2009-7-15 @ 12:48

archsan wrote:
gerwin wrote:
archsan wrote:So, is it rare, this card? How did you find it? I didn't get any result on ggl products or ebay with keyword "CMI8330"...

I just bought one - had to come from the UK to the USA though. I saw one yesterday and it's gone now, so people must be reading this thread. :shocked:
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby archsan » 2009-7-15 @ 13:17

gerwin wrote: I mean like this:
source The Sound Blaster Pro is capable of stereo FM music, which is accessed in exactly the same manner. Ports 0220 and 0221 (hex) are the address/data ports for the left speaker, and ports 0222 and 0223 (hex) are the ports for the right speaker. Ports 0388 and 0389 (hex) will cause both speakers to output sound.

:oops: is that only with SB-Pro's or also with other cards?

valnar wrote:I just bought one - had to come from the UK to the USA though. I saw one yesterday and it's gone now, so people must be reading this thread. :shocked:

That's OK, as long as the sellers stay out of this thread :happyhappy: --that might crank up the price a bit.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby ux-3 » 2010-5-29 @ 20:08

I helped myself to one. Unfortunately, the audio female ext. connectors aren't exactly stable. I had to replace the spk out from an old Soundblaster 16.

Well, I just tried it. I find the audio out too weak. I have it hooked up to my stereo, and it doesn't really deliver a very strong signal, even with the build in amp. And I found it to sound rather distorted too. If I don't find a way to further boost the signal, I won't use it.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2010-5-29 @ 22:53

Did you get a bad specimen, or did I fail to notice these things myself?
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby ux-3 » 2010-5-30 @ 09:58

gerwin wrote:Did you get a bad specimen, or did I fail to notice these things myself?


Well, I did get a bad specimen insofar as that the plugin for speaker was mechanically broken. This was easy to understand after I soldered out this socket. The metal connectors are soft as butter. The old SB16 no one wanted here donated her "line in" which is way more sturdy. So after that got fixed, I tried the card.

I use Warlords2 for testing, because its sound gets easily distorted by different cards. There is also speech and sound effects overlay right at the start. I used many cards I have here to test that game.

I am am somewhat puzzled but almost all my card's signals are rather weak for my AV-Receiver. I must turn up the volume, so the receiver noise itself becomes quite audible too. When I use the internal amplifiers, things get somewhat better. I shall try a different cable, but I don't think that it is the cause.

Anyway, I compared the following cards a few times:
Terratec Maestro 32/96
Terratec Gold 16/96
the CMI 8330
Soundblaster 16 CT-1740
Soundblaster 32 CT-2760
Ess 688 & opl3
when possible, with yamaha DB

I was rather surprised about the results. The single most impressive card to me was the Maestro 32/96. If one casually builds a retro PC from scratch, that card offers most bang for the buck. Its own wavetable sounds nice and requires no tsr. The card is very clear with a strong signal. FM does sound better than OPL3 in some places (Percussion stuff in Warlord2)
It is available for 1buck at ebay if you look. It even lets you run a second wavetable with it.

Strongest signal goes to the CT-2760. It also sounds fairer than the ESS 1868f chips (Gold 16/96 & Schubert). Amazingly, SB32 produces hanging notes with its own AWE (via TSR), but so far none with the db.

The ESS688 & OPL3 delivers a strong signal too, sounds like OPL3 but unfortunately does not allow a DB without tsr. I have not seen a 1688 with OPL instead.

The CMI8330 looks exactly like yours but that FM rendition wasn't really clear. And the speech rendering wasn't either. And my receiver creates some hiss at the required volume.

Now, since I own the CMI8330, there is no reason for me to put it down. :blush: But I have failed to like it. If I don't find some solution for the signal, I can't use it anyway. Would I only use the screen speakers, it would probably be quite nice, but the stereo with those large speakers reveal things you don't like to hear.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2010-5-30 @ 14:18

Where can one buy a maestro 32/96 for a buck?
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby ux-3 » 2010-5-30 @ 16:51

Ebay
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby SquallStrife » 2011-4-27 @ 03:42

Bumping this thread because it's mainly about the CMI8330:

Gerwin, are you able to get sound from a CMI-mounted wavetable DB via the CMI's SPDIF out?
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2011-4-27 @ 08:51

SquallStrife wrote:Bumping this thread because it's mainly about the CMI8330:

Gerwin, are you able to get sound from a CMI-mounted wavetable DB via the CMI's SPDIF out?

Well, I don't remember. But technically it would be nonsense. Since any daughterboard only outputs analog left and right. And for the soundcard to convert that back to S/PDIF... very unlikely.

The world would be a better place if Midi Daughterboards gave digital output instead, but it was never like that.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby SquallStrife » 2011-4-27 @ 09:23

gerwin wrote:Well, I don't remember. But technically it would be nonsense. Since any daughterboard only outputs analog left and right. And for the soundcard to convert that back to S/PDIF... very unlikely.


Yeah, that makes sense. I was just making sure! ;)

It's a nice enough sounding card if you turn off the amplifier, so it's not a huge loss.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2011-4-27 @ 11:17

With the CMI8330 review in this thread I should have specified the testing system was at least 600MHz. I found that a few games do not detect SB16 hardware on a system above 200MHz.
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Re: Sound Blaster 16 Clones

Postby gerwin » 2011-6-21 @ 14:02

gerwin wrote:I mean like this:
source The Sound Blaster Pro is capable of stereo FM music, which is accessed in exactly the same manner. Ports 0220 and 0221 (hex) are the address/data ports for the left speaker, and ports 0222 and 0223 (hex) are the ports for the right speaker. Ports 0388 and 0389 (hex) will cause both speakers to output sound.

I am wondering about this technical info. My experience is that a soundblaster with much shifted base IO to 280 will still play FM music fine, even though the software is configured for IO 220. Does that mean I can only use it for OPL2 and not for OPL3. I will have to test if I can hear stereo effects...

The Base IO (default 220) is used for communicating mixer volume settings for sure.
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