Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

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Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Jo22 » 2010-1-09 @ 22:51

Hello everyone. Here's my little install guide. I hope it helps some people. :blush:


MS Virtual PC emulates the basic functionality of the Sound Blaster 16 PnP
except the MPU401 interface.

1) Get the SB16 driver package for DOS/Windows 3.1x. It's called sbbasic.exe .

2) Run the Sound Blaster 16 install program (install.exe) in DOS and
follow the instructions on screen.

3) Now disable the MPU driver..
Edit system.ini located in the windows directory.
Change 'MidiPort=330' to ';MidiPort=330'
Change 'Midi1=sb16snd.drv' to ';Midi1=sb16snd.drv'

4) Now save the file and reboot the virtual machine.

5) Run Windows.

Notes:
The SB drivers for DOS in autoexec.bat are not needed. Write REM before them.
SB16 default values are : IRQ5,220H,DMA1,DMA5.
Sadly, the MIDI based music sounds wrong because of faulty OPL3 support.

Tested with pure Windows 3.1 / WfW 3.11 on VPC 2007SP1.
Last edited by Jo22 on 2010-1-18 @ 10:50, edited 12 times in total.
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Re: Howto: Install Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Svenne » 2010-1-10 @ 14:22

I never got any problems with Windows 3.1 crashing due to sound drivers. I guess this might decreases startup time, though.
But MIDI music still sounds like complete shit :P
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Re: Howto: Install Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Jo22 » 2010-1-10 @ 14:47

Svenne wrote:I never got any problems with Windows 3.1 crashing due to sound drivers. I guess this might decreases startup time, though.


The howto is referring to the SB16 drivers only.
Although the SB 1.x drivers shipped with Windows 3.1 work,
they only offer 22KHz/8Bit/Mono PCM playback.

Svenne wrote:But MIDI music still sounds like complete shit :P

Please note that the Adlib softsynth shipped with Windows 3.1 doesn't work at all in VPC.
Sadly, the OPL3 support in VPC is faulty. Even for Windows 9x guests..
However, 44.1KHz/16Bit/Stereo PCM playback works fine with these SB16 drivers.
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Re: Howto: Install Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Svenne » 2010-1-10 @ 19:40

I used the SB16 drivers, and no crash.
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Re: Howto: Install Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Jo22 » 2010-1-10 @ 20:31

That's delighting. Thanks for posting. :happy:
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Re: Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Jo22 » 2010-1-12 @ 23:27

Svenne wrote:I never got any problems with Windows 3.1 crashing due to sound drivers. I guess this might decreases startup time, though.

Svenne, you were right.
I checked it again. When the MPU driver was loaded, it seemed like Windows crashed. But later, it finally started.
So the MPU driver doesn't strictly crash the VM, but disabling it decreases startup time. It is of no use anyway..
Other systems like Windows 98SE/Me didn't detect any MPU401, nor did they install drivers for it. I updated my howto.

Again, many thanks ! :sweatdrop:
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Re: Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby GL1zdA » 2010-5-17 @ 19:53

Does anyone have problems with these drivers when using S3 drivers in Hi-Color mode? Program Manager crashes on my VM at Windows start when both SB16 drivers and S3 drivers with more than 256 colors are installed. Seems to work fine with 256 colors.
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Re: Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby swaaye » 2010-5-17 @ 20:52

It's not like the Real Thing (TM) didn't crash every other hour. ;)

One thing that implodes that OS nicely is web browsing. For some reason it will crash the display driver. I don't think it's specifically caused by IE. It may be shitty S3 drivers in action.

Win3.x was the early times of GUI acceleration for Windows and consumer hardware. A lot of people just used the plain SVGA driver, 640x480x8-bit on a 14" monitor. I remember those being the days when I first started exploring vendor display drivers when I got my Diamond Speedstar card. It brought in all sorts of weird instability and the speed increase is barely noticeable in most apps of the time.

I think that higher resolutions are the primary advantage of real hardware drivers. Unless you're working with true color images, which was rare back in 3.1's time (those systems had 2-8MB RAM typically), 256 colors is what the OS was really designed around. Even "multimedia" apps used 256 colors. WinG's acceleration required 256 color mode in fact.
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Re: Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby Norton Commander » 2010-5-17 @ 22:19

You're correct about Win 3.1/VPC crashing with web browsing. I never did try it with the standard VGA drivers though, will have to see how that works.

You are however incorrect about using it on real hardware and instability at anything above 8-bit color. The real problem was the crap video card you were using (Diamond). I too had a Diamond (Stealth, can't remember the exact model) and had all kinds of display glitches even using 256 colors using their drivers. I returned it and got a cheapo Cirrus Logic 5426 1MB and Windows 3.1 ran fine at 800x600x16M. It also worked great for DOS apps because the CLGD5426 have VBE 2.0 in ROM whereas that Diamond card required Scitech Display Doctor.

On a side note I at one time purchased a Diamond 33.6 external voice modem which was also crap. Although it had a cool-looking LCD display I couldn't connect higher than 14.4 even after a firmware upgrade whereas my older Supra 28.8 connected at 28.8.

Diamond was just an utter crap company putting out crap products, much like today's Creative Labs.
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Re: Howto: Installing Sound Blaster 16 drivers for Windows 3.1 in Virtual PC

Postby GL1zdA » 2010-5-27 @ 20:42

Norton Commander wrote:You're correct about Win 3.1/VPC crashing with web browsing. I never did try it with the standard VGA drivers though, will have to see how that works.

Have you seen the Virtual PC Guy's Blog (33. and 34.)?
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