Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

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

Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby andreja6 » 2017-10-03 @ 20:48

I have recently gotten a real Windows 95 PC that is compatible with 98. I have been playing many DOS games on it but noticed something rather horrid,
The Sound Blaster Live!'s SB16 and OPL3 Emulation is downright HORRIBLE. Skyroads has a lot notes being dropped, wrong instruments, weird fading, Incredibly loud bass, and Duke Nukem 3D just sounds like a bunch of xylophones and cymbals falling off shelves (I'm not kidding, its a jumble of random xylophone and cymbal sounds with beeps), and the incredible machine just crashes (Though I have reason to believe this isn't just because of the sound card)

The sound blaster Live! is great for Midi however.
The thing is, even if i like midi, I really love the real OPL3 sounds in games, Skyroads especially.

Which sound card would you recommend that has ACTUAL OPL3 and ACTUAL Sound Blaster support?
I've heard of AWE32 and AWE64 being great, but I also heard some models lack OPL3, and not to mention they are over 200 dollars...

EDIT
The motherboard is an Abit ab-bh6, but a resistor for the PS/2 ports blew up. It still works with USB (Even in DOS since I use the BIOS USB Driver)
It has 5 PCI slots and 2 16-bit ISA slots

Also,
Is it possible to have two sound cards, and have one daisy chain to the other to play through one set of speaker? (Live!'s Midi is amazing)
Last edited by andreja6 on 2017-10-03 @ 21:44, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-10-03 @ 21:05

What motherboard do you have?

What slots do you have available?

Where are you located?
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby andreja6 » 2017-10-03 @ 21:42

cyclone3d wrote:What motherboard do you have?

What slots do you have available?

Where are you located?


Sorry! Its my first time actually working on this stuff so I got a bit carried away.
The motherboard is an Abit ab-bh6, but a resistor for the PS/2 ports blew up. It still works with USB (Even in DOS since I use the BIOS USB Driver)
It has 5 PCI slots and 2 16-bit ISA slots

The PC has a Pentium II-400Mhz 100Mhz FSB

I am in BC, Canada.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-10-03 @ 22:02

With ISA slots, you have immense choice. Have you got any ISA audio cards?
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby andreja6 » 2017-10-03 @ 22:57

gdjacobs wrote:With ISA slots, you have immense choice. Have you got any ISA audio cards?

I never had anything other than PC Speaker. I only have an ISA dial up modem which causes an IRQ conflict with the Sound Blaster Live! card :/

I'm trying to see which sound cards would be my best option
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby badmojo » 2017-10-03 @ 23:22

I personally like a non-plug-and-play ISA sound card in my Win98 machine so that I can boot directly to DOS and do DOS games there. If you have a PnP card it's not a big deal, Win98 will detect it though so you either have to deal with conflicts with your PCI card or disable the ISA card in Windows.

Some ISA sound cards will have speed issues in that system - Crystal based cards come to mind. OPLSAx cards a good for Win98 though, and the Audiodrives. Some do decent soft synth so in theory you could ditch the Live! altogether and just have the ISA card for all games.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-10-03 @ 23:57

Oddly enough, my Jazz16 card doesn't have speed issues with my KT133 board.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-10-04 @ 00:19

If you want an AWE64, the best model is the CT3670. It was labeled as a SB32, but is really just an AWE64 with Simm slots for easy/cheap RAM upgrade.

None of the AWE64 cards have real OPL3.

My suggestion would be to get an AWE64 or a CT3670... my preference being towards the CT3670

If you want an AWE32 with real OPL3, be prepared to spend.

Much cheaper to get a different card with OPL3.

Since your motherboard has a SB_LINK/PC_PCI header (in between the PCI slots next to thew ISA slots) you can use a PCI Yamaha YMF 724 or similar based card. OPL3 is integrated and it has SB-Pro support. Just make sure if you get one of those cards that it has the header pins on it for the cable unless you are ok with soldering them yourself. Even without the cable, your motherboard supports DDMA so most everything should work just fine.

There are also ISA Yamaha based cards which are good... but there are also a huge number of other ISA cards that have real OPL3 on them.

The only thing you have to watch out for with ISA cards is speed sensitivity.

The thing that blew on your PS/2 ports is probably not a resistor, but a fuse. Is it the larger green flat thing? If so, it is a fuse.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-10-04 @ 00:32

cyclone3d wrote:If you want an AWE64, the best model is the CT3670. It was labeled as a SB32, but is really just an AWE64 with Simm slots for easy/cheap RAM upgrade.

None of the AWE64 cards have real OPL3.

My suggestion would be to get an AWE64 or a CT3670... my preference being towards the CT3670

If you want an AWE32 with real OPL3, be prepared to spend.

Much cheaper to get a different card with OPL3.

Since your motherboard has a SB_LINK/PC_PCI header (in between the PCI slots next to thew ISA slots) you can use a PCI Yamaha YMF 724 or similar based card. OPL3 is integrated and it has SB-Pro support. Just make sure if you get one of those cards that it has the header pins on it for the cable unless you are ok with soldering them yourself. Even without the cable, your motherboard supports DDMA so most everything should work just fine.

There are also ISA Yamaha based cards which are good... but there are also a huge number of other ISA cards that have real OPL3 on them.

The only thing you have to watch out for with ISA cards is speed sensitivity.

The thing that blew on your PS/2 ports is probably not a resistor, but a fuse. Is it the larger green flat thing? If so, it is a fuse.


Re real OPL3 awe32, my solution was to get a Sound Blaster 32 (CT3600) [A240 I5 D3] with a SB Pro II (CT1600) [A220 I7 D1 - printer port disabled in win98]. You could go with a cheaper SB16 with OPL3 instead of a CT1600, I just had the Pro II on hand. Seems to be a nice setup for me, I play DOOM with midi out of the ct3600 and fx out of the ct1600.

If you're patient with ebay you can get a CT3600 for $20, I got 32MB 30 pin simms for another $12 or so from amazon (some of the big sound fonts like Masterpiece are AMAZING). I've had the CT1600 since I was a kid, but you can get SB16s relatively cheap if you hunt for them.

Just an option for a dual setup if you want to pinch pennies and do it one at a time. It's not the best solution but it works, especially if you're after EMU8000 + OPL3 which is my ideal setup.
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Re: Best sound card with real OPL3 and Windows 98 support?

Postby andreja6 » 2017-10-04 @ 00:58

cyclone3d wrote:If you want an AWE64, the best model is the CT3670. It was labeled as a SB32, but is really just an AWE64 with Simm slots for easy/cheap RAM upgrade.

None of the AWE64 cards have real OPL3.

My suggestion would be to get an AWE64 or a CT3670... my preference being towards the CT3670

If you want an AWE32 with real OPL3, be prepared to spend.

Much cheaper to get a different card with OPL3.

Since your motherboard has a SB_LINK/PC_PCI header (in between the PCI slots next to thew ISA slots) you can use a PCI Yamaha YMF 724 or similar based card. OPL3 is integrated and it has SB-Pro support. Just make sure if you get one of those cards that it has the header pins on it for the cable unless you are ok with soldering them yourself. Even without the cable, your motherboard supports DDMA so most everything should work just fine.

There are also ISA Yamaha based cards which are good... but there are also a huge number of other ISA cards that have real OPL3 on them.

The only thing you have to watch out for with ISA cards is speed sensitivity.

The thing that blew on your PS/2 ports is probably not a resistor, but a fuse. Is it the larger green flat thing? If so, it is a fuse.


I'm not sure what cards have speed sensitivity. Is there an easy way to know?

Also, even if it was a fuse, it blew out a few resistors and left a large black spot. The motherboard still works fine funny enough

Thanks for the suggestions!
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