Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

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

Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2018-7-13 @ 06:48

I am putting together a 386 PC. Now that it's working I am looking to get a sound card. The games I will be playing are DOS games up to about 1992 roughly.

I see that "real" SB cards are prohibitively expensive. I am looking to spend up to £40 on Ebay UK or electromyne etc.

What should I be looking for? I assume OPL3 support will be important but that's the extent of my sound card knowledge.

The cards I like the look of the most on ebay are a SB Vibra 16 CT4180, and an Aztech Sound Galaxy AZT2316R. Both under £40 delivered.
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby Jo22 » 2018-7-13 @ 09:09

For games up to 1992, something Sound Blaster II /AdLib (OPL2) compatible should be good enough.
Personally, I would install a ThunderBoard, ALS100, ALS120, CT1350B (SB 2.0), ES688 AudioDrive or a no-name SB 2 clone.
Anything in essence. If you also like obscoure games, a SpeechThing compatible card would be nice. Aztech Sound Galaxy 16 Pro ?
- Together with TEMU, you can have additional Tandy 3-Voice sound support and Disney Sound Source support.

For games 1992 onwards, a soundcard with OPL3 and stereo sound effects would be nice.
Which includes SB Pro, PAS16, Windows Sound System, WSS, EWS64XL, SB16/AWE, etc.
For 1992+ on-board MIDI would also be cool, but not 100% necessary.
Games between 1992-1994 often supported MT-32 and/or GM.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts, since I don't know anything about your cards.

See http://www.amoretro.de/ for more inspirtation, the site's owner has a huge collection of soundcards. :)
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby badmojo » 2018-7-13 @ 09:13

Grab yourself a Vibra16 based thing with a real OPL3 on it - cheap, compatible, easy to use, and they sound good.
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby jheronimus » 2018-7-13 @ 09:40

I think, with 386 it could actually be better to get a non-Creative card. Most clones are SB Pro compatible, not SB16, so you're not losing much and you actually gain stereo in some games like Wolfenstein 3D. So, basically anything with OPL3 should be ideal.

So, you can get a Yamaha YMF-series card or an Aztech. There are lots of Opti-based cards with true OPL3. Basically, almost any noname card with OPL3 will be ideal for your needs. And if all fails — just get an ESS AudioDrive, it has a nice enough clone of OPL3.
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby Almoststew1990 » 2018-7-13 @ 11:39

Thanks for the advice. It looks like I'll get the aztech card as it has a real opl3 chip.

One question - there are a few opti based cards. Is this chip compatible with sb16 or is it a completely separate thing?
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby kixs » 2018-7-13 @ 12:08

Almost all cards are compatible with SB Pro.
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-7-14 @ 16:25

jheronimus wrote:I think, with 386 it could actually be better to get a non-Creative card. Most clones are SB Pro compatible, not SB16, so you're not losing much and you actually gain stereo in some games like Wolfenstein 3D. So, basically anything with OPL3 should be ideal.

So, you can get a Yamaha YMF-series card or an Aztech. There are lots of Opti-based cards with true OPL3. Basically, almost any noname card with OPL3 will be ideal for your needs. And if all fails — just get an ESS AudioDrive, it has a nice enough clone of OPL3.


Wolf3d works in stereo on the SB16. The pan instructions it uses are supported.

But you're right, SB Pro will handle pretty much everything for a 386.
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby LABS » 2018-7-14 @ 19:33

BlasterBoard 2.0 - a modern 8-bit ISA sound card I'm currently working on will soon be available in limited quantity for purchase. It is SB2.0 and ThunderBoard compatible, modern and expandable via firmware updates and will be reasonably priced.

viewtopic.php?f=62&t=61098
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby PARUS » 2018-7-14 @ 22:49

80386 has 16-bit slots. BlasterBoard 2.0 is very actual when 16-bit slots are absent and it's awesome! But there are a lot of excellent SB-clones. Explain please why we may choose BlasterBoard 2.0 for 386+ machines and don't choose one of billion good come-at-able cheap clones. Thank you!
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby Tenorman » 2018-7-17 @ 00:16

Agree that any good Sound Blaster 2.0, Pro, or clone card would work well.

One specific one I have laying around that I'd think about putting in a 386 would be the Logitech Soundman Games (http://tenorman.info/pc/soundmangames).
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby Jo22 » 2018-7-17 @ 07:49

PARUS wrote:80386 has 16-bit slots. BlasterBoard 2.0 is very actual when 16-bit slots are absent and it's awesome!!

Yes. Some 286/386 machines do have a dedicated 8-Bit slot, though. Probably for ancient PC-Bus cards, such as IBM CGA or MDA.
Also, that topic reminds me of some soviet PC clones. They sometimes had 8086 CPUs and their own 16-Bit extensions to the PC-Bus.
A popular model was the "Junior XT" PC or mainboard. It had a tiny 16-Bit extension.
If you're curious, have a look at viewtopic.php?f=46&t=52971 .

Unfortunately, the auction and the associated pictures are gone by now.
At least, here's a picture of such an expansion card:

junior_xt_cga.jpg
junior_xt_cga.jpg (7.39 KiB) Viewed 178 times

(Source: https://www.olx.ro/oferta/placi-de-juni ... 7nOkE.html)
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby LABS » 2018-7-18 @ 11:28

PARUS wrote:80386 has 16-bit slots. BlasterBoard 2.0 is very actual when 16-bit slots are absent and it's awesome! But there are a lot of excellent SB-clones. Explain please why we may choose BlasterBoard 2.0 for 386+ machines and don't choose one of billion good come-at-able cheap clones. Thank you!


Reasonable remark, thank you. BlasterBoard 2.0 is more like an interesting(I hope so) build-youself-a-soundblaster project, but not a mass-production board. Nevetheless it has onboard analog mixer for dedicated OPL2/DAC/CD-IN/PC-speaker volume controls and a 4x oversampled, FIR-interpolated audio with 12-bit DAC is under development.

Jo22 wrote:Also, that topic reminds me of some soviet PC clones.


Yes, it looks like a soviet university radio lab student's project)
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Re: Recommend me a reasonably priced sound card for my 386

Postby canthearu » 2018-7-19 @ 14:46

I'm hopeful that the Blasterboard 2.0 will be slightly less expensive than the crazy prices that get asked for ADLIB and soundblaster 2.0 cards on ebay here in AU.

And it is always fun to build something yourself and then have it work.
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