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First post, by Un Information

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Hello, I've looking into this for the past few days. I've found out about the Sound Blaster Audigy RX, but I heard it's pretty terrible (anyone got confirmation?). Does anyone know of a list for a modern sound card with MIDI synth? It doesn't have to be a sound card that emulates the sound of older ones, in fact I'm not necessarily looking for that kind of thing either. I would appreciate any help, thanks.

Reply 1 of 15, by darry

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Un Information wrote on 2020-06-22, 02:58:

Hello, I've looking into this for the past few days. I've found out about the Sound Blaster Audigy RX, but I heard it's pretty terrible (anyone got confirmation?). Does anyone know of a list for a modern sound card with MIDI synth? It doesn't have to be a sound card that emulates the sound of older ones, in fact I'm not necessarily looking for that kind of thing either. I would appreciate any help, thanks.

Not too many options, if you exclude softsynths .

See https://www.serdashop.com/X3M for a great option, IMHO .

Reply 3 of 15, by darry

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Un Information wrote on 2020-06-22, 09:51:

Is that related to the DreamBlaster card at all or are the MIDI voices just called "Dream" by coincidence? Also would a DreamBlaster X2 even work with a Sound Blaster RX?

The X3M I linked to is a complete USB sound "card" with wave (PCM) out, but no wave (PCM) input. It can, however record its own synth. It includes a MIDI accessible synthesizer provided by a modern, still in production, Dream branded chip . The X3MB has more synthesizer polyphony than the X3MA, but no wave (PCM) output or input . You can use either the X3MA or X3MB with another sound card on the same computer . If you do that, you may need to find a way to mix the output of the X3M with that of your other sound card, or feed the X3M output to your other card's input, according to your preferences .

The Dreamblaster X2 is a midi daughterboard that needs a host card with a waveblaster header, such as provided on many vinyage sound cards. It cannot be used on an Audigy RX .

EDIT: All of these "cards" use some model of Dream provided synth chip, hence the Dream moniker .

Reply 5 of 15, by kolderman

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Un Information wrote on 2020-06-23, 06:48:

That sounds like a bit much for me, there's simply no modern sound cards around with a modern MIDI synthesizer in them? I'm not exactly literate when it comes to music stuff.

Is there any particular reason modern synth software on a modern computer won't do what you want? What exactly do you expect a Midi sound card to do?

Reply 6 of 15, by Un Information

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I honestly don't know what you mean, are you talking about soundfonts? I haven't found one I even like in all honestly, and half the time programs like BassMIDI and and VirtualMIDISynth just crash at random. Could be my PC? I don't know. Besides, I'd much rather have the physical thing if that makes any sense especially considering the prices for sound cards aren't generally high nowadays unless you're looking to buy a retro one on eBay.

Reply 8 of 15, by Un Information

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Ah okay, well I will keep looking. I was looking for something like an internal sound card I can put into my PC. I got a message about the Creative Sound Blaster card, apparently it's not bad. I might end up getting that one, but I will still keep an eye on the one linked. Thanks.

Reply 9 of 15, by cyclone3d

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Everybody in the music business has pretty much moved to soft synths for the most part. And no newer games support MIDI so there aren't really being made anymore.

There are some Chinese knockoff sound cards. I have one that is named "SoundBlessed" It is a Sound Blaster Live! but PCIe.

You can also get Sound Blaster X-Fi cards in PCIe. (This is what I would get if I were you). The Titanium HD is going to have the best SNR at 122db compared to 109/115db of the other X-fi cards.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 10 of 15, by Wanderer

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Un Information wrote on 2020-06-22, 02:58:

Hello, I've looking into this for the past few days. I've found out about the Sound Blaster Audigy RX, but I heard it's pretty terrible (anyone got confirmation?). Does anyone know of a list for a modern sound card with MIDI synth? It doesn't have to be a sound card that emulates the sound of older ones, in fact I'm not necessarily looking for that kind of thing either. I would appreciate any help, thanks.

Hello Un Information,
please specify two things:

1. What sound cards do you call modern? Can it be a PCI device, or only a PCIe/USB one? Does it have to work with Windows 8-10, or Windows 7 is also fine for you? Does it have to provide modern quality of DAC/ADC (>100 dB SNR) or will you use digital connections anyway?

2. What do you call a MIDI synth? In retrogaming context this stands for a wavetable GM synth (as I understood from reading the Vogons forum), but strictly speaking this can refer to any device that produces sound in response to MIDI messages. Equivalent questions in some sense are: what type of synth are you looking for, or what purpose will it have to fulfil? Playing games (makes little sense in modern environment, as older games won't run in it), listening to MIDI files (from games or just random ones?), playing live on a MIDI keyboard (with which type of sounds?), composing music (which genres?), or something else?

The list of available options may change entirely depending on your answers.

Reply 11 of 15, by brownk

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If you're really into MIDI music, just go ahead and buy a decent USB audio interface w/ MIDI out, and scoop up MIDI modules off the bay. You'll have your jaw drop to the ground with the spectrum of options presented. You don't even need to worry about the modules being future-proof; they've survived 30+ years. I don't expect them to be gone within 30+ years onward.

I know my reply might be highly irrelevant, but I'm just sort of wondering why you are trying to corner yourself so hard.

Reply 12 of 15, by yawetaG

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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-06-30, 15:19:

Everybody in the music business has pretty much moved to soft synths for the most part.

This is nonsense. There are tons of hardware synthesizers with MIDI being made right now, and if they are analog synths (with MIDI) the choice is really great nowadays. There even are manufacturers that still make General MIDI boxes (usually sold as accompaniment modules for electric pianos).

What isn't being made anymore are sound cards with integrated synthesizers (except for a few exceptions).

brownk wrote on 2020-07-01, 04:58:

If you're really into MIDI music, just go ahead and buy a decent USB audio interface w/ MIDI out, and scoop up MIDI modules off the bay. You'll have your jaw drop to the ground with the spectrum of options presented. You don't even need to worry about the modules being future-proof; they've survived 30+ years. I don't expect them to be gone within 30+ years onward.

I know my reply might be highly irrelevant, but I'm just sort of wondering why you are trying to corner yourself so hard.

This.

This is a very viable solution, and chances are that a decent USB audio interface with MIDI will have better sound than most consumer-level internal sound cards.

Reply 13 of 15, by darry

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Un Information, assuming you are still reading this thread, I just wanted to confirm we all understand what you want and need . To this end, I have tried to condense the questions asked by other posters and added a few .

a) What are your use cases for this sound card with hardware synth (playing old games (how old?), learning music, etc)
b) Are USB or external modules and/or sound cards acceptable to you?
c) Why must the card be "modern" ?
d) Define "modern"
e) Do you currently have a sound card or integrated sound that you would want to use if it were not for lack of a hardware synthesizer? If yes, specify model .
f) Under what operating system do you plan to run said sound card ?

Reply 14 of 15, by yawetaG

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darry wrote on 2020-07-01, 06:50:

f) Under what operating system do you plan to run said sound card ?

This is a very good point. Some modern operating systems (Windows XP SP3 and later, in general) lack the drivers to use the onboard synths of certain sound cards. Instead, they'll use the default Windows softsynth for General MIDI.

Reply 15 of 15, by cyclone3d

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yawetaG wrote on 2020-07-01, 06:07:
This is nonsense. There are tons of hardware synthesizers with MIDI being made right now, and if they are analog synths (with MI […]
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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-06-30, 15:19:

Everybody in the music business has pretty much moved to soft synths for the most part.

This is nonsense. There are tons of hardware synthesizers with MIDI being made right now, and if they are analog synths (with MIDI) the choice is really great nowadays. There even are manufacturers that still make General MIDI boxes (usually sold as accompaniment modules for electric pianos).

What isn't being made anymore are sound cards with integrated synthesizers (except for a few exceptions).

brownk wrote on 2020-07-01, 04:58:

If you're really into MIDI music, just go ahead and buy a decent USB audio interface w/ MIDI out, and scoop up MIDI modules off the bay. You'll have your jaw drop to the ground with the spectrum of options presented. You don't even need to worry about the modules being future-proof; they've survived 30+ years. I don't expect them to be gone within 30+ years onward.

I know my reply might be highly irrelevant, but I'm just sort of wondering why you are trying to corner yourself so hard.

This.

This is a very viable solution, and chances are that a decent USB audio interface with MIDI will have better sound than most consumer-level internal sound cards.

I was talking about cards not being made anymore. Of course there are external boxes and synthesizers still being made but that wasn't the question.

I guess my reply wasn't worded very well.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself