VOGONS


First post, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

This build was inspired by Cloudschatze's MIDI General build, but with a couple different sound cards.

486 DX4-100 OD Case Exterior.jpg
Filename
486 DX4-100 OD Case Exterior.jpg
File size
168.9 KiB
Views
2706 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Specs as follows:

CPU: Intel 486DX-100 OverDrive
MB: ECS UM486V w/ 256k L2 cache (UMC UM82C480 chipset)
RAM: 16 MB (4x4MB 30 pin)
Disk Drives: 3.5" floppy drive
CD Drive: Toshiba 4x CD-ROM
Fixed Storage: 512 MB Sandisk 2GB Verbatim CompactFlash card + CF-IDE Adapter
Video Card: Tseng ET4000/WP32 VLB w/ 1 MB of RAM
Controller Card: DTK PTI-255W V1.2 VLB EIDE controller

Sound Cards:

Creative Labs Sound Blaster AWE32 (CT3980)
Gravis UltraSound PnP
Guillemot MaxiSound 64 Home Studio Pro (SC8600) + Yamaha DB51XG daughterboard
Media Vision Pro Audio Spectrum 16 (PAS16)
Reveal Sound FX Wave 32 (Ensoniq Soundscape clone)
Roland SCC-1

486 DX4-100 OD Case Internals.jpg
Filename
486 DX4-100 OD Case Internals.jpg
File size
701.21 KiB
Views
2706 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

The first challenge for this build was selecting a motherboard and case combo that could accommodate all these cards. I opted for a Socket 3 board that had a total of 8 ISA slots with minimal obstructions on the board itself. I ended up with a 1993 UM486V motherboard.

Based on the sound cards I was planning, I wanted decent performance for games up to the mid-90s. Since this board only support 5V processors, I opted to go with an Intel 486DX-100 OverDrive processor. I also considered a Pentium overdrive instead, but decided to stick with a pure 486 setup.

Cooling is provided by a couple Noctua fans. I side-mounted a Noctua 40mm fan to the CPU heatsink directly. There is an additional 80mm fan exhaust fan mounted to the case.

486 DX4-100 OD processor closeup.jpg
Filename
486 DX4-100 OD processor closeup.jpg
File size
623.2 KiB
Views
2706 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

I did run into an issue with the stock BIOS not recognizing the L2 cache with an overdrive processor installed. Fortunately this was solved by using an alternative MR BIOS version for the UM82C480 chipset.

The board has a pair VLB slots which are used for the controller card and video card.

For storage, I went with a standard quad speed CD-ROM, 3.5" floppy and 512MB 2GB Compact Flash card. The CF card is mounted internally using a 3D printed drive bay CF-to-IDE adapter.

486 DX4-100 OD CF card closeup.jpg
Filename
486 DX4-100 OD CF card closeup.jpg
File size
564.72 KiB
Views
2706 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Getting everything installed and configured was a bit of a challenge and involved some compromises. But everything is set up so that all cards can be used via a single AUTOEXEC configuration. No batch files or boot menus are needed.

Based on initial testing, most things seem to work. The only incompatibility I've run into has been Warcraft 2 and digital audio for the Reveal Sound FX Wave 32 and PAS16. For whatever reason, digital audio doesn't work properly; the digital sample will constantly restart resulting in a stuttering sound. But digital audio in other games like Descent and Dark Forces works fine.

I haven't figured out how I'm going to route all the audio yet. I've got some ideas for mixer setups, but I'll have to experiment to find a workable setup.

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-06-22, 17:19. Edited 5 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 1 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Below are details of each sound card and their respective hardware configurations.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster AWE32

AWE32 CT3980.jpg
Filename
AWE32 CT3980.jpg
File size
765.78 KiB
Views
2681 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Address: 220
Interrupt: 5
DMA: 1/7
MIDI Port: 310
EMU8000: 620
FM: 388

Except for the MIDI port I went with mostly stock hardware settings for the AWE32. This was to ensure broad compatibility with DOS games.

Since the CT3980 version of this card has genuine OPL, it's the primary FM synth card for Adlib support. I haven't installed any extra RAM or an external wavetable card yet, but I may in the future.

For simplicity sake I'm using the UNISOUND driver instead of the Creative Labs driver.

Gravis UltraSound PnP

GUS PnP.jpg
Filename
GUS PnP.jpg
File size
1.06 MiB
Views
2681 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Address: 260
Interrupt: 11
DMA: 6
SB emulation, MPU-401, FM: disabled

To set up the GUS PnP, I first disabled a lot of the extranous features (SB emulation, MPU-401 support, Adlib) using IWAVECFG. The GUS was then configured with any free hardware resources.

In testing, I discovered that to avoid issues with games that auto-detect Sound Blaster support (e.g. Wolfenstein 3D), I need to initialize the GUS PnP before initializing other cards like the AWE32.

Guillemot Maxi Sound 64 Home Studio Pro (SC8600) + Yamaha DB51XG daughterboard

Guillemot SC8600 with Yamaha DB51XG.jpg
Filename
Guillemot SC8600 with Yamaha DB51XG.jpg
File size
1.08 MiB
Views
2267 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Address: 240
Interrupt: 7
DMA: 3
MIDI Port (internal): 320
MIDI Port (external): 300
MIDI Interrupt: 10
FM: 388

The Guillemot Maxi Sound 64 was the biggest challenge to set up. After some experimentation, I ended up using a combination of UNISOUND and the stock DOS drivers to initialize this card. In AUTOEXEC.BAT I run UNISOUND first, followed by the Maxi Sound initialization which loads the firmware and sound bank.

For whatever reason, the Maxi Sound driver doesn't properly enable the external wavetable whereas UNISOUND does. And vise-versa, the Maxi Sound driver is needed to load the sound bank for the internal wavetable.

At the moment I've connected a Yamaha DB51XG daughterboard to this card as an alternative to the Roland sample set.

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-01-09, 23:52. Edited 3 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 2 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Sound card details and hardware configuration (continued):

Reveal Sound FX Wave 32 (Ensoniq Soundscape clone)

Reveal Sound FX Wave 32.jpg
Filename
Reveal Sound FX Wave 32.jpg
File size
765.66 KiB
Views
2675 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Wave Port: 534
MIDI port: 340
MIDI interrupt: 15
DMA: 0
SB emulation: disabled

For the Reveal card I used the regular Ensoniq Soundscape DOS drivers. They seem to work fine with this card.

The Reveal card does use different IRQs than the standard Ensoniq Soundcape (e.g. IRQ 15 instead of IRQ 10). Though for this set up it doesn't seem to make a difference.

This particular card required some repair work as it was initially missing a capacitor and the main IC had a lot of loose pins.

Reveal Sound FX Wave 32 repaired 2.jpg
Filename
Reveal Sound FX Wave 32 repaired 2.jpg
File size
690.37 KiB
Views
2675 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Media Vision Pro Audio Spectrum 16

PAS16.jpg
Filename
PAS16.jpg
File size
1.12 MiB
Views
2273 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Interrupt: 3
DMA: 5
SB emulation: disabled
MPU-401 support: disabled

Had to juggle a few DMA channels to get the PAS16 working, but it seems fine with the IRQ 3 and DMA 5 combination.

Roland SCC-1

Roland SCC-1.jpg
Filename
Roland SCC-1.jpg
File size
1.02 MiB
Views
2675 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

MIDI port: 330
Interrupt: 2/9

Since the Roland SCC-1 is intended to be the main MIDI-out for any external modules (MT-32, CM-32L), I kept the settings stock for compatibility reasons.

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-01-10, 00:23. Edited 6 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 3 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I've done some tweaking to BIOS settings and tried to optimize performance.

BIOS Settings

Cache Timing - Read: 2111 Fast
Cache Timing - Write: 0 WS

DRAM Wait State - Read: 1 WS
DRAM Wait State - Write: 0 WS

I tried 0WS for DRAM Read, but this resulted in the system failing to boot.

Benchmarks

3D Bench 1.0: 71.4
PC Player Bench (320x200): 15.3
Doom (high detail): 36.1
Quake (320x200): 10.1
Duke Nukem 3D (320x200): 26.0

For general Doom-style games from 1993 to 1995 the system performs well enough. Even Duke Nukem 3D is quite playable at 320x200. Quake not so much. A Pentium OD would probably help more with that game, but at that point a full-blown Pentium is a better option anyway.

486 DX4-100 OverDrive_ Multi-sound card build.png
Filename
486 DX4-100 OverDrive_ Multi-sound card build.png
File size
17.56 KiB
Views
2285 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-01-09, 23:30. Edited 3 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 4 of 54, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Need's a PAS card then you'll cover just about all the options found in games sound setup menu.
Will be interested in finding out which cards are best in which games.

Reply 5 of 54, by pshipkov

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

cool.
really like the end result.
been thinking for some time to put together a sound cards sandwitch.

few questions on the practicality side:
- Do you have specific workflows or use cases that touch on R SCC-1 and Y SW60XG, or both are in place just because ?
- Similarly about the MaxiSound and SoundWave cards ?
- Any particular games/apps that target the GUS ?

Last edited by pshipkov on 2024-01-08, 19:54. Edited 2 times in total.

retro bits and bytes

Reply 7 of 54, by cloverskull

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
chinny22 wrote on 2024-01-07, 23:46:

Need's a PAS card then you'll cover just about all the options found in games sound setup menu.
Will be interested in finding out which cards are best in which games.

Hey there, what’s a PAS card?

Reply 8 of 54, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
cloverskull wrote on 2024-01-08, 03:16:

Hey there, what’s a PAS card?

Mediavision Pro Audio Spectrum

Like alot of cards from this era, has cleaner sound then Creative cards but not fully Sound Blaster compatible.
I only mentioned it here as just about all other cards typically included in a game's setup is represented, it doesn't really add anything.

setup2.png

Reply 9 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
chinny22 wrote on 2024-01-07, 23:46:

Need's a PAS card then you'll cover just about all the options found in games sound setup menu.
Will be interested in finding out which cards are best in which games.

That's an intriguing idea. 😀

I have both a regular PAS and PAS16 I could try. I suppose the PAS16 would make more sense given the era this system is best with (e.g. 93 to 95).

I could probably swap out the SW60XG and then add another XG wavetable daughtercard for Yamaha sounds instead.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 10 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
pshipkov wrote on 2024-01-08, 01:35:

cool.
really like the end result.
been thinking for some time to put together a sound cards sadwitch.

Thank you! Multi-sound card builds like this are a lot of fun and make for an interesting challenge.

few questions on the practicality side:
- Do you have specific workflows or use cases that touch on R SCC-1 and Y SW60XG, or both are in place just because ?

The Roland is mainly for an easy MIDI interface for external modules. I like the mini-DIN jacks they have versus using gameport adapters.

The SW60XG is more or less just because. Though I do like the Yamaha soundset for some games.

- Similarly about the MaxiSound and SoundWave cards ?

The Maxi Sound provides SB Pro support (via the ESS chipset) and the native sound bank is really good. The Reveal card doesn't really have a specific purpose other than being supported with games of that era.

- Any particular games/apps that target the GUS ?

Demos, trackers (e.g. Scream Tracker, Impulse Tracker) and Epic Megagames games. I tend to put a GUS in every DOS build I do for this reason. 😁

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 11 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
chrismeyer6 wrote on 2024-01-08, 01:36:

This is an awesome build. I also loved reading the Midi General build. Can't wait to see the finished setup.

Thank you! I'm going to keep tinkering with it and see how it ultimately ends up. 😀

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 12 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Did some more experimenting and testing over the past couple days.

PAS16 Install

PAS16 Testing.jpg
Filename
PAS16 Testing.jpg
File size
751.91 KiB
Views
2282 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

The first involved removing the Yamaha SW60XG and replacing it with a Media Vision Pro Audio Spectrum 16 (PAS16).

While I had IRQ 3 free, I ended up having to do some DMA juggling to get it to work. This included re-assigning the high DMA channel to 7 for the AWE32, which enabled me to use DMA 5 for the PAS16. I also disabled Sound Blaster and MPU support on the PAS16.

Yamaha DB51XG daughtercard

Guillemot SC8600 with Yamaha DB51XG.jpg
Filename
Guillemot SC8600 with Yamaha DB51XG.jpg
File size
1.08 MiB
Views
2282 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Since I still want a Yamaha MIDI synth, I opted to replace the DreamBlaster X16GS with a Yamaha DB51XG daughtercard. I also re-assigned the external MIDI port on the Guillemot card to 300, to match the previous SW60XG port.

I also tried the DreamBlaster X16GS with the AWE32, but unfortunately could not get any MIDI playback. If I tried to use any MIDI port other than 300, I would get a report of a MPU-401 error by game setup programs. If I set to 300, I would simply get silence.

I even tried installing the official Creative Labs drivers, but then I ran into the nightmare of Creative's plug 'n play manager spazzing out and rewriting all my settings.

I haven't really attempted to use wavetable headers on AWE32 cards before. From doing some research, it seems like GM playback is problematic at best with the AWE32. I'll probably just forego it. If I really do want another daughterboard, I can always swap out the SCC-1 for an MPU-401AT instead.

MT-32 Testing

MT-32 Testing.jpg
Filename
MT-32 Testing.jpg
File size
596.81 KiB
Views
2282 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Finally, I set to work on configuring the SCC-1 for external module playback. I especially wanted to see if I could get full MT-32 support including for games that are IRQ dependent. This meant juggling more IRQ settings. I had previously set the Reveal (Ensoniq Soundscape) card to use IRQ 9, which created a conflict with the SCC-1.

For whatever reason, setting the IRQ to 15 in the hardware setup didn't work. But on the other hand, setting it in the .INI file and then just having it initialize on bootup did work.

Doing that, as well as disabling the IRQ functionality on the video card enabled me to isolate IRQ 2/9 solely to the Roland SCC-1. Tested it with a handful of MT-32 games including Frederik Pohl's Gateway, and this system fully works with the MT-32 now.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 13 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

My challenge now is how I'm going to mix all the audio sources.

The primary goal is to be able to mix any MIDI source with any digital audio source.

With the original set up of 4 cards with digital audio and 2 MIDI sources, I planned on a combination of an Edirol M-10MX and an external switch box. MIDI devices would go to the switch box, then output to the M-10MX mixer along with the 4 digital audio sound cards. Since the mixer handles 10 channels (5x stereo), that's an ideal setup.

With 5 digital audio sources (now including the PAS16), I need an extra pair of audio channels to mix everything. I could potentially go the route of submixing or alternatively break out a much larger mixer.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 14 of 54, by psychofox

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Great build, i have similar sound card oriented PC (P166MMX) but i "only" have 4 sound cards (AWE 32, SW60XG, SCC1, GUS ACE + MP32Pi).
Audio mixing was big problem until i built an 4 channel mixer + equaliser to 5.25 bay, from chinese aliexpress components. Everything works exellent now.

Reply 15 of 54, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

So you have completed "the list" nice, I've always wanted to do this but lack the hardware and it's fair amount of money for what is really a pointless quest.
Other games have more options, soundscape been common off top of my head, could be fun to see how many games you can complete the list for 😀

(At least in Doom, I never counted the 3 external midi options, General Midi, WaveBlaster, Sound Canvas. From what I understand all 3 just send the same commands to the midi interface not changing anything to better suit the named device)

Reply 16 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
chinny22 wrote on 2024-01-10, 23:42:

So you have completed "the list" nice, I've always wanted to do this but lack the hardware and it's fair amount of money for what is really a pointless quest.
Other games have more options, soundscape been common off top of my head, could be fun to see how many games you can complete the list for 😀

Certainly for games like Doom with relatively few audio options, supporting them all is do-able. But as you say, the number of options with later games tends to increase quite a bit for some of them. Trying to have a single system to support all audio choices in a game like Descent, for example, probably not feasible.

Descent Audio Setup.jpg
Filename
Descent Audio Setup.jpg
File size
283.59 KiB
Views
1984 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

(At least in Doom, I never counted the 3 external midi options, General Midi, WaveBlaster, Sound Canvas. From what I understand all 3 just send the same commands to the midi interface not changing anything to better suit the named device)

I've noticed similar things in other games with both MIDI and FM sources. For example, Warcraft's music options include a variety of FM choices, but they all just output to port 388.

I suppose this was just to make it easier for the end user to ensure they pick the correct option for whatever sound card they had.

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-01-18, 22:59. Edited 1 time in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 17 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
psychofox wrote on 2024-01-10, 08:22:

Great build, i have similar sound card oriented PC (P166MMX) but i "only" have 4 sound cards (AWE 32, SW60XG, SCC1, GUS ACE + MP32Pi).

Thank you! That's a solid line up of audio options you have, and covers all the top tier choices.

Once one has Sound Blaster Pro compatible + GUS + Sound Canvas + MT-32, that covers the best of almost every single game for 90s DOS.

Audio mixing was big problem until i built an 4 channel mixer + equaliser to 5.25 bay, from chinese aliexpress components. Everything works exellent now.

That sounds like a cool project. So you have a mixer installed directly into a 5 1/4" bay? How does audio get routed into it?

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 18 of 54, by Shponglefan

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I set up a mixer to be able to fully mix all 6 sound cards, plus external modules. For this I need something with 14 channels and happened to have an Allan & Heath ZED14 mixer on hand.

It's a bit over-the-top size-wise, but it is nice to control over the audio signals including EQ for each device. I may keep this for future projects as the aux routing options will make it easy to do audio recording.

A&H Mixer DX4-100.jpg
Filename
A&H Mixer DX4-100.jpg
File size
457.91 KiB
Views
1966 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception
A&H Mixer DX4-100 testing.jpg
Filename
A&H Mixer DX4-100 testing.jpg
File size
1.17 MiB
Views
1966 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 19 of 54, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Man that mixer is almost as big as the PC! but it's just lying around then makes perfect sense.
I run audio extension cables from the back of each PC and manually plug the speakers into which ever PC I'm using at the time, takes a lot less space but naturally no ability to mix different sources