VOGONS


First post, by GeorgeMan

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Hello folks! I know there are MANY topics around the title's question, and I've read the majority of them.
But I want your opinion on selecting the right one for my needs.

Setup 1 - Purpose: DOS/Win 3.1, old days gaming
CPU: Pentium MMX 166Mhz (can downclock to 110Mhz and disable caches for 386/486 equivalents)
VGA: S3 Vision 968 4MB PCI (IBM ramdac). S3 DOS compatibility, plus not being so fast for older games like the Virge/Trio64 series.
Motherboard: i430TX atx
RAM: 64MB SDR

Setup 2 - Purpose: Demanding DOS/ Glide gaming. Also some 2D that cannot run on the older one fast enough (SimCity 3000, AoE II etc). OS: Win 98se
CPU: Pentium III 600MHz
VGA: 2x Voodoo2 in SLI mode plus a Geforce 2.
Motherboard: ASUS i440BX
RAM: 256MB SDR

So the sound choices are:
*CT3670: SB 32 (AWE 32 chip), PnP, 2MB ram, ISA, no discrete OPL, IDE (1996)
*CT2890: SB Vibra 16S, PnP, ISA, OPL, IDE (1995)
*CT1600: SB Pro 2, non-PnP, ISA, OPL (1991)
*CT4170: SB Vibra 16XV, PnP, ISA (1997)
*SB0060: SB Live! 5.1 retail, PnP, PCI, can emulate an SB 16 under Windows 9x (1999)

Which one to choose for each setup and why?
Not interested in MPU midi stuff.

Thanks in advance guys!

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 1 of 23, by MrEWhite

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For setup 2, I would go with the SB Live, due to the fact that most late DOS games are the most demanding, and should work fine with the card.
For setup 1, I would use the CT3670 or the SB Vibra 16S due to the OPL and the suport for the IDE.

Reply 2 of 23, by GeorgeMan

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I would probably not use SB's IDE on those machines, so it's not that relevant.

I read that Creative's PCI implementation on the Live! series is quite demanding. I don't want precious PCI bandwidth (for the voodoo2) to be consumed on the soundcard. Is that true or the problems only exist on VIA chipsets?
If I go for the Live! then I don't want ISA and may also go for Tualatin and i815 chipset, which costs money and takes time 😜 Plus, ISA and Slot1 adds to the retro feeling. 😊

Does the CT3670 have OPL inside some chip or it is completely asbent? I like the OPL chip output. 😀

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 3 of 23, by jesolo

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For Setup 1, I would actually choose the CT1600 (SB Pro 2) since most games prior to 1993 didn't support Sound Blaster 16 anyway but, there were some that only supported Sound Blaster & Sound Blaster Pro (the latter is ironically not supported by the Sound Blaster 16 or higher).
For Setup 2, if you're not worried about MIDI, then you can choose any of the other ISA sound cards. My experience has also been that the Sound Blaster Live's DOS emulation is not 100 % (I have one myself and, through a lot of trial and error, decided to ditch it as a DOS based sound card). None of the Vibra based sound cards supports bass and treble but, their sound output is slightly less noisy, compared to a standard Sound Blaster 16 or AWE32.

Reply 4 of 23, by keropi

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SBPro2 for the 1st setup and live! for the 2nd setup, a PCI soundcard is better for windows games... maybe if you have many DOS ones then the SB32. Or maybe you can disable the SB16 emulation and use one of the OPL Vibras for DOS-games-in-98SE

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Reply 5 of 23, by vetz

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jesolo wrote:

(the latter is ironically not supported by the Sound Blaster 16 or higher).

That is only true for digitized sound effects in stereo mode. The only game to use this feature (afaik) for the SB Pro was Wolfenstein 3D. You still get the sound in Wolf3D with a SB16, just not in stereo.

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Reply 6 of 23, by jesolo

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vetz wrote:
jesolo wrote:

(the latter is ironically not supported by the Sound Blaster 16 or higher).

That is only true for digitized sound effects in stereo mode. The only game to use this feature (afaik) for the SB Pro was Wolfenstein 3D. You still get the sound in Wolf3D with a SB16, just not in stereo.

True, should probably have stated that it is not fully supported.
Some demo's (if you're into that) also don't support the SB16 but, only SB and SB Pro (ignoring the GUS as it is not on this list).

Reply 7 of 23, by 5u3

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vetz wrote:
jesolo wrote:

(the latter is ironically not supported by the Sound Blaster 16 or higher).

That is only true for digitized sound effects in stereo mode. The only game to use this feature (afaik) for the SB Pro was Wolfenstein 3D. You still get the sound in Wolf3D with a SB16, just not in stereo.

Ironically, in Wolf3D you DO get stereo sound with a SB16, because it uses a cheap trick: It plays mono sound effects and positions them by panning the mixer left/right according to where the effect is supposed to come from. This saved a bit of CPU time (no software mixing required), but has the disadvantage that only one effect can play at a time.

Reply 8 of 23, by Emu10k1

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I have a Vibra 16x in a similar setup as the 98se pc (K5 500Mhz, Soltek SL-56H5, 128 SDR) and an AWE32 inside a P3 450Mhz.

I use headphones when playing and i´ve found that the vibra16 is louder and a bit more "noisy" compared to the Awe32. If you're using speakers i dont think that you´ll notice any differences between them, but i´d choose the Awe32.

Reply 9 of 23, by GeorgeMan

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Is there any practical advantage of having the extra 2MB "RAM" on the SB32?

I think I'll stick to SB Pro 2 for the older setup for nostalgia reasons, but for the second one I'm totally confused 😕 😕

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 10 of 23, by Emu10k1

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GeorgeMan wrote:

Is there any practical advantage of having the extra 2MB "RAM" on the SB32?

I think I'll stick to SB Pro 2 for the older setup for nostalgia reasons, but for the second one I'm totally confused 😕 😕

If you´re not going to use MIDI, I don´t think that you´ll notice the extra ram (up to even 28-32 MB if you use the slots). You won´t get the hanging note bug that way also.

Vibra 16x is cheaper (and easier) to get than the awe32. OPL sounds a bit different in the CT4170 thought because CQM.

The live! 5.1 is a good card for any windows computer, but you wont be able to go to pure DoS with it if you decide to do so.

Reply 11 of 23, by GeorgeMan

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Thanks for your answer.
I have all of them, so it's not a matter of cost or rareness anyway.

So it's just a matter of trial and error. On the faster PC I don't think I'm going to use pure dos. The later dos games that benefited from a faster than PMMX processor will run just fine under a DOS window, I think.

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 12 of 23, by dr_st

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Emu10k1 wrote:

The live! 5.1 is a good card for any windows computer, but you wont be able to go to pure DoS with it if you decide to do so.

Wasn't it possible, at least on some setups, to emulate an ISA Sound Blaster behavior on the PCI Cards (Live/Audigy), using SBEINIT?

GeorgeMan wrote:

On the faster PC I don't think I'm going to use pure dos. The later dos games that benefited from a faster than PMMX processor will run just fine under a DOS window, I think.

I wouldn't count on all these games playing nice in a DOS window, but in any case, Win98 SE does have a pure DOS mode, and you can reboot into it, if you want, even if you normally boot into Windows.

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Reply 13 of 23, by idspispopd

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dr_st wrote:

Wasn't it possible, at least on some setups, to emulate an ISA Sound Blaster behavior on the PCI Cards (Live/Audigy), using SBEINIT?

Of course, but...

  • that only works with EMM386 IIRC which might exclude some games
  • it also only works with enabled cache, you can't disable L1 cache to slow down the system
  • it is not totally compatible with some earlier games. Later games should be fine.

Reply 14 of 23, by chinny22

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Setup 1, Think you have made the right choice.
Setup 2, Definitely the Live! as you can take advantage of EAX in the 9x games, 99% of later dos games will play happily in a 9x and remember usin an ISA card slows down the system a bit as well. That said a 600Mhz should be fast enough for all but the most demanding 9x games that don't work on XP.
But as you already have everything I would put the SB32 in as well, then you get full SB16 support for later dos games which don't use OPL anyway

Reply 15 of 23, by GeorgeMan

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I hadn't thought of putting 2 cards. May also try that.
If I go PCI-only, I'll also go tualatin, i815, much newer & ordinary. Less nostalgia. 😉

I actually think that if I put the live I'll slow down the whole system a little, by taking some PCI bandwidth.
Does the ISA slot slow down the system as well? Do we have any proof of this?

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB

Reply 16 of 23, by brostenen

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My advice on what two cards to use.

Setup1: CT1600: SB Pro 2.
Setup2: CT3670: SB 32.

Most games that you want to use the Pentium one for, the SB-Pro2 is more than enough.
And for late DOS/Win9X games, the AWE32 is better than the Live, because you will have 100% DOS compatibility.
Shure the Live can do in Win9X operating systems, yet if wanting to do DOS games, you could have issues.
In DOS the Live can do SB16, and ONLY when EMM386 or other mem managers are loaded.

As an example. My i820 setup, running hardware released in 1999 (except SB-Live, drives and psu), I have no ISA-Slot.
That gives me some limitations regarding an universal setup. I had to choose a PCI soundcard.
Wich again translates into the box being used for a pure Win98 setup. I have a P133 for pure MS-DOS-6.22 instead.
If, and only if, you could get eighter an GUS-ACE card or some Roland solution for the first setup (1), then get that too.
Just don't install an AWE64 in Setup1, because you will loose the OPL chip.

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

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Reply 17 of 23, by alexanrs

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The Live! will use some PCI bandwidth and anything ISA will make the PC wait longer for its IO operations to complete AFAIK. So don't worry that much about it.
Btw the Live is better for Windows gaming (EAX), but for DOS and 2d games, the AWE will give you the least amount of compatibility issues

Reply 18 of 23, by brostenen

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dr_st wrote:

I wouldn't count on all these games playing nice in a DOS window, but in any case, Win98 SE does have a pure DOS mode, and you can reboot into it, if you want, even if you normally boot into Windows.

Windows will never be pure DOS. It's Windows, capable of doing some later type of DOS. Not pure DOS at all.
For pure dos, you need eighter: MS-Dos, Novell-DOS, IBM-DOS, DR-DOS or Free-DOS.

Those are the real deal, not Windows95/98/ME.
Yes it can be used to launch DOS software. Still, not pure DOS.

The issue is not worse than simply choosing a boot manager, and installing both DOS and Win98 side by side.
Each on their own primaery partition. I have had great luck using Os/2's boot manager in the past.
The only problem with that sollution, is that it requires an low capacity drive. (just can't remember the limit)

Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
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Reply 19 of 23, by GeorgeMan

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Isn't EAX available in XP and also in 2000-2005 games that run natively in XP?
If it is, then I see no reason to include this in the 2nd setup.

I'll probably put the CT3670 as suggested, after some trial & testing sessions, when I have time to do them actually. 😀

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB