VOGONS


First post, by markot

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I could get the following ISA sound cards very cheap, but I don't probably need them all. Which ones would be the best for DOS and old Windows usage?

  • Sound Blaster 32 PnP CT3670
    Sound Blaster AWE32 CT3910
    Sound Blaster 16 (C16F) CT2940
    Sound Blaster 16 Value CT2770
    Sound Blaster Vibra 16 CT4180
    Sound Blaster Vibra 16 CT2260
    Sound Blaster AWE64 CT4520
    Labway A151-A00 Yamaha YMF719-S
    Aztech MM PRO16-A (HP5064-2620)
    Aztech I38-MMSN811 AZT1605-U05
    Atrend ATC-6631 Yamaha YMF715E-S
    JCT Compaq Audiodrive ES1860F
    Opti 82C931
    Mozart BTC-1820 OTI601
    Terratec AD18max10JS Soundport
    ESS Audiodrive ES1868F
    Diamond Technologies DT-0197H
    Adlib MOD-900808
    Avance Logic ALS120
Last edited by markot on 2015-09-15, 10:19. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 17, by jesolo

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If you want good DOS compatibility, then you can't go wrong with one of the Sound Blaster sound cards.
Just bear in mind that many Sound Blaster 16 & AWE32 sound cards suffers from the hanging MIDI note bug and that these models do not fully support the Sound Blaster Pro II (only mono output).
There is plenty of reading material on the hanging note bug subject but, if one of these has the CT1747 bus interface, then your card is virtually bug free.
If your prefer true OPL3 synthesis, then look for one with a Yamaha YMF-262 chip or, one with the CT1747 bus interface.

I'm not going to go into detail on each card (since I don't know all of them) but, the ES1868F chipset provides very good Sound Blaster Pro II compatibility in DOS and so does most Aztech based sound cards (not the ones with the AZT1605 chipset - only Sound Blaster 2.0 compatible with their digital voices but, does have the OPL3).

If you don't want issues in DOS, stick with an ISA based card.
Most of the ISA based Sound Blaster clones are only Sound Blaster or Sound Blaster Pro compatible in DOS but, is fully 16-bit stereo capable under Windows.

Last edited by jesolo on 2015-09-14, 08:46. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 17, by Scali

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Sound Blaster 16 is probably best for DOS.
The ESS AudioDrives are also very nice and compatible in DOS. And I believe they are SB Pro-compatible, which the SB16 is not, which is nice for some older games.
Aztech made some decent clones back in the day at least (Sound Galaxy ones).
And Adlib is the original OPL2 card, so nice to have as well 😀
I'm not too familiar with most of the others.

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Reply 3 of 17, by brostenen

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ct2770 clearly have an OPL-Chip.
Keep away from the ct4180, not good at all. (Bad adlib sound and no wavetable)
ct2260 has a real OPL chip.
ct4520 has wavetable.

All the other cards, I am not shure of. Never tried them at all, so I can not say anything.
Other than those 3 (2770, 2260 and 4520) would possible be it, if you go for creative cards.

The non-creative cards is not really of my interrest, so I can not say anything about them eighter.

Then again. If you have no ISA card at all. And just want a card to start with.
Then get a Creative one. They (as a brand), are probably the most compatible.
Back then. Creative was some sort of defacto standard for home use.

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Reply 4 of 17, by Anonymous Coward

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CT3910 looks kind of interesting...it has a real OPL3. Never used one though, and don't know what the downsides of that card are (noisy, bugged wave table header, PNP (or not). Basically any of the SB cards will offer good compatibility and be relatively trouble free (unless you are using the wave table header).

*edit* I noticed CT3910 has no SIMM sockets for sound fonts, so I may take that suggestion back.

If you're feeling adventurous the YMF 719 card is worth a shot. The software is a little shitty, but the output quality is considerably better than the older SB products if you're hooking in through a stereo amplifier. It also has true OPL3, a working wavetable header and is compatible with SB Pro and WSS standards. I remember a few people complaining about incompatibilities, but I haven't had any problems (yet).

Last edited by Anonymous Coward on 2015-09-14, 09:19. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 5 of 17, by brostenen

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Hanging note is only an issue, if you have midi equipment. People tend to talk all about hanging note, and not explaining that this is only an issue, if stuff like MT32 and daughterboards are used with the card. If you only want SB16 and OPL, then look for stuff like line-noise.
I remember the 2770 taking in some of the static noise from the cdrom drive, the harddrive and other components in the computer.
It was not bad. No. It was just one of those things that would annoy you, if you knew it was there. For most people, they did not hear it.

Some cards are REALLY bad with that noise. And I know some of our fellow Vogon members know a bit more than I do, aboout what cards to avoid.

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Reply 6 of 17, by Scali

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brostenen wrote:

Some cards are REALLY bad with that noise.

Yes, Creative was pretty bad that way, SB1/2/Pro/Pro2/16 were all quite noisy. AWE32 is better, but still not great.
You'll find that decent clones like the PAS or the ESS may actually be more silent than a real card.

On the other hand, the SB's do have a very 'characteristic' sound to them, so it you want the 'full experience', perhaps you should just take it 😀
(I feel the same about the C64 for example, a real SID needs to sound fat, dirty and distorting, with some hiss and interference to boot. Emulators tend to be too clean).

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Reply 7 of 17, by alexanrs

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I'm surprised no one commented on the Labway or Atrend cards. Do a quick search for YMF-719/YMF-718/YMF-715 here at Vogons and you will find that they are pretty good chips with WSS+SBPro compatibility and true OPL3. Also, not very noisy. My Atrend has a dodgy connector, though. I should probably replace that.

Reply 8 of 17, by jesolo

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Forgot to mention that the Advance Logic ALS120 is one of very few Sound Blaster compatible clones that supports Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro II and Sound Blaster 16.
However, my understanding is that these cards are a bit on the noisy side and that some of these designs' Wavetable header is situated in such a way on the card that makes it practically impossible to connect most Wavetable compatible MIDI daughterboards directly to it (if you're planning on having MIDI output as well).

Reply 9 of 17, by jesolo

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brostenen wrote:

Hanging note is only an issue, if you have midi equipment. People tend to talk all about hanging note, and not explaining that this is only an issue, if stuff like MT32 and daughterboards are used with the card.

Correct. Just bear in mind that an AWE32, with its onboard EMU-8000 MIDI synthesis chip and that doesn't have the CT1747 bus interface, also suffers from this bug (not just external devices driven via the card's MIDI interface).

Reply 10 of 17, by carlostex

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I would easily pick a YMF card over any of the other choices here. In fact i haven't found any of these with a YMF-715 chip, instead only YMF-718 or 719.

Reply 11 of 17, by markot

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How does the Yamaha cards works with old Sierra games like Space Quest 4 or similar? This game for example uses FM sound and digital sound effects if I remember correctly.

Reply 12 of 17, by jwt27

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jesolo wrote:

my understanding is that these cards are a bit on the noisy side

>a bit

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Reply 14 of 17, by Sutekh94

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+1 for the Yamaha cards. They do have true FM synth cores and are probably the best all-around for DOS games, at least in my experience.

As far as the other options you listed, the ESS options are also highly well known for being SB Pro compatible. The Creative cards tend to be hit or miss - some of them don't have true FM synth (CT4180 for example) and have a subpar emulated FM synth. I saw CT2940 among the cards in your list, which came in variants with and without a discrete FM synth. If yours has a true FM synth (should be two small Yamaha-marked chips), then it's probably the best option among the Creative cards. Otherwise, go with something like the CT2260 if you want to use a Creative card.

Also noticed the classic AdLib card there as well, very nice to have in any case 😀

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Reply 15 of 17, by alexanrs

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Oooh... If I could get my hands on an AdLib for cheap... Lucky guy!

It is not a good card for 386+ though, as a bunch of SB+ compatible ISA cards feature true OPL chips.

Reply 16 of 17, by chrisNova777

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u can see my ISA section of my site here:
http://www.oldschooldaw.com/forums/index.php?board=80.0

http://www.oldschooldaw.com | vintage PC/MAC MIDI/DAW | Asus mobo archive | Sound Modules | Vintage MIDI Interfaces
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