VOGONS


ISA Sound Cards with Internal Wavetable

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First post, by boxpressed

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I'm not sure if the title of this thread accurately describes what I'm interested in, but I'd like to compile a list of ISA sound cards that have MT-32/GM/GS/XG wavetable sound banks on the board itself so that you do not need a Waveblaster-compatible daughterboard or an external module with those banks.

I'm interested in those ISA cards that can play MT-32/GM/GS music without a TSR and in real-mode DOS.

The only card that I own that can do this is an Ensoniq Soundscape Opus, which has a 1MB bank and is a cut-down version of the S-2000 and Elite. Still, it's kind of neat to be able to boot to real-mode DOS and use it immediately for GM music without any TSRs.

(One thing I'm not sure about is when GM music is "actual" GM music and when it is emulated. I know that a GUS can emulate GM from its own proprietary sound bank, for example, but are the Soundscapes also "emulating" GM, or is it using the actual GM standard with Ensoniq's sound bank? There's a lot I still need to learn about GM on PCs.)

Besides the Ensoniq Soundscapes, I know about the LAPC-I and SCC-1 from Roland, as well as the SW60XG from Yamaha. Other manufacturers I've heard of with cards like these include Terratec and Turtle Beach.

Which other cards have this capability?

***

UPDATE: LIST OF CARDS FROM THREAD

CARDS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE TSR

• AVM Apex/Apex Pro

• Aztech Waverider Pro 32-3D
• Aztech Waverider Platinum 3D PnP

• BTC 1855 (ESS 1868F controller/codec, ES690F synth, ES981P ROM patchset)

• Ensoniq Soundscape S-2000
• Ensoniq Soundscape Elite
• Ensoniq Soundscape II
• Ensoniq Soundscape Opus (Ensoniq ES-5530 "Opus" synth, COW Chip, Analog Devices AD1845JP codec)

• Guillemot MaxiSound game Theater 64 (ESS AudioDrive 1868F controller/codec, Dream 9407 synth)

• Logitech Soundman Wave

• Mediatrix Audiotrix Pro

• miro Sound PCM 12 series

• Orchid Soundwave 32 (ADSP2115, Analog Device AD1848KP)

• Reveal Sound FX Wave SC500 (OPTi 82C929 controller, Crystal CS4248-KL codec, CS9203-CL synth)
• Reveal Soundwave 32 FX SC600

• Roland LAPC-I
• Roland SCC-1
• Roland SCC-1A
• Roland RAP-10

• Silicom Wavemaster 32FGP Rev 1.2 (OPTi 82C924 controller, CS4231A-KL codec, AdMOS QDSP QS700 synth)
• Silicom Wavemaster 64FGP Rev 2.1c (OPTi 82C931 controller/codec, AdMOS QDSP QS1000)

• Terratec EWS64 S/L/XL/XXL
• Terratec Maestro 16/96
• Terratec Maestro 32/96

• Turtle Beach Maui (Motorola 68EC000 controller, ICS2116, ICS2115V synth)
• Turtle Beach Multisound Pinnacle (Kurzweil MA-1 synth)
• Turtle Beach Tropez/Tropez Plus

• Yamaha SW60XG

CARDS THAT REQUIRE TSR OR REQUIREMENT UNKNOWN

• AOpen AW32 Pro (Crystal CS4236 controller/codec, Crystal CS9233-CQ synth)
• AOpen AW35 Pro (Crystal CS4237 controller/codec, CS9236 synth)

• Aztech Waverider 32+

• Creative Sound Blaster 32 (Creative Labs EMU8000 synth)
• Creative Sound Blaster AWE32 (Creative Labs EMU8000 synth)
• Creative Sound Blaster AWE64 (Creative Labs EMU8000 synth)
• Creative Sound Blaster CT1920 "Goldfinch" (Creative Labs EMU8000 synth)

• Ensoniq Soundscape VIVO (Ensoniq Mark5, Ensonic OttoR2C, AD1845JP codec)

• Gravis Ultrasound Classic
• Gravis Ultrasound ACE
• Gravis Ultrasound PnP
• Gravis Ultrasound Max

• OmniLabs AudioMaster AMS-8000

• Sierra Semiconductor ARIA based sound cards (i.e. Prometheus ARIA16)

• Turtle Beach Multisound Classic
• Turtle Beach TBS-2000 (Crystal CS4232-KO controller/codec, ICS2115V synth)

• Yamaha SW20-PC

Last edited by boxpressed on 2017-01-04, 06:23. Edited 25 times in total.

Reply 1 of 73, by alexanrs

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AFAIK it is not GM that the GUS needs to emulate, it is the MPU-401 port. Games expect the MIDI hardware to be connected through an MPU-401 hardware interface and cards like the GUS do not have that. The AWE32/64 is also a similar case: even though they have the MPU-401 interface, it is not connected to the onboard synth. In Windows this doesn't matter, but for DOS games trying to access the hardware directly, you either use their emulation TSR, use Windows (as it will emulate it), or add another synth to the waveblaster header/use an external module. The synth itself is perfectly capable of GM, as it is the same used in the Waveblaster cards, and do GM fine in WIndows with great soundfonts available if you dislike the built in ROM patches.

AFAIK there are several ISA cards with onboard synths, but they are not that easy to find (for cheap). I know cards with the YMF-719 chipset reference design usually have empty pads for an OPL4 chip, and some manufacturers populated them. Usually you're looking at higher end sound cards from that time that added the circuitry for an onboard synth to a regular, non-GM capable, sound chip. I know Terratec had cards like that, and I believe Turtle Beach had those as well.

Reply 2 of 73, by firage

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The Roland LAPC-I, SCC-1/SCC-1A and RAP-10 are the obvious ones.

Apparently Turtle Beach Pinnacle cards had GM compatible synths. I guess there's indeed a bunch of such production cards that people never really considered for gaming use.

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Reply 3 of 73, by bristlehog

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These are GM compatible:

Turtle Beach Maui
Turtle Beach Multisound Pinnacle
Turtle Beach Tropez/Tropez Plus

Terratec EWS64 S/L/XL/XXL
Terratec 16/96
Terratec 32/96

Guillemot MaxiSound 64 series

AVM Apex/Apex Pro

These have GM-compatible banks, but require special drivers to play. They won't play if you choose 'General MIDI' in your games.

Turtle Beach Multisound Classic
Sierra Semiconductor ARIA based sound cards (i.e. Prometheus ARIA16)
OmniLabs AudioMaster AMS-8000
Creative Sound Blaster 32/AWE32/AWE64

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Reply 4 of 73, by elianda

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Gravis Ultrasound and GUS PnP are also cards requiring a special driver (Megaem).

to add more GM compatible cards:
Aztech Waverider series (different solutions, such as Samsung)
Ensonique Soundscape series
a few miro PCMxx
Orchid Soundwave 32 with different ROM sets (original, Innovision...)

and of course all the WB daughterboards which are commonly GM compatible at least.

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Reply 5 of 73, by boxpressed

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I updated the first post to account for everyone's suggestions so far. If you know for certain that a card does not need a TSR for MT-32/GM but is listed in the second group, please post, and I'll move it to the other group. Same goes if you know that there is a card in the first group that does need a TSR for MT-32/GM.

Reply 6 of 73, by elianda

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You forgot the GUS in the second part.
Also to add the Creative CT1920 board there.

As for the cards not requiring a TSR:
Orchid Soundwave 32, Aztech Waverider Platinum 3D PnP
and for the miro cards it is the miro Sound PCM 12 series not requiring a TSR.

Terratec 16/96 has no Wavetable capabilities, what you probably mean is the Terratec Maestro 16/96 card.

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Reply 7 of 73, by boxpressed

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elianda wrote:
You forgot the GUS in the second part. Also to add the Creative CT1920 board there. […]
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You forgot the GUS in the second part.
Also to add the Creative CT1920 board there.

As for the cards not requiring a TSR:
Orchid Soundwave 32, Aztech Waverider Platinum 3D PnP
and for the miro cards it is the miro Sound PCM 12 series not requiring a TSR.

Terratec 16/96 has no Wavetable capabilities, what you probably mean is the Terratec Maestro 16/96 card.

Thanks, updated. I also adjusted the formatting and added a few more cards to the lists.

Reply 8 of 73, by keropi

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Yamaha SW-20PC needs a TSR for the 2mb OPL4 synth it has onboard. With the TSR loaded all DOS GM games play fine.

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Reply 9 of 73, by boxpressed

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keropi wrote:

Yamaha SW-20PC needs a TSR for the 2mb OPL4 synth it has onboard. With the TSR loaded all DOS GM games play fine.

Thanks, updated. I didn't know about that card. Do you know if the SW60XG needs a TSR?

Reply 10 of 73, by boxpressed

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Added a new card to the group that does not need a TSR: the AOpen AW32 Pro. This is a card that I own but was able to test only tonight. It has a Crystal CS9233-CQ IC with a 1MB set.

The installation program does add a line to the CONFIG.SYS that loads a TSR, but the GM and SB Pro emuation seem to work fine without it.

UPDATE: The TSR may be necessary after all. After a cold boot, the card was not recognized until I added the device driver back into CONFIG.SYS. Very odd.

P1110751.jpg

Last edited by boxpressed on 2015-10-24, 18:42. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 11 of 73, by Cloudschatze

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boxpressed wrote:

Logitech Soundman Wave
Mediatrix Audiotrix Pro

Both of these cards feature a hardware MIDI interpreter (but additionally support the use of a software MIDI interpreter), and can be moved into the "non-TSR" category.

Reply 14 of 73, by boxpressed

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Added one more to Group One: the Silicom Wavemaster 32FGP. I just added it to my collection and tested it personally.

This is Rev 1.2 of the card that has the Opti 924 and the AdMOS QDSP QS700 wavetable.

Apparently, there are Rev 2.x versions of this card with an Opti 931 and the AdMOS QDSP QS1000 wavetable.

I'm guessing this has a 0.5MB set? The music is ... OK. There is an OPL3 on this card, making it an interesting option nonetheless.

P1110757.jpg

Reply 15 of 73, by boxpressed

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Added one more to the collection: the Silicom Wavemaster 64FGP. I bought this one NIB. No TSR required. There are three main differences between this card and the Wavemaster 32FGP Rev 1.2 shown in an earlier post. The wavetable set on this card is the AdMOS QDSP QS1000 (QS700 on the 32FGP 1.2). It sounds better than the QS700 to me, although both are 0.5MB sets. The other difference is no OPL3. This one uses the Opti 931 chipset (vs Opti 924 for the 32FGP Rev 1.2).

I actually think that there may be no difference between the 32FGP Rev 2.x (not the one I own) and the 64FGP. You can see how there is a white space for printing in the model of Wavemaster. The 32FGP Rev 2.x also uses the Opti 931 and QS1000.

P1110784.jpg

Reply 16 of 73, by GL1zdA

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I think it would be useful to add what chips use the cards in the first post - would make it easier to compare them.

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Reply 17 of 73, by hyoenmadan

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boxpressed wrote:
Added a new card to the group that does not need a TSR: the AOpen AW32 Pro. This is a card that I own but was able to test only […]
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Added a new card to the group that does not need a TSR: the AOpen AW32 Pro. This is a card that I own but was able to test only tonight. It has a Crystal CS9233-CQ IC with a 1MB set.

The installation program does add a line to the CONFIG.SYS that loads a TSR, but the GM and SB Pro emuation seem to work fine without it.

UPDATE: The TSR may be necessary after all. After a cold boot, the card was not recognized until I added the device driver back into CONFIG.SYS. Very odd.

P1110751.jpg

Is possible that TSR wouldn't be really a TSR for the emulation per se, but only the ISAPnP ICU card program, required for juperless resource card configuration. Depending the card maker, these programs aren't even TSRs but them only configure the card and get unloaded. Them generally don't require HIMEM or EMM386 loaded to work, so them can be used with real mode dos games, or games that aren't VCPI/DPMI compatibles.

There's also a possibility that the program, besides the ICU logic, also includes a loader/booter for the microcontroller chip which does the MIDI processing. in any case, is generally possible to use these utilities without HIMEM/EMM386.

Reply 18 of 73, by Scali

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boxpressed wrote:

(One thing I'm not sure about is when GM music is "actual" GM music and when it is emulated. I know that a GUS can emulate GM from its own proprietary sound bank, for example, but are the Soundscapes also "emulating" GM, or is it using the actual GM standard with Ensoniq's sound bank? There's a lot I still need to learn about GM on PCs.)

GM stands for 'General MIDI', and was an attempt to standardize MIDI synthesizers somewhat.
The thing is that MIDI is just a communication protocol, where you send commands with notes, channels and instruments.
It doesn't specify anything about how the instruments should sound.
So the problem was that on synth A, you could have instrument 35, which was say a piano, where on synth B, instrument 35 was a pad sound. If you played a MIDI file written for synth A on synth B, the sounds would be all wrong.

General MIDI specified 128 different instruments, and made channel 10 the drum channel. Any General MIDI-compatible synth will at least have the same *type* of instruments, so a piano will sound like a piano etc.
However, there is nothing in the GM standard about how a piano etc should sound exactly. So different GM synths will sound different.
So GM is GM, there's no 'emulation' involved. It is just about having a standardized 'palette' of instruments, so that MIDI files composed for the GM standard will sound more or less as intended by the composer on every GM-device.
The GM-standard is relatively new, the MT-32 predates it, and is not GM-compatible. The Sound Canvas is.

Any emulation may be on the MPU-401 interface, as mentioned already, but that's not part of the GM standard.

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Reply 19 of 73, by boxpressed

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GL1zdA wrote:

I think it would be useful to add what chips use the cards in the first post - would make it easier to compare them.

Good idea. In the coming days, I'll add the info that I can confirm visually. Anyone who wants to contribute can just post in the thread, and I'll update the first post.

Is possible that TSR wouldn't be really a TSR for the emulation per se, but only the ISAPnP ICU card program, required for juperless resource card configuration. Depending the card maker, these programs aren't even TSRs but them only configure the card and get unloaded. Them generally don't require HIMEM or EMM386 loaded to work, so them can be used with real mode dos games, or games that aren't VCPI/DPMI compatibles.

There's also a possibility that the program, besides the ICU logic, also includes a loader/booter for the microcontroller chip which does the MIDI processing. in any case, is generally possible to use these utilities without HIMEM/EMM386.

Yes, all of these PnP cards require some kind of initialization program to set the ports, IRQs, mixer, etc. The AOpen card needs a device driver to be loaded as a TSR before the initialization program can recognize the card. I tested again and confirmed that the initialization program will run after a warm boot but not a cold boot. So all of the cards in the first list do not use any system memory for GM although all those I have tested require some kind of initialization program.

GM stands for 'General MIDI', and was an attempt to standardize MIDI synthesizers somewhat. The thing is that MIDI is just a com […]
Show full quote

GM stands for 'General MIDI', and was an attempt to standardize MIDI synthesizers somewhat.
The thing is that MIDI is just a communication protocol, where you send commands with notes, channels and instruments.
It doesn't specify anything about how the instruments should sound.
So the problem was that on synth A, you could have instrument 35, which was say a piano, where on synth B, instrument 35 was a pad sound. If you played a MIDI file written for synth A on synth B, the sounds would be all wrong.

General MIDI specified 128 different instruments, and made channel 10 the drum channel. Any General MIDI-compatible synth will at least have the same *type* of instruments, so a piano will sound like a piano etc.
However, there is nothing in the GM standard about how a piano etc should sound exactly. So different GM synths will sound different.
So GM is GM, there's no 'emulation' involved. It is just about having a standardized 'palette' of instruments, so that MIDI files composed for the GM standard will sound more or less as intended by the composer on every GM-device.
The GM-standard is relatively new, the MT-32 predates it, and is not GM-compatible. The Sound Canvas is.

Any emulation may be on the MPU-401 interface, as mentioned already, but that's not part of the GM standard.

Thank you for the excellent explanation. Very helpful. So, if a card is advertised as "General Midi" compatible (often with the logo), then its synth will have at least those 128 specified instruments. Did the Gravis Ultrasound ever advertise itself as GM-compatible, or did it try to "fake" GM with its patch set?

Also, I know that some cards have a real MPU-401 controller, and others emulate it in software with a TSR. I assume that the difference between the two has to do with compatibility, quality, or both?

Last edited by boxpressed on 2015-11-04, 17:00. Edited 1 time in total.