VOGONS


First post, by James-F

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Many newer DOS sound cards including SB-Pro to SB16 and their clones have a software mixer that allows the user to change the balanced between the sound components.
Older Sound Blaster cards did not have a software mixer but they had a fixed and balanced sound between the FM (OPL) and the PCM (SB), so the game programmer actually developed the game to sound balanced on the older SB cards.

I have noticed that with my SB-Pro2 clone sound cards and DOSBox the FM music with practically all the old games is much too loud with the default mixer settings where FM equals SB, so I decided to investigate.
I found a thread with a recording of the intro song of GODS using and older SB1.5 by Phil.
This intro song combines the FM and SB sounds so they have to be well balanced for the intro song to sound right, and I assume the SB1.5 has the right balance as the programmer intended.

With the SBPro2 clone card I have I had to set the FM to 5 where the SB is on 8 (all out of 15).
DOSBos mixer FM had to be set to 60 (out of 100) to sound correct and match the SB1.5 recording in terms of balance.

After I have matched the volumes, older games that don't have music/sound balance controls in game sounded balanced without one overpowering the other.
Games like Mortal Kombat 1/2, Prince of Persia 1/2, Gods, Skyroads, Lemmings, where the FM music is way too loud in comparison to the sound effects suddenly sounded just right.

If anyone willing to help me and improve the fine tuning, it would be nice to have a recording of the SB 1.0/1.5/2.0 of various games that combine FM and PCM sounds.
The story intro of Prince of Persia 2 will be perfect for testing.

Last edited by James-F on 2016-08-29, 09:44. Edited 1 time in total.


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Reply 1 of 44, by PhilsComputerLab

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Well, the 1.5 and 2.0 do not have a mixer. AFAIK the SB Pro was the first Creative card with a mixer.

This SB Pro stuff does interest me lots, but I just do not have the time currently. Too many projects I'm working on already. Someone send me some free time 😵

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Reply 2 of 44, by James-F

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Thanks Phil, when you'll have the time a recording of the story intro of Prince of Persia 2 with a SB 1.0/2.0 will be perfect for testing to get this thread going and find a perfect balance between FM and PCM for newer SB cards.


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Reply 3 of 44, by Scali

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I've had an SB Pro v2 in my machine for years, and I basically always had the mixer flatout on the FM and DAC channels, and controlled the overall volume with the dial on the back.
The SB Pro's mixer was designed to have the same balance between FM and DAC as the earlier SBs had 'hardwired', so there was never any need to adjust anything.
PC speaker and CD-rom were a different story, since they are somewhat system-dependent. I didn't run the PC speaker flatout, because it was quite loud.

Last edited by Scali on 2016-08-29, 09:56. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 4 of 44, by Jo22

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

Well, the 1.5 and 2.0 do not have a mixer. AFAIK the SB Pro was the first Creative card with a mixer.

Yup, I think James-F means the analog mixing circuit, which combines the synth and the DAC audio and passes it to the amplifier.
Don't know for sure, but I think that "mixer" consists of a few caps and resistors. If we find out the right balance,
we can program the real mixer on a SB Pro/16 to the right setting for older games.
Nice project! 😀

Edit: Quote added. Why are you people always so fast ? 😢

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 5 of 44, by James-F

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Jo22 wrote:

Yup, I think James-F means the analog mixing circuit, which combines the synth and the DAC audio and passes it to the amplifier.
Don't know for sure, but I think that "mixer" consists of a few caps and resistors.
If we find out the right balance, we can program the real mixer on a SB Pro/16 to the right setting for older games.

Precisely!
And there are tons of older games that rely on the fixed balance of the older SB cards.

Each sound card is different, so we need to find an easy way to balance the FM and PCM sounds with these new cards including dosbox.
The most precise way would be to play a sine from the FM and then from the PCM through an old SB card, and take the peak readings of both.
Then do the same with the new SB card and tweak the mixer to have the same peak ratios.
But a simple recording of PoP2 intro would suffice to adjust by ear.


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Reply 6 of 44, by James-F

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Okay here is the perfect way to record the old SB balance:

All you have to do is hit the record button on your new PC and play the opl440.com for a couple of seconds on your old PC with the SB 1/2 card.
Then play the 440_0db.WAV for a couple of second (command: MPXPLAY.EXE 440_0db.wav) on your old PC.
Now we have a true FM to PCM volume ratio recording from an old SB card.

If anyone willing to help, I would greatly appreciate it.

Attachments

  • Filename
    SB2TEST.zip
    File size
    764.6 KiB
    Downloads
    41 downloads
    File comment
    OPL440.com
    MPXPLAY.EXE
    440_0db.wav
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception


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Reply 7 of 44, by Jepael

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Nice.

Just in case anyone is wondering, the OPL440 sets the channel to additive synthesis mode, so the sine wave amplitude is actually sum of two operators running at full volume.

As some SB cards have also the CMS chips, for completeness sake, it would be nice to test the mixing level of CMS audio too.

Reply 8 of 44, by James-F

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Yep, Adlib Tracker confirms.
I can generate the exact same signal using the AM connection with sinewave on each operator at full volume.

OPL440 AT2.png
Filename
OPL440 AT2.png
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186.68 KiB
Views
1468 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

But I still need the SB2 recordings to accomplish something for the good of all dos gamers. 😎


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Reply 9 of 44, by Jepael

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I wrote a tool to get 440 Hz tone from the CMS chips. Should work with SB 1.x and SB 2 cards with CMS chips installed. I haven't tried it with my SB 1.x yet, but it emits a tone under DosBox (although about 490 Hz because DosBox CMS emulation is a bit off with the chip clocks).

If you want I can post it here too, but the topic was strictly about FM and PCM volume balance, not CMS 😀

Reply 10 of 44, by James-F

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Please go ahead, we are doing science here not playing games.
Hope someday someone will be generous enough to participate in this experiment and provide a recording of his SB. 😀


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Reply 11 of 44, by Jepael

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Well, here it is. Feedback appreciated, if anyone has a Gameblaster or SB with CMS chips at hand.

Again, currently works only for CMS chips at 220H, but should work on SB 1, SB 2 and GameBlaster as they are all identical regarding the SAA1099P chips. Rumors say accessing cards with logic to lengthen CMS write cycles without CMS chips actually present may hang the system.

Attachments

  • Filename
    cms440.zip
    File size
    824 Bytes
    Downloads
    40 downloads
    File comment
    Tool to get a 440Hz tone out of CMS/GameBlaster compatible sound cards.
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

Reply 12 of 44, by Jo22

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Hello, everone. I've done some recordings for you.
I have used sound cards from my own little collection. They all work, but are also quite old.
Perhaps some caps need to to replaced to restore former sound quality.

Attachments

  • aztech.jpg
    Filename
    aztech.jpg
    File size
    91.57 KiB
    Views
    1258 views
    File comment
    Aztech V2.3A
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    aztech.ogg
    File size
    258.01 KiB
    Downloads
    32 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • ct1350b_rev4_recap.jpg
    Filename
    ct1350b_rev4_recap.jpg
    File size
    121.58 KiB
    Views
    1258 views
    File comment
    Creative SB 2.0, CT1350B REV 4 (recapped)
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    ct1350b_rev4_recap.ogg
    File size
    260.48 KiB
    Downloads
    34 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 13 of 44, by Jo22

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A few more..

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  • soundmachine.jpg
    Filename
    soundmachine.jpg
    File size
    126.95 KiB
    Views
    1254 views
    File comment
    QuickShot SoundMachine, SB 2.0 clone card, DSP 2.02/CT1336A, 1992
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    soundmachine.ogg
    File size
    282.39 KiB
    Downloads
    33 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • sbclone.jpg
    Filename
    sbclone.jpg
    File size
    120.83 KiB
    Views
    1254 views
    File comment
    Unknown Sound Blaster clone, SC801 FM, FCC ID: J4UAV202P3
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    sbclone.ogg
    File size
    293.59 KiB
    Downloads
    26 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 14 of 44, by James-F

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Finally! This is great, thank you Jo22!

Question,
Is it the recordings of the following?:
OPL440.com
MPXPLAY.EXE + 440_0db.wav

What is first, what is second?


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Reply 15 of 44, by Jo22

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Hi, there! Glad I could help! 😀

Yes, FM first, then the wave sample.

Btw, I've a few more cards to test..

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 16 of 44, by James-F

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Few more cards? This would be great!
The Aztech and the Clone have some serious distortion in the WAV sample, but the Creative and QuickShot are clean.

I am going to produce DOSBox FM to SB level matching ASAP.

EDIT:
There is exactly 8.5db difference between FM and WAV on both Creative and QuickShot cards.
To recreate that in dosbox with Nuked-OPL, FM should be set to 75, not 100.
The following command should recreate a perfect balance between FM and PCM in DOSBox with Nuked-OPL patch.

mixer fm 75

@Jo22
Can you please also make a recording of the CMS along with OPL and WAV with the CT1350, attached by Jepael before your post.

Also, can you please record the intro song from the game GODS with the CT1350 card?
This should give another perspective of balance with actual content, since the SB2.0 also filters the OPL to some degree.
It is around 2:30 minutes long.


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Reply 17 of 44, by Jo22

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James-F wrote:
@Jo22 Can you please also make a recording of the CMS along with OPL and WAV with the CT1350, attached by Jepael before your pos […]
Show full quote

@Jo22
Can you please also make a recording of the CMS along with OPL and WAV with the CT1350, attached by Jepael before your post.

Also, can you please record the intro song from the game GODS with the CT1350 card?
This should give another perspective of balance with actual content, since the SB2.0 also filters the OPL to some degree.
It is around 2:30 minutes long.

I would love to do this, perhaps in the next three days. I have to make sure I get my GAL chip correctly programmed.
The Philips SAA1099 chips are already here. 😀
Is a REV 4 card fine for the CMS upgrade ?

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 18 of 44, by Jo22

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And once more..

Attachments

  • protak.jpg
    Filename
    protak.jpg
    File size
    137.18 KiB
    Views
    1118 views
    File comment
    Protac ThunderBoard clone
    http://www.amoretro.de/2011/06/protac-thunderboard-clone-opl2.html
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    protac_conv.ogg
    File size
    430.91 KiB
    Downloads
    27 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    Protak.ogg
    File size
    361.33 KiB
    Downloads
    29 downloads
    File comment
    FM and sample (tbtest)
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • ct1350b_new.jpg
    Filename
    ct1350b_new.jpg
    File size
    131.09 KiB
    Views
    1210 views
    File comment
    Creative SB 2.0, "SOUND BLASTER CT1350B", DSP v2.02, CT1336A
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
  • Filename
    ct1350b_new.ogg
    File size
    288.58 KiB
    Downloads
    38 downloads
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
Last edited by Jo22 on 2016-09-18, 15:28. Edited 1 time in total.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 19 of 44, by James-F

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Excellent!

The SB 2.0_new has exactly 8.5db difference like the previous you posted, and they both sound and measure very clear.
The QuickShot SoundMachine looks like an exact replica of the Creative and sound like one, great card.

Do you have a SB 1.0?
Can you please do one recording with CMS too with the CT1350B?
EDIT: Sorry I misunderstood your previous post, Yes the REV4 will be fine, hope the programming will go easy.


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