VOGONS


First post, by Sly_Botts

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Hey guys,

Back in 1997 my parents bought a new PC to replace our old 386. It was a Pentium 233 MMX. It had some kind of Ensoniq card in it which when playing DOS games was detected as Ensoniq soundscape. I just loved how it played general midi and I liked its FM syth. I loved this card. I wish I had kept it but I was young and dumb. My main problem is, I can't figure out which card it was. Id like to try and find it on ebay.

Does anyone know which Ensoniq cards were sold packaged with computers in 1997? I know its a long shot but I figured someone might remember. It was probably an OEM card but I don't know because back then computers were bought in Ma and Pa shops where I lived (Small town in BC Canada called Williams Lake). It would have been a "clone" PC. If anyone knows anything about Ensoniq cards please let me know. I'd love to find and buy this card if I can for my retro build.

Thanks guys.

It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.

Reply 1 of 14, by Sly_Botts

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I'm thinking it might have been the Soundscape VIVO 90 ISA or soundscape II.

It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.

Reply 2 of 14, by swaaye

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Hi Sly_Botts,

In 1997 it was probably a VIVO or possibly an AudioPCI. I take it you never saw the card?

One thing I can think of that would identify it would be the Windows mixer applet. AudioPCI was quite different than Soundscape there. It has effects settings right in the mixer. VIVO has no effects capability.
http://telecommander.com/pics/links/Sound%20C … s%20Ensoniq.htm

The VIVO and AudioPCI both require EMM386 be loaded for DOS support, unlike older Soundscape cards.

For DOS games the AudioPCI supports Soundscape, General MIDI, SB / SB Pro, or Adlib. I don't think VIVO supports SB Pro.

Reply 4 of 14, by elfoam

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kolderman wrote on 2021-04-12, 04:51:

I have the soundscape 2000 but the FM is horrible so it's not that 🤣

I mean the charm of PC sound cards is how bad they are, but that's nostalgia and why people want them and the same certain bad sounds they listened to as kids. I prefer the crusty sound of a 8 bit sound blaster vs a 16 bit one. If you are going to have something imperfect.. may as well go all the way.

Reply 5 of 14, by JidaiGeki

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We had the Soundscape VIVO in a Gateway 2000 P5-166 or 200 in 1996. Not quite the same size operation as a local PC shop but I’d imagine it to have been a popular card into 1997. Luckily, VIVOs are easy to find still and relatively cheap so if it’s not that card it isn’t a big investment 😀

Reply 6 of 14, by Sly_Botts

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I did order the Audio PCI card a few weeks ago (I made sure to get one with an Ensoniq chip on it and not the Creative chip). I guess I'll see how it works and if it's not cutting the mustard I'll try to finds a good ISA card with an OPL chip on it.

It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.

Reply 7 of 14, by cyclone3d

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elfoam wrote on 2021-04-12, 05:21:
kolderman wrote on 2021-04-12, 04:51:

I have the soundscape 2000 but the FM is horrible so it's not that 🤣

I mean the charm of PC sound cards is how bad they are, but that's nostalgia and why people want them and the same certain bad sounds they listened to as kids. I prefer the crusty sound of a 8 bit sound blaster vs a 16 bit one. If you are going to have something imperfect.. may as well go all the way.

What I don't get is the whole sounding bad thing. I mean, I've tested systems with various old sound Blaster cards and they aren't bad by any means.

Granted, I am using nice Seasonic 80+ bronze power supplies that have infinitely cleaner power output than the craptastic crap we had back then... so maybe that is why. (I highly expect this is the reason).

That being said, probably 10+ years ago I had gotten multiple AWE32 cards for free and I think a SB16 or 2 and the little amount of retro equipment I had at the time was used to test them... including some old craptastic ancient power supply..

All of those cards were so noisy, I promptly gave them away.

Fast forward to now and I bet if I had been using a good ATX power supply with an ATX to AT adapter they would have been just fine.

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Reply 8 of 14, by swaaye

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The "FM synth" mode of the Soundscape and AudioPCI is pretty bad because neither cards actually have an FM synth. Ensoniq tried to translate the FM synth music to the wavetable synth. It tends to sound rather....bizarre. A weird curiosity for sure.

The AudioPCI has different behavior depending on the DOS driver version. If I remember right the earlier releases work similar to the Soundscape with the translation, but later on Ensoniq implemented OPL emulation and while that sounds more like an OPL chip it is very low quality.

Last edited by swaaye on 2021-04-13, 04:36. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 9 of 14, by Unknown_K

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I have one of those Reveal badged Soundscape cards purchased new back in the day and I just used it for MIDI/music paired with another Reveal card that had decent FM for gaming.

Collector of old computers, hardware, and software

Reply 10 of 14, by swaaye

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Unknown_K wrote on 2021-04-13, 04:35:

I have one of those Reveal badged Soundscape cards purchased new back in the day and I just used it for MIDI/music paired with another Reveal card that had decent FM for gaming.

Yeah I used the Soundscape alongside a SBPro2 back in the ancient times. It minimizes difficulties when you have a card with solid SB support alongside it.

Reply 11 of 14, by Sly_Botts

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swaaye wrote on 2021-04-13, 04:38:
Unknown_K wrote on 2021-04-13, 04:35:

I have one of those Reveal badged Soundscape cards purchased new back in the day and I just used it for MIDI/music paired with another Reveal card that had decent FM for gaming.

Yeah I used the Soundscape alongside a SBPro2 back in the ancient times. It minimizes difficulties when you have a card with solid SB support alongside it.

Can you tell me how you did this? I would like to do something similar for my retro build. Use the audiopci for win98 and general midi for some dos games and have a seperate ISA card with an OPL chip for DOS games.

It is possible to commit no errors and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life.

Reply 12 of 14, by dionb

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Sly_Botts wrote on 2021-04-14, 04:48:

[...]

Can you tell me how you did this? I would like to do something similar for my retro build. Use the audiopci for win98 and general midi for some dos games and have a seperate ISA card with an OPL chip for DOS games.

With non-PnP cards you need to set the cards to different resources, i.e.:

Card 1:
Address 0x220
IRQ 5
DMA 1
MIDI Address 0x300
MIDI IRQ - whatever's free.

Card 2:
Address 0x240
IRQ 7 (or 3)
DMA 0 (or 3)
MIDI Address 0x330
MIDI IRQ 2/9

Note that you for IRQ 7 you need to disable your paralell port and for IRQ 3 you need to disable the second serial port (COM2).

Also note that if you're using non-PnP cards in a PnP system (anything with PCI slots...) you need to reserve the IRQs in BIOS for Legacy/ISA non-PnP.

With PnP cards (including all PCI cards) it's even simpler: if you don't initialize the card under DOS, it isn't there as far as DOS programs are concerned. So just ignore the AudioPCI in DOS and you're good. Of course, if you do want to use the card for MIDI you need to initialize it after all, in which case follow the suggestion above.

Reply 13 of 14, by Unknown_K

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Setting them up was a pain because of IRQ's and I used an adapter to join 2 outputs into one.

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Reply 14 of 14, by swaaye

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With the AudioPCI, if I remember right you configure its legacy DOS resources within Windows device manager and the DOS driver will use those settings in pure DOS as well. It's been something like a decade since I played with one though...

The problem with AudioPCI in DOS is it will require EMM386 to be loaded and its driver uses NMI to pretend it's an ISA card. This tends to be less than ideal for sound functionality / compatibility. Though a nifty aspect to AudioPCI is it uses those RAM-based waveset files and the 8MB one is fairly decent. Unfortunately the AudioPCI MIDI synth is software-based and it's not really on par with the hardware-based synths of the time. This means it also has a good bit of CPU overhead, though when I used it with a Pentium II it wasn't noticeable for the old DOS games I played. I did notice that while similar it didn't sound quite as nice as the old Soundscape with 2MB ROM did.