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OT: DOS compatibility sound chips

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First post, by valnar

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Question for you all.

If I wanted to build a PC today with modern processors, motherboards, etc. What is the best integrated audio chipset or PCI sound card I could buy with the best Soundblaster compatibility? I know, nothing is good as an ISA slot SB16, but if I have to go PCI or integtrated, who does it best?

I see VIA has some onboard southbridge that allows it in the BIOS, and I know my old Aureal SQ2500 PCI card was pretty good.... but which is the *most* compatible of all?

Until emulators get good, I'm going to dedicate a small box for good 'ol DOS.

Thanks,
Robert

Reply 5 of 21, by davidiwharper

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There may well be a PCI version of the AWE64, but both the original and the "Gold" versions were ISA bus.

For compatibility, any modern Creative SoundBlaster is worth investigating if you're running a Windows NT-based OS. ISA cards are really good if you're going to use DOS.

Reply 7 of 21, by valnar

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I think this thread got more off topic from it's off topic roots. I figured the bunch of people on this board would know about DOS games on modern hardware.

It looks like I'll have to do it myself. I'm going to buy a Fortemedia SP-801 chipset board and a Yamaha YMF744 based board (like the Aopen AW744-L) and compare myself. From perusing Dejanews for a weekend, it seems like those two stand the best chance of operating in real mode DOS with MPU-401 FM synthesis (or GM) capability in addition to SB Pro sound. I'll compare the three (along with my Aureal SQ2500) to see which PCI has the absolute best DOS compability and return the other one.

VDMSound is nice, but it doesn't compare to good 'ol DOS. Unfortunately, I no longer have a mobo with an ISA slot, and the box I want to buy for this purpose is the Shuttle SS40G SSF PC, which only has PCI slots. It's going to be my "legacy" game machine. That's for all my DOS, Win31 and Win98 stuff. All my other PC's have Win2K or better now, so I had to give up old game compability to make that move. It would be nice if VDMSound could do it all, but I think MS is to blame for the restrictions in the modern operating systems.

-Robert

Reply 8 of 21, by edelbeb

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IMHO, if your talking compatibility of a PCI soundcard with the old ISA Soundblaster, you've got the best card (SQ2500). The Aureal SQ2500 has hardware support for SB compatibility and DOS mode, i.e., no drivers are required (although a program does load your setting into memory (if I recall correctly). Creative's PCI cards require expanded memory to load DOS drivers, and aren't as SB compatible as the SQ2500. Too bad Aureal didn't survive. The SQ2500 would still be a good sound card today if it had ME and XP drivers, and the SQ3500 Aureal had on the boards looked like it was going to be a good card.

Reply 9 of 21, by valnar

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I'll report back my findings here, and probably on a Usenet group somewhere so it gets recorded in the annals of Dejanews history. My SQ2500 already doesn't do FM music for Alone in the Dark 2 and 3, so I stopped my testing right there. It does SB Pro sound, but that's it.

Robert

Reply 10 of 21, by swaaye

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You guys should just pick up a quality DOS card on Ebay. They go for soooo cheap these days.

None of the PCI Sound cards really do a decent job. My Live! uses the old Ensoniq ECW wavesets for DOS Midi, it's pretty bad really. Wasn't good on the AudioPCI, isn't good here.

I have a Ensoniq Soundscape ELITE from the good 'ol days, saved for DOS purposes. I also just picked up a SB32, gonna max out it's sample RAM 😀

Reply 13 of 21, by Maetryx

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So is this the definitive answer? Creative Labs SoundBlaster 16 PCI? It doesn't look like it to me. The specifications mention drivers for all flavors of windows (except 3.1) but not for DOS. I don't know if that is the best DOS compatible PCI solution or not.

I'm looking for this answer as well. DOS+PCI+SB compatible for old games.

-->Mountains of regret crashing into me<--

Reply 14 of 21, by DosFreak

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The SB was the standard back in the DOS days. The PCI SB16 is about the closest your gonna get to the oldest most compatible PCI Sound card for old DOS games.....

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Reply 15 of 21, by Nicht Sehr Gut

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Originally posted by Maetryx The specifications mention drivers for all flavors of windows (except 3.1)

I think that's a support issue. IIRC, you basically won't find much of any DOS drivers anymore as Creative doesn't want to provide support (in any way) for DOS anymore. Odds are, it will work.

There are still cards out there that have "real" DOS support, but the selection is getting very thin. My Philips PSC706 has DOS support (even supports MIDI wavetable in DOS), but it seems flaky in DOS with my present motherboard.

AOpen still has "true DOS" support in it's AW540 card,
http://www.aopen.com/products/sound/aw540.htm

Reply 16 of 21, by Targaff

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I know everyone else slates it, but I picked up an SB PCI 128 about 4 years ago and I've never had a problem with the legacy drivers I got with it. The quality's probably not the best around, but hell, it works, and I'll take that...

Reply 18 of 21, by HunterZ

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I wouldn't put much stock in the DOS support for Creative PCI cards, as Creative didn't actually develop it. It was actually developed by Ensoniq, whom Creative bought-out as a way into the PCI sound card market.

I'm pretty sure the SB16 PCI is close to the PnP ISA SB16 though - you probably just need to download drivers from Creative's web site to initialize the card at boot time.

Reply 19 of 21, by Maetryx

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Creative Labs does not appear to have drivers for that SB16 PCI for either MS-DOS or Windows 3.x available for download. However, it sounds like some of you here actually have older PCI Sound Blasters and that maybe the original software that came with them included DOS drivers. Is that the case?

Also, thanks for helping me on this. I appreciate the link to the Aopen AW540, which really does advertise MS-DOS support on the manufacturer's own website. 😀

-->Mountains of regret crashing into me<--