VOGONS


First post, by Paddan1000

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I have an AWE64 Gold with a memory expansion module that gives it 12 Mb of onboard RAM in total. It's fitted into a Pentium 75 that runs MS-DOS 6.22 for it's operating system. It usually works perfectly, but my questions are:

1) How do I load Soundfonts into it's memory, in MS-DOS.

2) How can I emulate General MIDI so I can play games with General MIDI-support in MS-DOS, using the instruments loaded inte the memory of the AWE64?

3) Can I do the above and still have a MT-32 connected to the MIDI-port of the AWE64 Gold without conflicts?

The utility aweutil.com claim General MIDI emulation is possible, but when I enable it in "autoexec.bat" with the string "C:\AWE32\AWEUTIL.COM /S /EM:GM" and restart the computer, I get the error message "ERR006: Cannot open synthgm.sbk". Is "synthgm.sbk" the General MIDI soundfonts?
I don't have the original driver CD or documentation of the card, so does anyone know where I can find the file "synthgm.sbk"? I tried to rename another "sbk" file containing soundfonts, but it didn't work.

One final question:
4) How come I can't play Space Quest 4 with Soundblaster sound with the AWE64 Gold? I can play it with Adlib or through the connected MT-32, and "Soundblaster" works in any other game but this one.

Reply 1 of 31, by gerwin

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Paddan1000 wrote:

1) How do I load Soundfonts into it's memory, in MS-DOS.

The AWE series have a semi-software synthesizer, you need dedicated software running (in the background) to get midi tunes out of it. Such as:
-AWEUTIL Dos TSR driver. (does not work well with many Dos games)
-Windows Driver (load a soundfont, select general midi in the dos game setup, then run the game from within windows)
-Native AWE support in dos games (I don't know any Dos games that support anything other then the 1MB ROM set)

Paddan1000 wrote:

2) How can I emulate General MIDI so I can play games with General MIDI-support in MS-DOS, using the instruments loaded inte the memory of the AWE64?

Run AWEUTIL as a TSR, but it works kinda crappy.

IIRC "synthgm.sbk" is a soundfont preset file, one that is required for using the 1MB ROM set.

...Really, the whole soundfont idea is kind of a mismatch for all things Dos (Excluding the windows dos box).

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 3 of 31, by Paddan1000

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Ok, thanks for your replies! A shame my rare memory module can't be used for more than decoration then, but the 1 Mb ROM set will have to do. I ordered a AWE 64 Gold Driver-CD from Japan, that hopefully contains the file "synthgm.sbk" and everything else I need.
So if I emulate General MIDI this way, will the card simply re-route the information sent to the MIDI-port at port 330h to the EMU8000 chip on the card or will I somehow have to disable the real MIDI-port or create a virtual MIDI-port at port 331h or something?

Reply 4 of 31, by gerwin

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Paddan1000 wrote:

Ok, thanks for your replies! A shame my rare memory module can't be used for more than decoration then, but the 1 Mb ROM set will have to do. I ordered a AWE 64 Gold Driver-CD from Japan, that hopefully contains the file "synthgm.sbk" and everything else I need.
So if I emulate General MIDI this way, will the card simply re-route the information sent to the MIDI-port at port 330h to the EMU8000 chip on the card or will I somehow have to disable the real MIDI-port or create a virtual MIDI-port at port 331h or something?

I think it will emulate a midi port, and it would be best to give it another address than any existing port, like 300 instead of 330. I don't own a full AWE32/64 card though, just a AWE Goldfinch card. So I haven't worked with it much.

Malik uploaded all these drivers, here you will find the link: SB ISA Cards Drivers Collection

Also for just one file, try this:
http://www.filewatcher.com/_/?q=synthgm.sbk

Jorpho wrote:

I don't recall AWEUTIL needing to stay resident after you load a soundfont bank.

For every soundfont and even the ROM font there have to be presets loaded in sytem memory in order to use them. That is why you need to load something like synthgm.sbk in order to use the 1MB ROM.

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 5 of 31, by Paddan1000

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Ah, now it works! I got the files I needed from filewatcher.com. I tried the GM emulation with King's Quest 6, and it sounded almost as good as with my MT-32. For fun, I tried MT-32 emulation too with King's Quest 6 and Monkey Island 2, but it sounded like crap. Adlib would be a better choice for any game if GM isn't available.

The physical MIDI-port turned itself off when the emulation started, so I didn't have to do any extra tweaking. When I typed "AWEUTIL /U" at the prompt, I could use the MIDI-port again without a reboot.

The mistake I made from the beginning was that I wrote a string for AWEUTIL in my autoexec.bat. I have no idea why, but I have to manually type "C:\AWE32\AWEUTIL.COM /EM:GM" at the command prompt every time I restart the computer. If I wrote the same string in autoexec.bat, I get the error message "ERR006: Cannot open synthgm.sbk". It didn't help that I made the "C:\AWE32" directory "PATH" or that synthgm.sbk is in the same directory as AWEUTIL.COM.

Next I tried to rename another .sbk file "synthgm.sbk". General MIDI-emulation still works when I do this! Perhaps it means that the new soundfont-file (of around 700 kB) loaded itself into the memory of the sound card. I can't hear any difference compared to the original file, but I will try the same thing with a bigger file when I have found one and see if the sound quality improves!

Thanks for all help!

Reply 6 of 31, by Jorpho

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gerwin wrote:
Jorpho wrote:

I don't recall AWEUTIL needing to stay resident after you load a soundfont bank.

For every soundfont and even the ROM font there have to be presets loaded in sytem memory in order to use them. That is why you need to load something like synthgm.sbk in order to use the 1MB ROM.

Doesn't that utterly defeat the purpose of having 12 MB on the card?

Reply 7 of 31, by Paddan1000

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I found a soundfont .sbk file of 8 MB, renamed it "synthgm.sbk", put it in the same directory as "aweutil.com" and entered the command: " aweutil /em:gm ". It takes about a minute to load with this new file, compared with a few seconds for the original file, but when it's done, I get a message that GM Emulation was successfully enabled. Now the sound is much better than with the original "synthgb.sbk" so it seems like I really did manage to load a new soundfont in DOS!
I hate to say this, but now the AWE64 Gold with General MIDI emulation actually sounds better than my MT-32 in games that support both, like KQ6.
But I still have problems with games that use DOS extenders and the GM emulation with Aweutil uses 29 kB of conventional/upper memory.
Next, I need to find a GM soundfont that uses all 12 MB of RAM. I wonder if .sf2 files will work too or if I have to stick with the .sbk files?

Reply 8 of 31, by HunterZ

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Of course a good GM synth is going to sound better with KQ6 than an MT-32 would, since KQ6 was composed primarily for General MIDI even though it has MT-32 support: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_MT-32-co … _computer_games

Only a few games support both General MIDI and MT-32 but were composed primarily for the MT-32. Dune 2 is an example of this.

Reply 9 of 31, by Menkau_ra

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Did you try to load other SF banks? I bealive the quality of the sound depends a lot on a bank you use. I played with my sb live! under Win98 to play GM games, and I found that it is hard to find a bank that plays good in all games. So i had to swith banks before i play each game.
I've heard that you can also find banks from GUS and use them on non-gravis cards. Is it possible to convert them to play on AWE64?

Reply 10 of 31, by aleksej

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Unfortunatelly there is no reasonable good SBK banks which can be used in pure DOS by renaming to synthgm.sbk trick.

Menkau_ra wrote:

I've heard that you can also find banks from GUS and use them on non-gravis cards. Is it possible to convert them to play on AWE64?

http://voicecrystal.com/sfengine.mv?#top
There is official "gravish" soundfont bank from its creator. Require payment.

Reply 11 of 31, by Menkau_ra

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It is no longer there. Or I need to place a special order for that? Will it play all GUS games with the same quality of the original card?
Is there SF from yamaha DB50XG or MT-32?

Reply 12 of 31, by gerwin

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It is there. follow the link in Aleksej's post, click the 'general midi' button. The soundfont is called 'vcgs4mv4 - GS Set: 4 Meg General Midi (GS) SoundSet'.

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 14 of 31, by bristlehog

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gerwin wrote:

I don't know any Dos games that support anything other then the 1MB ROM set

Some DOS games use soundfonts either for MIDI music, or even for sound effects. Of the first there are Magic Carpet 2 and Hi Octane; of the second there're Dungeon Keeper and Eradicator.

By the way, I'm having a problem with installing a SBK soundfont under DOS. I can install it to a bank 0 (that is instead of ROM bank), but the XMI song it corresponds to won't play properly. Seems that the song is using some patches from AWE32 ROM bank, and some from that SBK soundfont. When I am trying to XMIPLAY the song, it complains about being unable to install 'Bank 127 patch 81' (being unable to install that is very right, because XMIPLAY only supports AD and OPL banks). But how do I install the SBK as bank 127? I have to tell EMU8000 how do I want to partition its RAM. Is it like, partitions 0 to 126 are zero-sized, and the 127th one shall contain that soundfont? gerwin, you should know something about that since you were so deep into AWE32 programming.

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 15 of 31, by bristlehog

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awe32banks.jpg

There is a limit to AWE32 banks number! No more than 64 banks [0-63], and I have already tested it - it is really so. How do I load a soundfont to a bank #127 that is (assumingly) used by a XMI sequence?

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 16 of 31, by gerwin

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bristlehog wrote:

gerwin, you should know something about that since you were so deep into AWE32 programming.

I just modified a open sourced AWE soundfont music player, to see what happens if I do not remove the loaded soundbank (.sbk) at exit: If it was still usable for other software after that. It ain't.
What you are doing here exactly is not entirely clear to me.
I do know this:
-If Miles Sound System's XMIplay is to use a custom soundbank (.sbk), it has to be uploaded by a running TSR (Aweutil), Windows 9X in the background, or XMIplay itself.
-Miles Sound System OPL and AD banks are translation tables: GM instrument to FM operators.

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 17 of 31, by bristlehog

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I have an opportunity to load a SBK bank and then play a XMI.

Due to AWE32 nature, a soundfont can be loaded to a bank with number [0-63]. There's XMI sequences from Magic Carpet 2: Netherworlds, that [assumingly] need a SBK soundfont to be loaded to bank 127. I make that assumption from XMIPLAY message appearing when trying to play that sequence:

carpet2.jpg

Now I wonder, how do I load a soundfont into bank #127. The game plays everything correctly.

Hardware comparisons and game system requirements: https://technical.city

Reply 18 of 31, by dirkmirk

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Paddan1000 wrote:

I found a soundfont .sbk file of 8 MB, renamed it "synthgm.sbk", put it in the same directory as "aweutil.com" and entered the command: " aweutil /em:gm ". It takes about a minute to load with this new file, compared with a few seconds for the original file, but when it's done, I get a message that GM Emulation was successfully enabled. Now the sound is much better than with the original "synthgb.sbk" so it seems like I really did manage to load a new soundfont in DOS!

Interesting, had people actually attempted to load a soundfont into the AWE64 ram in dos or did assumption=fact? I always read the same thing that the soundfonts were only usable in windows but never actually tried it under dos.

I suggest you follow this thread to free up memory, I dont know what it all means but my 386 system has like 620K of memory after Ive loaded everything, cd drivers/sound/ide/etc.

Dos 6 conventional memory tricks

Reply 19 of 31, by DonutKing

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Interesting, had people actually attempted to load a soundfont into the AWE64 ram in dos or did assumption=fact? I always read the same thing that the soundfonts were only usable in windows but never actually tried it under dos.

Yes, I've done this before with an AWE32 under DOS.
However I got sick of waiting ages for the soundfonts to load and I personally didn't think any of the SBK soundfonts sounded particularly good, compared to a sound canvas or XG synth.

If you are squeamish, don't prod the beach rubble.