VOGONS


Sound Blaster: From best to worst

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Reply 120 of 129, by Burrito78

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perhenden wrote on 2021-03-22, 09:01:

I found a model not mentioned in the list, and thought I would contribute.
The CT3630. I've just seen a picture of it (attachment). Hopefully chips and versions can be identified from this single image.

Thanks! Great list.

Thank you! If there is a photo, i will gladly add cards to the list.

Sound Blaster: From best to worst

Reply 121 of 129, by Burrito78

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zoinknoise wrote on 2021-03-21, 22:22:
nice work on the latest update. i really have to say though, i am uneasy with the "Self Noise" column and how it's purely based […]
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nice work on the latest update. i really have to say though, i am uneasy with the "Self Noise" column and how it's purely based on the DAC. it's uncomfortably close to those endless arguments in audiophile forums comparing two CD players, one with 64x oversampling DACs, and the other with 128x oversampling DACs, and how the latter has to sound far better. (in reality of course, nobody can actually tell the difference under blind, controlled ABX testing.)

i own many Sound Blasters, including a CT2760, CT3900 and CT3980. i cannot honestly say that the CT2760 has "high" self noise, compared to a CT3900 or CT3980, just because it has a slightly older DAC. i just think it's a misleading way to put it. the DAC is one of the least important factors for determining noise on an old sound card, just look at this thread. these cards are full of strange DSP issues, mixer issues, clipping, etc... all of these cause much more noise and distortion than the DAC. the PCB design of a sound card has far more impact on noise than the DAC. noise can leech into the card from a busy ISA bus with lots of cards, and the DAC won't help you at all there.

quite frankly, i would argue the #1 source of self-noise on an old sound card is the high number of old, dried-out electrolytic capacitors. i learned that lesson when i replaced all the electrolytic capacitors on my CT1350B. it instantly went from being borderline unusable, to being a decent sounding card. that showed me where the noise is really coming from on these old cards, not the DAC.

i would like to suggest that the "Self Noise" column be retitled "DAC," and it should simply list the model of the DAC. that way, if someone believes that the DAC on their card affects the noise floor, they will already know which part numbers to look for, and which to avoid. plus, the chart will be providing more good information, because right now it doesn't actually list the DACs being used on each card, besides CT1703.

Thanks for the feedback, always appreciated!

The source of the information in the self noise column is basically the info from this thread: Sound Blaster 16 Bugs and Deficiencies Summary

JamesF is a very informed and proven source for Soundblaster information, not just on Vogons. And he is one of the few people who actually went so far and did measurements on some cards. Since he wrote about the self noise in this thread as "facts" and no one challenged him on that for years i included it in this list as "facts". I know that its still a VERY broad generalisation of actual performance of these cards for numerous reasons (as you described).

I think someone should start a new thread "Sound Blaster measurements" and define a measurement practice and setup. Then actual data could be collected and if enough data comes together we will get a complete picture slowly.

I can add some more information to the Self-Noise description to make it more clear what it means and how the information there is to be interpreted.

Thanks again for your input.

Sound Blaster: From best to worst

Reply 122 of 129, by perhenden

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Burrito78 wrote on 2021-03-22, 09:14:
perhenden wrote on 2021-03-22, 09:01:

I found a model not mentioned in the list, the CT3630.

Thank you! If there is a photo, i will gladly add cards to the list.

Looking at the photo (attached to my post), I see it's a
CT3630 AWE32 Value, no Yamaha/OPL3, CT2502 chip, no wavetable header (and revision 01, 1995, week 48). Can't spot any CT1703 chip on the board.

Reply 123 of 129, by Rawit

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I've just tested the ASUS I-A16C revision 1.2 which is sort of a CT2960. I can confirm the bugs are the same as the CT2960. Hanging notes in Doom, delays in Duke 3D with 44khz mixing and hard clipping in Skyroads. It has a wavetable header with I think is reversed stereo (tested with the Yucatan FX revision B, will test with another daughterboard soon).

Edit: just noticed that this card makes Mortal Kombat II hang when the MPU (wavetable header) is used. In Attract mode it lasts a couple of rounds before it hangs and sustains the last note played. This issue is not present when using FM. Jazz Jackrabbit has lots of crackle, probably the hard clipping.

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Reply 125 of 129, by Burrito78

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CHANGELOG 2021-04-19

-We are now on Google Docs
Filters and sorting!
Always up-to-date
XLSX export of latest edit also available

-Added CT3630 thanks @perhenden

-Lowered SB16 Self-Noise „traffic light“ from red to yellow, changed text from „High“ to „Noisy“

-Revised and expanded all the descriptions of the different bugs and deficiencies

Sound Blaster: From best to worst

Reply 127 of 129, by appiah4

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Well that saves me from having to update my own Excel everytime you made a revision :lol

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 128 of 129, by Metalliferous

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Just registered to thank you for this nice overview 😁

If you ever want me to do any measurements on noise, I've got the following:
CT3980 AWE32 with CT1703-A
CT2770 SB 16 with CT1703-TBS
CT4520 AWE64

Reply 129 of 129, by Burrito78

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Welcome @Metalliferous! Very much appreciated!

Also thanks to this awesome community (and probably Google), this thread reached well over 10.000 views by now!

Regarding noise measurements: Its a different topic but results should absolutely be merged into this document, yes.
I hope that someone with audio measurement experience and a lot of time on their hands will create a new topic for this and collect hundreds of results to get a "good enough" dataset.

Sound Blaster: From best to worst