VOGONS


First post, by etherlore

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I have an ESS AudioDrive with an ES1868F chip that I am using in a 486 dx2 66 build, with dos 6.22. This is a great card overall and works really well in most games

However, I am experiencing severe glitchy noise in some games, to the point of them being unplayable. To be clear, the audio works, it just has an overlay of these weird noises. Here's a video showing this in action:

https://youtu.be/ZXm16L6y0Vw

That's x-com/ufo showing the issue, but some other games do as well, such as Psycho Pinball. And to be clear, lots of games work fine, like Doom, Wolfenstein, Raptor etc.

I have tried both the drivers on vogons, as well from Phil's computer lab. Changing irq, interrupt and isa slots have no affect. Anyone know what could be going on?

Uploading pic of card for reference. There are some jumpers on the card that I haven't touched, no idea what they are for. I understand some of these cards have a built in amplifier that can be disabled, but I doubt that's the issue.

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Reply 2 of 10, by DracoNihil

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Judging by it seems to happen when the screen changes in certain ways, it's some sort of interference with the video card...?

I don't get it.

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Reply 3 of 10, by etherlore

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Thanks for the suggestions. I changed the jumpers as suggested and it didn't solve the issue. I think the change worked as intended, as sound is a lot more quiet now at the same master volume setting. I also tried closing the three jumpers in the middle of the board, to no avail.

It definitely seems to be sound FX only, music by itself is fine. Just pressing buttons that produce sound fx in UFO exhibits the problem. I moved the Graphics card to a different slot (Cirrus logic 5428 VLB) with no change.

Not sure how to proceed, I'm considering just getting a sound blaster at this point. Something that could be useful is if anyone with a es1868f could try running UFO/X-Com or Psycho Pinball to see if this is just me.

I also wonder if these games are unique in some way as it relates to sound, like maybe they are stereo, or using the same sound engine.

Reply 5 of 10, by Gahhhrrrlic

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I was going to say, try DMA 1/5 (low/high) and IRQ 5, PORT 220h, disable the IDE interface, disable wavetable if you're not using it and disable the amplifier. Then go to your mixer settings in the config.sys and zero out anything you don't need like mic or line in. The less stuff that's on, the better. Not saying it will fix the problem but these are easy things you can rule out. I have the same card but don't play those games. I noticed some noise that I was able to eliminate via the mixer but otherwise the card has performed admirably.

https://hubpages.com/technology/How-to-Maximi … -Retro-Computer

Reply 6 of 10, by etherlore

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I have tried DMA 1, but not the others, so I'll give that a shot tonight. Do you know how to disable the wavetable? The installer just asks what port I want it on. Is there a port that disables it?

Reply 7 of 10, by Gahhhrrrlic

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etherlore wrote:

I have tried DMA 1, but not the others, so I'll give that a shot tonight. Do you know how to disable the wavetable? The installer just asks what port I want it on. Is there a port that disables it?

I might have been mistaken about the hardware toggle for the wavetable. It is merely controlled through software. However there are other things you can turn off:

http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/sound-cards-multi … 868F-ESS-P.html

https://hubpages.com/technology/How-to-Maximi … -Retro-Computer

Reply 8 of 10, by etherlore

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Not sure how to set Low/High DMA, I can only set the single value. 1 and 3 produces sound, but with the distortion, 5 doesn't work at all for some reason. I know sound blasters have the ability to set Low and High, but not sure I can do that. Also tried various port and irq settings again with the same results. Gave the board a good cleaning too. I set everything but FX and synth to 0 volume.

I tried under clocking my bus to 25 Mhz to see if the resulting ISA bus speed had any affect. It didn't.

My board doesn't quite look like the one on stanson. The jumpers don't match. Also, it has what looks like 3 cd audio ports, plus two additional 4 pin slots next to them. I wonder if this is some non standard OEM version of this board that requires special drivers.

Reply 9 of 10, by etherlore

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Wanted to post an update since I have somewhat figured out the cause of the audio problems (6 months later).

This was not a problem with the audio card, but rather an issue with the motherboard or how the motherboard interacts with the CPU. The CPU I use is an Intel 486 DX2 66, specifically the SX955, otherwise known as P24D. This is the only intel DX2 with a write-back cache. My motherboard, discussed here: Does anybody recognize this Socket 3 motherboard? seemingly has a specific jumper setup for the P24D that I used accordingly. However, after getting a SB16 (CT2291), I still had audio issues, and started trouble-shooting other components. I had a DX2 50 around, and with that installed I no longer had any problems. This lead me to discover that with my DX2 66 the audio glitches disappeared if I set the jumpers in the non P24D configuration. The motherboard then recognizes it as a regular DX2 66, rather than P24D and the audio is perfect, both with the SB16 and the ES1868F.

Not sure why this is the case, but I also discovered that even in the P24D configuration, the audio is fine if I disable the CPU internal cache. That could be a coincidence, but I am curious that this has something to do with the motherboard not being fully compatible with write back functionality. Either way, everything works well now.

Reply 10 of 10, by amang

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Sorry to necro this thread, but I recently discovered an exactly similar issue to my 486 machine when playing either XCOM UFO Defense or XCOM2 Terror from the Deep. Both games produces similar issues, i.e. crackling sound on top of the background music. The soundcard used on my motherboard is a Yamaha Audician YMF719E . The main culprit is the FX sound, whereas the FM music is just fine. Thanks to etherlore, I managed to troubleshoot my motherboard by playing around with the jumper.

My motherboard is currently installed with AMD Am5x86-P75 X5-133ADW that fully supports write-back cache (16kb). The current setup produces the sound issue in XCOM games. I switched off the "CPU Internal Cache" within BIOS and the audio glitch disappeared.

I had a spare AMD A80486DX4-100NV8T (Am486 DX4-100) lying around that I normally used for testing. This particular CPU is the previous generation from the P75, so it only supports write-through cache (8kb). I installed it on to the motherboard and tested the game. And voila, the sound glitch didn't happen at all, regardless whether I set the "CPU Internal Cache" to 'Enabled' or 'Disabled'. This finding confirmed etherlore's conclusion in that the sound issue has something to do with the write-back // write-through setting.

Still not satisfied with this result, I swapped back the initial P75 chip back to the motherboard, set the "CPU Internal Cache" back to 'Enabled' and paid extra close attention to any write-back jumper setting on the motherboard. It turned out that I missed out on one particular jumper to enable the write-back function to fully work. Once I set this jumper correctly, the sound issue totally disappeared.

In conclusion, setting the correct write-back jumper setting on your motherboard is very crucial in this matter.