VOGONS


First post, by realoldguy23

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Background: I'm going to rearrange my vintage PC landscape consisting of a K6-200/Matrox G200 based box and a PPro 200/Voodoo3 based box. The PPro will run only Windows 98 while the K6 will get my DOS6.22/Win3.11 "workload" - I noticed that the K6 can even run Wing Commander I at the right speed if I switch off both caches.

Available ISA soundcards are AWE64 Value, SB16 Vibra16c CT2960, and a (terrible) NoName Crystal CX4235

The AWE64 Value goes into the K6/DOS system. That's a no-brainer.

If I'm not mistaken, for the pure Win98 gaming a PCI soundcard would be appropriate. I have these PCI sound cards available:

ES1371front_s.jpg
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Soundblaster AudioPCI ES1371 front
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ES1371back_s.jpg
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Soundblaster AudioPCI ES1371 back
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SBPci128front_s.jpg
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Soundblaster PCI128 front
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SBPci128back_s.jpg
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Soundblaster PCI128 back
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Which one is better? Another option would be the Vibra16c from the ISA lot. But I would consider these PCI cards superior in sound quality and things like bus mastering. BTW, I will not connected it to passive speakers or headphones. I'll use a proper amplifier for it. So, the impressive amplifier chip on the SBPCI128 is of no use to me.

And a bit more background about my Windows gaming requirements: I'm mostly interested in mid to late 90's Windows games (POD, GPolice, ... hence the PPro 200 is enough for me). So no fancy 3D sound features are required, which these cards don't have anyway.

Reply 1 of 11, by dionb

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The 5507 is a relabeled ES1370. So basically your choice is between some or other Vibra (exact model is relevant, as it determines noise levels and which bugs are present), an ES1370 and an ES1371. Given the pure Windows focus, the ES1371 has the advantage of being fully AC'97 compliant. With the ES1370 some sound could play at the wrong pitch.

Bus mastering is pretty irrelevant for audio quality, so it's possible that the Vibra might beat the ES1371, but under Windows only the ES1371 is a safer bet.

Reply 2 of 11, by realoldguy23

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dionb wrote:

The 5507 is a relabeled ES1370.

That was the information I missed! I guess most of the differences between these cards can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ensoniq_AudioPCI#ES1370

Looking at this, I guess the ES1371 is the way to go.

dionb wrote:

So basically your choice is between some or other Vibra (exact model is relevant, as it determines noise levels and which bugs are present),...
Bus mastering is pretty irrelevant for audio quality, so it's possible that the Vibra might beat the ES1371, but under Windows only the ES1371 is a safer bet.

Regarding bus mastering, this certainly does not affect audio quality, but I was thinking it might affect the performance considering a slow ISA bus master is reading from memory. But thinking more about it, it doesn't seem to be relevant. Anyway, the SB16 Vibra16c I have, seems to be the worst in terms of bugs. Another reason for the ES1371.

Thanks for your answers!

Reply 3 of 11, by zyga64

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I think most interesting part in this wikipedia article is this one:

Cards with ES1370 run natively at 44 kHz sampling frequency, meaning that 12, 24, 32 and 48 kHz become resampled. Resampling means lower sound quality, worse synchronization and possibly higher CPU utilization. Cards with ES1371 run at 48 kHz conforming to AC97, so 11, 22 and 44 kHz become resampled.

1) VLSI SCAMP /286@20 /4MB /CL-GD5422 /CMI8330
2) i420EX /486DX33 /16MB /TGUI9440 /YMF718+GUS
3) i440BX /P!!!750 /256MB /MX440 /SBLive!+Vibra16s

Reply 4 of 11, by realoldguy23

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Which leads to the interesting question which sample rate the early Win98 games used, 44.1kHz based or 48kHz based? Maybe an interesting research project when I find the time...

Reply 5 of 11, by swaaye

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Old sound cards are typically built for 8/11/22/44 KHz. Old games typically use 8/11/22 KHz. Later games do use 44.1 KHz though. For example Unreal/UT and Quake 3 based games run 22.05 KHz audio samples. Unreal and UT99 also use 22.05 KHz mixing for their tracker music by default. Easier on the CPU. And of course lower sample rates use less storage.

48 KHz is something you find with more with audio production and video playback (ie DVD).

I'm not sure what modern games are using. Might be 48 KHz these days because of how that is the popular rate in home theater land.

Reply 6 of 11, by realoldguy23

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Makes me think that the ES1370 (SBPCI128) is the better choice in the end. My gaming history ended before the 90's ended. All games I'm interested in are pre-DVD era.

Funny though that both boards are from 98. Besides the fact that Creative produced and sold both cards at the same time (why did they do that?), what made Creative changing the chip sample rate between the ES1370 and the ES1371? What happened in the market at this time?

Reply 7 of 11, by zyga64

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realoldguy23 wrote:

Makes me think that the ES1370 (SBPCI128) is the better choice in the end. My gaming history ended before the 90's ended. All games I'm interested in are pre-DVD era.

Funny though that both boards are from 98. Besides the fact that Creative produced and sold both cards at the same time (why did they do that?), what made Creative changing the chip sample rate between the ES1370 and the ES1371? What happened in the market at this time?

ES1370 was original Ensoniq product. When AC97 standard came, Creative modified chip to be compliant to standard. This is my assumption
Most of MP3s have 44.1 khz (audio CD) sample rate.

1) VLSI SCAMP /286@20 /4MB /CL-GD5422 /CMI8330
2) i420EX /486DX33 /16MB /TGUI9440 /YMF718+GUS
3) i440BX /P!!!750 /256MB /MX440 /SBLive!+Vibra16s

Reply 8 of 11, by cyclone3d

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Fun fact about the Sound Blaster PCI 128 and PCI 64.

The Sound Blaster PCI 128 the same exact card as the Sound Blaster PCI 64 EXCEPT for the fact that it has a special ID chip on it that keeps the PCI 128 drivers from working with the PCI 64.

Back in the day when these cards were being sold new and I discovered this, I made a custom driver pack that enabled 128 voices on the PCI 64, which turned it into a PCI 128.

A couple months after this, Creative released an official driver for the PCI 64 that did the same.

Fun times.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header

Reply 9 of 11, by swaaye

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Yeah I bought an AudioPCI direct from Ensoniq for all of $75. I was excited about having the PCI successor to the ISA Ensoniq Soundscape cards. But really the AudioPCI is a very low cost design meant to sell well to OEM system builders. Ensoniq had been building ever cheaper Soundscape cards for Gateway (etc) and the culmination of these efforts is the AudioPCI. It's a minimalist PCI chip and uses software to implement most of the features the Soundscape cards had in hardware. Except the software had to run on a low/midrange Pentium so its quality isn't great. It's a Winmodem of a sound card. 😁

But the AudioPCI can do quadraphonic 4.0 speaker output and has DirectSound3D / A3D emulation. That was interesting in 1998 when 3D audio was just getting started. I remember enjoying Total Annihilation that way.

Reply 11 of 11, by zyga64

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Here for ES1370: http://vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?fileid=1 … menustate=47,38
Here for SB PCI128 (Creative): http://vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?fileid=1 … menustate=45,38

1) VLSI SCAMP /286@20 /4MB /CL-GD5422 /CMI8330
2) i420EX /486DX33 /16MB /TGUI9440 /YMF718+GUS
3) i440BX /P!!!750 /256MB /MX440 /SBLive!+Vibra16s