VOGONS


First post, by Durandal

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Hey all, I've got an absolutely tiny Buffalo BPC-MS41DS 5x86 PC that I'd like to put a sound card in. It has a single 16-bit ISA slot and the case ends 1 centimetre (ish) after the end of the slot, so I need a card that doesn't hang over the edge. The CT2770 is the shortest OPL3 card I could find amongst the value models but is still too long.

And so I call upon your collective knowledge: what is the shortest SB (or compatible) card with an OPL3 on board?

I've looked at a few and the CT4170 is the perfect length but doesn't have an OPL3, which isn't ideal, but if nobody knows of an OPL3 card as short as that then I guess I'll have to deal with it.

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Reply 4 of 22, by cyclone3d

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Aztech I38-MMSN853. You get onboard wavetable as well.

Aztech I38-MMSN813

Possibly some other Aztech cards such as the one in the post above mine.

I also have a random Opti 930 based card with OPL3 that is that short. Really any of the Opti based cards before the 931 should have OPL3 chips.

There should be others out there as well.

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 5 of 22, by Oetker

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derSammler wrote on 2020-04-15, 06:16:

Yes one of the triangular Aztech cards was what I came here to post.

Reply 6 of 22, by cyclone3d

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Looking around, I see that ALS100 cards come in the same length and have OPL3 chips.

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 7 of 22, by dionb

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There are many, many options. Most later SB clone cards are no longer than the 16b ISA connector. Given all the options, it makes sense to add some more requirements than just a real OPL3.

In your shoes I'd want a bug-free MPU401, WSS support (for 16b sound) and low self-noise. The HP/Aztech triangle supplies the first two, but for an Aztech card it's unusually noisy. Same goes for the MMSN813 that Cyclcone3D linked to. The MMSN853 would be fine though (just don't expect too much from the wavetable), and I'd add the MMSN845, which has the added advantage of being non-PnP.

Alternately, you could look for SB16 support. Aztech doesn't offer that but ALS007 and ALS100 do, and most cards are no longer than a 16b ISA slot. Avoid the very common ALS100+ as it not only has a (bad) internal FM synth but also does not support high DMA, so SB16 compatibility is bad. The older two do, and are invariably paired with 100% OPL3 clones ("LS-262") so sound the same as cards with real OPL3. These tend to be very cheap and cheaply made cards though, so noisiness varies wildly between implementations and may be a significant issue.

Or choose something else - there's enough out there so being selective actually makes life easier 😉

Last edited by dionb on 2020-04-15, 10:56. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 8 of 22, by The Serpent Rider

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ALS100+ as it not only has a (bad) internal FM

ALS100+ internal FM is fine. Some cards are just finicky without integrated oscillator.

I must be some kind of standard: the anonymous gangbanger of the 21st century.

Reply 9 of 22, by derSammler

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dionb wrote on 2020-04-15, 09:55:

Avoid the very common ALS100+ as it not only has a (bad) internal FM synth but also does not support high DMA, so SB16 compatibility is bad.

This is just not true. ALS100+ supports internal and external FM and most cards based on the ALS100+ are using an external OPL3 (mostly in disguise, but real OPL3 chip). So all you should avoid are ALS100+ cards with no external FM chip.

Reply 10 of 22, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-04-15, 10:50:
dionb wrote on 2020-04-15, 09:55:

Avoid the very common ALS100+ as it not only has a (bad) internal FM synth but also does not support high DMA, so SB16 compatibility is bad.

This is just not true. ALS100+ supports internal and external FM and most cards based on the ALS100+ are using an external OPL3 (mostly in disguise, but real OPL3 chip). So all you should avoid are ALS100+ cards with no external FM chip.

We've had this discussion once before. Every single example of ALS100Plus+ card lacked external OPL in any guise or was an ALS100 non-plus after all. And even if you by miracle find one, it still can't do high DMA so SB16 is nerfed.

Reply 12 of 22, by derSammler

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dionb wrote on 2020-04-15, 10:59:

We've had this discussion once before. Every single example of ALS100Plus+ card lacked external OPL in any guise or was an ALS100 non-plus after all. And even if you by miracle find one, it still can't do high DMA so SB16 is nerfed.

Yes, and I told you that all of my ALS100+ or "Plus" cards come with an external OPL3.

If you think they don't exist, here's one for you:
https://wiki.preterhuman.net/images/thumb/1/1 … px-Als100_1.jpg (LS262 is an OPL3 clone)
http://www.os2museum.com/wp/opl3-copies/ (for reference)

There's no miracle behind, they are easy to find. Took me three seconds to even find a random active one on ebay: 181392179716
Picture here: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/oRkAAOSwbKVcSI9A/s-l1600.jpg (can even work with an OPL2 apparently)
That card is also the most common one. Also from those I own myself.

So please stop spreading the rumour that such cards don't exist. They are not even rare. Repeating a wrong statement won't change that.

Also, SB16 compatibility isn't bad. High DMA works fine, it can only not be any DMA higher than 3, which is only a problem for very few games - mainly BUILD engine ones. Even some of the later Sound Blaster Vibra 16 cards had this limitation, and these were original Creative cards. So it's not a limitation caused by being a bad clone, but because Creative did it like this at that time, too. What's the point anyway? All of the alternatives mentioned from Aztech, Yamaha, etc. don't do SB16 at all.

Reply 13 of 22, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-04-17, 06:16:
Yes, and I told you that all of my ALS100+ or "Plus" cards come with an external OPL3. […]
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dionb wrote on 2020-04-15, 10:59:

We've had this discussion once before. Every single example of ALS100Plus+ card lacked external OPL in any guise or was an ALS100 non-plus after all. And even if you by miracle find one, it still can't do high DMA so SB16 is nerfed.

Yes, and I told you that all of my ALS100+ or "Plus" cards come with an external OPL3.

If you think they don't exist, here's one for you:
https://wiki.preterhuman.net/images/thumb/1/1 … px-Als100_1.jpg (LS262 is an OPL3 clone)
http://www.os2museum.com/wp/opl3-copies/ (for reference)

There's no miracle behind, they are easy to find. Took me three seconds to even find a random active one on ebay: 181392179716
Picture here: https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/oRkAAOSwbKVcSI9A/s-l1600.jpg (can even work with an OPL2 apparently)
That card is also the most common one. Also from those I own myself.

So please stop spreading the rumour that such cards don't exist. They are not even rare. Repeating a wrong statement won't change that.

Congratulations. You actually found two. The card in the OS/2 museum is a regular ALS100...

Now, as for statistics... you mention eBay. I just did a search in IT&Networks for items worldwide using term "ALS100". It gave 37 hits. 36 of those are sound cards with Avance Logic chips.

Of those 36:
- 1 was an ALS120...
- 7 were ALS100 (non Plus) with OPL3 clones (FT6116-100, LS262 and one that I can't read, but has same shape & pinout as the prior two).
- 5 were ALS100+ with clear OPL3 clone (LS262, or "LS245" in various layouts). Of note: these cards differed in various details, but all had the same FCC ID, MGYPro16/32PNP
- 23 clearly had no OPL3 clone in any form.

So, of the 28 cards with ALS100+ available on eBay at this time, 23 (82%) clearly do not have any form of OPL3 clone. All the others are revisions of a single card, the Freetek Pro16/32PnP. It's not the only one with OPL3, as you have a different one, but it appears the only one relatively widely available.

So I retract my statement that "every single" ALS100+ card does not have an OPL3, but if you at random buy an ALS100+ card, there's a 5/6 chance it will not have an OPL3 and you're stuck with its (crap) internal OPL-imitation.

Also, SB16 compatibility isn't bad. High DMA works fine, it can only not be any DMA higher than 3, which is only a problem for very few games - mainly BUILD engine ones. Even some of the later Sound Blaster Vibra 16 cards had this limitation, and these were original Creative cards. So it's not a limitation caused by being a bad clone, but because Creative did it like this at that time, too. What's the point anyway? All of the alternatives mentioned from Aztech, Yamaha, etc. don't do SB16 at all.

The alternative I mentioned was the ALS007 and ALS100 non-plus, which *always* have an OPL3-clone and fully support high DMA in their SB16. Why choose a later chip that does less and offers exactly nothing extra in return?

Reply 14 of 22, by canthearu

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This ESS1869 card would be fine:

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Many of the later ISA clones are not even pull 16bit ISA cards, cut short to save PCB costs.

Reply 15 of 22, by dionb

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canthearu wrote on 2020-04-18, 10:51:

This ESS1869 card would be fine:

IMG_0677.JPG

Many of the later ISA clones are not even pull 16bit ISA cards, cut short to save PCB costs.

Great little card, but ESFM - while not bad - isn't OPL3. ESS688 or 1688 would have an external OPL. Note that MIDI on those cards can be touch&go, though. Not buggy, just sometimes not working at all.

Reply 16 of 22, by canthearu

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dionb wrote on 2020-04-18, 11:26:

Great little card, but ESFM - while not bad - isn't OPL3. ESS688 or 1688 would have an external OPL. Note that MIDI on those cards can be touch&go, though. Not buggy, just sometimes not working at all.

Fair point. I feel ESFM is fairly close to OPL3 in quality, but true, not true OPL3.

Reply 18 of 22, by maxtherabbit

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Oetker wrote on 2020-04-18, 16:29:
dionb wrote on 2020-04-17, 18:31:

"LS245"

I've seen cards with that chip but an obvious empty spot for an OPL3, so I don't think it's an OPL3 clone.

I think you're getting mixed up with the "real" LS245 - the 74LS245 bus transceiver

Reply 19 of 22, by dionb

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maxtherabbit wrote on 2020-04-18, 16:30:
Oetker wrote on 2020-04-18, 16:29:
dionb wrote on 2020-04-17, 18:31:

"LS245"

I've seen cards with that chip but an obvious empty spot for an OPL3, so I don't think it's an OPL3 clone.

I think you're getting mixed up with the "real" LS245 - the 74LS245 bus transceiver

Yep. It looks like all the ALS100(+) cards need a real 74LS245. They exist in through-hole DIP versions and SMD. However some cards have a second "LS245" which just happens to have same size, shape and pinout as a YMF262 - the confusion is intentional on the part of whoever chose that marking for the OPL3-copy 😜