VOGONS


First post, by Wasteful Instruction

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I'm new to the forum, so I would like to say hello to everyone!

I was recently testing my Win98 machine with an Aureal Vortex 2 SQ2500 sound card, and while the card itself works fine, I notice that the positional audio and reverb sound completely wrong on the digital output compared to the regular line out.

I did my testing using drivers 2041 and the official Rooms demo.

Did anyone have a similar experience? I tried looking up a similar topic but I couldn't find it.

Thanks.

Reply 1 of 23, by Doornkaat

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I have never tried this and I don't have the hardware at hand to test: Is it possible at all the SQ2500 is outputting four channel audio through the digital connector and it is remixed to stereo in your amplifier?

Reply 2 of 23, by SScorpio

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I have a Diamond MX300 and I have the SPDIF going to a SB Live Drive to front panel headphone jack.

Running the helicopter demo the positional audio sounds correct with the SPDIF or anlog on the back of the card. I'm running 2015 because newer don't allow activation of Digital Out for me.

Reply 3 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-10-28, 20:35:

I have never tried this and I don't have the hardware at hand to test: Is it possible at all the SQ2500 is outputting four channel audio through the digital connector and it is remixed to stereo in your amplifier?

Maybe, but to my knowledge there is only one setting for sound output in the driver and one in the win98 multimedia panel, and they're both set to headphone mode, so I have no idea where to check for digital out channels (only option is khz output, which is set to 48kHz, and SPDIF-out volume in the windows mixer, under AC97 controls).

SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-28, 23:51:

I have a Diamond MX300 and I have the SPDIF going to a SB Live Drive to front panel headphone jack.

Running the helicopter demo the positional audio sounds correct with the SPDIF or anlog on the back of the card. I'm running 2015 because newer don't allow activation of Digital Out for me.

Well, I guess I could try an older driver version to see if it fixes it, but it's strange since everywhere I look people recommend using 2041 as the stable reference driver for this card.

Reply 4 of 23, by kalm_traveler

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Wasteful Instruction wrote on 2020-10-29, 11:33:
Maybe, but to my knowledge there is only one setting for sound output in the driver and one in the win98 multimedia panel, and t […]
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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-10-28, 20:35:

I have never tried this and I don't have the hardware at hand to test: Is it possible at all the SQ2500 is outputting four channel audio through the digital connector and it is remixed to stereo in your amplifier?

Maybe, but to my knowledge there is only one setting for sound output in the driver and one in the win98 multimedia panel, and they're both set to headphone mode, so I have no idea where to check for digital out channels (only option is khz output, which is set to 48kHz, and SPDIF-out volume in the windows mixer, under AC97 controls).

SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-28, 23:51:

I have a Diamond MX300 and I have the SPDIF going to a SB Live Drive to front panel headphone jack.

Running the helicopter demo the positional audio sounds correct with the SPDIF or anlog on the back of the card. I'm running 2015 because newer don't allow activation of Digital Out for me.

Well, I guess I could try an older driver version to see if it fixes it, but it's strange since everywhere I look people recommend using 2041 as the stable reference driver for this card.

Just a note about digital audio - Toslink / optical audio / digital coaxial audio are all the same signal, which only supports 2 channel audio. There are two proprietary technologies that allow cards to output compressed 5.1 channel audio, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect but those are both licensed and I haven't seen anything about these older cards having driver-support for either. AFAIK those didn't appear until the early to mid 2000's.

Retro: Win2k/98SE - P3 1ghz, 512mb PC133 SDRAM, Quadro4 900XGL, Aureal Vortex 2
modern:i9 10980XE, 64gb DDR4, 2x Titan RTX | i9 9900KS, 32gb DDR4, RTX 2080 Ti | '19 Razer Blade Pro

Reply 5 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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kalm_traveler wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:45:

Just a note about digital audio - Toslink / optical audio / digital coaxial audio are all the same signal, which only supports 2 channel audio. There are two proprietary technologies that allow cards to output compressed 5.1 channel audio, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect but those are both licensed and I haven't seen anything about these older cards having driver-support for either. AFAIK those didn't appear until the early to mid 2000's.

Ah yes, you're absolutely right. I didn't really think about the PCM stream limit, but the SQ2500 has quad channel output through two separate line outs, and I thought you could do quad through toslink.
I guess not.

Reply 6 of 23, by SScorpio

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kalm_traveler wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:45:

Just a note about digital audio - Toslink / optical audio / digital coaxial audio are all the same signal, which only supports 2 channel audio. There are two proprietary technologies that allow cards to output compressed 5.1 channel audio, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect but those are both licensed and I haven't seen anything about these older cards having driver-support for either. AFAIK those didn't appear until the early to mid 2000's.

I think my Auzentech Prelude 7.1 which is based of the X-Fi was the first card I had that did Dolby encoding.

The Diamond MX300 references Dolby via SPDIF, but AFAIK it's only for audio that's directly streamed from a DVD.

Reply 7 of 23, by SScorpio

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Wasteful Instruction wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:50:

Ah yes, you're absolutely right. I didn't really think about the PCM stream limit, but the SQ2500 has quad channel output through two separate line outs, and I thought you could do quad through toslink.
I guess not.

I'm not sure about the SQ2500, but there are some sound cards that do support multi channel audio via several SPDIF/Toslink. Each output is just stereo, and modern speaker setups would have issues as some can decode Dolby, but they don't support multiple SPDIF connections for separate channels.

Reply 8 of 23, by Joseph_Joestar

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SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:52:

I think my Auzentech Prelude 7.1 which is based of the X-Fi was the first card I had that did Dolby encoding.

The Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 supported Dolby AC-3 decoding in some way. Here's a contemporary review.

Not sure if it could do this via SPDIF though.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 9 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:56:
Wasteful Instruction wrote on 2020-10-29, 12:50:

Ah yes, you're absolutely right. I didn't really think about the PCM stream limit, but the SQ2500 has quad channel output through two separate line outs, and I thought you could do quad through toslink.
I guess not.

I'm not sure about the SQ2500, but there are some sound cards that do support multi channel audio via several SPDIF/Toslink. Each output is just stereo, and modern speaker setups would have issues as some can decode Dolby, but they don't support multiple SPDIF connections for separate channels.

The SQ2500 I have only has one toslink output on the bracket. It does have another pin header inside on the upper-right corner (I mean besides the wavetable header) which should support an additional spdif-out and two spdif-ins (if I remember correctly), but I can't find any pinout or additional info of said internal header.

Besides, I don't think that quad channel dual digital out is even the issue here, as there is no mention of anything like that in the driver.

Reply 10 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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Ok, I installed the reference 2015 driver, and now positional audio is IDENTICAL both through toslink and line output.

So, either my 2041 driver is defective somehow or this is an issue that anyone should be able to replicate with the same SQ2500 card.

The problem now is everything else, as I have the "Card not on primary PCI Bus" error. I tried adding the DisablePCIDetect line to the driver inf, but it doesn't work or is not recognised by the .2015 driver version.
So with driver v2015 I have no mpu-401, no joystick port and no sbpro emulation due to the aformentioned error.

Has anyone a way to solve it?

Reply 11 of 23, by SScorpio

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-10-29, 13:00:

The Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 supported Dolby AC-3 decoding in some way. Here's a contemporary review.

Not sure if it could do this via SPDIF though.

AC-3 Decoding would just be taking the signal from a DVD and splitting it to analog 5.1 outputs. For a game's regular audio to have a digital 5.1 Dolby output you'd need an encoder, not a decoder.

Reply 12 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-29, 15:44:
Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-10-29, 13:00:

The Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 supported Dolby AC-3 decoding in some way. Here's a contemporary review.

Not sure if it could do this via SPDIF though.

AC-3 Decoding would just be taking the signal from a DVD and splitting it to analog 5.1 outputs. For a game's regular audio to have a digital 5.1 Dolby output you'd need an encoder, not a decoder.

AC-3 audio is actually supported in Aureal Vortex 2 driver v2041, though not in v2015.

Also, I did some testing with Aureal Vortex 2 and positional audio and reverb sounds different in some games in v2015. For example, in Deus Ex with v2041 I was getting weird reflections for some sounds (eg: the pidgeons at the beginning, they had excessive sound refraction) and some sounds were missing (seagulls and seawaves at the dock, first level). The demos sound identical in both driver revisions strangely...

Differences for now:

- driver 2015:

- positional audio through toslink is identical to line out in headphone mode
- Deus Ex has no forced "closed room" reverb in all environments, more sounds are reproduced with correct 3d positioning
- DisablePCIDetection and no realmodedos workarounds do not work, disables mpu-401, joystick, modem and sbpro emulation if the "soundcard not on primary bus" error occurs

- driver 2041:

- positional audio in headphone mode DOES NOT work correctly through toslink, but it's fine through line out
- Deus Ex applies a forced "closed room" reverb to sounds in all situations, some sounds are missing and 3d positioning seems less accurate (to me)
- DisablePCIDetection and similar ini tweak workarounds work normally

You win some, you lose some I guess... 😁

Reply 14 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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SScorpio wrote on 2020-10-29, 17:59:

Have you tried one of the YMF PCI cards in your PC? That would give you a real OPL3, as well as support for Sound Blaster Pro, MPU401, and Game Port in both Windows and DOS.

I have an Audigy 2 ZS in the same machine. I either enable that or the Vortex 2, depending on what I need. It actually works pretty well, so I guess I'll just use the Audigy for DOS games and joypad input (the joypad driver is separate and works with the Vortex 2 as well)

Reply 15 of 23, by ZanQuance

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Here is a temporary fix for the S/PDIF issue plaguing the drivers. I made this tool back in 2016 so philscomputerlab's could record his A3D videos. (Sorry I haven't posted it till now!)
This fix reroutes the VDB table and has the final audio mixdown also go out the S/PDIF channels @48kHZ.

Just be advised of the following:
Run the tool ONLY when no audio is playing, otherwise the VDB routing table will not be rerouted correctly and will cause issues.
After running the fixer util, changing the S/PDIF output frequency in the Vortex control panel will lock the machine,
so "DON'T ADJUST THE SETTING!", this cannot be avoided due to the VDB routing bug in the drivers themselves.
The VDB routing table fix will not persist between reboots and must be applied each time.

Let me know how it works out for you 👍

Attachments

  • Filename
    2041FIX.zip
    File size
    7.71 KiB
    Downloads
    11 downloads
    File comment
    S/PDIF fix for Vortex2 2041 drivers
    File license
    Fair use/fair dealing exception
Last edited by ZanQuance on 2020-10-30, 23:21. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 16 of 23, by swaaye

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Wasteful Instruction wrote on 2020-10-29, 16:41:
AC-3 audio is actually supported in Aureal Vortex 2 driver v2041, though not in v2015. […]
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AC-3 audio is actually supported in Aureal Vortex 2 driver v2041, though not in v2015.

Also, I did some testing with Aureal Vortex 2 and positional audio and reverb sounds different in some games in v2015. For example, in Deus Ex with v2041 I was getting weird reflections for some sounds (eg: the pidgeons at the beginning, they had excessive sound refraction) and some sounds were missing (seagulls and seawaves at the dock, first level). The demos sound identical in both driver revisions strangely...

Differences for now:

- driver 2015:

- positional audio through toslink is identical to line out in headphone mode
- Deus Ex has no forced "closed room" reverb in all environments, more sounds are reproduced with correct 3d positioning
- DisablePCIDetection and no realmodedos workarounds do not work, disables mpu-401, joystick, modem and sbpro emulation if the "soundcard not on primary bus" error occurs

- driver 2041:

- positional audio in headphone mode DOES NOT work correctly through toslink, but it's fine through line out
- Deus Ex applies a forced "closed room" reverb to sounds in all situations, some sounds are missing and 3d positioning seems less accurate (to me)
- DisablePCIDetection and similar ini tweak workarounds work normally

You win some, you lose some I guess... 😁

2015 is also the release I use when going above DirectX 7.0a as it seems to be the last that won't occasionally blow up the Win9x kernel or ddhelp.exe with games in that situation.

Official Diamond drivers are somewhere near revision 2015.

Reply 17 of 23, by SScorpio

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swaaye wrote on 2020-10-30, 20:13:

2015 is also the release I use when going above DirectX 7.0a as it seems to be the last that won't occasionally blow up the Win9x kernel or ddhelp.exe with games in that situation.

Official Diamond drivers are somewhere near revision 2015.

The final Diamond drivers are 2017. I didn't see an option to enable digital out in them so I ended up on 2015.

Reply 18 of 23, by Wasteful Instruction

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ZanQuance wrote on 2020-10-30, 19:17:
Here is a temporary fix for the S/PDIF issue plaguing the drivers. I made this tool back in 2016 so philscomputerlab's could rec […]
Show full quote

Here is a temporary fix for the S/PDIF issue plaguing the drivers. I made this tool back in 2016 so philscomputerlab's could record his A3D videos. (Sorry I haven't posted it till now!)
This fix reroutes the VDB table and has the final audio mixdown also go out the S/PDIF channels @48kHZ.

Just be advised of the following:
Run the tool ONLY when no audio is playing, otherwise the VDB routing table will not be rerouted correctly and will cause issues.
After running the fixer util, changing the S/PDIF output frequency in the Vortex control panel will lock the machine,
so "DON'T ADJUST THE SETTING!", this cannot be avoided due to the VDB routing bug in the drivers themselves.
The VDB routing table fix will not persist between reboots and must be applied each time.

Let me know how it works out for you 👍

Thank you for this! I'll definitely try it, this is an amazing thing.

I was actually getting random audio glitching through toslink with version 2015 after an hour or so of playing Deus Ex and it was getting a bit annoying.

P.S: I seem to remember someone developing a better opl3 emulator for the Vortex 2 and a better dos mixer, aren't these your projects as well? I've also stumbled across a website of someone trying to develop a new driver to run the vortex 2 on modern machines, it's amazing what people with knowledge and passion like you can do!

swaaye wrote on 2020-10-30, 20:13:

2015 is also the release I use when going above DirectX 7.0a as it seems to be the last that won't occasionally blow up the Win9x kernel or ddhelp.exe with games in that situation.

Official Diamond drivers are somewhere near revision 2015.

Well, I have DirectX 9.0c installed on this build (the latest avaliable for win98se anyway) and I never encountered this issue with the 2041 driver. By blow up what do you mean? I've read about crashes and hangs when trying to play a game the second time in a row after closing it with >DX7.0a ver but nothing about permanent damage, and still, it never happened to me. I've used the 2041 driver with Half-Life, Deus Ex and Incoming for now, maybe other titles are more likely to cause the issue?

Reply 19 of 23, by swaaye

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Wasteful Instruction wrote on 2020-10-31, 00:46:

Well, I have DirectX 9.0c installed on this build (the latest avaliable for win98se anyway) and I never encountered this issue with the 2041 driver. By blow up what do you mean? I've read about crashes and hangs when trying to play a game the second time in a row after closing it with >DX7.0a ver but nothing about permanent damage, and still, it never happened to me. I've used the 2041 driver with Half-Life, Deus Ex and Incoming for now, maybe other titles are more likely to cause the issue?

No permanent damage. 😁 Yeah some games on the second load may cause some kind of memory corruption I guess, which can manifest initially as a crash of a system service, and then the system freezes. I think I remember seeing it with Wheel of Time, Homeworld, and Elite Force for example.

I found that removing the sound card ended the problems. The solutions I found were stay with DirectX 7.0a or use the Diamond driver / Aureal 2015. DirectX 7.0a covers games through late 2000.