VOGONS


First post, by RetroLiz

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Hi everyone! I recently purchased an IBM Aptiva Series E Model 2158. I'm no stranger to PC parts but I didn't realize how complicated the sound card situation can be. I intend to play Windows 98 and DOS games.

I've heard that an ISA card is better than a PCI card, but I have no idea what the difference is and whether this computer even has an ISA slot.

I don't necessarily care about the "best" sound, but I'm looking for something decent that's available and won't break the bank. It would be nice to get it for approximately $20-$30.

Does anyone have a recommendation?

Thank you!!!

Battlestation: IBM Aptiva Series E 500 (Model 2158)
Sony Trinitron Multiscan 100ES 15" CRT
AMD K-6/2 400mhz
SoundBlaster Live! CT4780
IBM 120GB HDD
256MB RAM
Windows 98 SE

Reply 1 of 13, by Joseph_Joestar

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Considering your budget, I would suggest a Sound Blaster Live. It will work great for Win9x gaming while also providing SB16 emulation and General MIDI music for DOS games. However, in older titles that only support FM synth music, the SBLive emulation won't sound so good.

Ideally, you want to pair it with a cheap ISA card such as a Yamaha YMF719-S for genuine OPL3 and better DOS compatibility.

Build #1: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
Build #2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
Build #3: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 2 of 13, by RetroLiz

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-01-04, 17:55:

Considering your budget, I would suggest a Sound Blaster Live. It will work great for Win9x gaming while also providing SB16 emulation and General MIDI music for DOS games. However, in older titles that only support FM synth music, the SBLive emulation won't sound so good.

Ideally, you want to pair it with a cheap ISA card such as a Yamaha YMF719-S for genuine OPL3 and better DOS compatibility.

Thanks, Joe. I think that, given the circumstances, I'll get a Soundblaster Live for now and then maybe upgrade in the future if necessary. Tbh, your sound clips in the first link don't sound that bad to my ear. Then again, even back "in the day" (when I was a kid and presumably my hearing was better than it is now) I had a hard time distinguishing the best quality sound cards from the average ones.

Battlestation: IBM Aptiva Series E 500 (Model 2158)
Sony Trinitron Multiscan 100ES 15" CRT
AMD K-6/2 400mhz
SoundBlaster Live! CT4780
IBM 120GB HDD
256MB RAM
Windows 98 SE

Reply 3 of 13, by Marmes

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If PCI I would also suggest Yamaha YMF7x4 XG . For ISA, what Joseph said. YMF719-F , you can still find them at nice prices. You can try PCI CMI8738 , it has SBpro SB16 and FM.

Last edited by Marmes on 2021-01-05, 02:04. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 13, by Srandista

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If ISA is available, I would also recommend ESS Audiodrive cards (like ES1868 or ES1869). They don't have genuine OPL3, but their ESFM implementation of OPL3 is arguably best in the business (I would say miles better then CQM or Live! emulation), they also have bug free wavetable available and can be bought for next to nothing.

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon 9500@9700, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live, Win 98

Reply 6 of 13, by Joseph_Joestar

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Just a quick note here. While ISA sound cards are excellent for DOS gaming, many of them exhibit crackling and popping when used to play Win9x games. This can be somewhat remedied by disabling sound hardware acceleration, but that usually slows the system down to a crawl.

For best results, use a PCI sound card for Windows gaming and an ISA sound card for playing DOS games.

Build #1: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
Build #2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
Build #3: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 7 of 13, by chinny22

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-01-05, 04:20:

Just a quick note here. While ISA sound cards are excellent for DOS gaming, many of them exhibit crackling and popping when used to play Win9x games. This can be somewhat remedied by disabling sound hardware acceleration, but that usually slows the system down to a crawl.

For best results, use a PCI sound card for Windows gaming and an ISA sound card for playing DOS games.

Agree with this
OP doesn't mention dos gaming which is the only reason you would want an ISA card

Pure Win9x PC's on a budget I don't see any reason you wouldn't go with a SBLive! in this day and age unless for some very specific reason like compatibility, availability, etc

Reply 8 of 13, by Boohyaka

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OP said:

RetroLiz wrote on 2021-01-04, 17:35:

I intend to play Windows 98 and DOS games.

Yet it's true my reply was probably incomplete as I was just seconding ES1868 recommendation from the previous poster for an ISA sound card for DOS.
I would definitely recommend pairing it with a SB Live! for Win9x. That's what I run in my Celeron build.

Reply 10 of 13, by appiah4

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Get an ES1868 sound card if you want a good mix of price/compatibility/sound quality.

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

Reply 12 of 13, by Kamerat

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When I read the specs of the IBM Aptiva Series E Model 2158 it seems like it contains an ESS Solo-1 PCI sound chip integrated on the motherboard already. This might be very suitable for both DOS and Windows gaming.

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
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Reply 13 of 13, by dionb

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Kamerat wrote on 2021-01-05, 18:19:

When I read the specs of the IBM Aptiva Series E Model 2158 it seems like it contains an ESS Solo-1 PCI sound chip integrated on the motherboard already. This might be very suitable for both DOS and Windows gaming.

Second that. In Windows it doesn't do anything special, but solidly outputs sound at WSS spec 48kHz, in DOS it's one of the best-behaved PCI chipsets.