VOGONS


First post, by AlessandroB

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I have in my pocket:

Sound Blaster 2.0
Sound Blaster Pro 2.0
Sound Blaster 16

wich is the suggested for a slow 386sx20? the one that advances I would mount it on the 486dx2…

Reply 1 of 14, by rmay635703

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-04, 12:15:
I have in my pocket: […]
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I have in my pocket:

Sound Blaster 2.0
Sound Blaster Pro 2.0
Sound Blaster 16

wich is the suggested for a slow 386sx20? the one that advances I would mount it on the 486dx2…

Due to compatibility I would stick with either 2.0 card

Functionally the sx20 is bandwidth limited on any of the cards so it won’t matter much from a performance perspective.

Reply 2 of 14, by mkarcher

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The Soundblaster Pro 2.0 can do everything important the Sound Blaster 2.0 can do, so I don't see any reason to not "go Pro" for the average user. The SB 2.0 uses an OPL2 synthesizer, whereas the SB Pro uses an OPL3, which is supposed to very compatible to the OPL2 in default mode. Yet, some purists might know about slight differences between the sound of the chips or the analog filtering around them, which might make the SB2.0 preferable. The other possiblity the SB 2.0 has is being able to insert the old "CMS" (Creative Music System) synthesizer chips, which predate Adlib/OPL2 and games using them are quite rare. The SB 2.0 shipped without those chips, and Creative Labs sold them as optional upgrade. They were obsolete already when the SB 2.0 was released.

The SB16 is a mixed experience. Creative had to change paradigms to make 16-bit sound work, for example they switched from arbitrary-rate R/2R DACs to the more modern and precise Sigma/Delta technology which was new at that time, and worked best for continous data streams at a fixed sample rate. As the paradigm shift was done in a hurry to prevent losing market share to competitors with 16-bit support, early SB16 cards had some shortcomings, like the "pop/click bug". The 16-bit sound also is claimed to not actually deliver full 16-bit performance (especially on recording, but it still exeeded 8-bit performance, so skip over this point when comparing to the SB Pro). The most important prolem with the SB16 is that the SB Pro used a very hacky ad-hoc way to add stereo to a mono design. The SB16 replaced it with a properly designed stereo implementation - but it doesn't emulate the SB Pro stereo hack any more.

For a 386SX-20 systems, the advantages of the SB16, mostly the 16-bit support, is nearly not relevant, as I don't know of any software that runs acceptably on an 386SX-20 and uses 16-bit sound (module players excluded, but if you want to run a module player on a 386SX-20, go GUS!). On the other hand, the deficiencies (no stereo support in SB Pro games, click bug) are relevant on that platfom. There are games from the 386SX era that support stereo sound on the SB Pro (but not the SB16), because (and for some retro builders, this alone is a good point) the SB Pro is period adequate for an 386SX system, whereas the SB16 is "too new".

Thus I recommend you to put the SB16 into the 486DX2 system (where 16-bit support starts to make sense), and the SB Pro 2.0 into the 386SX-20 system.

Reply 4 of 14, by BitWrangler

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If you're gonna build a fast 386 or DX2 or below 486 then probably you wanna keep the Pro for that and get this one used to the SB 2 so it doesn't throw a toddler tantrum when you take it away later.

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Reply 5 of 14, by root42

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I would use the SB Pro 2.0. The 386SX will have a bit of a struggle, but it can probably do stereo music in games such as Pinball Fantasies. Plus the OPL3 will sound nice in some games. Probably it will also be nice if you play X-Wing or something like that which supports stereo.

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Reply 6 of 14, by AlessandroB

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I forgot to mention that I also have a Pentium75. If I put the Sb16 in the pentium75, I put the sbPRO2 in the 486DX2 / DX4, is the sb2.0 very wrong in the 386sx20? il386sx20 is a very slow computer, I think it is only for graphic adventures and a little further. Or is sb2.0 so poorly supported that I have to switch between PRO2.0 between DX2 and 386sx? tnks

Reply 7 of 14, by mkarcher

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-04, 15:34:

I forgot to mention that I also have a Pentium75. If I put the Sb16 in the pentium75, I put the sbPRO2 in the 486DX2 / DX4, is the sb2.0 very wrong in the 386sx20? il386sx20 is a very slow computer, I think it is only for graphic adventures and a little further. Or is sb2.0 so poorly supported that I have to switch between PRO2.0 between DX2 and 386sx? tnks

Sounds like a very good plan. My suggestion to use the SB Pro was just because you don't loose anything compared to the SB 2.0, which I supposed would have been unused on the shelf. The improved music capabilities of the OPL3 and the stereo capabilities just started getting some support in 386SX days, so you don't loose a lot by downgrading to the SB 2.0. Regarding mono playback of digitized samples, the SB 2.0 and SB Pro (either version) are identical.

Reply 8 of 14, by keropi

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-04, 15:34:

I forgot to mention that I also have a Pentium75. If I put the Sb16 in the pentium75, I put the sbPRO2 in the 486DX2 / DX4, is the sb2.0 very wrong in the 386sx20? il386sx20 is a very slow computer, I think it is only for graphic adventures and a little further. Or is sb2.0 so poorly supported that I have to switch between PRO2.0 between DX2 and 386sx? tnks

This is a solid plan and what I would also do - tbh it's a no-brainer given the choices 😀
All 3 systems will be great with those SB cards

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Reply 9 of 14, by AlessandroB

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sonfinal suggestion is:

386sx - sb2.0
486dx to dx4 -sbpro2
P75 - sb16

is correct?

actually that's what I thought too but I preferred to have confirmation from you too that you are incredibly competent

p.s. I would also have another system ... the first IBM pc, equipped with 8087, ram expansion and vga card ... in this system all my sound cards would be useless right?

Reply 10 of 14, by rmay635703

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-05, 11:33:

p.s. I would also have another system ... the first IBM pc, equipped with 8087, ram expansion and vga card ... in this system all my sound cards would be useless right?

Not hardly, any PC can use a soundblaster that has an 8 bit edge connector
(either of the 2.0 cards)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/trixter.oldskool … ass-system/amp/

Games might be a little more limited but adlib and midi is nice and of coarse music trackers and the like.

Also have this

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MWdG413nNkI

Reply 11 of 14, by Pierre32

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-05, 11:33:
sonfinal suggestion is: […]
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sonfinal suggestion is:

386sx - sb2.0
486dx to dx4 -sbpro2
P75 - sb16

is correct?

I will also throw my vote in for this setup.

I recommend the CMS upgrade for the SB2.0 too, as mkarcher mentioned.

Reply 12 of 14, by mkarcher

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AlessandroB wrote on 2021-08-05, 11:33:

p.s. I would also have another system ... the first IBM pc, equipped with 8087, ram expansion and vga card ... in this system all my sound cards would be useless right?

The original Sound Blaster 1.0 seems to be designed for those low-spec machines. Creative didn't include continous playback in that soundblaster, but required a new "play a block" instruction everytime one block finished. This was because nobody thought about continous real-time sound synthesis, but the digital sound playback was meant to play low sample rate (22kHz max) pre-rendered sound effects from main memory. That's a task a IBM 5150 is definitely good enough for. Don't think about high rates (like the 44kHz introduced with the new firmware in the Soundblaster 1.5) or stereo on that machine, but as a game card that can play background music using the OPL2 chip and some digitized samples as sound effects, a soundblaster (or a clone, like the MediaVision ThunderBoard) does just fine in an PC or XT.

I'm not that sure that there are many games that play digital samples using a soundblaster that run well on a PC/XT machine, but you should find games with OPL2 (AdLib) support that run on that machine and are considerably more fun with a sound card. Prince of Persia in CGA mode might be a good fit for a PC with AdLib, for example. Every SoundBlaster card (well, CT1920 doesn't count as soundblaster card) is AdLib compatible. Most other PC sound cards, even if not really soundblaster compatible (I'm looking at you, PAS cards!) are also AdLib compatible. Just don't try to get an Ensoniq SoundScape 2000 running in a PC/XT. Its MIDI synthesis might have been nice for that system, but the official tools need a 286 system, and as I understand it, there is no way to initialize that card without 16-bit AT DMA, and it doesn't provide any sensible AdLib compatibility. They tried to guess MIDI samples from AdLib parameters, but that scheme never really worked well.

Reply 14 of 14, by Half-Saint

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I used a SB Pro 2.0 Deluxe in my Pentium PC back in the 1990s because I didn't feel like I needed an upgrade. A friend had an AWE32 and it was amazing but I was perfectly happy with my old card 😀

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