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Fixing SB AWE64 Gold

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First post, by mpe

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I gambled on this CT4390.

Looks like a car has ran over it or something as the PCB is slightly out of shape.

DSC_1304-scaled.jpeg

However, the only obvious damage seems to be that the main chip seems to be floating above PCB with only only one side still soldered.

DSC_1301-scaled.jpeg

However, no pins seems to be bent/broken or pads lifted.

What do you think. Any hopes for this one?

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Reply 1 of 31, by Doornkaat

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Sure, why not?
If the PCB isn't damaged internally and the chip isn't cracked there is hope.
Carefully resolder the chip and check wether other connections are broken.
Some of the caps are bent so far, they're probably disconnected internally.
The oscillator can seems a bit deformed too. That may be another culprit.
But overall it looks good.😃

Reply 2 of 31, by chinny22

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Yours looks better then mine!
I got an AWE gold where the previous owner had removed the 2 RAM chips under the CT number and the oscillator for some reason?
it was listed for free as abandoned art project, not sure about that as it came with some other nice but damaged hardware like PPro gold tops, SCSI cards, but also whole bag of random "computer chips"
but anyway I plan on fixing it up and upgrading the onboard ram if I can find comparable chips..... one day

Thing is Gold's sell for stupid money so it's worth a shot

Reply 3 of 31, by bloodem

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chinny22 wrote on 2022-02-10, 13:05:

Thing is Gold's sell for stupid money so it's worth a shot

And still not sure why that is. Even though it's got quite a few things going for it, it still falls short (IMO).
The Gold could've been the ultimate sound card... if only Creative had continued using a genuine Yamaha OPL3 chip... 😢

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Reply 5 of 31, by AirIntake

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bloodem wrote on 2022-02-10, 14:27:

The Gold could've been the ultimate sound card... if only Creative had continued using a genuine Yamaha OPL3 chip... 😢

I honestly don't understand the love for OPL. It's the standard, sure, but I really don't think the OPL clones sound bad, just different. Well ok, some sound bad but not ESFM, CQM, and Crystal FM.

Now putting wavetable on 620 instead of making it General MIDI compatible at 330, that's where I think Creative made a mistake.

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Reply 7 of 31, by AirIntake

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Is there perhaps some music you can point out that sounds particularly bad on CQM? I have cards capable of OPL, Crystal FM, and CQM and have tried to understand the hate for CQM but every time I listen to it it sounds...perfectly fine? In fact if you add 100% chorus and 10% reverb to it with the EMU8k it sounds amazing.

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Reply 8 of 31, by Gmlb256

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 15:55:

I honestly don't understand the love for OPL. It's the standard, sure, but I really don't think the OPL clones sound bad, just different. Well ok, some sound bad but not ESFM, CQM, and Crystal FM.

The main reason why many users dislike CQM is because it sounds harsher compared to the real thing and some things are slightly off. Haven't see any hate around ESFM due to being more faithful despite some imperfections. Can't comment about Crystal FM due to not having any experience.

If you want to see a bad OPL emulation just check the Aureal Vortex sound cards in DOS games.

Now putting wavetable on 620 instead of making it General MIDI compatible at 330, that's where I think Creative made a mistake.

The EMU8K isn't really a MIDI chip and lacks any hardware MPU-401 interface so setting it at 330h won't work without any emulation, which only works on Windows or using the AWEUTIL TSR (which is mediocre and won't work in protected mode games) in DOS. If you want to see some interesting stuff with AWE card check the AWEstruck... thread.

BTW, the AWE64 still has a MPU-401 compatible interface at 330h like the SB16 and AWE32, and is only accessible thru the gameport. It is mostly bugfree compared to most older Creative SB16-based cards due to using DSP 4.16.

Reply 9 of 31, by AirIntake

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:51:

The main reason why many users dislike CQM is because it sounds harsher compared to the real thing and some things are slightly off. Haven't see any hate around ESFM due to being more faithful despite some imperfections. Can't comment about Crystal FM due to not having any experience.

The harshness is actually why I like CQM, it sounds better in Doom IMO. I've always thought FM music was just too smooth in general.

Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:51:

The EMU8K isn't really a MIDI chip and lacks any hardware MPU-401 interface so setting it at 330h won't work without any emulation, which only works on Windows or using the AWEUTIL TSR (which is mediocre) in DOS. You can check the AWEstruck... thread to see some decent stuff with the AWE cards.

That's the mistake right there, Creative should have added an MPU-401 interface to the EMU8k. If it wasn't possible then Creative should never have chosen the EMU8k in the first place since its wavetable isn't exactly spectacular and the effects are merely ok. Other companies were capable of on-board GM wavetable with a standard MPU-401 interface at that time.

Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:51:

BTW, the AWE64 still has a MPU-401 compatible interface at 330h like the SB16 and AWE32, and is accessible thru the gameport. It is mostly bugfree compared to most older Creative SB16-based cards due to using DSP 4.16.

I think that's my next project, getting external GM wavetable for my AWE64. It's a much better upgrade than adding SoundFont memory since I'm DOS focused.

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Reply 10 of 31, by bloodem

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 17:01:

The harshness is actually why I like CQM, it sounds better in Doom IMO. I've always thought FM music was just too smooth in general.

The horror! THE HORROR! 😁

AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:29:

Is there perhaps some music you can point out that sounds particularly bad on CQM? I have cards capable of OPL, Crystal FM, and CQM and have tried to understand the hate for CQM but every time I listen to it it sounds...perfectly fine? In fact if you add 100% chorus and 10% reverb to it with the EMU8k it sounds amazing.

Uhm... all? 😅
Prehistorik, Duke Nukem 3D, Dyna dynamite, Lemmings, Loom, Monkey Island and all my other countless childhood favorites...
I mean... just listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqVTuyrtMQM (LS-212 is an identical OPL3 clone - this example in particular does not even show the OPL3 in the best light, it's too muffled, which is definitely not the norm, however it's STILL miles better than the cacophony of metalic sounds that the CQM produces).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
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Reply 11 of 31, by digistorm

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 17:01:

That's the mistake right there, Creative should have added an MPU-401 interface to the EMU8k. If it wasn't possible then Creative should never have chosen the EMU8k in the first place since its wavetable isn't exactly spectacular and the effects are merely ok. Other companies were capable of on-board GM wavetable with a standard MPU-401 interface at that time.

Maybe Creative gambled that every developer would embrace their proprietary system because of their market share, but just like with the Gravis Ultrasound everybody continued to use MIDI (because of it’s simplicity maybe?). It would have been difficult maybe to find musicians and software outside of the demoscene, and even the demoscene hardly embraced the AWE because software mixing became more feasible when the AWE became affordable.

Reply 12 of 31, by AirIntake

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That video sounds horrible! However the CQM on my AWE64 doesn't sound anything like that, not even close. I know what the issue is though. The guy who recorded the video had encountered an EMU8k effects glitch. I've had it happen many times when chorus and reverb are turned on and I switch between AWE32 music and FM music. It makes the sound metallic and adds this high pitched jingle. This guy must have got the effects glitch, turned off effects, then made the recording. CQM does not sound like that normally.

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Reply 13 of 31, by Joseph_Joestar

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:29:

Is there perhaps some music you can point out that sounds particularly bad on CQM?

Doom E2M2.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 14 of 31, by AirIntake

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-02-10, 17:52:
AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 16:29:

Is there perhaps some music you can point out that sounds particularly bad on CQM?

Doom E2M2.

I'm comparing E2M2 in CQM and OPL side by side right now. There's nothing that different between them honestly. The OPL is slightly smoother as expected, but the CQM isn't doing anything that sounds wrong.

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Reply 15 of 31, by bloodem

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 17:48:

That video sounds horrible! However the CQM on my AWE64 doesn't sound anything like that, not even close. I know what the issue is though. The guy who recorded the video had encountered an EMU8k effects glitch. I've had it happen many times when chorus and reverb are turned on and I switch between AWE32 music and FM music. It makes the sound metallic and adds this high pitched jingle. This guy must have got the effects glitch, turned off effects, then made the recording. CQM does not sound like that normally.

Well, I do have quite a few CQM, OPL3 and ESFM cards, and at one point I did test/compare them myself. And, yeah, I have yet to find a card where CQM is even remotely tolerable.
Anyway, to each his own, I guess. One thing's for sure: to my ear CQM will continue to sound absolutely abysmal. 😀

Found this comparison that Joseph made: OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
Indeed, the CQM sounds a bit better than the one in the youtube video, but still very bad.

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
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Reply 16 of 31, by AirIntake

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I've made some recordings of Doom E2M2
CQM from my AWE64: https://sndup.net/yrrz/
OPL from my Aztech AT6800W: https://sndup.net/m7hz/

Last edited by AirIntake on 2022-02-10, 18:37. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 17 of 31, by AirIntake

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bloodem wrote on 2022-02-10, 18:13:

Found this comparison that Joseph made: OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
Indeed, the CQM sounds a bit better than the one in the youtube video, but still very bad.

It's tough to tell since the recording volume is low, but I had a listen and I think those CQM recordings are also being effected by the EMU8k effects glitch. My CQM doesn't sound anything like those recordings. See the E2M2 recordings I made.

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Reply 18 of 31, by Joseph_Joestar

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I guess your tolerance level for CQM harshness is higher than mine, which is fair enough. Some people aren't bothered by it, others are.

If you want to listen to some recordings that I made a while ago, see this thread: OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 19 of 31, by Joseph_Joestar

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AirIntake wrote on 2022-02-10, 18:34:

It's tough to tell since the recording volume is low, but I had a listen and I think those CQM recordings are also being effected by the EMU8k effects glitch.

Not possible.

When I made those, I made it a point to restart the computer before making each recording. Nothing else was done on each recording attempt except start the game and select the relevant level. Reverb and Chorus were set to zero.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi