VOGONS


First post, by gear

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hello, title say it all.
I had OEM sound blaster sound card and I don't keep great memories. I read a lot about the same for many kind of OEM sound blaster sound cards so i was wondering if all of them are also to avoid (from SB16 to X-fi).

my second question is about "value" denomination in creative labs sound cards. Does it mean a "cut-down" version like OEM?

Reply 1 of 19, by TrashPanda

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

OEM cards are usually made to a price same for "Value" cards, if you want the premium features you generally have to pay for them . .even with retro hardware.

There are exceptions as a lot of Dell OEM stuff is really good quality and sometimes like the DELL Voodoo 3 3500 removes some of the more stupid adaptors the retail packages uses. I have quite a few DELL OEM products and I cant fault them, they work just fine and are pretty good value as retro parts and DELL drivers are easy to obtain.

But in general OEM stuff is cheaper for a reason but that doesnt mean its terrible and mostly it works just like the boxed products, you will see more OEM/Value stuff because more of it was made and released to market in OEM systems. I personally avoid Creative "Value" stuff as they really did cute a huge number of corners and used some really low quality components.

Oh noes, the cap let the shmooo out 😁

Reply 2 of 19, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Just my personal memory, two examples:

First sound card was a ct2270 back in 1993, that's a "sb 16 value edition". (retail box, cost me 220 german marks...)
They mainly omitted the wave blaster header. It was noisy AF, but all SB were back then.

Second, a "bulk" SB 32 PNP, that was basically an AWE 32 value, also cutting the wave blaster and I think, some onboard memory. Other than that, solid card.

"value" or "budget" offerings in general, they don't necessary deprive you of anything essential - much of that is merely marketing bs to offer a product to a less solvent clientel while protecting higher value for their "premium" products. The technical term is "price discrimination".

There's also that "AWE64" gold, imho the "gold" part really is mere bling-bling.

So, in general, "creative labs" are crooks in many ways.
The signal quality was bunk, they used all the worst components, the cards were all kinds of bugged. You don't become market leader by having high standards...

But OEM products may simply mean that you provide a product in bulk and take minor precautions that those items don't ruin your retail business.

I like jumpers.

Reply 3 of 19, by RetroGamer4Ever

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Creative Labs made questionable quality products until the X-Fi came around and even then, their brand quality was short-lived due to CL expanding the product lines with too many variants and overlapping products with no great difference in quality and a great difference in prices.

Reply 4 of 19, by BitWrangler

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Seemed to me that as soon as they brought out the "gold" variants, they put jack sockets on other products with some ultra crappy coating, not the generic nickel, that tarnished bad, just to piss people off in 6 months time and say "Shoulda ponied up for the gold"

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 5 of 19, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Oh, good, this is turning into a "bashing Creative Labs" thread!

Well, if you want a really nice mainstream card, look out for a Terratec. They even issued a dashing black-and-gold version of the ubiquitous TTSolo-1, if you can find it!
https://www.electromyne.com/images/large/131426a.jpg

I like jumpers.

Reply 6 of 19, by cyclone3d

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Ya know, I've tested a decent number of Creative ISA cards, and with a nice new ATX PSU that has actual good voltage regulation / low ripple, the Creative cards are pretty quiet.

I can take a CT1350b that is noisy as can be from an old system that has a crappy PSU and crappy filtering on the motherboard and put it in a system with a nice Seasonic PSU and with actual filtering caps on the motherboard and it is has infinitely cleaner output.

Sure Creative had other issues back in the day but so did other companies.

Look at all the compatibiliy issues that some cards had. Anything from crappy OPL emulation to very finicky Sound Blaster support.

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 19, by creepingnet

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Value to me always meant that it's a later cost-reduced version, likely based on a newer chipset/VLSI (very large scale integration) type solution.

Right now every machine on my network that's pre-1995 save for my old laptops and Tandy 1000 has a true-orange-and-blue SoundBlaster in it.

286 GEM - Pro 2.0 CT-1600 - old school, jumpers everywhere, works without a driver (mostly)
386 Compaq - 16 Value - It operates just like the AWE64 in my 486 DX4-100 Desktop
486 Desktop - AWE64 - CTCM + DIAGNOSE.EXE used to enable the card, VLSI
486 Tower - Vibra 16 - works lke the other two above but with some hardware jumpers

All of these cards have their pros and cons but none are perfect.

I think I've had the hanging note bug on the 1600 before in my 486 which is why it's in the 286 now. That said, in the 286 it's perfect apart from a bit noisy.

That 16 Value has been great in the Compaq. It also seems happy to work without drivers and is not that noisy at all.

The AWE64 Value is probably my personal favorite out of the lot. This is the card I was able to do multi-track recording with and have it come out at CD Quality as well as have it play back my previous tracks at the same time reliably. That's why it's in my 486 DX4-100 desktop since that one acts as a "DAW" a lot.

Now to that d*** Vibra 16 in the DX4 tower. That one has always been a problem child. some games prefer to find it at IRQ 2, others at IRQ 5, maybe one or two at IRQ 7 - weird. Noisy as heck, always a high pitched whine through the TV I run that computer through. Allegro won't even find the digital part of the card and sometimes not even the OPL3 either. It's my "WIP".

~The Creeping Network~
My Youtube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/creepingnet
Creepingnet's World - https://creepingnet.neocities.org/

Reply 8 of 19, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
creepingnet wrote on 2022-02-28, 17:14:

Value to me always meant that it's a later cost-reduced version, likely based on a newer chipset/VLSI (very large scale integration) type solution.

Well, there is an entry in the vogons wiki about the ct2770 and 2770[A]:
https://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Creative … laster_16_Value
So, it was the first that started to implement PnP functionality - probably the first to use the ct1747 that incorporated their (licensed) OPL3 clone.
The truly highly integrated were the later "Vibra" ones.

It looks much like the "full" 2230, same main ct1747 chip, sans the exotic CD-ROM ports, wavetable header and the useless ASP chip.
http://www.amoretro.de/wp-content/uploads/cre … r_16_ct2230.jpg
The ASP was absent from most non-value SB16 and other than that, they saved some soldering and the controller chips.

And, apparently, if this listing is genuine, there was at least one more marketed as "value edition", a ct2910:
https://www.ebay.de/itm/194880406237
- That's actually one of the nicer ones with that discrete, square OPL3 chip.
And it came with extra software and half a ton of paper manuals, just like my 2770 used to - thats the first thing being cut today if cost is to be cut.

So, I'd still maintain that it was mainly a matter of price discrimination, maybe also to set it apart from the upcoming AWE32.
Very little implication on quality or functionality.

I assume there's some merit to cyclone3d's point about the power supply and filtering.
But I think I remember trying the 2770 in other systems and it still being noisy AF, unlike the SB32.
Can't remember whether using the non-amplified line out was much of an improvement. I'd have to exhume it and test.
The 2770 was also remarkable for a very solid amplified output - I could attach passive speakers from a radio to it and have plenty of volume.

I've read somewhere that, if not the PSU, the main culprit for noiseblaster mayhem was the use of the ST TEA2035 amplifier IC, instead of the Philips that most competitors employed.
But there's a lot of lore going around...

I like jumpers.

Reply 9 of 19, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

Lies, damned lies and marketing...

"Value" is whatever Creative's marketeers wanted to position at an entry-level price point at that time, which could be a huge range of cards from simple but excellent to downright awful. Add to that that there's no such thing as a single 'best' card and in particular what works better in DOS is not necessarily what works better under Windows - and the various bugs and 'features' of the cards are also subjective experiences. So cut through the marketing blurb, instead look at what the cards technically look like and decide based on how that fits your requirements.

Here's a very good topic for the ISA cards:
Sound Blaster: From best to worst

Reply 10 of 19, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
dionb wrote on 2022-02-28, 22:21:

Lies, damned lies and marketing...

That's what the economists mean, but "price discrimination" sounds wayyy more sophisticated. 😁

Thanks for the link to that list and Burrito78 who compiled it. As he points out in the first sentence: I love all sound blaster cards, they're all shit in their own, unique way!

I like jumpers.

Reply 11 of 19, by rmay635703

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

The funny thing is literally none of the “consumers” cared about soundblaster problems.

It was just something you accepted or worked around.

Coming from pcspeaker and Tandy 3 voice my vibra 16 in my AST Adventure Advantage 4/66d was an amazing breath of fresh air.

If something sounded wrong it was probably bad software or use a different driver. Ditto if there was a crash, you just accepted PCs did that and that some software was unworkable on your machine.
The hung note on exit was irritating but again in the day figured it was bad software or a crash would just reboot.
99% of programs I ran were not scratchy through the integrated speakers but I’m guessing we weren’t that discerning.

Reply 12 of 19, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
rmay635703 wrote on 2022-03-01, 16:54:
The funny thing is literally none of the “consumers” cared about soundblaster problems. […]
Show full quote

The funny thing is literally none of the “consumers” cared about soundblaster problems.

It was just something you accepted or worked around.

Coming from pcspeaker and Tandy 3 voice my vibra 16 in my AST Adventure Advantage 4/66d was an amazing breath of fresh air.

If something sounded wrong it was probably bad software or use a different driver. Ditto if there was a crash, you just accepted PCs did that and that some software was unworkable on your machine.
The hung note on exit was irritating but again in the day figured it was bad software or a crash would just reboot.
99% of programs I ran were not scratchy through the integrated speakers but I’m guessing we weren’t that discerning.

Very good point - we deal with ancient tech yet complain that it's not perfect. But sure, my first noisy AF sb16 back in '93-94 was a revelation!

Was that AST 4/66 any good? I have an Bravo 4/66 in the basement, but the brand is practically unknown in Germany. "gang of nine" member, no less.

I like jumpers.

Reply 13 of 19, by BitWrangler

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

AST built their pre-pentium stuff like they were "IBM lite" and sneered at the clone builders using commodity parts by saying "The best technology they've got is a screwdriver" ... then went into "if you can't beat them, join them" mode.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 14 of 19, by dionb

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
Cuttoon wrote on 2022-03-01, 17:01:
rmay635703 wrote on 2022-03-01, 16:54:
The funny thing is literally none of the “consumers” cared about soundblaster problems. […]
Show full quote

The funny thing is literally none of the “consumers” cared about soundblaster problems.

It was just something you accepted or worked around.

Coming from pcspeaker and Tandy 3 voice my vibra 16 in my AST Adventure Advantage 4/66d was an amazing breath of fresh air.

If something sounded wrong it was probably bad software or use a different driver. Ditto if there was a crash, you just accepted PCs did that and that some software was unworkable on your machine.
The hung note on exit was irritating but again in the day figured it was bad software or a crash would just reboot.
99% of programs I ran were not scratchy through the integrated speakers but I’m guessing we weren’t that discerning.

Very good point - we deal with ancient tech yet complain that it's not perfect.

We complain because we now can compare and so know better. Particularly the SB16 range had bugs that were extremely rare on other cards. Only the Mediavision Pro Audio Spectrum 16 also had the hanging notes, and given rumours that Creative did some very close imitation of the still under development PAS16 for the first SB16, that's probably no coincidence. Outside of those two, everyone else's MPU401 UART managed it without hanging notes. The slowdown when playing MIDI and 16b DA simultaneously is also unique to - all - ISA SB16 derivatives, as is the Vibra hiss/ring. The only common bug they has was the single-cycle DMA click.

The ISA Sound Blasters are exceptionally good at exactly one thing, and that's being the canonical Sound Blaster for DA. That tautology aside, they are a huge victory of marketing and shady business practices over actual technical excellence.

Reply 15 of 19, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

I've no problem with Value or OEM as long as you do your research and know what your getting.
SB16, no real world difference.
AWE Value cards reduced the ram for soundbanks, no problem if your happy with the 512k or have the option to upgrade.
SBLive Value are just as good as the "full" cards
the Dell SB0200 OEM cards are rubbish but the SB0220 cards were fine
Not really a fan of the Audigy SE or Value with the software based EAX, but are ok in this day and age if pared with a fast enough CPU
All XFi cards are fine, the CA20K1 based cards only offer software EAX

The other consideration is driver support for OEM cards which dont like the generic drivers. The Live! series is the worst for this but documentation is pretty good now letting you know that SBxxx requires xyz drivers

Reply 16 of 19, by kepstin

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Yeah, in one case I decided that I'd actually prefer an OEM card over the regular model - I picked up the Dell SB0220 SB Live card for a Windows 98SE PC which I was putting into a modern case, because it has a front panel audio connector which can be easily converted to the current HDA specs (adapter cables for this are readily available) - the standard SB Live cards don't have this connector.

The threads on this forum were great for figuring out how to get the drivers working properly for this particular OEM card.

Reply 17 of 19, by gear

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
kepstin wrote on 2022-03-19, 20:10:

it has a front panel audio connector which can be easily converted to the current HDA specs (adapter cables for this are readily available)

do you have a pic to illustrate ?

Reply 18 of 19, by Stretch

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

According to DSP-assisted Audio Effects & Latency, only the high-end Audigy 2 ZS Platinum cards can apply different amounts of effects in different amounts to each track, versus only global effects that the budget cards support.

Win11 - AMD Ryzen 9 3900 - 16 GB - GeForce RTX 2060S - Sound BlasterX AE5-Plus
Win98SE - ASRock 775i65G R3.0 - Celeron 2.2 GHz - 2 GB - GeForce FX5700 - Ensoniq 1373
Win98SE - Via Apollo Pro Mobo - Pentium II 233 - 256 MB - Voodoo 3 1000 - ESS Solo-1 1938

Reply 19 of 19, by kepstin

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
gear wrote on 2022-03-24, 13:41:
kepstin wrote on 2022-03-19, 20:10:

it has a front panel audio connector which can be easily converted to the current HDA specs (adapter cables for this are readily available)

do you have a pic to illustrate ?

Sure.
DSC_0003_600.JPG
The grey adapter cable from the white connector on the SB0220 board goes to the case (a Fractal Design Focus G, in this, uh, case) HD Audio connector.

The adapter cable can be found on eBay pretty easily, search for "creative front panel audio".