VOGONS


First post, by keropi

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Hiya!

we made a new thing 😀

edit: final version pics:

fYeBwGU.jpg

RwanGrB.jpg

YRn5iEq.jpg

prototype:

UeJTbwob.jpg

This is the MK8330 soundcard, based on the CMI8330 chip.
I believe we have squeezed every bit of sound quality this chip can offer. The PCB is a 4-layer design and there are some audio-grade caps in the most important places.
So there are no "thinking noises" or interference audible in audio output.

The chip's main features are:

  • Sound Blaster 16/PRO/2.0 and AdLib compatible
  • Windows Sound System ver 2.0 compatible
  • Microsoft Direct Sound 3D DirectX 5.0 compatible (HRTF 3D Positional Audio)
  • Hardware auto switch between WSS and SB16
  • Internal OPL3 synthesizer emulator (meaning in reality a OPL3 clone that is 1:1 to the original)
  • Digital audio SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) Input/Output (due to chip design *only* PCM/FM and DIGITAL-IN are outputted from the S/PDIF port)
  • Full Duplex 16-bits CODEC
  • Sound Blaster 16/PRO Mixer and Windows Sound System Mixer compatible.
  • MIDI port - compatible with MPU-401 UART mode and Sound Blaster MIDI mode.
  • Dual channel GAME port. (Support Microsoft Game-Pad up to 8 ports)
  • Five software select DMA lines (0, 1, 3, 5, 7)
  • Six software select interrupt lines (5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  • driver support for: Windows 3.1x/9x/NT , DOS and OS/2 Warp 3.0

Backside ports are: gameport/line-out/mic/line-in/spdif/midi-out.
Internal connections are: wavetable header, pc-speaker input, analog cd-audio input, digital cd-audio input and an AC97 header.

There is an expansion connector that allows the user to install a special upcoming PCMIDI MPU upgrade card so you can have soundcard+mpu on a single slot:

iYPCZeKm.jpg

There is a jumper that allows you to select if gameport+midi-out jack are controlled by CMI8330 or PCMIDI mpu.
There will be a jumper that will allow the same for the wavetable header - so you can have a dual-mpu setup. This is not added in this prototype pcb but will be added in the final revision.
Both gameport midi-out and dedicated midi-out jack can be used at the same time without issue.
Large wavetable daughterboards like the SCB-55/XR-385/etc fit without issues next to pcmidi-addon.

S/PDIF output works from power-on time but it only carries the 8330's PCM+FM and the digital-CD-IN sounds. So you will not get any sounds coming from Line-IN or Wavetable header for example.

The internal OPL3 block seems to be a 1:1 clone of the Yamaha part - I cannot detect any differences personally. I have included some 320kbps MP3 recordings below so you can hear for your self.
Ofcourse recordings do not prove much in terms of quality (they are not made in any special way , it is whatever a PCI x-fi can record with no special equipment/processing) but one can judge at least clarity and OPL3 quality.

We plan to release this from our www.pcmidi.eu site same way as the other projects with a price of 85eur shipped worldwide via registered airmail.
Each card will come complete , ready to use with a stainless steel bracket and a midi adapter cable for the dedicated midi-out jack.

Thanks for looking! 😀

Sample recordings:
( please download the file instead of using the online media player as it seems to be using lower quality stream)

Monkey Island AdLib
Commander Keen 4
Alone In The Dark
Dynablaster
Jazz Jackrabbit SB16 "very high 486/50" sound quality
Turrican 2 WSS 48khz
Tyrian OPL
Alertia.XM win98SE/mod4win

Monkey Island AdLib via S/PDIF
Turrican 2 WSS 48khz via S/PDIF
Alertia.XM win98SE/mod4win via S/PDIF

Source Audacity untouched recordings are available HERE if anyone wants them.

Last edited by keropi on 2022-06-27, 14:42. Edited 3 times in total.

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 1 of 195, by Joseph_Joestar

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Very interesting project! My PC Chips M571 motherboard has an integrated sound card based on the (similar?) CMI8330 chip, and I was really impressed by its capabilities. A few questions:

  1. What are the differences between the CMI8330 and CMI8830 chips?
  2. Is the 1:1 OPL3 compatibility fully confirmed? It sounded pretty much the same to my ears, but I never did a detailed waveform comparison or something like that
  3. Does this card lack ADPCM support? This was one of the very few downsides of my integrated CMI8330
  4. Can IRQ/DMA resources be shared between the SB and the WSS portions of the card? My integrated one could not do this using the stock drivers, so it ended up taking a whole lot of resources
  5. Is the HRTF support based on Sensaura? If not, does it support A3D 1.0? I never got to properly test this on my integrated card
  6. Some CMI8330 based cards (including my integrated one) had an issue where it was not possible to use a joystick connected to the gameport due to a missing resistor or something. I imagine there is no such problem with this card?

Anyhow, great idea for making a modern sound card using these chips. From my experience with the CMI8330, it has extremely low self noise, an incredible compatibility range (SB, SBPro, SB16 and WSS), superb sounding FM synth and a bugfree MPU-401 interface. I don't think I've seen such a feature set on any other sound card.

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 3 of 195, by keropi

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@Joseph_Joestar

1. great catch! ofcourse 8830 is a typo , the card is the 8330 🤣 I have fixed the typos now...! 🤣
2. well if it sounds the same then it probably is the same 😉 I mean it would not be that unrealistic that the LS262 stolen design is integrated into CMI8330... but no I did not do any waveform comparisons because quite frankly I could not detect any difference. Even Dynablaster that sounds weird in "opl compatible" chips sounds the same as if there is a yamaha part on the card.
3. sadly there is no SB ADPCM support so Duke Nukem 2 for example won't play SB sfx
4. nope, each standard gets it's own resources , they cannot be shared as per chip design. Maybe some software trick exists but it's certainly not normal to operate with shared resources.
5. it is sensaura tech but it predates A3D AFAIK , I cannot say I really bother with such old "3D enhancements" as they are somewhat of a gimmick in my book... still it exists for people that like such things.
6. no such issues with the MK8330 , joystick works as expected

I also feel the same for this chip, it is very much functional for our retro-gaming needs. It certainly cannot offer the sound quality of the CS4237 for example but it is more than enough to enjoy a couple of games.

imi wrote on 2022-04-14, 20:17:

does the PC MIDI addon work on PC/104?

bus pinout matches but it is totally untested

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 4 of 195, by aitotat

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Looks very promising! I definitely want one with the addon card. Those features makes it one of the best Sound Blaster clones but the addon card should have had one extra OPL so dual OPL would have been possible with single card.

Reply 5 of 195, by Joseph_Joestar

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keropi wrote on 2022-04-14, 20:19:

2. well if it sounds the same then it probably is the same 😉 I mean it would not be that unrealistic that the LS262 stolen design is integrated into CMI8330... but no I did not do any waveform comparisons because quite frankly I could not detect any difference.

This has been my experience as well. I tried several games and could never hear any differences between the CMI8330 and my YMF744 card which of course has genuine OPL3. A waveform comparison using SPDIF out on both cards would offer additional proof, but sadly, my integrated CMI8330 only has SPDIF in.

5. it is sensaura tech but it predates A3D AFAIK , I cannot say I really bother with such old "3D enhancements" as they are somewhat of a gimmick in my book... still it exists for people that like such things.

I'm mostly asking because the CMI8330 manual which came with my motherboard (attached here) mentions A3D specifically, but I never got to testing it. That said, this manual is a bit more detailed than the ones for standalone CMI8330 cards. Feel free to take a peek in case there's something useful for you guys inside.

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 6 of 195, by Oetker

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Awesome, I've never found a card with this chip in the wild. The ALS100 might be slightly better on paper as it supports ADPCM, but I've never gotten a card with that chip to work.

Could you tell a bit more about how the audio quality of the chip is inheritly limited (at least, that's the idea I get).

Also really cool that this is an actual finished product almost ready for sale.

Reply 7 of 195, by keropi

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@Joseph_Joestar
thanks for this manual... it certainly is more well written than the other stuff I have seen
what software wavetable solution your system uses? do you have it installed? it is mentioned in the datasheet as well but there was no such download in the old CMI site... so I am curious what they licensed back then

@Oetker
both CMI8330 and ALS100 chips were mainly used by random manufacturers doing dirt cheap soundcards... this is especially true with ALS100 - I also had a couple cards that did not work correctly: it was not the ALS100 that failed but the opamps and their low quality cheap components.
There is nothing wrong with the CMI8330 but for example the CS4237 does sound better. It is just a better made chip with more features whereas the CMI one was aimed at OEMs that needed cheaper options. The internal OPL clone is certainly a very nice touch. As-is the MK8330 sounds better than the majority of old soundblaster cards - so it is pretty usable and enjoyable.

I am sure there will be some games that won't work with SB16 mode or will have some quirk but that's the nature of compatible chips. From experience with the megacard the CMI chip has a little better SB16 compatibility and sound quality. ALS100 lacks WSS support but adds SB ADPCM playback.

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 8 of 195, by pc-sound-legacy

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Awesome! I really appreciate your work. Do you plan to produce and distribute the card for us, like you do with the Oprheus?
I can confirm CMI FM sounds the same as the Yamaha OPL3, made a comparison video once:
https://youtu.be/cZpzgJGZmnc
(OPL2) and here (OPL3)
https://youtu.be/pjz9or5VqDQ

Reply 9 of 195, by Joseph_Joestar

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keropi wrote on 2022-04-14, 21:10:

what software wavetable solution your system uses? do you have it installed? it is mentioned in the datasheet as well but there was no such download in the old CMI site... so I am curious what they licensed back then

My M571 motherboard is currently in storage, so I can't check right now. From what I remember, the software wavetable sounded kind of crappy.

BTW, the driver CD for that motherboard can be downloaded from this website. Among other things, it contains the CMI8330 DOS and Win9x drivers, as well as the manual that I linked to earlier and the software wavetable utility. IIRC, all that stuff is in the SoundPro folder, which is what the motherboard manufacturer called their integrated CMI8330 solution.

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 11 of 195, by keropi

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pc-sound-legacy wrote on 2022-04-14, 21:44:

Awesome! I really appreciate your work. Do you plan to produce and distribute the card for us, like you do with the Oprheus?
[...]

yes indeed - this is the plan 😀

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-04-15, 04:02:

My M571 motherboard is currently in storage, so I can't check right now. From what I remember, the software wavetable sounded kind of crappy.

BTW, the driver CD for that motherboard can be downloaded from this website. Among other things, it contains the CMI8330 DOS and Win9x drivers, as well as the manual that I linked to earlier and the software wavetable utility. IIRC, all that stuff is in the SoundPro folder, which is what the motherboard manufacturer called their integrated CMI8330 solution.

thanks for the info again ! yeah it is expected that the software wavetable would be crappy - it would be something cheap.
I can see that they have it embedded in the driver installation but it looks like CMI released newer drivers v2.0 so I assume they would be better to use under win9x
Actually the main bulk of the chips we acquired have the SoundPRO marking - they kinda look better 🤣
So the final version cards will have these chips soldered.

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 12 of 195, by aitotat

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keropi wrote on 2022-04-14, 21:10:

There is nothing wrong with the CMI8330 but for example the CS4237 does sound better.

So when comparing to Orpheus, you get SB16 support at the expense of sound quality? That would mean that if you have GUS, then Orpheus would be better for Sound Blaster stuff since there is very little, if any, need for SB16 support if there is GUS (and WSS from the Orpheus). So MK8330 could be good alternative to Orpheus mainly on systems with only one ISA slot?

Reply 13 of 195, by keropi

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aitotat wrote on 2022-04-15, 07:30:

So when comparing to Orpheus, you get SB16 support at the expense of sound quality? That would mean that if you have GUS, then Orpheus would be better for Sound Blaster stuff since there is very little, if any, need for SB16 support if there is GUS (and WSS from the Orpheus). So MK8330 could be good alternative to Orpheus mainly on systems with only one ISA slot?

Both are good - but the CS4237 is just on another level in both features and output. They just targeted different market levels, one for OEMs that needed cheaper solutions and the other had the potential to be used in more advanced cards. It the end of the day it's up to the end user to decide which features are more appealing for their system and needs.
This is just one more choice out there , the goal was to make something that would rival the mid-tier cards one can get on eBay while offering better results.

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 14 of 195, by Joseph_Joestar

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aitotat wrote on 2022-04-15, 07:30:

So when comparing to Orpheus, you get SB16 support at the expense of sound quality? That would mean that if you have GUS, then Orpheus would be better for Sound Blaster stuff since there is very little, if any, need for SB16 support if there is GUS (and WSS from the Orpheus). So MK8330 could be good alternative to Orpheus mainly on systems with only one ISA slot?

From what I remember, and I could be wrong since it's been a while, the WSS compatibility of the CMI8330 is slightly better than that of the CS4237.

I think my integrated CMI8330 worked fine with Sierra WSS games like Gabriel Knight out of the box, while the Orpheus apparently needs some additional patches/fixes.

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 15 of 195, by Lennart

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This looks great yet again! 😀 Happy to see that the CMI8330 is being used on a properly designed sound card for a change.

Are there any plans to offer a bundle that includes the Dreamblaster X2GS? I'm already a happy user of the Orpheus + X2, but I've been looking for an excuse to buy an X2GS. This might just be it 😆

Reply 16 of 195, by Marmes

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From our point of view, and seeing what most people want or need (we are not talking about particular sound card features, but generic).
We found that CMI8330 fills most needs for a good cost. Of course there are compromises, or we wouldn't be doing such cards.
But CMI8330 is one of the chips with less compromises.
I only see advantages in this chip.
-SBRO2
-WSS
-SB16
-SPDIF out (DIGITAL and FM)
-SPDIF in
-3D Surround(basic)
-Good OPL3 (identical to Yamaha, my ears cannot fell the difference).
-Software is easily configurable.
-No TSR
People complain about not having ADPCM, but most of those games have patches, and they are not so many. WSS games are much more abundant than ADPCM games.
The advantages of this card we made are basically these:
-14.31818 Mhz Crystal on board
-Spdif IN and out on board ready for connection
-Joystick circuit is fixed
-Upgradable with a PCMIDI daughter board .
-You can fit a full length Wavetable board.
-Board looks nice 😉
So I hope you appreciate this card the same way we do 😀. If you don't like it's good ok, there is always space for improvement and other nice cards around!

Reply 17 of 195, by Marmes

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Lennart wrote on 2022-04-15, 12:21:

This looks great yet again! 😀 Happy to see that the CMI8330 is being used on a properly designed sound card for a change.

Are there any plans to offer a bundle that includes the Dreamblaster X2GS? I'm already a happy user of the Orpheus + X2, but I've been looking for an excuse to buy an X2GS. This might just be it 😆

I think Keropi can answer you better, but I think you can get one with this card ! 😁

Reply 18 of 195, by keropi

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Lennart wrote on 2022-04-15, 12:21:

[...]
Are there any plans to offer a bundle that includes the Dreamblaster X2GS? [...]

ofcourse there will be a bundle option 😀

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 19 of 195, by Lennart

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keropi wrote on 2022-04-15, 12:45:
Lennart wrote on 2022-04-15, 12:21:

[...]
Are there any plans to offer a bundle that includes the Dreamblaster X2GS? [...]

ofcourse there will be a bundle option 😀

Good to hear, I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread then 😉