VOGONS


First post, by MN_Moody

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I'm a fan of the occasionally obscure in DOS and early Windows era soundcards and try to an eye out for oddball examples that come through the e-waste places I partner with along with the usual "fishing spots" for retro collectors via estate / garage sales and marketplace websites. I've seen my share of Media Vision, Gravis, Creative, Roland, Ensoniq and other gems... but I've never run into an example like this before, so I figured I'd throw up some photos and info for those who are interested in such things like I am. Either my search-fu is terrible or there just isn't anything about this card out there.

According to the box, the card was produced in the USA by the "Crystal Computer Company" out of San Jose, CA who produced their own ASIC for the card. It seems particularly well made without any electrolytic capacitors and an interesting compliment of components, though I can't find a lot of information about the specific Samsung synth + soundbank chipset combo or the utility of the SIMM upgrade option for, presumably, user uploaded soundbank support. It's proudly advertised as the "first on earth plug and play (pnp) wavetable sound card" featuring the 32-voice Omniwave Stereo Synth, up to 48kHz stereo sampling and playback, IDE controller, Roland Sound Canvas GS, General MIDI and Sound Blaster Compatibility with totally jumperless and "automatic configuration and installation."

I haven't gotten it installed yet, but it's complete in the box with manuals + software and indicates DOS, Windows 3.1, 3.11 and 95 compatibility. It certainly looks the part of a mid 90's ISA PnP sound card that was designed to compete with the AWE32 and other Wavetable equipped cards of it's day complete with SIMM slots for soundbank upgrades that are notes as a "future" enhancement in the manual. Notable is the presence of a legit Yamaha YMF-262 / OPL3 FM synth chip in addition to the Samsung KS0161q Omniwave Synth (claims Roland SC GS Compatibility with 6/7 drum sets) plus a Samsung KS0171-2m masked soundfont ROM. This example has the CS4231 DAC and a Crystal Computer CC3000 ASIC. Looking forward to building up a Windows 95 era machine in which to test this out over the weekend, assuming I can get it working I'll drop some observations and recordings here. I'll also archive the floppy driver discs and relevant manual scans for the next person who comes across one of these since there's nothing out there on Archive.org or the Vogons driver DB for this card.

I'm mostly expecting this to be a hot mess to deal with given how bad early ISA PnP was, but perhaps starting with low expectations means I'll be pleasantly surprised.

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Reply 1 of 4, by Bancho

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What an obscure card! Its like of looks like some sort of Turtle beach clone with its layout, although incorperating completely different sound chips! Curious about the ram expansion and what can actually be loaded into it!

Please do get some recordings up. It will be interesting to hear what it sounds like!

Reply 2 of 4, by pc-sound-legacy

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I never heard of this or have seen one before. But what a beauty! Please let us know how installation was, and share some records with us. Thanks for preserving the floppy images/drivers.

Reply 3 of 4, by DW12

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Hi, I've been lurking on the forum for about a year and finally decided to create an account. I've found and bought this card about 2 weeks ago, unfortunately only card, without the box and original driver discs. Seller did include some drivers, probably found on the internet. I've put it on my testbench with ATC-5220 SS7 motherboard and K6-2+. At first I've had issues with installing drivers and auto assignment of resources, but this can be a problem with my Win98 intallation, it holds lot of different drivers from previous hardware swaps, setting resources manually did resolve these problems.

I've captured samples of MIDI playback from Doom and Descent with my cheapo external USB soundcard, you can find them in attachments. In my opinion it sounds quite cool. Not all of the instruments are great, but I kinda like the guitars in E1M1 and synths in Descent.

When it comes to Sound Blaster compabillity, so far it sounds ok, but i will have to test it more. In Descent you can choose "Crystal Lake" option instead of Sound Blaster, it sounds like some kind of Crystal's alternative to Creative's standard, quite cool detail about this card.

When I've launched Monster Truck Madness 2 there was information about card not supporting DirectSound, and music did sound terrible. Wave playback is quite noisy in my opinion, you can check it in the recording of Win98 welcome screen.

FM synthesis sounds ok as it has genuine OPL chip, but that I need to test more too.

Now I will have to try using it on a clean install of Win95. MN_Moody, is there any software for loading soundfonts on the original discs? I've got only a bare driver and some generic Voyetra software included from the seller. It would be great to find software that can handle that.

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Last edited by DW12 on 2022-10-19, 22:47. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 4, by DW12

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Here are the recordings from Monster Truck Madness and Win98 welcome screen.

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    crystalizer_mm2.mp3
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  • Filename
    crystalizer_win98.mp3
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    51 downloads
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    Fair use/fair dealing exception