VOGONS


SB16+Wave Blaster=AWE?

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First post, by PoulpSquad

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Hello

There are 2 quick questions for you:

Is this DB an actual Wave Blaster II (CT1910)?

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Is this DB and Sound Blaster 16 (let's say a CT1740) going to be compatible with games meant for the AWE32/64 series of sound cards?
Putting it differently, is this DB going to turn a non-AWE Sound Blaster into an AWE compatible one?

Thank you for your help!

Reply 1 of 23, by CHiLL72

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Quick answers: Yes, this is a Creative WaveBlaster II (CT1910). And no, it is not going to turn your SB16 into an AWE32/64.
The AWE32 and AWE64 have their own wavetable synthesizer and some AWE32 models have the Waveblaster header so you could expand them with a Waveblaster compatible MIDI daughterboard. The SB16 models have an FM synthesizer (Yamaha OPL3 or derived model) and most of them have a Waveblaster header so they can be expanded to hold a wavetable synthesizer. Personally, I prefer the SB16 with a wavetable expansion to the AWE32.

Waveblaster MIDI boards: http://members.home.nl/c.kersten (site will go offline soon, looking for space elsewhere)

Reply 2 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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I thought I'd be all set playing games meant for the AWE32 (like system Shock and such) with a standard SB16 and this DB.
So if I understand correctly, games needing an AWE32 will have an AWE32 option, those using a Wave Blaster are really just General MIDI?
Or are there 3 different categories (AWE32, GM and Wave Blaster)?

Reply 4 of 23, by PhilsComputerLab

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The vast majority of games support General MIDI. Now that could be any device from a massive range such as a Sound Canvas, Yamaha, Waveblaster and whatnot.

Only a tiny subset of these games have native support for the AWE synth.

What you have right now is a much better solution than swapping for an AWE card.

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Reply 5 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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So getting a CT1740 which I believe is not prone to hanging notes and plugging it to a SC-55/88 is the better option.

Thank you people for your help!

Reply 6 of 23, by Anonymous Coward

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Pushing both waveblaster and AWE32 standards simultaneously never made sense to me.

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Reply 7 of 23, by gdjacobs

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PoulpSquad wrote:

So getting a CT1740 which I believe is not prone to hanging notes and plugging it to a SC-55/88 is the better option.

Thank you people for your help!

Well, sort of. Usually there's no free lunch with Creative Labs.

How noisy do you find it? It's a common complaint for those early SB16 cards.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 8 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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I don't know, I don't own it. I was wondering if getting a CT1740 and hooking a Wave Blaster II could somehow magically turn it into a bug free AWE32 with a real OPL.
I should have known better with Creative Labs...

Right now I own a CT3910, and I'm trying to find a CT3900.
I'm not sure why though, as I don't think any games ever needed more RAM than the 512 KB on board, if even that.

As for the noise on old SB16, it's awful.. I own a pair of late model SB16 and I can tell all that's happening inside my PC...

Reply 9 of 23, by alexanrs

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Nearly no DOS games ever used the AWE as anything other than a glorified GM device using the stock ROM samples. For gaming under DOS there is no need to add RAM - it is when you play DOS games within Windows that the extra memory allows you an interesting alternative - load a SoundFont and configure games to use GM instead (as then they will use the loaded SoundFont).

Reply 10 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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So this settles that. I'll need the CT3910 with an OPL I got now, an SC-88 hooked to it for GM, an MIF-IPC-A hooked to its corresponding BOB, an old MT-32 connected to the BOB and a CM-32L daisy-chained to the MT-32.

I guess that about covers it... this hobby is so expensive and complex...

Reply 11 of 23, by gerwin

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PoulpSquad wrote:

I don't know, I don't own it. I was wondering if getting a CT1740 and hooking a Wave Blaster II could somehow magically turn it into a bug free AWE32 with a real OPL.

For your understanding: A SB16 together with a CT1920 AWE Upgrade (AKA 'Goldfinch') is practically an AWE32.
The CT1920 holds the EMU8000 semi-software synth on a proprietary EMU8000=AWE32 interface. It is not bugged AFAIK, but a semi-software synth is not really suited to pure DOS. More of a Windows thing. Back then, it introduced a new standard, and generally subsequent DOS games only added support for its 1MB ROM set. Like alexanrs already wrote.

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Anonymous Coward wrote:

Pushing both waveblaster and AWE32 standards simultaneously never made sense to me.

Maybe they wanted to spread the risk. Or maybe they were still working on native AWE DOS support through driver-SDK and AWEutil.

Last edited by gerwin on 2016-03-05, 20:13. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 12 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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Ah yes, I knew about those, but I never considered them as an option, because I'd need a motherboard with 3 ISA slots (and a P3, and VIA chipset... kind of hard to find).

Thanks for clearing things up though, I'm a bit less confused now!

Incidentally, http://www.ebay.com/itm/Creative-CT1922-SBAWE … %3D371434271892

Sorta common and cheap card oO

Reply 13 of 23, by gdjacobs

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PoulpSquad wrote:

So this settles that. I'll need the CT3910 with an OPL I got now, an SC-88 hooked to it for GM, an MIF-IPC-A hooked to its corresponding BOB, an old MT-32 connected to the BOB and a CM-32L daisy-chained to the MT-32.

I guess that about covers it... this hobby is so expensive and complex...

I'd avoid using your SB card for any MIDI at all. There's really no reason to do so. You can daisy chain all your modules together off the intelligent MPU-401 interface, whether that be a Roland BOB, Music Quest clone, or HardMPU..

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 14 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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I'll give your idea a spin once I get all the stuff.
I did it this way because GM games don't care if the MPU-401 interface the Sound Canvas module is hooked to is intelligent or UART, I was also trying to avoid daisy-chaining modules to keep latency down.
(I never experienced any, but then again I only have 2 modules right now).

That poor SB would still have plenty on its hands. FM, EMU, digital FX and joystick.

That still leaves a free DB header on the SB. I'd be sad to leave it vacant xD Any suggestions?

Last edited by PoulpSquad on 2016-03-06, 14:33. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 16 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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Now that's an interesting notion.
VOGONS Wiki states:

The so-called hanging note bug is a hardware bug on certain models of the Creative Sound Blaster 16 and Sound Blaster AWE32 series of sound cards. The bug only occurs when affected cards are utilized for digital sound effects and MIDI music simultaneously, but it happens on any MIDI device regardless if connected to the internal Wave Blaster connector or externally through the game port.

and

Affected are all Sound Blaster models with DSP revisions 4.11, 4.12 and 4.13.
Type 1 doesn't occur on cards with a CT1747 bus interface.

If I get it straight, if I'd be willing to use an AWE32, I'd be needing either a CT3900 or a CT3980, as they do have a CT1747 (so real OPL and immune to type 1 bug).
And I'd need to daisy-chain all the MIDI devices on the MPU-401 interface on the other ISA slot, so the SB becomes immune to type 2 bug?
I guess that's why you wrote I should keep the SB clear of any MIDI devices?

P.S.:
I just remembered that the BOB has 2 MIDI out connectors, so I could plug 1 module to MIDI out 1, another module to MIDI out 2, and daisy-chain a third module to any of them and keep latency low.
I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Do you guys have a degree in rocket science?!?

Reply 18 of 23, by PoulpSquad

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I agree, the concept of leaving the SB in solitary confinement and have all the MIDI modules hanging from the MPU-401 makes sense.

I just bought a 3 way audio switch to plug the MIDI modules in, and I'll join the audio switch output with the output of the Sound Blaster with an adapter. That will go to the input of my stereo amplifier.

Speaking of noisy, muffled, horrible audio quality of the SB, I was wondering if disabling the internal audio amplifier would improve things.
I already disabled gain in MIXERSET and lowered volume levels, and it helped somewhat.
I have read some bits over the net, but I never could find any definitive information on how to do it (JP18 and JP19 for the CT3910, or JP20 and JP21 for the CT3900 are the key it seems).

Does anyone have any information on how to do it?

Last edited by PoulpSquad on 2016-03-06, 14:25. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 19 of 23, by alexanrs

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Recapping the card could also help. Also, Creative was known to use wrong capacitors for the output stage of the amplifier on some SB16 cards (not matching the recommended values in the amp's datasheet), so one could also look into that.