Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Discussion about old sound cards, MIDI devices and sound related accessories.

Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-7-19 @ 15:17

Re: ESS Solo 1
Compatibility with Intel motherboards is not so good, though.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby Srandista » 2018-7-19 @ 20:01

From what I understand, ESS Solo-1 is best PCI sound card for boards with VIA chipsets.
My overkill "retro" PC - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 512MB/4GB RAM, Radeon 9500@9700 (Softmod), ESS Solo-1 + Dreamblaster X2, 80GB IDE HDD, Win 98/XP
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby dr.zeissler » 2018-7-21 @ 21:14

gdjacobs wrote:Re: ESS Solo 1
Compatibility with Intel motherboards is not so good, though.


Are you talking about the problematic "sound engines" ?
e.g. Doom2/Duke3d/Swarrior/Blood/Pfantasies/Pdreams1/2/Pinball Illusion, ExtremePinball

Duke3d/Swarrior/Blood can be played with sound within Win98se when using the WDM-Drivers,
but I always use the VXD-Drivers because I love to use "FM" and the "WaveTable-Header" within Win98se/Dos and that will not work when using the WDM-Drivers.

I'll check if the WDM-Drivers within Win2K will work with the problematic "sound-engines"

It would be a hell of a thing, when the sound-engines could be patched for the ess-solo1, but I think that's will never happen.
Beside that, the ESS-Solo1 will always be my favorite PCI-Retro-Soundcard for Dos/Win9x.

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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ruthan » 2018-7-22 @ 00:37

Falcosoft wrote:1. 'In pure DOS (Digital + FM) ... (not worse than Creative CQM).' - Aureal Vortex cards (and also SB Live!/Audigy/Ensoniq AudioPCI) are out of contest... They have only emulated FM that is much worse than CQM:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FJCnswIJiw


I need some clarification, when is use Aureal Vortex + Dream blaster of similar additional card, it that bad emulated FM bypassed by it? I mean is dreamblaster used insted of FM chip and its after than FM better or same as card with native not emulated FM? Or dreamblaster is working only with games which are supporting General Midi?

Still nobody answered what are difference between Aureal Vortex 1/2, Vortex 1 cards are cheaper, would be dos sound same as with Vortex 2 and difference is only with Windows 98 and later OSes?

I only found this info:
viewtopic.php?p=495293#p495293
I dont know what is HRTF (i only found this: https://doc.xenko.com/latest/en/manual/audio/hrtf.html ) and if number of channels really matters for games.

ZanQuance drivers are only for Vortex 2 or Vortex 1 is supported too? Which driver is best for Aureal Vortex 1 (8820) is vogons driver library i found only Win9x drivers and Dos driver for Vortex 2? Maybe could be extracted from Win98 drivers, but would be nice to have driver package for Dos only.

Is there some Aureal pure Dos compatibility thread or post with more than few games?
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby gdjacobs » 2018-7-22 @ 02:12

dr.zeissler wrote:
gdjacobs wrote:Re: ESS Solo 1
Compatibility with Intel motherboards is not so good, though.


Are you talking about the problematic "sound engines" ?
e.g. Doom2/Duke3d/Swarrior/Blood/Pfantasies/Pdreams1/2/Pinball Illusion, ExtremePinball


Nope, Kamarat did some testing with various chipsets. The link's in his sig.
memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=28804
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby dr_st » 2018-7-22 @ 05:40

ruthan wrote:when is use Aureal Vortex + Dream blaster of similar additional card, it that bad emulated FM bypassed by it? I mean is dreamblaster used insted of FM chip and its after than FM better or same as card with native not emulated FM? Or dreamblaster is working only with games which are supporting General Midi?
Yes. When you specify 'General Midi' (if the game supports it), it goes to the Dreamblaster. When you specify 'Adlib/Soundblaster' music (or if that's the only thing the game supports), it goes to the emulated FM.

ruthan wrote:Still nobody answered what are difference between Aureal Vortex 1/2, Vortex 1 cards are cheaper, would be dos sound same as with Vortex 2 and difference is only with Windows 98 and later OSes?
That's the question I want answered to, yes.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby oohms » 2018-7-22 @ 06:04

My understanding is that the vortex 2 adds support for A3D 2.0, but dos functionality would be the same
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby dr.zeissler » 2018-7-22 @ 07:40

gdjacobs wrote:
dr.zeissler wrote:
gdjacobs wrote:Re: ESS Solo 1
Compatibility with Intel motherboards is not so good, though.


Are you talking about the problematic "sound engines" ?
e.g. Doom2/Duke3d/Swarrior/Blood/Pfantasies/Pdreams1/2/Pinball Illusion, ExtremePinball


Nope, Kamarat did some testing with various chipsets. The link's in his sig.
memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=28804
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing


That is not right. Doom1 works in stereo and my I810/815e uses TDMA and not PC/PCI. Dosmixer is not covered either.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby Revolter » 2018-7-22 @ 12:41

dr.zeissler wrote:It would be a hell of a thing, when the sound-engines could be patched for the ess-solo1, but I think that's will never happen.
Beside that, the ESS-Solo1 will always be my favorite PCI-Retro-Soundcard for Dos/Win9x.


Dude, I share your plight with this card. I use it as the only audio source on my DFI CS32-TC (i815 chipset) and it is indeed very close to being totally awesome (FM and wavetable work in every DOS game with no exceptions), but yeah, SFX is quite a pain on Intel boards. I finally gave up and have purchased a couple of VIA S370 boards to solve my P3 sound problem once and for all.

As for the WDM drivers and wavetable output - the ESS MPU-401 driver from Windows ME works perfectly out-of-the-box, and I also heard you can make the wavetable work in Win98 with WDM drivers by copying the MPU driver manually or something, but I never tried that.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby dr.zeissler » 2018-7-22 @ 12:51

Thx, it's all about the sound-engines. Miles works everywhere, where Apogee/3DRealms never works with SFX.
So what is the deal? Patching the soundengine is the solution.
Take Doom1 <1.666, it works flawlessly on solo1, Doom1 1.666 refuses the sfx, like Heretic, Hexen, Sw etc.
If I can manage to get these to work with the soundengine of early doom1 everthing would be fine.

Are you sure that this behavior of the solo1 is intel-chipset based?

I don't have the option for a via-chipset yet.

In order to get this even further I will make a compatibility/issue list for the ess-solo1.

btw. it's not about the MPU401, on wdm-drivers, mostly it's the lack of FM in Dos with the WDM-Drivers.
I am currently checking Win2k and optional I am thinking about a Dualboot of Win98se (WDM/VXD).
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby Revolter » 2018-7-22 @ 13:17

dr.zeissler wrote:it's all about the sound-engines

dr.zeissler wrote:Take Doom1 <1.666, it works flawlessly on solo1, Doom1 1.666 refuses the sfx, like Heretic, Hexen, Sw etc.


Yup. The same is with X-COM: UFO Defence: unpached and demo versions work fine, but the patched release no longer has SFX in DOS on ESS Solo-1. But most of these issues can be resolved by running the games in Windows and with WDM drivers. Here are the titles I've been able to run correctly this way:

idTech 1 games, Build games, Carmageddon, Daggerfall, Descent 2, Dreamweb, Earthworm Jim 2, IndyCar Racing 2, One Must Fall 2097, Terminator Future Shock, Jazz Jackrabbit, Kingdom at War, PC Rally, Quake, Rayman, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, Super Star Wars and the DOS version of ZSNES emulator. Although Jazz and Rayman stutter too much with WDM drivers.

The rest of the DOS games I have (about 120) run fine in DOS 6.22. The only problematic ones are:

Bioforge (GM only, doesn't run in Windows), Crusader games (don't run in Windows), Quarantine games (don't run in Windows) and Ultima 8 (GM only, doesn't run in Windows). And for fixing Rayman and the Pinball series I've purchased a Covox Speech Thing :)

dr.zeissler wrote:Are you sure that this behavior of the solo1 is intel-chipset based?

Until I receive the VIA motherboards and run the tests, I only have strong suspicions based on multiple reports. Even on 430TX and 440BX people seem to have been able to run most games perfectly, so maybe it's just the Intel's ICH logics that lack something the VIAs apparently have.

dr.zeissler wrote:lack of FM in Dos with the WDM-Drivers.

What do you mean? I've never encountered a game that has FM in pure DOS, but doesn't have it with ESS WDM drivers.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ZanQuance » 2018-7-22 @ 15:17

ruthan wrote: Still nobody answered what are difference between Aureal Vortex 1/2, Vortex 1 cards are cheaper, would be dos sound same as with Vortex 2 and difference is only with Windows 98 and later OSes?

With Aureal what you see is what you get, in the product briefs they state the features as posted in the thread you linked to.
The DOS drivers only use 3 channels, L/R and OPL3 mix, WaveTable for midi is hardwired to the CODEC for output.
DOS support should sound similar between the cards due to the OPL3 emulation in the TSR driver, and compatibility for both cards is the same hardware wise.
My new DOS driver currently only supports the Vortex 2 AU8830, there are major register differences between the chips. Support for the Vortex 1's should be possible also, but I don't have one.

ruthan wrote: Is there some Aureal pure Dos compatibility thread or post with more than few games?

Just whats in the .txt list Aureal has with their dos drivers.

dr_st wrote:Do all Vortex cards use the same DOS drivers and provide the same level of compatibility? (Vortex/Vortex2, specific vendors)?

Yes they do, there are no emulation differences for each Vortex cards DOS support, Vortex1's use ASP4DOS.com instead of Vortex2's AU30DOS.com.

dr_st wrote:Where does the compatibility of PCI cards break? Assuming your motherboard supports everything that's needed and you can get the driver/TSR of the card to load - does it become "transparent" for DOS games (will look like a standard SBPro/SB16) or not quite? Some games won't work? Please leave EMM386 out of the discussion (we can have it in the other thread). ;)

The PCI cards need at minimum legacy decoding so that when a game writes to Sound-Blaster and Adlib ports the soundcard can capture the read/write accesses.
Without this games will not detect any Sound-Blaster. There was work on using EMM386 to trap legacy I/O port access, but this seems like a less than ideal solution.
So long as the motherboards continue providing LPC support, the Aureal Vortex 2's will continue working. I've been working on the new DOS driver and this seems to be the only real requirement for the cards, along with PCM support requiring access to the 8257 DMA controllers Page, Offset and Count registers to know where the games audio buffer is being stored in memory.
The AU30DOS.com driver manipulates the values in the 8257 to emulate a DMA transaction taking place, games that read the COUNT register update their streaming buffers accordingly based on how much has been read so far by the Sound-Blaster.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ruthan » 2018-7-22 @ 15:29

dr_st wrote:When you specify 'General Midi' (if the game supports it), it goes to the Dreamblaster. When you specify 'Adlib/Soundblaster' music (or if that's the only thing the game supports), it goes to the emulated FM.

So question is how much games are / are not supporting General Midi, i know new games usually have GM support, but older dont and.. a dont know exactly when GM get popular etc.. I checked that specs are from 1991

ZanQuance wrote:The DOS drivers only use 3 channels, L/R and OPL3 mix, WaveTable for midi is hardwired to the CODEC for output.

Could you compare it with Yamaha 72x/74x or SB audigy / !Live /ESS Solo-1 have they also only 3 channels?

ZanQuance wrote:My new DOS driver currently only supports the Vortex 2 AU8830, there are major register differences between the chips. Support for the Vortex 1's should be possible also, but I don't have one.

What features has you need driver? I saw something about new mixer on Phils site - mixer means better adjusting of volumes of difference sources if im not work?
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ruthan » 2018-7-22 @ 19:08

dr_st wrote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FJCnswIJiw It was not as bad as I expected. :) I mean, Lemmings is pretty butchered, but DOOM and Wolfenstein 3D were OK. Unfortunately I don't know the other games in the video (since I rarely played adventure games)

Try to check Phils youtube library, he did lots of these sound cards recording videos.. i dont think that he is always testing exactly same set of games, but there would be huge overlay to compare particular cards.Maybe we could even ask him for some Yamaha vs. Aureal special video, because it is thing which is interesting for lots of us.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ZanQuance » 2018-7-22 @ 19:39

ruthan wrote: Could you compare it with Yamaha 72x/74x or SB audigy / !Live /ESS Solo-1 have they also only 3 channels?

No not really, the channel count is highly irrelevant, all I meant was that DOS SB support on the Vortex1 and Vortex2 are the same across both cards, as they "only" use 3 audio channels for emulation playback, and that the WaveTable daughterboard MPU-401 support was hardwired to the CODEC for output on them.
"ANY" Sound-Card with at least 8 audio channels are plenty for modern OS's >= Vista. Win98 and XP with DirectSound(3D) will make use of whatever channels the Sound-Cards have.
If DMA FIFOs determine the number of Audio channels, then the Vortex1 has 48, and the Vortex2 has 96. But channel count isn't everything.

ruthan wrote: What features do your new drivers have? I saw something about new mixer on Phils site - mixer means better adjusting of volumes of difference sources?

The Mixer was just to fulfill a request made for one, and is only a temporary tool until everything I've been working on is completed and ready for release.
The new DOS driver isn't ready yet, it's compatibility is slightly worse than Aureals original driver right now.
But...it's just a matter of time before the support and compatibility surpass the original driver.
Target features are still better OPL3 emulation and broader game compatibility, along with any enhancements that can be made along the way (smaller TSR footprint, bug fixes original driver had ect...) and ultimately still work on newer motherboards.
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ruthan » 2018-7-22 @ 20:22

ZanQuance wrote:No not really, the channel count is highly irrelevant, all I meant was that DOS SB support on the Vortex1 and Vortex2 are the same across both cards, as they "only" use 3 audio channels for emulation playback, and that the WaveTable daughterboard MPU-401 support was hardwired to the CODEC for output on them.

1) will a bit reformulate my question, is there any paper specs / features with real effect how to compare sound cards which are working on modern systems (Core 2 or faster) in pure DOS, at least somehow? We already discussed PCI cards compatibility (Aureal V1/V2>Yamaha 72x/74x>ESS-Solo1>Creative Audigy/Life>Cmedia8738 if im right?), so we can excluded it, we could listen real sound on Youtube. We also already discussed which cards have possibility of external midi card and native or emulated OPL. so is there something else to pay attention?
Put it even more simply, was always ok with Creative cards sound, it was good enough, im also happy with Yamaha 744 in Dos, str Aureal or ESS Solo-1 worse for something else than FM?

New question:
2) I tried to extract Aureal 8820 Win9x 1189 driver from Vogons library in Windows 98 virtual machine, unfortunately there is not installer, or not running (Asp4Setp tried), maybe because of any aureal card is plugged in (emulated), which files in need for DOS usage of drive? ASP4DOS.com and nothing else? BTW i dont see here any mixer for Dos.
Im trying to make some universal config files + driver package, where user in header user just would select which cards he have and everything else would work (in theory:)
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby dr.zeissler » 2018-7-22 @ 20:40

Revolter wrote:
dr.zeissler wrote:it's all about the sound-engines
dr.zeissler wrote:Take Doom1 <1.666, it works flawlessly on solo1, Doom1 1.666 refuses the sfx, like Heretic, Hexen, Sw etc.

Yup. The same is with X-COM: UFO Defence: unpached and demo versions work fine, but the patched release no longer has SFX in DOS on ESS Solo-1. But most of these issues can be resolved by running the games in Windows and with WDM drivers. Here are the titles I've been able to run correctly this way:
idTech 1 games, Build games, Carmageddon, Daggerfall, Descent 2, Dreamweb, Earthworm Jim 2, IndyCar Racing 2, One Must Fall 2097, Terminator Future Shock, Jazz Jackrabbit, Kingdom at War, PC Rally, Quake, Rayman, Raptor: Call of the Shadows, Super Star Wars and the DOS version of ZSNES emulator. Although Jazz and Rayman stutter too much with WDM drivers.
The rest of the DOS games I have (about 120) run fine in DOS 6.22. The only problematic ones are:
Bioforge (GM only, doesn't run in Windows), Crusader games (don't run in Windows), Quarantine games (don't run in Windows) and Ultima 8 (GM only, doesn't run in Windows). And for fixing Rayman and the Pinball series I've purchased a Covox Speech Thing :)
dr.zeissler wrote:Are you sure that this behavior of the solo1 is intel-chipset based?

Until I receive the VIA motherboards and run the tests, I only have strong suspicions based on multiple reports. Even on 430TX and 440BX people seem to have been able to run most games perfectly, so maybe it's just the Intel's ICH logics that lack something the VIAs apparently have.
dr.zeissler wrote:lack of FM in Dos with the WDM-Drivers.

What do you mean? I've never encountered a game that has FM in pure DOS, but doesn't have it with ESS WDM drivers.


I have a covox connected to the ess-solo1 and I can tell you that lpt-dac does not solve pinball games. Though the sound works, but there will be s sweeping noise within the music due to high performance of the cpu. In my case 600Mhz P3 (13,2TDP). You can compensate this when throtteling the machine down, but this leads into suttering scrolling. You can also choose "adlib" in the pinball games. This does work in the ess-solo1 where SB/Sbpro does only do "klack klack klack".

If I install WDM-Drivers in Win98se I can play the problematic games like Duke3d, etc, BUT I do not have any FM in all Dos-Games/Intros/Demos anymore. It's completely silent. Please tell me more about the specs of the machine (CPU/Chipset/OS and the WDM-Drivers you are using).

Btw. Raptor works fine in pure Dos on my setup.

Thx
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby Revolter » 2018-7-22 @ 22:39

dr.zeissler wrote:I have a covox connected to the ess-solo1 and I can tell you that lpt-dac does not solve pinball games. Though the sound works, but there will be s sweeping noise within the music due to high performance of the cpu. In my case 600Mhz P3 (13,2TDP). You can compensate this when throtteling the machine down, but this leads into suttering scrolling. You can also choose "adlib" in the pinball games. This does work in the ess-solo1 where SB/Sbpro does only do "klack klack klack".

If I install WDM-Drivers in Win98se I can play the problematic games like Duke3d, etc, BUT I do not have any FM in all Dos-Games/Intros/Demos anymore. It's completely silent. Please tell me more about the specs of the machine (CPU/Chipset/OS and the WDM-Drivers you are using).

Btw. Raptor works fine in pure Dos on my setup.

Thx
Doc

Thanks for the info. I thought the Covox was going to be better than Adlib in Pinball games (I'm still waiting to receive it) :) Guess I was wrong. But I mainly purchased it to fix Rayman anyway.

I've just tried Raptor once again in pure DOS in case I missed something, but still no SFX - FM only (and that's not the kind of game where you would choose SB or Adlib and they would sound the same). Are you sure you mean SFX and not FM?

Additional specs are as follows: DFI CS32-TC (Intel 815EP, ICH2), Pentium 3 600/133/256 (15.8 TDP), Windows Millenium Edition - 4.90.3000, SOLO.SYS driver version is 4.90.2509.1 (it is the one that gets automatically installed when you first boot it with ESS Solo-1).

With this driver - FM, GM and SFX work in all DOS games that can run in Windows. There are sometimes other problems with these, though: SFX becomes unavailable after a Build game session until you restart the machine, and there is also stuttering in Jazz Jackrabbit, Rayman and Earthworm Jim 2 (but this one you can fix by hitting F2 a few times in-game) - making them unplayable. But overall it is a good workaround.

I've also tried to install all WDM drivers I could find on the internet in order to make the wavetable output work in Windows 98SE - but only the one shipped with WinMe seems to work. Replacing it with any other driver also drops the wavetable capability in Windows for me.

dr.zeissler wrote:You can compensate this when throttling the machine down, but this leads into suttering scrolling

Have you tried switching your FSB to 66 and then throttling the CPU down with the "Throttle.exe -c" (minus C) key? I've even made a hardware FSB switch for that reason (because chipset throttling works best on lower frequencies).
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ZanQuance » 2018-7-22 @ 22:51

ruthan wrote: 1) will a bit reformulate my question, is there any paper specs / features with real effect how to compare sound cards which are working on modern systems (Core 2 or faster) in pure DOS, at least somehow?

Not that I know of, most cards have their own unique SB compatibility layer, and have many different approaches on how to best implement FM and PCM DMA data xfers across the PCI bus, while also ensuring game detection and transparency across the games. Aureal Vortex cards have one method, while ESS and Yamaha have their own. More testing required:
ruthan wrote:New question:
2) I tried to extract Aureal 8820 Win9x 1189 driver from Vogons library in Windows 98 virtual machine, unfortunately there is not installer, or not running (Asp4Setp tried), maybe because of any aureal card is plugged in (emulated), which files in need for DOS usage of drive? ASP4DOS.com and nothing else? BTW i dont see here any mixer for Dos.
Im trying to make some universal config files + driver package, where user in header user just would select which cards he have and everything else would work (in theory:)

Aureal never released a mixer util, the community did (vortmix) but it was a hackish one and didn't work well. Mine is the only usable one around.
Use the attached DOS driver and update your autoexec.bat with:
(WINBOOTDIR = location of vortex.ini file, ect C:\ASP4DOS)
WINBOOTDIR = C:\ASP4DOS
Type ASP4DOS /? if you need more settings for the card.
Attachments
ASP4DOS.zip
Vortex 1 DOS driver
(14 KiB) Downloaded 19 times
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ZanQuance
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Re: Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?

Postby ruthan » 2018-7-23 @ 00:56

ZanQuance wrote:Aureal never released a mixer util, the community did (vortmix) but it was a hackish one and didn't work well. Mine is the only usable one around.

Ok thanks and would your mixer work with Aureal 8820 and 8810 too?
Im old goal oriented goatman, i care about facts and freedom, not about egos+prejudices. Hoarding=sickness. If you want respect, gain it by your behavior. I hate stupid SW limits, SW=virtual world, everything should be possible if you have enough HW.
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ruthan
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