VOGONS


First post, by blougaville

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My System:
Asus P5A r1.04, AMD K6-III+ 450, Voodoo3 3000 AGP
Sound Blaster AWE64 CT4520 w/SC-55mkII connected via gameport breakout cable
Windows 98SE using MS-DOS Mode

I am currently running the motherboard FSB at 66Mhz and adjusting the multiplier in Windows 98 MS-DOS Mode with setmul so I can troubleshoot games. I'm using Phil's MS-DOS mode boot menu and have tried running each game with either Extended, Expanded, or Conventional memory, and I've tried using setmul to disable the caches. DOTT runs great with MS-DOS mode running Expanded memory + Mouse with setmul at 2 and cpu caches disabled and DOTT config set to General Midi (330) and Sound Blaster (220, 5, Buffer 64). I've played it for hours and had no crashes with those settings.

Sam and Max, however, exhibits never ending hanging notes on my SC-55, sometimes starting as early as a few seconds into the intro. I read on another thread that was about dosbox that sam & max Midi issues in can be related to the cycles set too high so I tried all different cpu multipliers to play this in DOS mode. I've tried every conceivable combination of MS-DOS mode memory, cpu multiplier, cpu caches on/off, motherboard cache on/off. The game doesn't launch at all unless I set the cpu caches to disabled with setmul. The sam settings that I believe are correct for my hardware are: Music-General Midi (330), Digital Sound-Sound Blaster 16 (220), but I've tried all the other Sound Blaster options as well and no matter what I do the MIDI notes hang everytime (even when selection NO digital sound).

I've tested general midi with the SC-55 in Doom, Doom 2, DOTT and a few others without troubles. I've had Monkey Island I and II crash on me a bit but that might just be me trying to get something to work with general midi that was meant for MT-32.

Here is the bat file for my AWE64 in MS-DOS mode:
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 E620 T6
SET SOUND=C:\SB16
SET CTCM=C:\CTCM
C:\CTCM\CTCM.EXE
C:\SB16\AWEUTIL.COM /S
C:\SB16\MIXERSET.EXE /P /Q

Can anyone point me in the right direction about why Sam & Max general midi notes are hanging so badly on my SC-55?

Reply 1 of 17, by Jo22

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Hi, there was a patch, I believe. I downloaded it 10 years ago or so. It fixed the space/restore feature.

Anyway, I don't know if this will help you at all.
I prefered MT-32 music in Sam%&Max and never had such issues.

Maybe there's a generic iMuse patch ?
If not, try to replay DOS4GW (if your copy uses an external file of that) with DOS32A.

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 2 of 17, by collector

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Note that questions involving old hardware should be asked in Marvin Marvin, the Paranoid Android

The Sierra Help Pages -- New Sierra Game Installers -- Sierra Game Patches -- New Non-Sierra Game Installers

Reply 3 of 17, by NewRisingSun

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The DOS extender has nothing do with it. LucasArts' MPU-401 MIDI interface code is badly programmed and will only work with MIDI interfaces that buffer MIDI OUT data. The Sound Blaster 16/AWE32's MPU-401 interface does not do that; it only latches a single byte. I could produce a patched driver, but for that I need to know whether you are using the Floppy or CD version of Sam & Max.

Reply 4 of 17, by blougaville

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NewRisingSun, I'm using the talkie version CD that I've had since I was a kid. It's funny, I remember having issues getting it to run on my old Packard Bell in 1993 and now here I am in 2017 having different issues. I don't know how one could possibly go about making a patch for this, but if you are able to I would freak out with joy! I'm surprised I can't find anything else about this issue on the internet, especially since a lot of people seem to list Sam and Max as one of their favorite soundtracks for the SC-55.

Reply 7 of 17, by blougaville

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NewRisingSun,

I'm not sure what that means as I'm a noob when it comes to old hardware, but I'm very curious to hear more about the process. You are modifying a driver for the AWE64 that is to be used specifically for S&M? Also, I specifically tracked down an AWE64 because from what I read on vogons it seemed like it has good compatibility with a lot of DOS games and is specifically mentioned as a card that is not affected by "the hanging note bug". That's why I found it extra strange that these issues with hanging notes are so bad in S&M yet it's not mentioned anywhere I can find. What sound card do you prefer for GM DOS games with an SC-55?

Thanks for your help!

Reply 8 of 17, by NewRisingSun

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Only original Roland MPU-401 interfaces guarantee hassle-free operation. Those include the original MPU-401 with MIF-IPC-A, the MPU-IPC and MPU-IPC-A, the MPU-401/AT, the SCC-1, and the LAPC-I. The Sound Blaster 16/AWE interfaces are fraught with three problems:

  1. There is no MIDI OUT buffer, just a single latched byte. Badly-programmed MIDI code, such as LucasArts', will therefore drop MIDI bytes, leading to missed and hanging notes in X-Wing CD, TIE Fighter, Sam and Max, and Dark Forces. This affects all Sound Blaster 16/AWE cards regardless of DSP version. It can be remedied by patching more wait states into the games' MIDI driver.
  2. Certain cards with DSP versions 4.11 to 4.13, combined with particular bus interface chips (Cloudschatze once made a list), exhibit a hardware error that causes the last MIDI OUT byte to be sent out again whenever a PCM interrupt request is acknowledged. This mostly manifests itself as additional garbage notes in Doom engine games. It cannot be prevented directly, but I had once written, but never released, a TSR that works around this problem by outputting a MIDI clock byte (F8h) at the beginning of the PCM interrupt service routine, before the game's handler executes. Doing so ensures that the rogue byte sent out by the DSP, once the interrupt request is cleared, is always F8h as well, preventing garbage notes from occurring.
  3. DSP versions 4.16, and possibly earlier ones, do not signal Data Receive Ready while a PCM interrupt request is pending. This results in multi-second game freezing in Duke Nukem 3D at the 3D Realms screen and at other occasions. I don't know any remedy for this problem.

As you can see, Creative Labs have always been stupid hacks who cannot get anything right.

Reply 9 of 17, by Great Hierophant

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Could SoftMPU be improved to address these issues? You could, for example, use EMS RAM as a MIDI OUT buffer and possibly addressing the other issues.

http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/ - Nerdly Pleasures - My Retro Gaming, Computing & Tech Blog

Reply 10 of 17, by GL1zdA

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Was this issue ever solved? I just hit it with Dark Forces, tried the Dehacker patch which apparently has some fixes for MIDI, but it doesn't change anything. Hanging notes appear just after the intro or at the very beginning of the first level, basically making the game unplayable. I'm using an SC-55 attached to a Vibra 16S integrated sound card.

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Reply 12 of 17, by GL1zdA

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blougaville wrote on 2020-12-08, 02:04:

I finally gave up but luckily was able to get one of the "hardmpu" ISA cards so I now have intelligent mode MIDI to my SC-55. Haven't heard a hanging note since I switched to that setup.

I know this is a possibility, I was hoping for a "software" solution before I buy another piece of hardware.

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Reply 13 of 17, by keropi

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FixMPU: Software solution for "hanging note bug" on SB16 with DSP >v4.06 <v4.16 , how about this one?

🎵 PCMIDI mpu
🎧 Orpheus soundcard
Action Rewind
MegaCard
💻 WTB Amstrad PC7486SLC-33

Reply 14 of 17, by BraveToaster

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Reviving this old topic, since I'm running into exactly the same problem on my P233MMX with an ALS100 (SB16 compatible with UART MPU401). I haven't had any game so far that caused trouble for me with MIDI - most MT32 games need SoftMPU of course, but I got everything to work. This sound card does not have any known MIDI bugs, and as I said, all games so far were completely fine (including Hocus Pocus, Monkey2, TIE Fighter, Prince of Persia, Space Quest 3, etc.).
It's hooked up to an SC-55 or an MT32-PI via Gameport.

Not Sam & Max though - first I need to slow down the PC, otherwise Sam & Max crashes on startup or when playing the test MIDI in the setup menu. Then when it starts and plays music, it doesn't take long before one of the notes starts hanging and the only way to get rid of it is to turn the SC-55 off and on again, but then you can only play for a couple minutes until the next note hangs.

Surprisingly, using SoftMPU does not seem to improve the situation.

Short of buying a PCMIDI card (which might be a little overkill since this is the first game that causes problems with this setup in my experience) - does anyone have an idea what I could try?

Reply 15 of 17, by GL1zdA

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I haven't made extensive tests, only few minutes of gameplay, but in Dark Forces, on my configuration the problems were gone after I've changed the Pentium 133 to a Pentium 200. So it looks like a timing issue triggered only at a specific frequency.

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Reply 16 of 17, by BraveToaster

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Hm, unfortunately different speeds (i.e. slowing down to different levels) does not seem to make a difference - other than that anything above MEDHIGH, i.e. roughly a Pentium 90, is an immediate crash once it starts playing MIDI.
Hanging notes occur at any speed though, with or without SoftMPU.

Reply 17 of 17, by blougaville

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Yeah, it's a bummer. I spent several hours trying different things before I ended up getting my hardware MPU card. I love that solution because it's made a lot of other things easier for me, but it would be nice to get Sam and Max working properly without a hardware solution.