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Thread: what sound card do you use in your old pc?

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    Pear (Level 6) Soviet Conscript's Avatar
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    Default what sound card do you use in your old pc?

    finally got a DOS pc up and running and i was thinling about sound cards. right now i'm useing a sound blaster 16 which seems to be the standard for the time. it sounds pretty good overall with my old games but i was wondering if there was any other cards that offered more bang for the buck without suffering combatibility.

    i have a HUGE ISA awe32 card but have yet to try it out. i'm assumeing this card is backward compatible so if a game does not support it it will just play it like it was a SB16. anyone know if its even worth switching to it? i also read that the top of the line for older sound would be the roland mt-32. anyone use one here?

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    Personally I use whatever comes with the PC, which are pretty much Soundblaster-16 compatible. I think one of the ones I have doesn't work well with some DOS games as the sound gradually fades lower until it can't be heard, but it might just be the drivers. I have a few older PCs around, if I can't get a game working properly on one I'll just try it on another one. If I happened to come across a Roland MT-32 I'd keep it though, they are good sound cards.

    I don't have a Roland MT-32, but I've seen comparison videos on youtube and you can hear a difference with the sound. It's mostly with older games as some were designed with it in mind, I'll just list a couple of videos for you to compare.

    Monkey Island 2 opening;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lTz2nkPNXA

    Monkey Island 2 opening with Roland MT-32;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rsui2EqOjYo

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    Kirby (Level 13) Push Upstairs's Avatar
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    I needed Win98 sound along with good DOS sound so I have a Sound Blaster Live! X-Gamer.

    I can't even imagine what this computer would have cost *new* in 1998/1999. Base computer + 384mb of RAM alone would have made this thing astronomical. Then add a Voodoo 3 and a Live! X-Gamer card? Yikes.

    Possibility is infinity! You must be satisfied!

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    From what I've read, the Gravis Ultrasound gives most other sound cards a run for their money, but the compability is somewhat lacking, so if you're planning on building a PC, you might want to keep both a Sound Blaster card (16 is a good choice) and an Ultrasound hooked up in your computer system.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravis_Ultrasound
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    For my pure DOS machines, usually a soundblaster 16 ISA card. It will work with everything I have tried it with. Adlib, Midi, AWE etc.
    An AWE32 is pretty much interchangeable with an SB16 and will support nearly anything before as well. Nice high quality cards.
    I use an ESS Audiodrive PCI in my Windows 95 machine, which is also nearly identical in sound quality and compatibility to the SB16 cards. In fact I have had better luck with that card than some Sound Blaster PCI cards of the time for DOS games.

    Still, Roland and Gravis cards have their advantages on certain games so it may depend on what you really want the most out of it. Otherwise most SB16 cards and clones tend to work perfectly fine for 99% of games.
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    Strawberry (Level 2)
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    godamn that roland sounds sweet.

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    Pear (Level 6) Soviet Conscript's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gokugohandave View Post
    godamn that roland sounds sweet.
    i agree, i think i'm going to stick with my SB16 and eventually pick up an external roland. i beleive you can hook them up through the joystick/midi port on the SB16

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    I had some non-standard Aztech thing with an integrated modem in the Win95 PBell for years. I often like the MIDI sound off that thing better than on the Sound Blaster I replaced it with.

    I very recently got a PCMCIA WAVJammer card; it promises to be a low-noise, high-quality OPL3 sound card. There's a missing 20-pin connector for headphone jack and stuff, though, so I'm hoping I can get sound through the system. That does knock out some of the low noise promise, oh well.

    Oh yeah, I have two Roland MT-32 units (had three at one time) for use with the X68000. I would have to buy some extra stuff to use them with a PC, but not much.
    Last edited by Ed Oscuro; 01-01-2010 at 07:14 PM.

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    Pear (Level 6) PentiumMMX's Avatar
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    I have a Sound Blaster AWE64 in mine. A great sound card? Yes. Overkill for the games I play on said PC? You bet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Oscuro View Post

    Oh yeah, I have two Roland MT-32 units (had three at one time) for use with the X68000. I would have to buy some extra stuff to use them with a PC, but not much.
    i don't know if it would of showed up for you since you use them with a X68 but i read there is all kind of problems with the early mt-32's and that later revisions the issues were fixed. you can tell if its a revision by the headphone jack since apperently the early-mid runs lacked a jack.

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    SoundBlaster 16 ISA. I really feel this is the best choice for a DOS machine... it may not be the best sounding card available, but it's compatible with everything without needing any silly software compatibility layers or anything like that. Hell, I used my SB16 in my main PC for close to 10 years. The only reason I gave it up was that I eventually moved to a motherboard that didn't have ISA ports!!

    I have a Gravis Ultrasound that I'd like to one day put in my DOS machine... either in addition to the SB16, or just to screw around with for a while. If I'm not mistaken, it requires *2* IRQ's to operate though, so that might be a bit of a problem. I'd also like to one day get an MT-32 to fiddle around with... they don't seem to come up too often though.

    --Zero

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    Apple (Level 5) Arkhan's Avatar
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    Adlib. FM is sex.

    I also use an MT-32. Ultima isn't right without one o' those.
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    I have never installed addittional sound cards on my system.
    I have never had any problems in playing games on my PC.
    I have never tried to know the specifications of my soundcard.

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    Pear (Level 6) Soviet Conscript's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vandy160890 View Post
    I have never installed addittional sound cards on my system.
    I have never had any problems in playing games on my PC.
    I have never tried to know the specifications of my soundcard.
    you never played on a PC running anything other then win95+
    you enjoy internal speaker music
    you don't care about sound quality


    to be honest i don't find much improvment on modern systems when i use a sound card, then again i only use 2 speakers and a subwolf. i do usually throw a sound card in though because there super cheap and it gives me the option of upgradeing to 5.1 and over sound. this thread is mainly focused on older systems PRE 95ish and DOS era when all you had was beeps and boops from an internal speaker if you lacked an added soundcard and the type of card acually greatly effected compatibility/quality.
    Last edited by Soviet Conscript; 01-10-2010 at 01:46 PM.

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    Great Puma (Level 12) skaar's Avatar
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    An AWE32 will give you 100% SB16 compatibility (hardware compatibilty - no drivers required)

    I think they had a later revision that was a smaller card that required special drivers for SB16 or it emulated it somehow...

    It would be my choice for an old sound card in a DOS box. For games that support it, it supports sound banks for midi very similarly to the Gravis but without as much tweaking of drivers to get everything to work properly. You can also throw more 30 pin (iirc) ram in there to fit more samples.

    I paid $400 for one of those cards one summer and used it for years afterwards.
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    Pear (Level 6) Soviet Conscript's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skaar View Post
    An AWE32 will give you 100% SB16 compatibility (hardware compatibilty - no drivers required)

    I think they had a later revision that was a smaller card that required special drivers for SB16 or it emulated it somehow...

    It would be my choice for an old sound card in a DOS box. For games that support it, it supports sound banks for midi very similarly to the Gravis but without as much tweaking of drivers to get everything to work properly. You can also throw more 30 pin (iirc) ram in there to fit more samples.

    I paid $400 for one of those cards one summer and used it for years afterwards.
    i may try replaceing my SB16 with my AWE32 then. the guy I got it off of was supposedly a big audiofile back in the day both the ram banks are full with ram

    how does the sampleing work? do you have to download some kind of file depending on the game you want to use it with?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soviet Conscript View Post
    do you have to download some kind of file depending on the game you want to use it with?
    If a game supports it, it will take care of everything for you. Otherwise you can manually download soundfonts into the sound card's RAM, depending on your preferences.
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    On my 8 bit PC XT I use an Adlib card because I can't use 16 bit Extended ISA cards, but "back in the day" I always used a Soundblaster with my 486. It seemed like it was the default choice amongst most PC owners back then.

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    SB16 was the standard. Back then you either had a SoundBlaster card, or a SoundBlaster-compatible card. I knew a few people who had Gravis Ultrasound (GUS) cards, but 99% of the programs out there were written for the SB16 (of that era). The AWE32 is a good choice too. I got one new at Comdex one year ... I have an AWE64 out in the garage as well.

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    Pear (Level 6) Soviet Conscript's Avatar
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    i've been reading diffrent things about the awe32. can the awe32 emulate the MT-32?

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