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Csonicgo

Dust off your noggins; help me with old sound crap!

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Ok, this is a long story, so listen up:

I salvaged an old P100 from death last week. it has 64MB RAM, a 2 GB HD, and the OS? Win 3.10. Oh boy! DOS game heaven! or so I thought.

The Sound card is a DSP CDNET DIGISPEECH, and I have no idea what that is. However, it has a SoundBlaster Emulation Driver (which isn't really emulation as it is fooling devices to work on certain ports), which is great until I realise that Doom doesn't work like any other DOS game and I have to configure that shit from scratch. This sucks because:

    Educational games have sound
    Wolf3d and the various fan-made games have sound
    Windows itself has sound
    Commander Keen has sound
    Pretty much every game has sound
But what doesn't have sound? Doom. AAAAUGH

The lowdown? the Driver to Emulate SoundBlaster is called PORT-ABLE, and it puts the SB port(s) at 270h, IRQ 5. That's great and all, but Doom setup has no idea what that is. I've tried every setting possible that I could before pulling my hair out (and that's way beyond "throwing in the towel"). I can't find any documentation on this weird card (it's a network card/sound card combo) but "DSP labs" and related stuff. It was made for an educational program and had a "Speech box" for the narrator.

So, what do? how do I make Doom look at the ports that the driver allows (and only allows)? Or, should I just throw a SB16 in there and hope I can find some DOS/win3.1 drivers? I'm really out of ideas here. If I need to give more information I'll be happy to give it when I can(and if I can, this shit is so ancient it's ridiculous).

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Csonicgo said:

Or, should I just throw a SB16 in there and enjoy direct, driverless support from like a thousand DOS titles


FTFY.

Honestly, stay THE FUCK AWAY from emulated drivers. There were some well made SB-compatible clones back in the day, but what you have just ain't it. Most were barely functional contraptions that relied on software emulation to achieve simple SB 1.0 compatibility and had a crudely made OPL2/OPL3, if you were lucky (almost never real Yamahas).


What you have is closer to the Covox Speech Thing, practically a DAC plugged into a parallel port, even if internal. It may work well for a few games that support it, and even Windows if it has Windows Sound System drivers, but for generalized DOS gaming? Not even close. Get a SB16, hell, even a SB 2.0 or an OPTi will be much, much better choices!

Csonicgo said:

this shit is so ancient it's ridiculous.


More like highly anomalous, even for its era. That DSP company (formerly Digispeech Inc. ) specialized in external soundcards for notebooks, that plugged into the parallel port. This will give you at best direct Covox Speech Thing/Disney Sound source compatibility, and even in SB mode you probably have only digitised audio, not AdLib music. Changing it with pretty much ANY other sane ISA soundcard is mandatory.

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SB 16 - the one and only.
I remember having a Mozart soundcard in my old P60. Worked fine. Got my hand on some SB 16 ISA cards many years later.

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SEee, that's the thing: I'm sure Doom WILL work with the card, however I need to find out exactly how to trick DMX into reading the "emulated" ports.

edit: MAES: thanks for the grave message. I needed it. now, all I need to know is: will a SB16 work? I have one and it *does* work, I just need help on getting Win3.1 and "dos" drivers for it. Help a brutha? it's the PnP version but I hear they work for win3.1 too.

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Woolie Wool said:

I would suggest getting a GUS if possible.


I won't have the room for it in this case. :(

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For DOS, you don't actually need any drivers: all major software supported it directly with its own built-in drivers "out of the box" and Doom's DMX is no exception. Only SB clones needed drivers to be Sound Blaster compatible in DOS mode.

If you still want to fuck with the I/O address, you could edit Doom's default.cfg file directy and hack in the port's value manually (in decimal) at the snd_sbport line.

220H = 544 decimal
so 270H = 624 decimal

Still, DMX might not actually work/the driver may suck ass.

That being said, it's handy to have some DOS utilities to set the volume etc. and configure the card via PnP, and you'll need appropriate MCI drivers for Win 3.1.

Your best bet for SB16 drivers is through Creative Labs, as long as they still have their legacy downloads up. Again, if you nly need DOS sound, you'll need at most some basic DOS utilities like CTMIX, MIXERSET etc.

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The reason that, even now, I still tend towards Creative products for a sound card is the awful SB emulation cards from back at that time. They were simply awful and I never found one that worked properly. Sooner or later they would all fail to do something that a SB was supposed to do. If you want to be sure it's going to work right, get the original hardware, not one of these old "SB compatible" cards.

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It's probably emulating a Sound Blaster by installing a driver that traps reads/writes to the I/O ports used by a real SB. These run in Virtual 8086 mode (and probably require EMM386 installed), which is probably why Wolf3D and other real mode apps work but not protected mode Doom...

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Some -and that's a very limited some- were actually decent, if you accepted their limitations:

  • None had SB16 emulation or compatibility. Ever. Creative never released the full specs for that one, so no SB16 compatible clones (even with emulation drivers) were ever made.
  • The "best" clone cards had decent SB and SB Pro compability, some like the Opti even worked "driverless", but you HAD to limit yourself to 8-bit sound and/or 22 KHz, as 44 Khz output didn't always work well.
  • Those that used software drivers were terrible and slowed things down a lot, and they also gulped down precious memory.
  • Their OPL2/OPL3 were usually below par. A few had genuine Yamaha chips, but most had crude/partial implementations that somehow fucked up even plain AdLib sound.
That being said, if a genuine Creative is available, use it.

BTW, Wolf3D supports Covox Speech Thing/ Disney Sound Source, so probably he was getting audio through that mode, which is OK for single-channel sfx. Still, trapping the digital sound I/O won't magically make FM music appear.

Woolie Wool said:

I would suggest getting a GUS if possible.


Heh, that's like the Holy Grail of DOS gaming. Nowhere near as common as SB16 Vibras. An AWE32 (the full length one) is even holier, but good luck finding one. I consider myself lucky enough to have stumbled upon an AWE64.

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What exactly would 0278h be in decimal?

CODOR said:

It's probably emulating a Sound Blaster by installing a driver that traps reads/writes to the I/O ports used by a real SB. These run in Virtual 8086 mode (and probably require EMM386 installed), which is probably why Wolf3D and other real mode apps work but not protected mode Doom...


the driver says that it emulates both modes.

EDIT: I have an AWE64. Will THAT work too?

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Csonicgo said:

What exactly would 0278h be in decimal?


632

Csonicgo said:

the driver says that it emulates both modes.


And I bet it does so flawlessly, cleanly, with high quality and NO slowdown or stuttering[/sarcasm].

BTW, do you get ANY FM sound (music) out of this, or is it just digitized sound effects? Does plaing AdLib work?

Csonicgo said:

EDIT: I have an AWE64. Will THAT work too?


Holy shit, yeah. It's like a SB16 + Wavetable, even better if it's a Gold version.

I set a box with one just last year, and I might even have all the DOS/windows drivers/utilities downloaded somewhere (but please DO take a look at Creative's website yourself before bugging me to mail them/put them up for download).

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I'm getting FM sound AND sound effects out of this.

edit: manually changing the default.cfg didn't help either. looks like it doesn't support DMA mode either.... *sigh* I'll be working on this tomorrow. I will bring with me a SB16 PnP (does it matter which) and Hopefully all my problems will be over. I still want win3.1 sound drivers though. Can anyone find me some of those? Creative's site seems to turn up nothing.

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Csonicgo said:

I'm getting FM sound AND sound effects out of this.


Can you read the labels on the chip on the card? It should be either early Opti or ESS-media based then. A photo would be nice...

in any case, go for the sure thing: AWE64, which easily stomps colon.

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Csonicgo said:

I'm getting FM sound AND sound effects out of this.

edit: manually changing the default.cfg didn't help either. looks like it doesn't support DMA mode either....


Yup, mentioning only Address/IRQ combos was suspicious. Without DMA, it will be practically unusable with anything real-time, and there are very few DOS games that will give digital sound in non-DMA mode.

Csonicgo said:

I will bring with me a SB16 PnP (does it matter which)



Nope unless you plan to use extra features such as integrated IDE controller or CMSS 3D sound, or you're anal about having an integrated/separate OPL3 chip. Driver-wise, they're all the same.

Csonicgo said:

I still want win3.1 sound drivers though. Can anyone find me some of those? Creative's site seems to turn up nothing.


I recall those were actually embedded in the "DOS drivers" (they got installed along with the DOS utilities, and the installer autodetected Windows for you). There is no separate "Win 3.1 driver download", anywhere. Just get the whole DOS installers things, make a floppy and run them.

Edit: the link I gave you gets you really two steps close to what you need. Select "other products" and then look for Soundblaster 16 in archived products. To the bottom of the page do a manual search for Win3x drivers. Can't link because it's ASP-generated.

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Maes said:

An AWE32 (the full length one) is even holier, but good luck finding one.

I think I tossed one of them out pretty recently when having a clean out in my loft. :oops:

Very old versions of Doom used to run fine on the AWE32 but didn't use its capabilities to the full. Then id updated Doom (around about ver 1.4 I think) to support the AWE32 fully and the difference in the music was pretty amazing IIRC.

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OK, so I've decided a SB16/AWE is the way to go. Given that:

What should I expect when I remove the card and replace with SB16, and boot? will win3.1 flip out? will DOS? Will I need to make 3.1 floppies?

EDIT: checked AWE, it is a Gold. <3

edit2: check this shit out: http://support.euro.dell.com/support/edocs/dta/DS103J/00000007.htm

it's troubleshooting for that blasted card. This might help.. might not...

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I once had a card around 1997 that had a very, very strange OPL chip. Every instrument had roughly the same sound, a sort of BOK BOK BOK halfway between a bongo and a xylophone. The result made Wolfenstein's soundtrack sound like something from a jungle scene from an old movie. It was quite comical.

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I am still looking for the SB16 DOS/Win3.1 drivers AND utilities. Creative's site only goes to win95. Yes, Sound in Windows is important, as I have Windows games that use sound too. So if anyone can help me out on the google, or have some old discs, please help a doomer out here.

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Maes said:
An AWE32 (the full length one) is even holier, but good luck finding one. I consider myself lucky enough to have stumbled upon an AWE64.

I inherited a bunch of old components about a year ago when a friend moved; included were an SB16 and an SB32 (not quite the same as an AWE32, this one lacks RAM or something). There was a third card that might be a real AWE32, I'll have to check...

Csonicgo said:
I am still looking for the SB16 DOS/Win3.1 drivers AND utilities. Creative's site only goes to win95. Yes, Sound in Windows is important, as I have Windows games that use sound too. So if anyone can help me out on the google, or have some old discs, please help a doomer out here.

There should be a file somewhere on Creative's site called 95dosapp.exe -- despite the name it contains DOS utilities for the SB16 (it's also a self-extracting zipfile). There's also sbbasic.exe which appears to contain the Windows 3.1 drivers for the SB16. (I don't see this last one on Creative's site, but it shows up elsewhere in a Google search.)

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I found them. I will be getting someone I know to host these because they're really hard to come by. I found the PnP manager on a website advertising baby educational software. Something about that is just wrong to me.

The only hurdle now is unlinking the old drivers from Windows and DOS itself. I am afraid this will be the brickwall I face tomorrow. :(

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Well duh, Creative's site has everything and even an OS-specific search for all archived products, including Windows 3.1 (as Win3x). However yeah, you can't hotlink there but unless you're totally brain dead, they're not exactly hidden under 20 links and walls of text. Sure it would be nice to have an all-in-one driver CD-ROM or something for oldschoolers though.

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Oh shit, SYSTEM.INI is fucking up. Now Windows is complaining about networking and won't boot. aaaaaaugh!


EDIT: NVM, corrupted file. fixed it! Now it's working! :D oommffggg

THanks so much maes!

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I've had an Aureal Vortex A3D 80836 with sound blaster emulation that worked in Windows and in DOS. Was great until the motherboard it was soldered to stopped working.

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GhostlyDeath said:

Was great until the motherboard it was soldered to stopped working.


Soldered to? O_o

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