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bettablue
April 11th, 2014, 10:41 AM
I am just about ready to finish the final repair to my 5150 PC with 5161 Expansion Unit power supply issue, and am beginning to think about the next, and possibly final upgrade to my system. What I'm interested in is getting an 8 bit sound card. Unfortunately, I'm not at all familiar with what is available for 8088 based systems. I know Sound Blaster was a big name back when the first IBM PC's and compatible's, but I don't know what other makes/models were available, or even if there were any that are completely compatible with the first IBM PC's.

In addition, as I repair my two Compaq Portables, I will want to think about the possibility of adding sound cards to them as well. One Portable is the Portable Plus, and the other is a Portable 2 286 IBM compatible. What sound cards would you recommend for these systems, and what should I consider a fair price? Or, should I simply let the sound card option go as far as the IBM and Portable Plus?

As always, thanks in advance.

Caluser2000
April 11th, 2014, 11:33 AM
8-bit sound cards http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/sound-cards-multimedia/8snd_1.html#.U0hDA6JvCSo Adlib cards are out there as well I've got Amstrad Ablib clone that is not on that page.

As you noted SB cards had the widest circulation. Almost any 16bit ISA should work in the 286s. Scanning ebay will give you an idea of how much folk want for them. Price will depend on a particular make/model. ESS 16-bit cards can probably be had for a $1. At the end of the day the final decision is really up to you whether or not it's worth fitting one. In saying that if the machine has a spare isa slot why not fill it?

sergey
April 11th, 2014, 12:52 PM
Adlib (or an Adlib clone... you can build one yourself (http://www.malinov.com/Home/sergeys-projects/isa-opl2-card) if you want)
Sound Blaster or compatible card. Multiple options here:Original Sound Blasters (1.0, 1.5, 2.0) and Sound Blaster Pro are preferable choices. They will work with 8-bit bus, and configured using jumpers (Sound Blaster 1.0 also has sockets for CMS chips...). Some 16-bit cards will work in 8-bit as well. I tried ESS ES1868 and Vibra 16VX based cards, both work in 8-bit slots, but need ISA PNP enabler utiltities (which in turn use 80186+ instructions... they work with V20 work, but not 8088). I've heard that some ESS cards can be configured with jumpers instead of PnP.
Generally anything Sound Blaster Pro compatible should work (for example Analog Devices AD1816 based cards), but again might require a PnP or similar configuration utility.

Edit
Note that the number of programs (or games) that support Sound Blaster and will run reasonably fast on a PC with 4.77 MHz CPU is very limited. There are a bit more programs that support Adlib (and they will work on an SB compatible card as well). This is mostly limited to games released in 1988-1990, most later games need at least 286, and while they might work on 8088 it will be painfully slow.

bettablue
April 11th, 2014, 04:15 PM
The build it yourself option is a great idea. Too bad you don't have a pre-packaged kit with everything needed. I would buy one as soon as I had the money. What is the total cost for all of the parts? Or, how much for a pre-built card?

Caluser2000
April 11th, 2014, 04:26 PM
cI've heard that some ESS cards can be configured with jumpers instead of PnP..Correct. FCC ID:L6NS521 Works a treat on my 286.

lutiana
April 11th, 2014, 09:21 PM
Sound Blaster 16 is a great option for a 16bit machine. They are supported by most everything. I have one for sale if you're interested. In my experience 8 bit sound cards are hard to come by, so I never really bothered to install one in my 5160.

raifield
April 12th, 2014, 05:49 AM
The ATI Stereo F/X is a decent 8-bit Sound Blaster clone with CMS sockets. There is an auction (http://www.ebay.com/itm/ATI-Stereo-F-X-Vintage-ISA-Sound-Card-8-bit-8bit-Yamaha-YM3812-PC-/200935253789?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec8aca71d) on eBay with three of them available, though the supplied picture shows the card without the CMS chips. He's asking $81 for the things. I had to buy the SAA1099 chips for my own card, they're $3 each on eBay from China.

My card is in a 8 mHz 8086 system, but I'm thinking a lot of the older Koei DOS games will run on a 8088 system if you're the patient type. The games don't support Sound Blaster directly, but do support Adlib sound. Koei's games are something of an acquired taste though.

bettablue
April 12th, 2014, 08:39 AM
Thanks for the info. From what I'm hearing both from here and other forum sites, I really don't think I'll do that upgrade to my 8 bit machines after all. I've gotten some pretty good insight regarding 8 bit gaming and more to the point, the 8 bit machines ability to play games smoothly with sound enabled. It was just a thought, but I may still contact you via pm in the very near future regarding the SB you have for sale.

Thanks much...


Sound Blaster 16 is a great option for a 16bit machine. They are supported by most everything. I have one for sale if you're interested. In my experience 8 bit sound cards are hard to come by, so I never really bothered to install one in my 5160.

PeterNC
April 12th, 2014, 05:59 PM
Roland MPU-401 interface cards and clones (including MIF-IPC-A replicas) allow you to connect external MIDI modules. :) Those are 8 BIT.

Great Hierophant
April 12th, 2014, 06:38 PM
The best sound option for an 8-bit PC is in my opinion PCjr/Tandy 3-voice sound. You can actually find lots of games that will run well on that.

Maverick1978
April 12th, 2014, 09:15 PM
The best sound option for an 8-bit PC is in my opinion PCjr/Tandy 3-voice sound. You can actually find lots of games that will run well on that.
Agreed... There's just not enough CPU power to push a sound card on an 8088 system. That said, Adlib sound is probably the next-best option, as I'm fairly certain that Tandy 3-voice/PCjr sound wasn't released in an ISA card format for other machines :)

Though, as PeterLI said, MIDI is another option.

luvit
April 13th, 2014, 04:19 AM
I had a GameBlster card in my XT. I can't remember any issues that took away from my gaming experience.
That and my EGA upgrade made my XT feel like a whole new computer.

Caluser2000
April 13th, 2014, 09:54 AM
I can imagine it would've at the time.

PeterNC
April 13th, 2014, 12:26 PM
Many games from the 1980s only do MIDI anyway: which sounds better with a MT-32. :) I gave up on 8086s though: games are too slow (QFG, Civilization, Centurion and so on). Never had a 8088.

Great Hierophant
April 13th, 2014, 04:04 PM
Relatively few games from the 1980s use MIDI (Adlib is not MIDI), but none are really playable on most 8-bit machines.

SpidersWeb
April 13th, 2014, 04:08 PM
Thanks for the info. From what I'm hearing both from here and other forum sites, I really don't think I'll do that upgrade to my 8 bit machines after all. I've gotten some pretty good insight regarding 8 bit gaming and more to the point, the 8 bit machines ability to play games smoothly with sound enabled. It was just a thought, but I may still contact you via pm in the very near future regarding the SB you have for sale.

Thanks much...

If you have CGA, there is one reason you might consider installing a SB... Trixter's 8088 Corruption. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWv6r-0XAWQ

raifield
April 13th, 2014, 04:32 PM
Based on what everyone is saying I think the thread could be summed up as "If you want halfway decent sound in an 8-bit machine, get a Tandy".

SpidersWeb
April 13th, 2014, 05:13 PM
Based on what everyone is saying I think the thread could be summed up as "If you want halfway decent sound in an 8-bit machine, get a Tandy".

That gets you better colours and a faster processor as well.
Would recommend to a friend :thumbsup:

luvit
April 13th, 2014, 07:05 PM
Yeah. I can't disagree. My XT originally came with CGA and no sound card.. it was jaw dropping to see the PCjr and Tandy play Kings Quest II..
I was a little envious. I had daily access to a PCjr, but the XT's massive 10mb hard drive and noisy keyboard kept me more interested in her.

Unknown_K
April 13th, 2014, 08:03 PM
CGA with no sound is bad enough, but monochrome is even worse (unless you just love Zork).

vwestlife
April 13th, 2014, 09:35 PM
Based on what everyone is saying I think the thread could be summed up as "If you want halfway decent sound in an 8-bit machine, get a Tandy".

Or get two of them, and then you can play music in stereo! :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azctWK9mQWU

per
April 14th, 2014, 02:53 AM
Soundcards became a thing arund 1987, so 16-bit machines were common at the time. There were still games made with support for 4MHz 8088 machines, but most things were made with faster machines in mind.

As mentioned, AdLib (and eventually the SoundBlaster which technically has an onboard AdLib) was the allstar consumer market option. You also has the more expensive and advanced MIDI options, or the more obscure things like the Game Blaster, but many of those has not as widespread support.

raifield
April 14th, 2014, 07:54 AM
The Creative Music System/Game Blaster gets no respect. I never heard it outside of DOSBox until I got the ATI soundcard I mentioned earlier in the thread, but to me the music sounds very similar to the Adlib and early Soundblaster. Games like Quest for Glory II sound pretty much identical between the three cards, with the exception of sound effects present only for the Soundblaster. Maybe my hearing is just shot.

Hatta
April 14th, 2014, 08:29 AM
Really? The CMS does square wave synthesis a lot like the NES sound chip. FM synthesis is capable of a lot warmer, more natural sounds. Great music can be made on both, they're just different. The CMS doesn't get a lot of attention, because a lot more games support Ad Lib.

per
April 14th, 2014, 10:28 AM
but to me the music sounds very similar to the Adlib and early Soundblaster. Games like Quest for Glory II sound pretty much identical between the three cards, with the exception of sound effects present only for the Soundblaster. Maybe my hearing is just shot.

The Sound-Blaster basically contains an AdLib onboard, so I'm not surprised. The Game-Blaster is on the other hand all about squarewaves. Some early Sound-Blasters does have Game-Blaster support, but the two cards are otherwise totally different things.

sergey
April 14th, 2014, 11:21 AM
The build it yourself option is a great idea. Too bad you don't have a pre-packaged kit with everything needed. I would buy one as soon as I had the money. What is the total cost for all of the parts? Or, how much for a pre-built card?

Building the card yourself is not a really cheap deal (you can get an ESS card for much less (www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-ISA-Sound-Card-by-ESS-AudioDrive-ES688F-Sony-and-IDE-Interfaces-/201069354762)).

The cost of the parts is:
- PCB (from me) - $10 + $3 shipping in US
- Parts (except of Yamaha ICs) - about $29 from Mouser + $5 or so shipping. (You might already have some parts in your junk box, and save a few $$)
- Yamaha OPL2 + DAC - $7 on eBay + $4 or so shipping
So the total with shipping is about $58... again not cheap, but not as ridiculously expensive as buying the original Adlib (I've seen one on eBay for $200 or so?!... but I guess either the seller was nuts, or it is a really rare collector's item)

Cloudschatze
April 14th, 2014, 11:28 AM
Disappointingly, the noise-channel percussion techniques commonly used in Tandy/PCjr compositions and arrangements are almost unheard of with the C/MS chipset, despite it having similar capabilities.

Having preceded the Creative Music System to market in the U.S. by an entire year, it's not surprising that the (superior) Ad Lib MSC garnered the industry support and became a standard. If not for both Sierra and Radio Shack, I imagine the "Game Blaster" might be considered a complete flop today.

raifield
April 14th, 2014, 11:41 AM
Disappointingly, the noise-channel percussion techniques commonly used in Tandy/PCjr compositions and arrangements are almost unheard of with the C/MS chipset, despite it having similar capabilities.

Having preceded the Creative Music System to market in the U.S. by an entire year, it's not surprising that the (superior) Ad Lib MSC garnered the industry support and became a standard. If not for both Sierra and Radio Shack, I imagine the "Game Blaster" might be considered a complete flop today.

Sierra embraced computer audio to a wild degree. For example, Mobygames lists only Sierra Online games as supporting the IBM Music Feature Card. Their early games also supported a wide variety of MIDI hardware from Casio, Yamaha, and a few others, most of which I've never heard of before.

Someone at Sierra really enjoyed music.

sergey
April 14th, 2014, 11:49 AM
The Sound-Blaster basically contains an AdLib onboard, so I'm not surprised. The Game-Blaster is on the other hand all about squarewaves. Some early Sound-Blasters does have Game-Blaster support, but the two cards are otherwise totally different things.

Early Sound Blasters had OPL2 + DAC-SS parts (the same as on the AdLib board). The analog audio output part on SoundBlaster was a bit different from AdLib, but neither of them are HiFi quality. Anyway I don't think it will be any significant difference between FM sound played on AdLib or on a Sound Blaster.

Sound Blaster Pro 2 used OPL3 instead of OPL2 (backward compatible, and I think new OPL3 features are rarely used anyway). Many Sound Blaster 16 cards had OPL3 functionality built in to the SB chip, although Vibra 16 (CT2501) based cards have actual OPL3 chip. Finally newer Vibra 16 versions used FM emulation technique called CQM, which by some accounts produces crappy sound :-)

Cloudschatze
April 14th, 2014, 12:24 PM
Sierra embraced computer audio to a wild degree.
I imagine it made a lot of business sense to support as many devices as possible, given the lack of standards at the time. They obviously made an industry-defining decision with regard to MIDI-based soundtracks and use of the MPU-401 and MT-32, but the arrangements of these soundtracks for playback on "less-capable" hardware are rather poor by comparison, and in the case of the Ad Lib, likely gave rise to the unfortunate, "cheesy FM" moniker. That said, I'm quite fond of the Casio playback, even if no-one else seems to be... :)

MicroProse never seems to get the credit they deserve, but their sound/music support, if not as wide in scope as that from Sierra, is generally impressive across all supported devices.

per
April 14th, 2014, 12:54 PM
Many Sound Blaster 16 cards had OPL3 functionality built in to the SB chip, although Vibra 16 (CT2501) based cards have actual OPL3 chip. Finally newer Vibra 16 versions used FM emulation technique called CQM, which by some accounts produces crappy sound :-)
All SB16's with the CT1747 bus-controller has a real OPL3 aswell, but the die is embeded within the CT1747 chip. It's the cards having the CT1978 (like most PnP versions of the SB16) that used the CQM simulated FM.

A lot of cards with the CT1978 has room for a real OPL3 chip, but it's typically not populated.