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View Full Version : Sound card in a 286 machine... SB 16 or SB Vibra 16?



BGoins12
September 27th, 2014, 10:09 AM
Looking to install a sound card in my 286 machine. Would it be better to use a regular CT2230 Sound Blaster 16 or a Vibra 16? I know the SB 16 will work with a 286, but I am not sure about the Vibra.

Thanks!

Caluser2000
September 27th, 2014, 10:29 AM
Vibra 16s work as well as quite a number of other called plug and play ISA cards.

oblivion
September 27th, 2014, 11:13 AM
Personally I think somthing like a sound blaster or a sound blaster pro would be best for a 286 based on the games it will probibly be playing. The sb16 isn't 100% SB pro compatible AFIK and its FM sounds worse on older games compaired to a SB and SB pro. I have a SB with the CMS chips in my 286. If all you have though is a sb16 or a vibra either should work. I think in general the vibra chips are less "noisy".

3pcedev
September 27th, 2014, 03:01 PM
I have a Vibra 16 installed in my 286. Yes it will work but there are some catches:


You need to use the Vibra 16 dos driver to set the port and interrupt. This will not happen automatically and the card does not store this information once the power is switched off.
The Vibra 16 dos driver assumes you have at least 386 architecture (not necessarily a deal breaker - see below)
Just to confirm you cannot cheat and just use the SET BLASTER = ...... environment variable. If you do this without the driver loaded the card will not work.


If you try to run the driver you will get the message "This requires at least a 386". To cheat you need to use a 386 extension emulator such as EMU386. Once loaded the driver will successfully run and find the Vibra card - part of the arguments when loading the driver will set its port and interrupt. Provided you have some extended memory you can load both of these drivers into Highmem with minimal impact on memory.

I haven't had any compatibility issues with the Vibra running older games - yes it sounds slightly different (better in most respects) than the old 8 bit cards.

The older (jumpered) soundblasters are much easier (I run these in my XT's). All you need is a SET BLASTER = .... environment variable in the autoexec.bat. No drivers etc required.

Trixter
September 27th, 2014, 07:05 PM
I'd like to second the notion that you should put an SB or SBPro in the system. Most games that will run on a 286 won't take advantage of 16-bit audio. In fact, none will take advantage of stereo audio either, except for Wolfentstein 3D which can play digitized sound in stereo on a Sound Blaster Pro (by using the Pro's hardware volume mixer).

vwestlife
September 28th, 2014, 08:36 AM
I'd like to second the notion that you should put an SB or SBPro in the system. Most games that will run on a 286 won't take advantage of 16-bit audio. In fact, none will take advantage of stereo audio either, except for Wolfentstein 3D which can play digitized sound in stereo on a Sound Blaster Pro (by using the Pro's hardware volume mixer).

Also, I don't know about the Vibra, but the regular SB16 only emulates the original Sound Blaster; it does not correctly emulate the SB Pro. You can play SB Pro audio on an SB16, but it will be only heard in mono, and may have some distortion.

And as for Wolfenstein 3D, as explained on Vogons: "Wolf3D doesn't use the usual SB Pro stereo mode. The game simply positions (mono) samples with the help of the mixer, which saves a bit of CPU time and is quite effective as long as only one sample is played at a time."

BGoins12
September 28th, 2014, 08:58 AM
Thanks guys! I'll probably just use the SB16 then. I only have those 2 cards, an AWE64, a few generic ones with ESS or Crystal chips and some Packard Bell ones. I certainly wish I had an original SB or SB Pro... that would be perfect for it.

Caluser2000
September 28th, 2014, 09:39 AM
One most likey will turn up eventually. My first 286 had a Media Vision Thunderboard card in it which did a pretty good job.

oblivion
September 28th, 2014, 09:52 AM
Yhea, SB cards and SB pro 2 cards aren't very rare and sometimes if your patient you can score them for less then $25. I in the other hand am on the lookout for a SB pro 1 with the duel opl chips as well as a MCA SB which I dont hold up much hope of finding cheap.

johnnynismo
September 5th, 2015, 03:27 PM
Sorry for the bump but I'm having an issue with my Sound Blaster CT3600 in a 286 system (Mylex motherboard/Award BIOS). The CTCM.exe or CTCU.exe or DIAGNOSE.exe don't appear to auto-detect the card. Do I have to manually define the SET BLASTER parameters in the AUTOEXEC.bat file? Also, does this Plug and Play software even work on a 286 machine?

oblivion
September 5th, 2015, 09:49 PM
my 286 locked up on boot when I tried to use the CTCM program and a sb16.

I just replaced it with a jumpered model and stuck this in the Autoexec.bat file SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6

worked fine after that

Scali
September 6th, 2015, 12:53 AM
The sb16 isn't 100% SB pro compatible AFIK

This is true.


and its FM sounds worse on older games compaired to a SB and SB pro.

This I don't think. Both cards use the exact same Yamaha OPL3 FM chip, so it should sound pretty much the same, give or take some minor differences in the amplifier circuitry.

oblivion
September 6th, 2015, 11:26 AM
more or less what I meant. everything I've read states the sb16's in general are noticeably more "noisy" then the sb pro cards. with the Vibra cards being the least "noisy"

fallemarg
September 6th, 2015, 11:39 AM
This I don't think. Both cards use the exact same Yamaha OPL3 FM chip, so it should sound pretty much the same, give or take some minor differences in the amplifier circuitry.

It's not that the OPL3 chip sounds different, but the circuitry in various versions of the sound blaster 16 are very "dirty" or noisy. I have 4 different versions of the Sound Blaster 16 as well as the Sound Blaster AWE 32, AWE 64, and AWE 64 Gold, and they are all noisy to some level. Even though the Sound Blaster Pro is only 8-bit on the audio resolution, overall the sound seems cleaner, even if this isn't actually correct. All of my sound blaster cards have noise of some sort. My Pro Audio Spectrum and PAS 16 sound much cleaner signal wise, but they aren't always supported well and the SB compatible doesn't always work right for me for some reason.

-Edit- On Topic - As with what others are recommending, use what you have that works that sounds like what you want. There are so many options available that should work since you have a 16-bit ISA bus.

Scali
September 6th, 2015, 11:44 AM
It's not that the OPL3 chip sounds different, but the circuitry in various versions of the sound blaster 16 are very "dirty" or noisy.

Yes, but if you phrase it like "FM sounds worse", it sounds like the problem is only with FM, while the same applies to ALL sound passing through the card, including the DAC and even the CD input on the mixer.

Anyway, yes, Creative cards are notoriously bad quality, and suffer from a lot of electrical noise through the output. The amplifiers are also of poor quality and don't have a very flat frequency response, poor dynamic range and poor stereo separation.
The thing is though, early games were designed for these cards, it seems. The Doom sound effects for example, they sound nice and fat on an SB Pro, but if you listen to them on a 'quality' card such as an ESS, a PAS or a GUS, they sound very sterile and lacking bass and depth.

Formulator
September 6th, 2015, 10:15 PM
I use CT1350B rev.3 with C/MS upgrade. This appears to work well in 286.

dr.zeissler
September 6th, 2015, 11:56 PM
I have a 286/8 A2286 Bridgeboard in my A2000. Only 3 ISA-Slots available.
I thought about pulling out the CT1350b to put a MPU-401i Card in it and using a DAC behind an LPT-Zipdrive.
But as I startet GLX /oCO2 I recognized that the DAC demands LOTS of more CPU Power for the 22khz Mixing :(
It is by far better with a CT1350b, but I think the MPU-401 is the better choice for playing the old adventures.

Caluser2000
September 7th, 2015, 12:19 AM
I use CT 1740 sound card in my 286. Seems to work ok.

johnnynismo
September 7th, 2015, 09:19 AM
I use CT 1740 sound card in my 286. Seems to work ok.

May I ask what you did to get the card to work? Do you set the resource parameters in the Autoexec.bat manually? Also are you running this in DOS or Windows 3.1?

I need some guidance on getting my CT3600 working at a basic level at least. I have a 286w/287XL on a Mylex motherboard running DOS 6.22 and 640Kb of RAM. I'm below the minimum requirements but the thing should initialize I would think.

Caluser2000
September 7th, 2015, 11:07 AM
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6 the same as oblivions. I use Dos mainly on it so haven't bothered trying to set it up in MS Windows 3.1. It's a few years since I set it up though. I think I just found a old guide in text format and just had a read through that to come up with the settings.

Reading the system requirement on the SB page is a hoot http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=5800 maybe they need to amend it. It states a 386 is required so I must be imagining things with it working on a Zenith z268LP Plus.

johnnynismo
September 7th, 2015, 09:12 PM
SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6 the same as oblivions. I use Dos mainly on it so haven't bothered trying to set it up in MS Windows 3.1. It's a few years since I set it up though. I think I just found a old guide in text format and just had a read through that to come up with the settings.

Reading the system requirement on the SB page is a hoot http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=5800 maybe they need to amend it. It states a 386 is required so I must be imagining things with it working on a Zenith z268LP Plus.

So you're not loading any drivers by pointing to a soundblaster folder with the "SET SOUND=" command? If the SET BLASTER is working for you, then my card must just be dead because I've tried it several times.

Caluser2000
September 7th, 2015, 09:36 PM
Yes just SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6 and nothing else. It's a jumpered card btw. Does your card work in win9x or linux on another system? 3pcedevs earlier post may or may not be helpful in your case.

I would have normally used my Media Vision Thunderboard for nostalgic reasons, have a original SB and SB Pro as well few other suitable sound cards but the CT1740 worked so I left it in the system. I believe it doesn't suffer from the infamous hanging note bug either, which is an added bonus. Through the powered speakers the system sounds great. No idea what this "muddy" sound is referring to. But of course I'm no audiophile and consider anything over a pc speaker a win. Would I recommend try using one in a 286?-HELL YEAH!!

bjt
September 8th, 2015, 02:04 AM
SB16 CT1770 works in a XT so it should be fine in a 286. You get an Adaptec SCSI interface as a bonus too.

Caluser2000
September 8th, 2015, 11:00 AM
Here's a page similar to the one I was refering to earlier. http://www.rinkworks.com/apogee/s/6.4.2.shtml

It states Hocus Pocus will probably only work with only four SET BLASTER= parameters but is working fine on my set up as it is. No reboot madness or deleting files required.

ScanDisk
August 17th, 2017, 08:58 PM
I use a vibra 16 in my 286 and it works perfectly with DOS, just install the drivers and you are good to go.

I found them online, I still have them, if needed, I ca upload them for you.

dieymir
August 20th, 2017, 12:44 AM
I use a SB16 PnP (CT2950) on my 286. I use it mainly because it's the worst card I have ;) For the old games I run on that computer (Adlib or SB 1.x support at best) I do not want to waste a better sound card and 8-bit ones are rare and expensive!! and this card was a gift ... These are some of its missfeatures:

* It's PnP (this is a drawback for me).
* It has CQM instead of a real OPL3
* It has the "hanging note bug"
* ...

since it's a PnP card and CTCU does not work I use an utility developed by a forum member to initialize PnP Vibras that happens to work very well with other Creative PnP cards. The Creative mixer utility works fine but there are better alternatives out there. You run the PnP initialization utility from AUTOEXEC.BAT and it uses the BLASTER environment variable to initialize the card. Very handy. There is one drawback, though: it initializes the IDE port but, since it's done in AUTOEXEC.BAT, you cannot load a CD driver in CONFIG.SYS :( Other PnP sound card have a CONFIG.SYS driver to initialize the IDE port and I suppose it isn't difficult to develop such thing but this is beyond my own skills.

nestor
August 20th, 2017, 03:29 AM
Can you provide a link to that PnP initializer utility?

Caluser2000
August 20th, 2017, 07:37 PM
Vogons org has a lot of sound blaster drivers http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/index.php?catid=7

dieymir
August 21st, 2017, 09:01 AM
Can you provide a link to that PnP initializer utility?

It was posted by user DCA2 here and in Vogons forum.

Source code (to be compiled with TurboC 2):
40395

Binary:
40394

It worked fine with my CT2950. IMHO, the only drawback is that there is no driver to initialize the IDE port on CONFIG.SYS

KenEG
August 21st, 2017, 09:15 AM
I use this with a Vibra 16 on my XT-Turbo machine. One advantage is that you can change settings without opening the computer. Some early games weren't flexible enough to find the card on any other interupt than one. Sometimes 5 and others 7. I cn switch by just editing my autoexec.bat and rebooting.

nestor
August 23rd, 2017, 12:06 PM
There is one drawback, though: it initializes the IDE port but, since it's done in AUTOEXEC.BAT, you cannot load a CD driver in CONFIG.SYS :( Other PnP sound card have a CONFIG.SYS driver to initialize the IDE port and I suppose it isn't difficult to develop such thing but this is beyond my own skills.

Have you tried to execute the utility from CONFIG.SYS using INSTALL=file.ext ? It is a command to load TSR programs, but it should work.

pcdata76
August 24th, 2017, 12:15 AM
There is one drawback, though: it initializes the IDE port but, since it's done in AUTOEXEC.BAT, you cannot load a CD driver in CONFIG.SYS :( Other PnP sound card have a CONFIG.SYS driver to initialize the IDE port and I suppose it isn't difficult to develop such thing but this is beyond my own skills.

There should be an utility called as CTLOAD.EXE in creative drivers, which has a function of loading device drivers from AUTOEXEC.BAT (or command prompt after booting completely). After initialization of the sound card IDE, you can load CD driver from autoexec.bat as below: (XXX and YYY are the paths of the ctload.exe and cdrom driver(oakcdrom.sys in this case) respectively)

C:\XXX\CTLOAD.EXE C:\YYY\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:CD01

dieymir
August 25th, 2017, 08:59 AM
There should be an utility called as CTLOAD.EXE in creative drivers, which has a function of loading device drivers from AUTOEXEC.BAT (or command prompt after booting completely). After initialization of the sound card IDE, you can load CD driver from autoexec.bat as below: (XXX and YYY are the paths of the ctload.exe and cdrom driver(oakcdrom.sys in this case) respectively)

C:\XXX\CTLOAD.EXE C:\YYY\OAKCDROM.SYS /D:CD01

Sure. I did just that but, IMHO, is less reliable than load the drivers in CONFIG.SYS