Image Map Image Map
Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 33

Thread: What made SB better?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    1,331
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default What made SB better?

    What made Soundblaster considered so much "better" than other cards of the early - late 90s?

    Were the clones just as good?

    Were any Better but less expensive due to not having the SB name?
    "In Life, The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short..."

  2. #2

    Default

    Sound Blaster was just the standard in compatibility terms. Of course there were better and cheaper sound cards (later Gravis Ultrasound for example) but the compatibility was not 100%.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Miami, FL
    Posts
    2,533

    Talking

    Sound Blaster was the established brand for sound cards. Nobody was able to compete with them. They had the market penetration / marketing and were leading massive consumer market development. There were many cards that were a lot worse, some the same, some a little better and all cheaper. There were a few that were much better but also a lot more expensive.

    And again: a sound card is not necessarily a sound card. A MIDI card is separate from a FM / samples card. Most valuable are the MIDI card: MPU-401s, daughterboards (DB(50/51/60)XG, SCD-10/15, SCB-7/55) / wavetable cards (RAP-10, SCC-1(A/B), LAPC-I, SW60XG) and RAM based MIDI cards with special chips (GUS / Mediatrix). Early FM / sample based cards are also valuable: CT1300/10/30/50, CT1600/10/20/80/90, CT2600, CT5320/30.

    Once you get to the Windows 95 generation cards the value usually drops because so many were produced / are still available. Plus sound became generic and standardized through Windows 95 drivers. And HDD / CD-ROM / DVD space became so cheap that MIDI was no longer required for good music in games: it was just recorded / sampled.

    A good rule of thumb is that the early sound cards that were produced in lower volume with high quality are the most valuable. Other early sound cards without a brand name (e.g. generic clones) or those produced in large volume (CT1600 comes to mind) are less valuable. Other mid period sound cards with exceptional quality and/or cult following (GUS: demo scene) with low volume are also somewhat valuable. Cards made in high volume in the mid and late period (and especially generic cards with "Crystal" chipsets for example) have little to no value. SB16 with ASP/CSP chips are somewhat more valuable than regular SB16s for bragging rights.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Western United States
    Posts
    600

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterLI View Post
    Sound Blaster was the established brand for sound cards. Nobody was able to compete with them. They had the market penetration / marketing and were leading massive consumer market development.
    That's an interesting view of things.

    To paraphrase a post I made on Trixter's blog a few years ago:

    ...it’s pretty obvious that Media Vision was Creative’s main threat, and to whom they played catch-up on and off for a number of years. Consider the following:

    • Nov 1989 – Creative releases the Sound Blaster 1.0
    • Apr 1991 – MediaVision ships the MPC-compliant, stereo, 2xOPL2-based Pro AudioSpectrum
    • May 1991 – Creative announces the MPC-compliant, stereo, 2xOPL2-based Sound Blaster Pro
    • Aug 1991 – Creative ships the Sound Blaster Pro
    • Apr 1992 – MediaVision ships the 16-bit, OPL3-based Pro AudioSpectrum16
    • Jun 1992 – Creative announces the 16-bit, OPL3-based Sound Blaster 16
    • Nov 1992 – Creative ships the Sound Blaster 16


    So, yeah, you can thank Media Vision for driving all of Creative's early "innovations."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    6,543
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    I love Cloudschatze's insight then and now. The catch-up is hilarious and humiliating; it is a shame that Media Vision didn't survive, because they had better products.

    Creative was a company that survived despite itself (they made many early blunders) because they stumbled onto a winning product at the right time: A clone of Adlib, plus a digital output channel, plus a joystick port. You could run existing Adlib software, you could save a slot building your joystick-enabled PC, and the cost was the same as Adlib. Being the only digital card for any standard PC, they had a corner on that aspect of the market, and as soon as a few games started supporting the digital channel (Tongue of the Fatman, Prince of Persia, King's Quest V, Stellar 7, and Rise of the Dragon being among the earliest examples), all subsequent cards had to support Creative's interface.

    By "early blunders", I am referring to the following (which is only a partial list):


    • Having a truly horrible software development kit. They expected everyone to use CT-VOICE.DRV instead of program the card directly. (Adlib also expected people to use their SOUND.COM driver, but unlike Creative, their SDK was great.) The Creative SDK omits so much information that reverse-engineered textfile docs on BBSes were more useful. To this day, their ADPCM modes are undocumented.
    • Having all tech support out of Singapore for the first few years staffed with people who barely spoke English (I have "fond" memories of calling tech support to ask exactly what the hi- and low-pass filter cutoffs were on the Sound Blaster Pro hi/low filter mixer setting were, and having the support person "hiss" and "blow into the speaker" as audible examples of what they do).
    • Early revisions of cards not supporting an "auto-init DMA" mechanism, which meant playing sound continuously had a "click" every time a buffer switchover occurred. Took them nearly two years to add this functionality.
    • Sound Blaster 16 -- Where do I start? Despite using "16-bit" as major marketing maneuver to crush the Adlib Gold (and Adlib as a company), the actual ADC/DACs were 12-bit internally -- same as Adlib Gold. (Tragically, the Adlib Gold had much cleaner output). Also, no Sound Blaster Pro backward compatibility in stereo because they omitted the "stereo" bit from the hardware mixer. ASP/CSP DSP add-on was a ton of hype without any actual product support other than Creative's own drivers and bundled utils, which did very little with it (mostly ADPCM encoding/decoding which all 486s were powerful enough to do in software anyway).


    Argh.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Miami, FL
    Posts
    2,533

    Default

    Purely from a volume of sales perspective I do not believe MediaVision ever came close to Creative. I am not talking about innovation / originality. There have been many: including AdLib, MediaVision, Gravis and so on that did better. Obviously Sound Blaster was not technically better but they were a lot stronger at sales / marketing and product pricing for the massive market.
    Last edited by PeterNC; September 29th, 2014 at 08:47 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Chicagoland, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    6,543
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Smack2k View Post
    What made Soundblaster considered so much "better" than other cards of the early - late 90s?
    Not "better", just ubiquitous.

    Were the clones just as good?
    Depends on what you mean. If you mean features-wise, most clones offered additional functionality that added some very attractive features. For example, the Aztech line combined Sound Blaster, Covox Speech Thing, and Disney Sound Source compatibility onto a single card. The Gravis Ultrasound was a wavetable card with it's own RAM that could play up to 32 (!) stereo voices simultaneously, with some limitations.

    But... if you mean compatibility-wise, that was a mixed bag. Some clones were extremely compatible (Media Vision Thunderboard comes to mind, which IIRC was a drop-in replacement that didn't need any drivers); others were kindly described as "acceptably compatible", such as the Gravis Ultrasound which saw no less than two completely different SB emulation packages come out for it in its lifetime.
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Posts
    1,331
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Thanks for the information....greatly appreciated and fascinating reading....
    "In Life, The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short..."

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,163
    Blog Entries
    4

    Default

    Yes the Thunderboard is a drop in replacement for 8-bit SB cards without the need for special drivers. It was considered a budget product though with no midi support. It worked rather well in dos and windows. Still have the one I bought.
    Thomas Byers (DRI)- "You'll have a million people using the A> [MS-DOS prompt] forever. You'll have five million using [nongraphic] menu systems such as Topview, Concurrent PC-DOS, Desq, and those types. But there'll be 50 to 100 million using the iconic-based interfaces."

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    SE MI
    Posts
    4,731
    Blog Entries
    6

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Caluser2000 View Post
    Yes the Thunderboard is a drop in replacement for 8-bit SB cards without the need for special drivers. It was considered a budget product though with no midi support. It worked rather well in dos and windows. Still have the one I bought.
    I can vouch for that. My Thunderboard has been up and running in my SX since the early 90's.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •