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Thread: Best SoundBlaster That's Affordable?

  1. #1
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    Default Best SoundBlaster That's Affordable?

    I have a 486 (my Gateway P4D-66) that for some reason didn't come with any sound card from the factory at all, despite coming with a bunch of other stuff. Obviously that means a SoundBlaster upgrade is in order as what's a 486 without a SoundBlaster? But I don't really want to spend a ton of money on a sound card, since my budget's a bit on the low side. What's a good reasonably priced SoundBlaster? I was thinking of getting a Pro but I don't know how much they go for, I know the SoundBlaster 16 is pretty affordable but I wanted something a little better.

  2. #2
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    Pro is 8 bit and older then the SB16.

    Are you going to game much on the system? I have some SB cards I can sell you if you want.

    SB16 has quite a few models and features. SB32 would have wavetable built in but they are more expensive.
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  3. #3
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    It seems like almost all sound cards go for a pile of money on eBay. (As if shipping didn't cost an arm and a leg by itself these days)

    For a 486 era computer you would probably want something that can do 16-bit sound, and would be 16-bit ISA. If the motherboard does not have an ISA Plug and Play BIOS, you might want something that can be configured with with jumpers instead of running a P&P manager program at boot.

    There were a number of random ISA sound cards clones, but their Sound Blaster compatibility could be hit or miss.

  4. #4

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    A 486 deserves 16-bit sound.
    Sound Blaster 16 cards can be pretty cheap, especially those based on Vibra chipset - some people don't like them, as they lack true FM synthesis, instead they emulate it with "CQM", but it's rather hard to tell the difference.
    If you want wavetable, then SB AWE32 it good though expensive, however, SB AWE64 Value can be found for pennies.

  5. #5
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    I haven't had any complaints with my Sound Blaster 16's. 3 different models running in 3 different systems and all work perfectly. I also really like the AWE64, I have 2 of those. All these cards I got for free so I'm sure you can find them cheap. I'd let go of an AWE64 or my new in box SB16 if either of those would be of interest

  6. #6

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    I have an ESS AudioDrive that is a great card as described on Vogons in the link.

    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=37497

    You can drive across the Walt and get it if you want. I'm less than ten minutes from there.
    PM me if you're looking for 3" or 5" floppy disks. EMail For everything else, Take Another Step

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xacalite View Post
    A 486 deserves 16-bit sound.
    Sound Blaster 16 cards can be pretty cheap, especially those based on Vibra chipset - some people don't like them, as they lack true FM synthesis, instead they emulate it with "CQM", but it's rather hard to tell the difference.
    If you want wavetable, then SB AWE32 it good though expensive, however, SB AWE64 Value can be found for pennies.
    Hmm, I did not know that. Might get an AWE64 Value then, I imagine even the Value version is still more advanced than the SB16. Hopefully a card from 1996 still has DOS and Windows 3.11 drivers though.
    Last edited by itsvince725; March 23rd, 2019 at 07:28 AM.

  8. #8

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    AWE64 cards came with the full Windows 3.1/DOS/95 driver bundle.

  9. #9
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    Cool stuff.

    Looking at eBay, an AWE64 Value card literally costs the same as a Vibra 16 so if I'm gonna go the eBay route I'd definitely get the AWE64.

  10. #10
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    A lot of old DOS games don't have built in support for AWE32/64 wavetable. I still recall ID not supporting AWE64 in Quake because Carmack didn't like creative lack of support.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
    Boxed apps and games for the above systems
    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

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