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Thread: Sound in Windows for Workgroups without sound card

  1. #1
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    Default Sound in Windows for Workgroups without sound card

    Iíve been installing Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on some systems, and Iíve been wondering how youíre supposed to enable sound on a computer without a sound card and its drivers. Whenverver I go to the sounds control panel in Windows, the enable sounds option is checked, but everything is greyed out. The system does not make any noises. At first I thought you need a sound card to enable sound, but I recently bought a computer without a sound card that has an installation of WfW 3.11 with sound effects working.

  2. #2
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    Search for "PC Speaker Driver Windows 3.1". That will play Windows sounds through the PC speaker. But it sounds horrible, is very limited, and freezes the rest of the system while it is playing. I think it should also run under Windows For Workgroups.

    Are you sure this other "computer without a sound card" does not actually have a sound chip built in to the motherboard? In the Windows control panel, what sounds driver does it claim to be using?

  3. #3
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    Reason the entire machine locks up when playing sound is because it takes all of the CPUs processing power to blast data to the PC speaker. Some versions of the driver have an option to allow interrupts while sound is playing, so the machine doesn't lock up, but the sound gets very choppy.

    The driver is very limited though, it can only play .wav sounds, no MIDI or any other type of sound is supported.

    The driver works in Windows 95 as well.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by willmurray461 View Post
    I’ve been installing Windows for Workgroups 3.11 on some systems, and I’ve been wondering how you’re supposed to enable sound on a computer without a sound card and its drivers. Whenverver I go to the sounds control panel in Windows, the enable sounds option is checked, but everything is greyed out.
    The enable option always works even without a sound card as Windows can still make a beep through the PC speaker even with no sound card.

    As others have said, the PC speaker driver is your best bet if you just want to hear startup and shutdown sounds but it isn't really usable for anything else.

    Something to consider though is that this driver was useful back in the day because sound was an expensive add on, whereas these days you can pick up an old ISA Sound Blaster card for next to nothing. Tons and tons of them on eBay. Literally anything will be incomparably better than messing about with that driver.

  5. #5

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    Yeah, I remember messing around with that driver back on a friend's 386SX box - it was good for a laugh, but not much else. Still, a fun little bit of historical trivia/novelty.
    Computers: Amiga 1200, DEC VAXStation 4000/60, DEC MicroPDP-11/73
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    "'Legacy code' often differs from its suggested alternative by actually working and scaling." - Bjarne Stroustrup

  6. #6

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    Oh I always install that driver in windows 3.1. I think it's fun Tada sounds so bad with it!

  7. #7
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    The reason why I asked was because the machine is an IBM PS/2 Model 90, so I won’t be finding a sound card for it. I already have one, but I like to keep it in my Model 80. I thought it was neat that one of my Model 90’s could have sound through the PC speaker, so I wanted to know how to do it on my other one.

  8. #8

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    I built an LPTDAC (Covox Speech Thing) a long time ago, which plugs into the parallel port and produces much better audio quality. There was a Windows driver for it as well. However, since there is no DMA support either, so the choice remains: System freeze while sounds are playing, or bad quality when moving the mouse.

    Apparently, the Disney Sound Source was buffered, but I don't know if this can be used in Windows.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by GiGaBiTe View Post
    Reason the entire machine locks up when playing sound is because it takes all of the CPUs processing power to blast data to the PC speaker. Some versions of the driver have an option to allow interrupts while sound is playing, so the machine doesn't lock up, but the sound gets very choppy.

    The driver is very limited though, it can only play .wav sounds, no MIDI or any other type of sound is supported.

    The driver works in Windows 95 as well.
    I think the same. That MS driver is of an old *.drv type, so it also works on a 80286 in Windows' Standard Mode.
    If memory serves, it can even run on Win98SE and Windows Millenium (WinMe).
    In addition, there also were one or two third-party PC Speaker drivers which claimed to be better than the official driver.

    I'm speaking under correction now, but I've once seen a MIDI driver that also used PC Speaker.
    It was very basic, of course. Speaking of drivers, there's also an IBM Joystick driver for Windows 3.1x..
    "Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
    In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." -The Minstrel

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jo22 View Post
    I'm speaking under correction now, but I've once seen a MIDI driver that also used PC Speaker.
    That would be very interesting to see. I have seen a few MIDI players using the PC speaker, but they mostly just beeped the main melody.

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