Digital designs?

Soundwave [Chad Gould] cgould at
Wed Dec 31 10:24:08 CET 1997

> At 11:47 PM 12/29/97 -0500, Soundwave [Chad Gould] wrote:
> >This can be done on computer, but sound card
> >quality is horrid, not to mention you either have to deal with Win95
> >sound card crap (ugh) or custom sound card assembly code (specialized
> >and even more ugh). Besides, running the output through an analog filter
> >section might be neat.
> Whilst I concede that working under the shadow of microsoft is guaranteed to
> be a less pleasurable experience than living with your head in a bucket of
> lard, unless you're using some old 8 bit sound card, they sound no different
> to any given CD player or other digital audio device. Since they use pretty
> much the same systems. In modern times, Say since the late 16th century,
> Digital audio is digital audio. Period! Whether that be in a CD player, DAT

Woah, woah, Batz???? 

Let's take a look at your typical PC soundcard. Most of them are
internal. Which means that you need some pretty good circuit design to
get rid of all of that noise that comes from the good old PC. Now, the
really good cards - your Card Ds, your Event Electronics - stuff
designed for H/D recording - they have a S/N noise and frequency
response up to spec. Even a Turtle Beach Tropez has a relatively good
S/N and freq. response., though probably not better then a well designed
standalone audio output section. 

Now, let's take a look at what most consumers have. Soundblaster up to
at least the AWE32. Maybe a Gravis if they are lucky. The S/N is
horrible, and even the frequency response is not up to spec. Once
converted to digital, sure, it's all the same. But it's getting that
darn thing converted that makes many sound cards so crappy. And, yes,
quality of noise-buffering circuits and even the DACs themselves
probably do vary quite a bit. Now, the higher end wavetables and even
medium wavetables made by other companies may take great pains to make
sure that S/N etc. on analog in/out is up to snuff. But a lot of stuff simply 

Now, you COULD of course use a program to write directly to hard drive
and bypass all the noise factors. But this has several disadvantages,
namely lack of real-time computation.

> The bottom line is. If you are a coder and you can't talk to a PC sound card
> effectively, then you'll have no hope venturing to build proprietary
> hardware. Since the chips you'll need to talk to are the same and talk in
> the same manner.

Agreed, but a proprietary driver is not exactly trivial. It's not
difficult, it's just not trivial. It mainly becomes difficult when
manufacturers make SDKs that are not free of charge (Creative was guilty
of this for a while... not a strategy I agree with personally). But the
indication I get is that DSP-based coding by itself is even more
non-trivial. I wouldn't trust Win95 for anything more than a simple
monosynth (real-time at least) at this point. 

The best solution seems to be a computer designed with soundcards or
DSPs that have hack ability... which might be a rather interesting
way to go, and the easiest way to achieve a powerful system with little
hardware effort. That seems to be the indication of you and others as
well. (:

Chad Gould aka Soundwave                 |studio: 9 real synths
internet: cgould at                |and a cheap Casio
Make Happy the Harmonica Happy! - MST3K / Samples / Synth FAQ / More...

More information about the Synth-diy mailing list