Upgrading on-board PC soundchip?

Discussion in 'comp.music.midi' started by Fox Ache, Aug 19, 2003.

  1. Fox Ache

    Fox Ache Guest

    Hi,
    Just wondering wether I should buy a Soundblaster 5.1 Digital card for
    my puter. Currently using onboard ESS-Solo chip.

    I use a Yamaha XG softsynth for all midi composing though, as the
    sound quality of onboard wavetables and even GS just sounds terrible.

    Would upgrading be worth it?
    Would I be able to start delving into the world of VST's etc. as I
    don't have ASIO support on my card.
    Are the soundfonts any good?

    Even though its only £30 I cant see getting much use out of it if I'm
    sticking with XG, unless there are advantages over my current setup.
    Games are fine at the moment, and I don't watch DVD's on the PC.

    Thanks for any advice.

    Fox.
  2. Hi Fox,

    Your onboardsound does NOT have a hardware wavetable and it does NOT have
    hardware GS sound either.

    MIDI sound comes from either a Roland softwaresynth ("sound canvas"), Yamaha
    XG-compatible softwaresynth (You seem to have that one) or DirectX sound by
    Microsoft (DLS-sound table). These typically have a delay time of about half
    a second, which makes them rather useless for live MIDI playback. Size of
    the GM/GS soundsets is about 4MB~8MB which means they sound only slightly
    better than computer's "stoneage" FM-sound.

    You can in fact greatly improve MIDI sound if You choose a different
    softwaresynth. For Windows, try VSampler:
    http://www.vsampler.com/english/index.html. There is support for Linux as
    well (fluidsynth). Fluidsynth btw. needs less PC ressources so that on the
    same machine using Linux You can play more voices at the same time than You
    could using Windows.

    They are going to release new version 3.0 soon. You can use VSampler for
    free with the only limitation You cannot save files. VSampler lets You use
    SoundFonts which means a single sound or a complete GM sound collection. You
    can download SoundFonts for free on several websites (e.g.
    http://www.hammersound.net/). VSampler can deal with VST (it can work as a
    plugin for Cubase/Cubasis etc. actually) and ASIO, if present.

    Even though You might find Your PC is too slow to play 128 voices You will
    see that it IS INDEED fast enough for unnoticable low latency - at least
    much lower latency than with Your current Yamaha-XG-softsynth. You can play
    it live.

    SoundFont quality is mostly great, but might need some finetuning. File size
    can be of about 200MB of a GM-set. VSampler can stream larger files if they
    do not fit into RAM (another advantage it offers over many other
    softwaresynths).

    Softwaresynths depend on the playback hardware that Your PC offers, so if
    You want 5.1 sound and S/PDIF-output and have only 2-channel sound onboard,
    You need a soundcard for that (I have upgraded my PC with a SB 5.1dig.
    because I had exactly the same problem ;-) ).

    Soundblaster Cards offer hardware support for SoundFonts, i.e. You can play
    SoundFonts without using the CPU for it, without long delay times and
    without the needs to update RAM and/or CPU. They can share memory with PC
    RAM.

    HTH,
    Lutz.


    "Fox Ache" <blah@blah.com> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
    news:lhd4kv820d86dokrp9r7igjuct9r24769f@4ax.com...
    > Hi,
    > Just wondering wether I should buy a Soundblaster 5.1 Digital card for
    > my puter. Currently using onboard ESS-Solo chip.
    >
    > I use a Yamaha XG softsynth for all midi composing though, as the
    > sound quality of onboard wavetables and even GS just sounds terrible.
    >
    > Would upgrading be worth it?
    > Would I be able to start delving into the world of VST's etc. as I
    > don't have ASIO support on my card.
    > Are the soundfonts any good?
    >
    > Even though its only £30 I cant see getting much use out of it if I'm
    > sticking with XG, unless there are advantages over my current setup.
    > Games are fine at the moment, and I don't watch DVD's on the PC.
    >
    > Thanks for any advice.
    >
    > Fox.
  3. JB Seattle

    JB Seattle Guest

    Soundblaster Audigy will be rather hard to beat. Get the best one with the
    most memory.
    JB
    "Fox Ache" <blah@blah.com> wrote in message
    news:lhd4kv820d86dokrp9r7igjuct9r24769f@4ax.com...
    > Hi,
    > Just wondering wether I should buy a Soundblaster 5.1 Digital card for
    > my puter. Currently using onboard ESS-Solo chip.
    >
    > I use a Yamaha XG softsynth for all midi composing though, as the
    > sound quality of onboard wavetables and even GS just sounds terrible.
    >
    > Would upgrading be worth it?
    > Would I be able to start delving into the world of VST's etc. as I
    > don't have ASIO support on my card.
    > Are the soundfonts any good?
    >
    > Even though its only £30 I cant see getting much use out of it if I'm
    > sticking with XG, unless there are advantages over my current setup.
    > Games are fine at the moment, and I don't watch DVD's on the PC.
    >
    > Thanks for any advice.
    >
    > Fox.

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