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Questions tagged [sound]

Questions regarding the generation of sound in retrocomputers.

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48 votes
9 answers
14k views

Why did the IBM PC need a sound card?

The original IBM PC and later variants used an Intel 8253 or 8254 as a sound chip. Why did users add sound cards such as the Adlib or Sound Blaster. I remember voice output with programs like ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,479
47 votes
3 answers
7k views

How did C64 games handle music during gameplay?

On the C64 there was no threading, so how did games handle treating at the same time music and game code? Music requires exact timings, and the SID had to be instructed to change the note at the right ...
Stefano Borini's user avatar
42 votes
6 answers
8k views

How did old games from 8-bit era game consoles store music?

Some time ago I found that the audio of a game called Ninja Gaiden 1 (NES) is around 1 hour. This is excluding the sound effects like jump and hit e.t.c. Then I found that the entire game size is ...
quantum231's user avatar
31 votes
5 answers
6k views

What really is a sound card driver in MS-DOS?

To my knowledge, neither MS-DOS nor BIOS offers any kind of API for sound cards. Therefore the concept of a "driver" is absent, as we know it today. Apart from accessories and sample files ...
Dercsár's user avatar
  • 685
26 votes
2 answers
5k views

Was "One-Winged Angel" an actual CD track, or generated by the PlayStation's sound chip with a few samples (SFX) added on top?

"One-Winged Angel" is the musical theme for the final boss of Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation, released 1997. I no longer have my copy, sadly. In spite of consisting of no less than three ...
R S's user avatar
  • 261
25 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why do all the Speech Synthesizers have that same Voice?

The first time I ever played with software speech synthesis on a microcomputer (not hardware synthesis, like in TI's Speak & Spell) was around 1983, using S.A.M for the Commodore 64. A year later,...
Brian H's user avatar
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24 votes
7 answers
5k views

Was it possible programmatically to manipulate the volume as well as the pitch on computers with no sound chip?

On early versions of many 8-bit computers like the Apple II, Spectrum, and even the IBM PC, there was no sound hardware other than the simple "beeper". Programmers made sound by hitting a hardware ...
hippietrail's user avatar
  • 6,666
24 votes
3 answers
7k views

What causes the glitchy sound when a GBA cartridge is removed?

Example in mGBA (mirror) — SOUND WARNING. When you remove a game cartridge from a powered-on GBA, it makes this horrible, loud glitching sound. I can tell that a small portion of the looped sound is ...
leetbacoon's user avatar
24 votes
2 answers
4k views

How did Joysticks with more than 4 buttons and all those extra features work on a Game Port?

The question is pretty straight forward. How did they do so much more than the simple, unidirectional 4 axis of analog control, plus 4 on/off buttons? There was surprisingly precise force feedback ...
nabeelr's user avatar
  • 341
22 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why did the ZX Spectrum use an internal speaker?

I was surprised to note recently that the Sinclair ZX Spectrum used an internal speaker. I knew the BBC Micro used one, presumably because it was designed to be optionally used with a monitor which ...
rwallace's user avatar
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21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did playing sounds on the PC speaker keep the CPU busy?

The IBM PC and early successors came with an internal speaker that could play simple sounds. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PC_speaker However, because the method used to reproduce PCM ...
rwallace's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
2k views

Who considered multimedia capability a liability for a business computers, and why?

For technical reasons, business computers of the late '70s usually had little multimedia capability. There have been modern claims (e.g., in the comments on this video) that such capability was ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.1k
19 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is there a line printer sound simulator?

To improve "authenticity" of a mainframe simulator and for an additional nostalgic effect, I'd like to add sounds of a line printer to it. They should be similar enough to the original sounds for ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
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16 votes
5 answers
3k views

Did the original Macintosh not have any MIDI or similar music capabilities?

The original version of Shadowgate for the Macintosh is an eerie experience after you have played the NES version, with its amazing soundtrack. The Mac version is entirely mute, save for some random ...
user27284's user avatar
  • 161
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

What was the last terminal to include a physical bell?

Drew asks: … what was the latest terminal produced which rang a physical bell rather than beeping through a speaker?
scruss's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Which communication protocol is used in AdLib sound card?

By "AdLib sound card" I mean AdLib Music Synthesizer Card released in 1987. Wikipedia says that AdLib uses frequency modulation synthesis to produce sound, but does it use MIDI communication protocol ...
john c. j.'s user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

Beep command with letters for notes (IBM AT + DOS circa 1984)

I'm looking for a reference for a command which used letters for musical notes, and would play very simple tunes with square waves. It ran on an IBM AT, circa 1984, which was running a version of IBM/...
jonathanjo's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

How did I fry my SID chip?

I recently got a SID chip (8580r5) for $35 and got it playing music. I was really happy about it. I hooked up a small amp chip to the 9V supply momentarily (it didn't work, I was building that part of ...
user16542's user avatar
  • 133
12 votes
5 answers
4k views

Has anyone ever made a quiet floppy drive?

The sound of a floppy drive is iconic. It is burned into the memory of all people in a certain age group. Some smarter ones even made music with them. But was there ever any effort to quiet them down? ...
Vilx-'s user avatar
  • 1,475
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

Commodore 64 noises during loops, flash load and others

When I was a child, I had a Commodore 64 always connected to a TV via the RF Out. I remember that when running a BASIC program, there were certain noises to be heard. Especially when a longer FOR loop ...
rexkogitans's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
840 views

AdLib, YM3812 and Timers

For no particular reason I started reading up on the original AdLib Music Card, and it's clear that this card was little more than a stock Yamaha YM3812 music chip (aka OPL2) glued to a PC's 8-bit ISA ...
640KB's user avatar
  • 1,297
11 votes
7 answers
3k views

Low-cost sound chip

I want to make a homebrew 8-bit computer and I want to include a sound chip in it. It needs to be as cheap as possible (under 5$) and I also want it to be possibly controlled by an Arduino or ATmega-...
Spyro 999's user avatar
  • 119
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

Algorithm for Apple IIe and Apple IIgs boot/start beep

What is algorithms use for boot/start sound (when turn on computer) in Apple IIe and Apple IIgs? I can't find information about Apple boot sound algorithms or where in computer ROM store either ...
Châu's user avatar
  • 515
11 votes
5 answers
3k views

Was there a way to play an hourly custom sound on Macs circa 1985-1995?

I have a memory of my dad's old Macintosh playing a custom sound every hour. It was his a capella rendition of the Westminster Quarters. This was decades ago and my memory could be faulty. Was this ...
Atomic Tripod's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

What could SID do that APU could not?

Two of the more famous and highly regarded sound chips in the 8-bit era were the Commodore 64's SID and the Nintendo APU. Which of the two was overall better, seems to be a matter on which there is a ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.1k
10 votes
6 answers
2k views

Sound chips in 1977

By the early eighties, there were a variety of off-the-shelf sound chips suitable for use in home computers and arcade games. What about 1977? That seems to have been just a little early; I'm not ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.1k
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

How does the OPL2 Composite Sine Mode work?

The Yamaha YM3812 (aka OPL2) has an operation mode named composite sine mode (CSM), apparently designed for speech synthesis. Unfortunately I was unabled to find any documentation on what ...
fuz's user avatar
  • 1,574
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

How to get sound working in pure DOS with a CMI8330 card?

I have a tower PC from the early 2000's. I got this system second-hand and as-is so I do not have any original driver resources. I have installed Windows 95 mainly to play old Windows and DOS games. ...
Jan's user avatar
  • 315
9 votes
6 answers
3k views

Is there any music source code for sound chips? [closed]

I’ll clarify what I mean. The sound chip (c64's SID, spectrum's Yamaha, etc.) is connected either to the input / output port, which will be reserved for the sound chip, or directly to the CPU data bus....
Alex's user avatar
  • 471
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

25 PIN sound/game ribbon cable

I'm trying to figure out to use onboard sound on a Matasonic MS6260S motherboard. There is a 25 Pin Connector located on the motherboard labeled as J2. The motherboard manual states to "Connect ...
boris's user avatar
  • 93
9 votes
5 answers
748 views

Getting Music Functioning for Raptor: Call of the Shadows (1994)

I can't get the music audio working for the 1994 version of Raptor. Does anyone know how I can remedy this? I'm not sure if this is the correct forum for this question, but here goes. I have an ...
Gorchestopher H's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
3k views

Was the output of the C64 SID chip 8 bit sound?

Was the output of the C64 SID chip 8 bit sound? I know that SID is not sample based, but instead generate its sound using sine waves and white noise. So is it correct to say that the audio ...
MTilsted's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes
2 answers
669 views

Could the Apple IIGS play any and all Amiga MOD files?

The Apple IIGS has a wavetable synthesis sound chip with dedicated 64 kilobytes of RAM. I assume the sound architecture dictates that samples have to be loaded into that dedicated RAM to be able to be ...
scrØllbær's user avatar
  • 1,109
7 votes
4 answers
803 views

Was the Music System for the Exidy Sorcerer as exceptional as I remember?

I am trying to remember about a bare-board sound card which plugged into the parallel port of an Exidy Sorcerer (circa 1980). The card and software ("Music System") was made by Arrington ...
RichF's user avatar
  • 9,336
7 votes
4 answers
920 views

What was the first PC/computer to have sound recording & playback support?

Sound playback and recording became mainstream on computers today, the most known introduction was around 1989-1991 with the release of windows 3.0 with Multimedia Extensions. However, what was the ...
hinamuyatutama's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
260 views

Open an RSRC "sound file" from a Mac OS 6/9 application

I have been looking in the files of this 90s Mac game MacSki, made by D. Cook. Using Infinite Mac emulator, I've been able to open it and make it work quite well (some keyboard issue, well). We obtain ...
Luc's user avatar
  • 241
7 votes
2 answers
622 views

Converting AC'97 to a standard that can be used by my Soundblaster

I currently enjoy using a Windows 98 PC I built using parts I got either for free or very cheap. One of those parts is a sligthtly modern case - the cheapest one I could find that has a 5.25" and ...
ioi-xd's user avatar
  • 209
6 votes
2 answers
849 views

When was beeping invented, in a user interface sense?

UPDATE: thanks all, lots of good discussion but I think this question is a bit too vague to be answerable. I'm casting my own close vote against it and will re-ask a more specific one. Specifically I ...
natevw's user avatar
  • 2,947
6 votes
1 answer
283 views

Commodore 64 sound seems to freeze at a high pitch if executed too soon after startup

I created this little sound driver for sound effects, it makes a classic "laser beam" sound you would hear in old arcade games. There's just one problem, and it's a bit of a strange one. I ...
puppydrum64's user avatar
  • 1,638
5 votes
2 answers
672 views

Is there any documentation for programming Microsoft Windows Sound System sound cards?

I'm programming my own sound mixing engine and drivers for MS-DOS, but I can't find any documentation for programming for Microsoft Windows Sound System interface sound cards. Was there any ...
knol's user avatar
  • 12k
5 votes
2 answers
673 views

Why did SAM on the Apple II use its own DAC?

From the comments on this question, the SAM on the Apple II seemed to use some proprietary hardware to produce the waveform. (I am not counting the option to produce a horrendous 1-bit PWM using the ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is sound generation on the Nintendo DS always clipped to 10 bits?

The Nintendo DS hardware has 16 audio channels that support 16-bit audio (PCM16) at a sample rate of 32,768 Hz. However, the mixer limits the output to 10 bits (-200h to 1FFh). From GBATEK: When ...
forest's user avatar
  • 2,029
5 votes
1 answer
346 views

SID, sampled sound and bad lines

The SID could play sampled sound by poking a click into the chip at an appropriate frequency, and some Commodore 64 games like Ghostbusters and Impossible Mission did this (though only for a few ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.1k
5 votes
1 answer
442 views

CPU speedup breaking sound compatibility

In the old days, it sometimes happened that a computer with a compatible but faster CPU, had problems running old games. For example, Sopwith was written for an 8088 PC; it was amusingly challenging ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.1k
5 votes
0 answers
228 views

How is the Genreal MIDI Soundbank file format structured?

Until today, you can download soundbanks for the Java Sound API from Oracle here. What surprises me is, that they are not hidden on an old subpage -- you find them freely accessible on their website ...
hefe's user avatar
  • 661
5 votes
0 answers
277 views

What was the first device to "beep" in lieu of tactile feedback to button presses?

I'm splitting this question off of When was beeping invented, in a user interface sense? because I think it's more answerable on its own and I suspect likely to still be computing-related. At some ...
natevw's user avatar
  • 2,947
4 votes
4 answers
595 views

What bit depth and sampling frequency could the BBC micro play back sampled sounds?

I have an archive of sample recordings with a sample playback program, the date and author in the BBC BASIC loader for the program is "(C) 1985 by DAVID J. HOSKINS" There are are about 10 ...
therobyouknow's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
703 views

Did any retro computers ship with the SP0256-AL2 speech chip or its equivalent?

The SP0256-AL2 Speech IC was a popular solution for text to speech translation but is now out of production. There where several other chips that entered the market but as far as I know did not have ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,479
4 votes
1 answer
980 views

SID to WAV converter that exports per channel separately

For a C64 SID project of mine (https://soundcloud.com/c64er) I was using an converter almost 10 years ago, but it is missing now with its name... I researched many sites, but no lucky. Is there any ...
Digerkam's user avatar
  • 311
4 votes
1 answer
205 views

Tandy 1000 TDYSPKR utility

I've seen reference to a TDYSPKR (.EXE or .COM?) tool that sets audio output options on the early Tandy 1000 series of computers (1000, 1000A, 1000SX, 1000TX, maybe others). Apparently it can toggle ...
craig65535's user avatar