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72 votes
Accepted

How does the CD audio connector work?

The audio outputs connect to a corresponding input on sound cards (or motherboards); see for example the “CD IN” connector at the top of this Sound Blaster Pro and the “CD_SPDIF” connector at the top ...
Stephen Kitt's user avatar
70 votes
Accepted

How did musicians acquire samples for tracker music (MOD, S3M, XM and the like)?

I composed a small number of Amiga tracker modules at around the turn of the 1990s, one of which even enjoyed some popularity. These songs were made, first and foremost, for my personal amusement — ...
Jukka Aho's user avatar
  • 2,062
67 votes
Accepted

Why was video, audio and picture compression the poorest when storage space was the costliest?

TL;DR Computer processing power/speed/cost and storage density/cost have been moving at roughly the same pace for 50+ years. There are of course variants, where either CPU speed has increased much ...
manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact's user avatar
50 votes
Accepted

How did voice dialing work in old Nokia phones?

I did basic voice recognition on an Atari ST (8MHz 68000, 8-bit mono sampling1). If it could be done on a 1985 desktop2 then it should be no problem for an early naughties cell-phone3. IIRC4, the ...
Alex Hajnal's user avatar
  • 9,350
48 votes
Accepted

Loading ZX Spectrum tape audio in a post-cassette world

If (and only if) your audio player is battery powered, and your Spectrum is the 48K or 128K toastrack model, try the following procedure, intended to boost the volume of your wave signal, as seen by ...
mcleod_ideafix's user avatar
42 votes

Why was video, audio and picture compression the poorest when storage space was the costliest?

You mean beside that all these algorithms had to be designed, implemented, rolled out and accepted first? Which of course would only happen as a need was developed to use them? Well, that may leave ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 224k
32 votes
Accepted

Was it possible to listen to music and work on old PCs? When was it possible to for the first time?

In theory that would have been possible from the very start. After all, music doesn't need much bandwidth (*1), especially when using synthesized form like with a sound chip such as the SID. In ...
Raffzahn's user avatar
  • 224k
32 votes

How did musicians acquire samples for tracker music (MOD, S3M, XM and the like)?

The four main ways were: you knew someone with the sampling card or sampler (many of samplers had the capability to sample sound in CD quality and save it to floppy disk). you bought some kind of &...
Martin Maly's user avatar
  • 5,575
32 votes

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

suppose it's possible that the PlayStation audio format does have the required instruments, and then they added the few repeated audio samples on top of that in the game engine There are no ...
hobbs's user avatar
  • 5,093
31 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

Superior Software's "Speech" was a pure software speech synthesizer that ran on the BBC Micro (which used a 2MHz 6502A processor, so had slightly more raw processing power than typical 8-bit ...
occipita's user avatar
  • 2,367
31 votes
Accepted

What MIDI sound font does mGBA use?

It doesn’t. The sound hardware on the Game Boy Advance is relatively primitive. Inherited from the original Game Boy, there is a pair of square-wave generators, a white noise generator, and a 4-bit ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
25 votes

Was it possible to listen to music and work on old PCs? When was it possible to for the first time?

On the generic early-nineties x86 systems I'm familiar with at least, redbook CD audio playback on IDE CD-ROM drives is asynchronous and autonomous. The drive would connect to the sound card through a ...
Arc's user avatar
  • 311
25 votes
Accepted

Sound driver for DOS or Windows 3.x that used the PC speaker?

It was a DOS-Windows 3.x and DOS-Windows 9x/ME thing. It was a driver named speaker.drv, written by Microsoft. It turned off interrupts for significant periods of time, which caused I/O problems ...
JdeBP's user avatar
  • 2,288
24 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

First, there is a major caveat. Most of the iconic early voice synthesizers were not purely software systems. For example, the classic DECTalk system, famously the voice of the late Stephen Hawking, ...
RETRAC's user avatar
  • 13.7k
23 votes

What is the relationship between Amiga audio and the MOD music file format?

MOD is the file extension for SoundTracker modules. SoundTracker and its successors (NoiseTracker and ProTracker predominantly, although there are other derivatives) are sequencers, and load and save ...
Richard Downer's user avatar
23 votes

Why was video, audio and picture compression the poorest when storage space was the costliest?

Compression == Expensive To get an idea of what was considered an acceptable cost for compression, you should take a look at the PCX format, which was common for games and graphics programs of the DOS ...
Lawnmower Man's user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

How was 8-channel audio achieved on Amiga?

According to the very same link you provided: To perform this feat, Oktalyzer loaded eight channels in memory, mixed them in real time down to four channels, and sent the result to the Amiga ...
mcleod_ideafix's user avatar
22 votes

How could Amiga computers play 14 bit sound?

As the sound channels had independent linear 64-step volume control (6 bits + mute setting), by calibration and splitting sample bits for one 14bit waveform across two channels, two-channel 14bit (...
nsandersen's user avatar
  • 1,753
22 votes

How does the CD audio connector work?

Just wanted to add a little color and clarity for those that weren't here in the late 80s / early 90s, or weren't (that) into computers: There's a big distinction to make between a CD-ROM drive that ...
SirNickity's user avatar
21 votes

Role of the Z80 co-processor in GBA games

None of the GameBoy series machine has a Z80, but instead a Sharp LR35902, which runs a "GBZ80" instruction set, which is if I'm not mistaking similar but incompatible with the genuine Z80, as it ...
Bregalad's user avatar
  • 1,856
21 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

There existed a Russian text-to-speech program written for the Elektronika BK-0010 in the early 1980s, whose length was 023500 bytes == 10048, mentioned in a list of application programs for the BK-...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.3k
20 votes

Loading ZX Spectrum tape audio in a post-cassette world

I've confirmed that mcleod_ideafix's method is reliable for regular tape images. Here is a shell script to do (effectively) the same thing: #!/bin/bash # wav2differential.sh - convert mono game tape ...
scruss's user avatar
  • 21.7k
20 votes

How did musicians acquire samples for tracker music (MOD, S3M, XM and the like)?

Did they really plug a synthesizer's audio output into a line input of a sound card and digitize the analog sound? But were audio cards of the early 90s at all capable of capturing analog audio at ...
Jean-François Fabre's user avatar
20 votes

Is this Votan voice assistant from 1984 a real system?

There were definitely issues of scale of hardware available, but in the fall of 1977, I think it was, I got my Commodore Pet 32kB., the B version had the full-sized ("business") keyboard. I ...
Richard T's user avatar
  • 847
19 votes

Why did keygens play music?

Short answer: It's a holdover from the Warez scene, and more specifically around the time of the Commodore Amiga when pirates had ready access to music software. Back in the day (and less often ...
GGMG-he-him's user avatar
18 votes

How to decode an audio file which contains an MSX BASIC program?

You need to use OpenMSX, and get the system ROMs for the machine in question. Then run OpenMSX, set the machine to the FS-A1WSX. There's a little menu button at the top left of the OpenMSX window. In ...
Alan B's user avatar
  • 4,620
17 votes

Is there any text to speech program that will run on an 8- or 16-bit CPU?

Is the 68000 a 16-bit CPU? :) To some it is, and therefore Say, from 1985, for the Commodore Amiga counts. It can be found on the Workbench disk. For more reading, look up the narrator.device ...
knol's user avatar
  • 12.1k
16 votes
Accepted

Role of the Z80 co-processor in GBA games

The Wikipedia comment is misleading. The Game Boy CPU has several components in one chip, including the Z80-alike CPU core and a sound generator among others. These components may all be in the same ...
raisin-wrangler's user avatar
16 votes
Accepted

Why was the audio output of the SID6581 so variable between chips?

SID6851 specification quotes: Cut-off frequency variation may occur from chip to chip due to process variations, and power supply voltage. Capacitor values and voltage regulation can ...
Kuba Tyszko's user avatar
  • 2,648

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