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Finding a PCI sound card that would not only work under OS/2 but that had WIN/OS2
support has been a challenge. My current Warp box has only two ISA slots and they
were dedicated before I built it. I had thought that the promised
Crystalizer Tidalwave128 PCI sound card would be my solution but it has not yet
come to market.
While surfing my list of computer vendors recently, I came across a sound card
simply labeled "Crystal PCI sound card." A quick check at Crystal's site
revealed only one PCI audio chipset (CS4280) and there were OS/2 drivers.
So, with a listed price of $12.00 U.S., I ordered it. Upon arrival, its small physical
size amazed me.
The box states that it is an ONSpeed CS4280 Advanced PCI, Wavetable, Directsound
Accelerator. This is a full-duplex, 64 voice polyphonic wavetable card.
A CD-ROM, with Windows and OS/2 Warp3 drivers, came with the card but no hard copy
documentation was enclosed. I had downloaded the most current OS/2 driver
on my initial inspection of the Crystal site and had familiarized myself with the
My OS/2 (aka merlin) system consists of:
The driver file was unzipped to a "temporary" directory (it will also
fit on a floppy disc) and, as stated in the readme, MINSTAL (Multimedia
Install) was run pointing to the "temp" directory.
Up to this point, everything had gone well, maybe too well. Upon rebooting, I
was presented with the ominous TRAP 0008. For those that have not ever
seen this, it is one of those black screen "system halted, call your service
rep" type of errors. I performed the ol' Vulcan Nerve Pinch (Ctrl-Alt-Del)
and booted to my BootOS2 utility partition. From there I "rem'd" (remarked)
out the lines to the Warp config.sys file that the Crystal installation had added,
ran chkdsk /f on that partition, and rebooted.
The Crystal readme file states:
It is not normally necessary, but should it become necessary to start from
the beginning, the OS/2 Multimedia subsystem MMPM/2) can be deleted and reinstalled
without impacting the rest of the installed system.
a) ERASE \MMOS2 and all subdirectories (this
removes OS/2 multimedia support) Some files
won't delete, this is okay.
b) Use OS/2 selective install to re-install OS/2
multimedia support. It may auto-detect an
audio device. You should override the
auto-detection to remove the detected device.
When correct, the installation panel will have
no audio devices listed.
c) Complete selective installation and reboot
d) You are now prepared to use this diskette to
install Crystal drivers.
After rebooting, I repeated the procedure for installing the drivers. So far,
so good. Time to reboot and see if this sucker works. Shutdown... BAM! Trap0008
AGAIN! I thought, "this is weird... never had a Trap anything at shutdown.
Oh well, what the heck, let's see what happens." Hard reset. Normal bootup...
YES, system startup sound! My grin filled the room.
Can I listen to CD's? Slapped in some Tangerine Dream... YES, and it sounds KILLER
with those Altec's!
But what about WIN/OS2 support? The readme says I'll get it. Time to
open a Full-screen WIN/OS2 session... YES, Windows startup audio!
Now, can I get RealAudio5 to work? After all, that is primarily why the WIN/OS2
support is needed. The Windows Video 1.1e run-time (required by RA) had already
been installed so all I should have to do is install RA from a WIN/OS2 window.
After installation of RA5 all of the test samples play but it seems that most RA
capable sites are now requiring G2. The only platforms that are supported
by G2 are WindowsXX and Mac. Also, Netscape 2.02 and Communicator 4.61 seem
to be having a problem with running RA as a helper application but I am trying to
exterminate that bug.
Conclusion: While I have not put this card through any kind of exhaustive testing,
I am very pleased so far. A PCI sound card with WIN/OS2 support for $27.00 ($12.00
for the card and $15.00 s/h & insurance) seemed almost too good to be true.
All the vendors that I had talked to about the Tidalwave128 wanted about $140.00
plus s/h! Now I can listen to CD's, wave & midi files - both from within
the system and in Netscape, as well as all the other formats that they both support.
My confidence also runs high that I will be able to use most, if not all, of the
audio plug-ins successfully too. Overall, I would give this card an A-.
Additionally, no sooner than the card had been installed than Lesha Bogdanowthe
released the LBMixer, as free software distributed under GNU General Public License.
This also works with this card (I installed it into the MMOS2 directory).
So now there is a level mixer for Crystal sound cards using the 2.x and up drivers.
Here is a screenshot taken with PMView 1.05:
As you can see, there are several controls on the screen. Each has one
or two sliders and up to three checkboxes.
Sliders set volume (left/right channels if there are two sliders). If "Both"
is checked, moving one slider changes both channels. The "Mute"
checkbox kills input/output control for that device. The "Lock"
checkbox allows the LBMixer to override MMOS2 per stream controls, telling MMOS2
that audio control is done by the mixer rather than applications. Lesha suggests
keeping all the unused inputs muted to minimize the noise level.
A Paradise Aureal Vortex1 PCI sound card was my old sound card. While Aureal's
OS/2 drivers worked, there was no WIN/OS2 support. As an aside, this same Crystal
CS4280 chip is used in some other PCI sound cards. I do not know if they work under
OS/2 or not, and Crystal is quick to tell you to check the manufacturers site for
Where the card was purchased: PCBroker
Crystal Semiconductor - http://www.crystal.com/
Crystal Audio Drivers - http://www.cirrus.com/drivers/audiodrv/:
Info from Crystal on the CS4280 chipset - http://www.cirrus.com/products/overviews/cs4280.html
Aureal's site - http://www.aureal.com/
LBMix - http://freebyte.ml.org/~boga/OS2Programs.html: (site may be down; file is also on hobbes - ftp://hobbes.nmsu.edu/pub/os2/apps/mmedia/util/mixers/lbcsmix100.zip)
PMView - http://www.pmview.com/:
Note: I can find no website for ONSpeed.