SOUND BOARDS: ADVANCED GRAVIS
UltraSound Series

Last update: 12/26/97

Phone:
800-663-8558, 604-431-5020
Fax:
604-431-5155
BBS:
604-431-5927
e-mail:
os2.driver@gravis.com for Gravis, rjm@io.org for Robert Manley
Web:
http://www.gravis.com (Gravis), http://www.io.org/~rjm (Robert Manley), http://www.polsci.wvu.edu/sander/ (Sander van Leeuwen)

The Gravis boards get essentially no support from Gravis itself, aside from an ancient and incomplete driver that was once released for some now-discontinued boards (see below). Fortunately, shareware drivers, known as "the Manley drivers," exist, and are currently being maintained by Sander van Leeuwen. These drivers work with most or all of the boards on this page, with the possible exception of the GUS Extreme.

People interested in GUS boards will have to look elsewhere or to the used market, unfortunately, since Gravis has announced that they're getting out of the sound card market. At the moment (December, 1997), the Core Dynamics DynaSonix 3-D board is still available, and uses the same Interwave chipset as the GUS PnP, so die-hard Gravis lovers might look into that. Also, I've heard that the manufacturer of the GUS Extreme is selling the board under their own name, though I don't have more information than that.


UltraSound series:
Mixerless GUS, GUS Classic, and GUS Max

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
ICS GF1, CS4231
CD-ROM:
none (GUS)/proprietary (GUS Max: Sony, Mitsumi, Panasonic)
Street price:
N/A (Discontinued)
OS/2 Drivers:
Available from Gravis, but limited; or US$30 shareware from Robert Manley
Drivers from:
BBS, OS/2 ftp: grav031a.zip, ultra110.zip
Comments:
Gravis has "released alpha-level" drivers (an oxymoron), and judging by the documentation, they're OK for OS/2-only use, but DOS (and presumably Windows) programs will cause problems. Robert Manley has released shareware drivers that reportedly work well for OS/2 (.WAV and MIDI playback, but not recording), DOS programs (GUS "native" mode only), and Windows MIDI (after registration), but not Windows .WAV-file. Sander van Leeuwen, the current Manley driver maintainer, is reportedly working on Win-OS/2 drivers, but I have no information on projected release dates for this. There's a beta version of the 1.20-level drivers available that support recording (including VTD in Warp 4.0, even on the older boards that support only 8-bit recording). The board itself is reported to produce quite good sound. Note that this board does not use an MPU-401 hardware interface for wavetable sound, unlike most wavetable boards. These boards support full duplex operation, but the older mixerless GUSes will record whatever is played back, and some board will only perform full duplex when the input and output streams use the same sample rate.

UltraSound series:
GUS PnP and PnP Pro

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
AMD Interwave
CD-ROM:
??
Street price:
$125-$200 (higher prices for Pro version)
OS/2 Drivers:
Available, in beta as of 5/26/97 (US$30 shareware)
Drivers from:
http://www.polsci.wvu.edu/sander/, http://www.io.org/~rjm
Comments:
These boards from Gravis utilize the AMD InterWave chipset, which is supported in OS/2 only by the shareware Manley drivers. These drivers support most of the features one would expect, including both recording and playback of digital audio (.WAV) files, Warp 4.0's VTD features, and wavetable playback (but only using samples loaded from disk, which requires a board with 1-2MB of RAM to work well, so users of these boards may want to invest in some on-board RAM). Unlike earlier GUS boards, the Windows GUS PnP drivers (version 1.0) work under OS/2, so you get full Windows support (MIDI and .WAV file) with the PnP models, though some Windows programs may not exit completely when the drivers are loaded, leading to corrupted OS/2 MIDI file playback. The recently-released 2.0 Windows drivers reportedly use VxDs, and so do not work under Win-OS/2, however. Sander van Leeuwen, the current maintainer of the Manley drivers, says he's working on a Win-OS/2 driver for all GUS boards, but this is not yet finished. DOS programs that support the GUS will work in OS/2, but there's no DOS SoundBlaster emulation from OS/2. These boards also support full duplex operation. It's possible to get these boards running with the older 1.10-level Manley drivers, but only by using the IWINIT utility that comes with the board to set them up to emulate the older GUS boards. The only differences between the PnP and the PnP Pro are that the latter includes 512kB of RAM and a microphone. Given the current pricing of RAM, however, and the need for more to get wavetable sound under OS/2, the non-Pro version sounds like a better deal to me, given a typical $40 price difference between the two models.

Gravis UltraSound Extreme

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
ICS GF1 and ESS 1688
CD-ROM:
??
Street price:
???
OS/2 Drivers:
Uncertain
Drivers from:
http://www.polsci.wvu.edu/sander/, http://www.io.org/~rjm, http://www.esstech.com/techsupp/updates/intro_ud.htm
Comments:
This board is a hybrid of the older pre-InterWave GUS and an ESS-based design. I've heard speculation that the board may work with either or both of the ESS or Manley GUS drivers, but I've heard no firm word on either. If you try one of these and have problems with the Manley drivers, send e-mail to Sander van Leeuwen and he'll try to get the Manley drivers working with it, if you can help by providing him with information he'd need. There's a web page devoted to the Extreme at http://home.dti.net/domingue/extreme.html.

Gravis ACE

Type:
Wavetable only
Chipset:
ICS GF1 (??)
CD-ROM:
??
Street price:
???
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
Drivers from:
http://www.polsci.wvu.edu/sander/, http://www.io.org/~rjm
Comments:
This is a wavetable-only sound board intended to supplement an FM synthesis board like a SoundBlaster 16 or any of the numerous inexpensive boards based on OPTi, ESS, or Crystal Semiconductor chipsets. This board is not a daughterboard, though; it's a separate ISA board, and so doesn't depend on support from the primary sound card. Unlike other standalone wavetable board, this one can also play back, though not record, digital audio (.WAV files); it's essentially a mixerless GUS without audio inputs. Also unlike other standalone wavetable boards, this one doesn't use an MPU-401 interface; instead, it works with the Manley OS/2 drivers to produce wavetable sound. I don't have any specific information or tips on getting it working, though.

Copyright © 1996, 1997, Rod Smith, rodsmith@rodsbooks.com
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