SOUND BOARDS: CREATIVE LABS
SoundBlaster Series

Last update: 12/26/97

Phone:
800-998-5227 (customer assistance), 800-998-1000 (customer service), 405-742-6622 (automated tech support), 405-742-6655 (tech support)
Fax:
405-742-6633
BBS:
405-742-6660
e-mail:
72662.1602@compuserve.com
Web:
www.creaf.com (Creative Labs); www.ionet.net/~colin/awe32.html (AWE32 web page)

In 1997, Creative Labs announced that it was dropping OS/2 support. Since then, I've encountered very contradictory rumors and information. Creative's original announcement remains on their web site (try the above link to see if it's still there); but another page at Creative says they "support... many of [their] products in the OS/2 operating system" -- only to include a link to their announcement of dropped support. On the unofficial side, the web page www.ionet.net/~colin/awe32.html indicates that Creative has reversed its decision to drop OS/2 support, and this page has some very useful links to OS/2 SoundBlaster-series drivers. What's the truth? I haven't the foggiest. At the very least, Creative is guilty of poor web page management. At worst, they've dropped OS/2 support. Note that it's also possible that some division of Creative has picked up the OS/2 cause, but that Creative as a whole hasn't.

I've heard that the Creative Labs drivers may set the CD audio input's volume to 0 by default, which makes hooking up a CD-ROM's audio output a perplexing experience. Check the CWAUDIOS.SYS driver line in your CONFIG.SYS for "0" values if you're having problems with this.

Win-OS/2 support for these products is another matter. I've received word that the latest Windows drivers for Creative Labs products don't work under Win-OS/2, and older versions (if you can find them) may not install correctly. OS/2's Win-OS/2 subsystem does include working drivers, but if you try "upgrading" them, it could be a problem recovering working drivers.


SoundBlaster 8-bit

Type:
FM synthesis
Chipset:
Proprietary (?), Yamaha OPL2 (?)
Street price:
~$40 (if available)
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
CD-ROM:
None
Drivers from:
OS/2 box, OS/2 ftp, ftp.creaf.com, BBS
Comments:
These are well-supported under OS/2, and are "the" standard for DOS games. These are well-supported but uninspired cards by today's standards. The "Value Edition" 8-bit boards are mono; the "Pro" models are stereo. Very old versions of these boards may not work with the OS/2 drivers. I experienced assorted minor problems with an 8-bit SoundBlaster, but most people report few or no problems with these cards. Creative Labs is reportedly doing little or no development on these older boards. Also, Merlin's Voice Type Dictation will not work with these 8-bit boards.

SoundBlaster 16 series

Type:
FM synthesis
Chipset:
Proprietary or Vibra-16, Yamaha OPL3
Street price:
$60-$150+
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
CD-ROM:
Variable; depends on specific model
Drivers from:
OS/2 box, OS/2 ftp, ftp.creaf.com, BBS
Comments:
These are well-supported under OS/2, and are "the" standard for DOS games. These are well-supported but uninspired cards by today's standards. The latest boards in this series use the Vibra-16 chipset and PnP technology, the latter of which seems to cause problems with some older motherboards under OS/2.

SoundBlaster AWE32 & AWE32 Value Edition

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
E-mu 8000, Yamaha OPL3
CD-ROM:
Proprietary (Sony, Panasonic, Mitsumi)
Street price:
Discontinued
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
Drivers from:
OS/2 box, OS/2 ftp, ftp.creaf.com, BBS, http://www.creaf.com/wwwnew/tech/ftp/ftp-beta.html
Comments:
Similar comments as for the SoundBlaster FM synthesis boards. Note that these boards do not use an MPU-401 interface in hardware for wavetable support, unlike most wavetable boards. I've seen reports that the DOS General MIDI support for this board doesn't work under OS/2, so if you've got DOS games or programs which rely upon this, you might want to look elsewhere. Some versions of the drivers reportedly have problems with MIDI tempo control.

SoundBlaster 32 & AWE32 PnP

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
E-mu 8000 (?), Vibra-16, Yamaha OPL3 (?)
CD-ROM:
IDE (at least for some)
Street price:
~$75-$250 (lower prices may be clearance items; higher may be outdated)
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
Drivers from:
OS/2 box, OS/2 ftp, ftp.creaf.com, BBS, http://www.creaf.com/wwwnew/tech/ftp/ftp-beta.html
Comments:
Similar comments as for the SB AWE32 series boards, but these products use the Vibra-16 chipset and are PnP-enabled. They may thus have problems under OS/2 on some older motherboards, but are well-supported otherwise.

SoundBlaster AWE64

Type:
Wavetable
Chipset:
??
CD-ROM:
IDE (??)
Street price:
??
OS/2 Drivers:
Unavailable
Drivers from:
--
Comments:
This board is a hardware update to the AWE32 and related products. There are reportedly drivers available at www.ionet.net/~colin/awe32.html, but I admit I haven't been following developments with these very closely.

PhoneBlaster series

Type:
FM Synthesis
Chipset:
Vibra 16; Rockwell (for modem functions)
CD-ROM:
??
Street price:
~$200 for Phone Blaster
OS/2 Drivers:
Available
Drivers from:
OS/2 box, OS/2 ftp, ftp.creaf.com, BBS
Comments:
The fax and voice-mail software is written for Windows, and Creative Labs says they do not support it under OS/2, so caveat emptor in this respect. They say the modem features work fine under OS/2, however. It's possible that an OS/2 voicemail program for Rockwell chipsets would work with this board, but I've seen no reports one way or the other on this.

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