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Early Soundblaster Live Iyonix driver released

Published: 31st Jul 2007, 20:41:09 | Permalink | Printable

This is a journey into sound

An SB cardPCITV author Simon Wilson has released an early version of a Soundblaster Live driver for the Iyonix platform. The software can play sound through a Live 5.1 PCI card and can be modified to support Audigy devices. It's believed the project will bring a new level of audio quality to the RISC OS 5 computer.

Simon created the RISC OS driver by porting the open source EMU10K1 driver software for Linux. It's hoped a future version will also support the card's input mixer, recording features and MIDI support. The software is being released for free with source code.

Simon said: "Many users, including myself, reported a crackling problem with the on-board Iyonix audio, which occurs on sounds that are high pitched, or high in volume. The Soundblaster Live card, being a dedicated audio board, does not suffer from these problems.

"The sound quality is amazing, and makes listening to music on RISC OS enjoyable again."

The finished driver will be a module, possibly working as a SoundDMA replacement, and will integrate with the RISC OS sound system transparently, according to Simon who is being given a helping hand by Aemulor author Adrian Lees.

• This early version is fixed to play 16bit linear stereo samples, such as standard Windows .wav files. It can be run from a taskwindow using the command sblive_play <filename>. The taskwindow should be given as much memory as the size of the sample file plus a couple of extra megabytes. The original SB Live cards will not fit in the Iyonix.


Simon's audio driver website - more information to be published later All about the Soundblaster Live

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nice one simon :-D

very very cool

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis on 31/7/07 10:41PM
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Seconded. I must admit that I've never had a problem with sound on the Iyonix, primarily -- I suspect -- because my ears just aren't up to noticing any problems. But it might also be a case of not knowing what I've been missing.

So this, along with Liquid Silicon's MIDI driver work, show really exciting audio developments for RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 1/8/07 1:12AM
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Great news. It should offer higher quality audio input and be free from the restriction of sampling at 48KHz to avoid dropped samples on the Iyonix.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 1/8/07 8:52AM
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What software is there that could make use of the recording facility?

You see, this is exactly what I've been holding out for with RISC OS rather than buying a PC- the ability to record and multitrack.

What are the realistic possibilities here?

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 1/8/07 7:00PM
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I'd agree with the other contributors - nicely done Simon !

flypig>As David Ruck pointed out apparently it's when you choose samples other than 48KHz there can be problems (dropped samples). 48KHz is ok for "pro" work - in the sense that that's what DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and DVD use. Trouble is to burn to CD requires a sample rate of 44.1KHz. Now you *can* sample at 48KHz and resample it to 44.1KHz in software - but that's a bit more complicated (and takes a little time) when it would be preferable to simply record at 44.1KHz and have the wav file in a form that can directly be burnt.

This card and the software port Simon has done holds out that possibility.

It'll also mean that this will probably give a noticeable improvement in sound recording quality over all other existing RISC OS sound capture solutions - good news indeed.

PS: Will S/PDIF out be supported by this development? (If so I have that "Christmas coming early" feeling coming on....)

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 1/8/07 10:19PM
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Yes, I believe the card can natively record at 48 and 44.1KHz, and the code to do that has already been ported - I just need to test it. Theoretically, any software could record from the driver, but at the very least I will provide an application to do the recording that saves the file out as a regular 16-bit linear Wave.

Yes, I will be attempting to enable S/PDIF. I will test this by recording onto a MiniDisc recorder.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 1/8/07 10:38PM
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Could you possibly ensure that the recording multitasks to allow simultaneous playback of another track (whatever the source e.g. MP3, wav)? That would put the whole package far above anything we have at the moment.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 1/8/07 11:03PM
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ksattic wrote>"Yes, I will be attempting to enable S/PDIF. I will test this by recording onto a MiniDisc recorder."

That's great, thanks for the quick reply Simon.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 1/8/07 11:36PM
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AW: it will definitely multitask, but the part I don't know is whether the hardware supports recording at the same time as playing. I think it does, though.

Keep getting a "Nothing to be done" error from Drobe - adding lines seems to help.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 1/8/07 11:58PM
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It would be very useful if this project was extended to the Omega which still suffers from temperamental sound support and comes as standard with a SoundBlaster compatible card.

 is a RISC OS UserIanK on 2/8/07 1:21AM
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Ian: did anyone ever get PCITV working on the Omega? If not, and there was a problem with DMA memory transfers, then the SBLive port will have the same problem. If not, then it may be able to be ported.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 2/8/07 7:49AM
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@Simon: I checked your website for contact details, but could not find any, so I'm trying it here. I have two Omega computers (minus the cases, wich I used for other computers) in the loft at my place in Germany. If you need one for testing PCI card drivers or other software on them, I could send you one when I get back to Germany for a few weeks in Oktober. I'm currently in New Zealand.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 2/8/07 12:50PM
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Excellent news.

It's a shame Castle never seemed to come up with a fix for the Iyonix audio problems, so this is very welcome news which, when ready, will indeed bring a new level of audio quality to the Iyonix.

Incidentally, does anyone know how the A9home currently performs in this regard? I think it also features a line or mic input, does that work?

flypig: Liquid Silicon's MIDI driver work is good news, but as far as I know there is still a key part missing - the means to connect to external MIDI hardware. In practice, this means a USB MIDI interface driver. I do think Alan's working on that, though.

AW: Only very recently a new version of SampleEd was released. As far as I know, it's the only RISC OS audio sampling and editing software left which is still actively developed. It's also the most advanced available for RISC OS, with support for LADSPA plug-ins. See here - [link]

AMS: "It'll also mean that this will probably give a noticeable improvement in sound recording quality over all other existing RISC OS sound capture solutions - good news indeed."

Yes, though I should say there's also the DMI50 and Irlam i16 podules for Risc PC's, where the latter can even record digitally through S/PDIF. Both cards support DAT level audio recording.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 2/8/07 1:23PM
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Hegelia- are you sure this is sampling software? It looks like audio processing software to me. Thanks for the link, I was unaware about this but I think it is something that would be used downstream of recording. What I'm interested in is recording /over/ a playing track or tracks.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 2/8/07 6:43PM
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AW: You're absolutely right, this is an audio editor/processor... :)

Well, from reading the above it looks like Simon (ksattic) intends to provide an app to record from the card's audio input. You could then use SampleEd to add tracks, though I'm not sure how the whole system will perform while overdubbing live...

The software I use to record through my Irlam i16 card on my Risc PC seems to have the functionality you seek, but I'm afraid it's designed for use with the i16 and I've never tried that particular function! I record my tracks to an outboard multitrack recorder, edit/arrange/mix/master them there and only then sample the song into the Risc PC for CD burning.

I think Audacity would probably suit you, but unfortunately it's not (yet) available for RISC OS. Other than that, I'd recommend you get a multi-track recorder! They are not very expensive anymore, have excellent audio quality, are dedicated to the task and usually feature USB ports to connect to a computer for file transfer.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 2/8/07 7:35PM
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Yes, I have a basic digital multitrack but what I like about the PC-based multitrack software is that you can cut and copy phrases and change things so much more easily like the the drum track.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 2/8/07 7:43PM
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In Reply to AW

What about StudioSound now a free and being 32bitted and as mentioned SampleED.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 2/8/07 8:00PM
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In Reply to ksattic:

Unfortunately PCITV still doesn't work while I suspect this to be due in some way to DMA handling. I don't think using DMA is necessarily a lost cause as the Omega's network card also uses it with no apparent ill effects.

 is a RISC OS UserIanK on 2/8/07 9:52PM
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In reply to JGZimmerle:

I would be more than happy to support your kind offer to Simon in any way I can. I am willing to provide case etc or anything else it may require.

 is a RISC OS UserIanK on 2/8/07 10:24PM
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The problem with both is that they are processing programs as I said bluenose. At present with ROS I'd need to record via a multitrack (for the drum track/metronone), sample it in with a parallel port sampler and then try out SampleED. This is quite laborious. I haven't looked at sampleED yet so am not sure if it can cut and re-arrange.

However, Studiosound I believe can do this but when I tried it, it kept crashing on RISC OS 4 so that's no good.

 is a RISC OS UserAW on 3/8/07 2:58PM
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heglia: fixes are possible if the underlying chips and pcb permit it.. not so for the 1535 audio ..

 is a RISC OS Userjb on 3/8/07 3:15PM
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Julian, Ian, I would be very pleased to help with this, and appreciate the offer. Since I live in the USA, it may be easier to send a minimal set of parts (motherboard, any required expansion cards, disc image), and I can put everything into a case here. My email address can be found at the bottom right of [link]

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 3/8/07 4:25PM
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This is just the best news. I was about to ebay off my SB !Live 5.1 card about a month ago, because is was only gathering dust. Now hopefully, there is a new home for it in my Iyonix. I've often felt the Iyonix's on-board audio to be a bit rough at high pitch, or volume, but then the SARisc PC I have also has problems with it's Stereo Jack (crakles bad when subjected to even the slightest vibration - Such as a 100Watt speaker sat at each end of the desk). While I have loved the idea of RiscOS being able to handle MP3's, I still use WinXP to handle it for the Digital Audio.

I have to ask, but for those who have the benifit of both the Iyonix and a Windows PC side by side, does the Iyonix seem abit Clinical, i.e. something lacking, such as DSP, or some sort of depth. I mean the sound is good on the Iyonix, no question, but I do feel it's a bit lacking somewhere.

 is a RISC OS UserCrazyRisc on 3/8/07 6:03PM
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My SBLive driver does not use the DSP at all, it delivers a clean audio signal. You can certainly adjust the bass or treble (when the driver is complete), or perhaps program the DSP with extra software. If it seems clinical, then it is possible your speakers do not sound good with uncoloured input signals. Have you got a good pair of headphones you can use to hear the difference? I listened to the audio quality vs my MacBook Pro and the on-board Iyonix audio, and it beat both hands down (using good headphones and speakers).

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 3/8/07 6:13PM
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In Reply to ksattic: I have a Yamaha 5.1 Amp, with a modist set of Mission speakers (Modist for the price/size of room that is). I also have a Good pair of Sennheiser headphones. The audio does sound crisp, but I just feel it lacks depth. Maybe its the extra Software DSP created by Winamp on the PC that makes it sound a bit more lively. I will admit it is hard to tell apart.

 is a RISC OS UserCrazyRisc on 3/8/07 8:34PM
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Add-on to my pervious post: Now that I've turned off the DSP on the PC, and actually listened through headphones, the Iyonix sounds the same.

 is a RISC OS UserCrazyRisc on 4/8/07 5:28AM
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CrazyRisc>"I've turned off the DSP on the PC, and actually listened through headphones, the Iyonix sounds the same."

Unless you listen to the sound *without any colouration* it's virtually impossible to come to a definitive conclusion about what sounds better. Your ear/brain gets used to the colouration and then when presented with something that *isn't* similarly coloured perceives it as "different". Anyone with a "loudness" button on their AMP will know what I mean. Turn it on (at anything other than low volume levels as it's intended) and things get bassey and trebley. After a while your brain gets accustomed to it and it sounds "normal" - turn it *off* at that point and the music becomes "lifeless" lacking base/treble and punch.

The DSP could be shaping the sound - boosting treble/base adding delays and reverb and all sorts of frankly undesireable stuff. Yes it adds something - but something that would better not being there (IMHO). Doing what you've done - a direct A/B comparison with no colouration is the best way of doing it.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 5/8/07 11:06AM
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Well, I just ordered an SBLive 5.1 card on eBay this weekend, so I look forward to being able to try it and the drivers soon.

 is a RISC OS Userdavehigton on 6/8/07 1:31PM
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Can someone help with info about the correct compatible pci cards.

I have checked the Creative Labs web site which only has only one product called "Live!", a 24-bit externel item.

Most of the pci cards are called "X-Fi".

Are all the model of cards I might use now no longer manufactured?

If someone could quote some suitable pci card model names here, then I could check what old stock is still available from resellers.

Thanks for any info.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 6/8/07 5:23PM
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SB0220 SBLive! 5.1 3.3V PCI card

 is a RISC OS Useradrianl on 6/8/07 11:47PM
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I have seen variants called SB0100 which are also 3.3V compatible and are also described as having an "EMU-10K1" processor. Any idea if those will also work?

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 07/08/07 4:40PM
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From a lead on TIB, I have just bought 2 used "Creative SB Live 5.1 Digital Audio Card SB0220" on eBay.

If your interested look at Item No. 120147920055, which is Buy Now at GBP4.95, with postage GBP2.25, for the next 2 days. They currently have another 79 available.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 07/08/07 4:44PM
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The soundcard in my Linux machine is an Audigy 1 (SB0090) and is using a driver called "EMU10K1_Audigy". How much extra work would it be to get this card going? It's got some nice features (i.e. 24-bit playback & recording).

 is a RISC OS Usertimephoenix on 13/08/07 11:53AM
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Got my 2 used "Creative SB Live 5.1 Digital Audio Card SB0220" delivered today.

They are dual slotted, so I assume they should operate with either voltage.

Now to test them to ensure they work.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 13/08/07 8:10PM
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