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The Egg
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:51 am

Further inspection reveals that the Am5x86 was used on standard 486 boards, the newest being Socket 3.  I can tell you that we never owned a VESA videocard, and only had a single ISA SVGA card (used in 286/386's).  Knowing that I did a fair amount of gaming on it, this means I must have been using PCI, likely on a very late 486 board (since it was already well into the Pentium era).
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:06 pm

The Egg wrote:
Krogoth wrote:
The Egg wrote:
Now I'm wondering....what's the most modern OS capable of running on a 486, assuming you could get enough RAM into it?  I know that I had XP running on a few machines that had no business running it.


Does the 486 have PCI or VLB buses on it? ;)

Did 486's have PCI? Hmmm....the first PC which was my very own was an AMD 5x86 133mhz. I'm pretty sure that was just a glorified 486, and I'm pretty sure the board had PCI.

Anyhow, assume the best case scenario. Best board, and maxed out RAM. I believe I ran XP on an original Pentium 166 MMX. What about Lubuntu or some other flavor of Linux?


The last generation of 486 motherboards did have PCI slots on it but that was during the 486 => Pentium transition. The said boards often used "Overdrive" Pentium kits.
Last edited by Krogoth on Fri Dec 30, 2016 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:07 pm

Winamp would probably work a lot better if you could find something from the 1.x series, as those versions were written in assembler, IIRC the 2.x series onward started using C(++?) instead.
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Thu Dec 29, 2016 10:24 am

We had a late-generation 486 DX2-66 (loved that machine), it had PCI and ISA slots, as well as a VESA slot for graphics. I think it even got one of those Pentium Overdrive chips towards the end of its life, too. Not my department at the time, that would have been my father tinkering. I remember it being a good, stable system.

The Egg wrote:
Anyhow, assume the best case scenario. Best board, and maxed out RAM. I believe I ran XP on an original Pentium 166 MMX. What about Lubuntu or some other flavor of Linux?

Might not work at all. Most modern Linux distributions are expecting at least a Pentium Pro (more the instruction set), and I think won't even properly boot on older. There are, of course, Linux distributions that support older CPUs (Debian has an old kernel still available), but definitely nothing in the Ubuntu family.
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:48 am

Damn Small Linux (Debian) is probably as good as it's going to get.  Comes with XMMS MP3 player but I wouldn't expect 128kbps MP3s to play without a Pentium Overdrive as most MP3 decoders are heavily floating point and the 486's FPU just wasn't powerful enough--in DOSamp it required a Pentium 60.  There was the libmad plugin for Winamp that did integer-only MP3 decoding but the 486's integer performance wasn't good enough either...

You need to look for a non-PAE distro that specifies i486 as most nowadays list i686.

Surprisingly 72-pin 64 and 128MB SIMMs are now around the same price per megabyte as the 32s on eBay, although I don't know if the memory controller in any 486 chipset supports them--at the time they were so expensive they were originally for SGI/AMIGA/MAC so despite there only being 4 resistor locations for the primitive presence detect, someone may have decided to save the few bytes in the table.
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:10 pm

bfg-9000 wrote:
Damn Small Linux (Debian) is probably as good as it's going to get.  Comes with XMMS MP3 player but I wouldn't expect 128kbps MP3s to play without a Pentium Overdrive as most MP3 decoders are heavily floating point and the 486's FPU just wasn't powerful enough--in DOSamp it required a Pentium 60.  There was the libmad plugin for Winamp that did integer-only MP3 decoding but the 486's integer performance wasn't good enough either...

With Windows 95 running on a 486 DX4/100, you could play 128 kbps MP3s using an integer decoder. You couldn't do anything else at the same time, but it could just barely handle it. I know this from having set it up on a friend's computer in the dorms, 18 years ago.
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Fri Dec 30, 2016 12:59 am

Krogoth wrote:
Does the 486 have PCI or VLB buses on it? ;)

This particular machine has a bunch of ISA and VLB slots.

Wirko wrote:
What's the sample rate and bit depth of the FLACs in question? The burden of sample rate conversion from, say, 96/24 to 44/16 could be quite heavy and it probably requires floating point math.

They were all just standard 44/16 files.

wingless wrote:
My Retro brothers! I must ask that you all join the 'RETRO Machines' Facebook group which has most of the well known retro YouTubers as members. I have every generation of CPU from the 286 to Core 2 series. I also have a, a bunch of Sound Blasters, a Roland SC-55 MIDI synth, and even a brand new Dreamblaster X1 MIDI module from Serdashop.

We have much to discuss!!

Sorry, I'm a bit of an anti-facebook...hipster, I guess? :wink:

Dysthymia wrote:
Not that I ever owned one, but I've been led to believe that Roland had the best MIDI sound back in the day.

That's what I heard too. I desperately wanted an MT-32 back in the day, but never got one.

Chuckaluphagus wrote:
bfg-9000 wrote:
Damn Small Linux (Debian) is probably as good as it's going to get.  Comes with XMMS MP3 player but I wouldn't expect 128kbps MP3s to play without a Pentium Overdrive as most MP3 decoders are heavily floating point and the 486's FPU just wasn't powerful enough--in DOSamp it required a Pentium 60.  There was the libmad plugin for Winamp that did integer-only MP3 decoding but the 486's integer performance wasn't good enough either...

With Windows 95 running on a 486 DX4/100, you could play 128 kbps MP3s using an integer decoder.  You couldn't do anything else at the same time, but it could just barely handle it.  I know this from having set it up on a friend's computer in the dorms, 18 years ago.

Was there any loss of sound quality using an integer decoder?
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Sat Dec 31, 2016 1:27 pm

setaG_lliB wrote:
Chuckaluphagus wrote:
With Windows 95 running on a 486 DX4/100, you could play 128 kbps MP3s using an integer decoder.  You couldn't do anything else at the same time, but it could just barely handle it.  I know this from having set it up on a friend's computer in the dorms, 18 years ago.

Was there any loss of sound quality using an integer decoder?

I honestly don't know, it was nearly 20 years ago, and playing through cheap computer speakers. I don't remember thinking that it sounded particularly different or worse, barring the fact that even moving the mouse could cause the playback to stutter.
 
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Re: Music on a very old computer

Tue Jan 03, 2017 10:26 am

Dysthymia wrote:
Not that I ever owned one, but I've been led to believe that Roland had the best MIDI sound back in the day.

My Roland SC-55 works flawlessly with DOSBox in Windows 10 with my USB-MIDI cable (it's a Roland UM-ONE mk2). In fact, it now resides next to my main Win10 gaming rig. Pick one up if you're into retro computer gaming. You'll get some use out of it.
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