Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sound Blaster Drivers - When DOS Games Need Them

The Sound Blaster cards, before the software configurable 16s and the AWE32s, are for the most part are fine if you just install them in a system and note the hardware settings.  While they came with installation and program disks, games usually don't care whether those programs are installed or not.  All the game wants to know is that the settings are correct.  Some require the user to input those values in an install program, others autodetect the values and some just assume that the card uses specific values and fails if those values are not set.  Most games are fine with a SET BLASTER variable in your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, such one that looks like this for the Sound Blaster 16 :

SET BLASTER=A220 I5 D1 H5 P330 T6

With the Sound Blaster Pro and Sound Blaster 16 the installation disks provide very useful utilities for setting the mixer.  The power-on-default mixer values are somewhat quiet, so the preset mixer values provided by these utilities allow these cards to output at a higher volume.

However, there are games that require some files off the installation disks.  The two files that may be needed are SBFMDRV.COM and CT-VOICE.DRV.  SBFMDRV.COM is a Resident FM Driver, CT-VOICE.DRV is a Loadable Digitized Sound Driver.  Typically, a SET SOUND= variable with the installation path of the Sound Blaster installation or the directory where these files can be found is sufficient.  However, games requiring SBFMDRV.COM may require it to be loaded before starting the game.  The Adlib Sound Card Disks contain an equilavent file called SOUND.COM.

It is important that the CT-VOICE.DRV is matched with the card or a superior card with which it is intended to work.  Thus a CT-VOICE.DRV for a Sound Blaster Pro 1.0 will not likely work with a Sound Blaster 2.0.

Finally, there is at least one game that requires the Resident CMS Driver, CMSDRV.COM to be loaded prior to beginning the game.  The original file will work fine with a real Game Blaster but not a Sound Blaster with CMS chips.  In that instance, the CMSDRV.COM file from the Sound Blaster 1.0-2.0 Install Disks must be used.  Here are the list of games that require these files or come with these files :

Don't Go Alone
Hoosier City
Kingdom of Syree III: Black Magic, The
PGA Tour Golf
Romance of the Three Kingdoms II
Solar Winds
Yendorian Tales: Chapter 2
Words of Jesus

Miami Vice

Breakin (Shareware)
Eye of the Storm
Innocent Until Caught
Pizza Connection (German original only)
Stick Fighter 1 & 2
Titus the Fox?
The Clou
Traffic Department 2192

It is important to note that some games have one of these files statically linked or embedded in their files.  Jill of the Jungle is an example of this.  JotJ embeds Creative's SBFMDRV.COM in its EXE files, and the 1.0 version of the game will only produce music on a Sound Blaster, not an Adlib card, even if you don't want digitized sounds.  JotJ supports a basic Sound Blaster and none of the more advanced features of the SB Pros or 16s.  Versions 1.2(b), 1.2(c) and 1.2(d) support a pure Adlib  for music, but with the music you will hear only PC speaker sound effects in 1.2(b) and 1.2(c) and no sound effects in 1.2(d).

Here is a list of all versions of the drivers mentioned above, and for the Sound Blaster, I indicate which versions came with a particular card's install disks :

Adlib SOUND.COM versions :
1.00 or 1.10
1.51 (by far the most common)

Creative Music System CMSDRV.COM versions :
3.10  - CMS/Game Blaster Required
3.20A - Sound Blaster Required

Sound Blaster SBFMDRV.COM versions :
1.11  - Sound Blaster Card Version (SB 1.5)
1.22  - Sound Blaster Card Version (SB MCV)
1.30  - Sound Blaster Pro Stereo Version (SB Pro 1)
1.30B - Sound Blaster 1.5 and 2.0 Version (SB 2.0)
1.32* - SB Pro 2 / SB Pro MCV Version (SB Pro 2)#
1.32* - SB Pro 2 / SB16
1.33  - SB16 / SB Pro 2 / MCV Pro 2 (SB16)
1.34  - SB 1.5 / SB 2.0 / MCV 2.0 (SB 2.0 late)

# - will refuse to load on a Sound Blaster 1.0-2.0.

* - There are two versions of this driver, one dated February of 1992 and one dated October of 1992.  The February 1992 driver (7,276 bytes) supports stereo playback, the October 1992 (7,191 bytes) driver does not.

For the .COM files, running the file will reveal the version number.  The CT-VOICE.DRV is not self-executing and most versions do not have a version number, at least not in plain-text format, when viewed with a hex editor.  Thus file sizes are used to distinguish the versions.

Sound Blaster CT-VOICE.DRV versions :
SB1.0 - 2,377 bytes
SB1.5 - 2,493 bytes
SBPRO1 - 5,014 bytes
SB2.0 - 3,894 bytes
SB2.0 - 31,866 bytes 4.01 (late)
SBPRO2 - 5,108 bytes
SBMCV - 3,894 bytes (one byte difference from the SB 2.0 version)
SB16 - 18,560 bytes
SB16 - 31,842 bytes 4.05 (late)


  1. Rick Dangerous 2 also required the fm driver

  2. There are a few other games that require SOUND.COM or compatible as well:


    SB-SOUND.COM is compatible to the AdLib*'s sound driver
    (SOUND.COM). It can be used to replace those software that require
    the ADLIB's sound driver: PGA TOUR GOLF, SPELL CASTING 101, FLIGHT

  3. Also Maddog Williams:


  4. Also "The Punisher" and Monty Python's Flying Circus.


  5. Sound Blaster 2.0 Deluxe driver disks install SBFMDRV.COM version 1.33 onto the hard drive.