[linux-audio-user] Do I have a synth? :-/

Alejandro Lopez alex_osiris at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 20 05:08:46 EDT 2004


Hi Everyone,

In the proccess of configuring the music studio so it has acceptable GM 
synthesis some way or another. Although I now have Timidity++ working very 
nicely as a soft synth, I'm trying to figure out if my soundcard has a synth 
I could use instead in order to free up some useful CPU cycles.

My apologies in advance for not knowing what my f*cking hardware is in 
advance, I know it sounds weird. It's a PC a bought some time ago, I've 
never opened it yet so I wasn't sure wether the sound was implemented in the 
mother board or in a sound card.

I now have some details about this computer and sound card, maybe from them 
you could tell me if it has any synth (ROM, wavetable, whatever) or not. 
Actually I'm almost sure there isn't, but I thought I'd ask for advice as 
I'm often wrong.

-The computer is a HP Pavilion 420.es:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?product=73009&lang=en&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&docname=bph07258
-HP claims the motherboard is an Asus A7V-VM:
http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?product=73009&lang=en&lc=en&cc=us&dlc=en&docname=bph07227
-The Asus website does not list any motherboard with that name:
http://www.asus.com/prog/p_search.asp?kp=a7v&langs=01
-In the description for the motherboard provided by HP (second link), the 
information regarding sound is limited to mentioning the chip Crystal 
CS4299, which is an AC'97 compliant circuit. This seems to address digital 
audio only (D/A, A/D and that), nothing to do with synth:
http://www.cirrus.com/en/products/pro/detail/P25.html

Some more hints / background:

1. In earlier posts I assumed my soundcard had an onboard synth. My naive 
assumption came only from the fact that Cakewalk produces GM sounds under 
Win XP.

2. In a reply (thank you Emiliano), I've been suggested that XP uses a soft 
synth and therefore I may not have any synth after all.

3. In a different reply (thank you Damien), I've been suggested that XP 
doesn't use a soft synth, but it has a soundfont named "8mbgmgs.sf2" that it 
loads into any wavetable soundcard it may find (Soundblaster etc). I have 
not checked if loading this sound font on Timidity++ or Fluidsynth produces 
roughly the same sounds I was getting under Windows but I'll be checking 
shortly.

4. ALSA creates a MIDI channel for the card, but I've discovered the 
computer has an external MIDI connector, so it looks like this channel 
routes to the connector. The description for the channel is not clear about 
this. I've noticed that none of the mixers I have feature a slide for synth 
output, it looks like no synth is connected to the hardware audio mixer in 
the sound card. However, another reply (thank you Marv) showed me that the 
slide could have a non trivial name such as "playback". When I route MIDI 
data to this port, MIDI vumeters at the sequencer move (indicating that MIDI 
data is actually being written successfully) but no sound comes out the 
card. Although it looks like I definitely don't have a synth, I guess there 
could be a possibility that I have some wavetable onboard synth but it 
doesn't produce anything because I didn't load any sound fonts into it prior 
to using it (as I've been suggested I need to do for Soundblasters in a 
reply, for instance, by using "sbiload" or "sfxload", thanks again 
Emiliano!).

Thank you so much for your helpful replies so far, I'm feeling like I'm 
really close to getting it to work now and I'm quite excited about it, feels 
good. Also sorry for the extremely long email, not my initial intention 
really..

Cheers,

Alex

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