What’s the Point…

Somethings things just don’t make much sense. Like this, for example:

Double Dream

Double Dream?

What’s unusual about an ISA sound card with a wavetable daughterboard? Nothing. But experts will recognize that the host card is a Terratec Maestro 32/96, which already has a built in-synth.

There oddest things about this setup is that the host card’s synth is essentially a superset of the one on the daughterboard. For that reason, the daughterboard’s presence has very questionable utility.

Here’s what the daughterboard looks like:

GSW-1000 Daughterboard

GSW-1000 Daughterboard

The synth is a Dream 9203 with separate MCU (a MHS-made Intel 8032) and GMS931600 ROM, i.e. a 2MB (16 megabits) General Midi / Sound Canvas instrument bank. The 9203 is a pure wavetable synthesis chip with no effects and (obviously) requires an external MIDI processor.

For comparison, this is what the synth on the Maestro 32/96 looks like:

Maestro 32/96 Synthesizer

Maestro 32/96 Synthesizer

The core synth is a Dream 9233, a newer version of the 9203 with integrated MCU, and there’s also a Dream 8905-1 effects processor (reverb + chorus). There are two ROM chips, GMS1600N and GMS1601N, for a total of 4MB ROM containing General Midi / Sound Canvas instruments.

In other words, the synth on the Maestro 32/96 is a significantly improved version of the GMW-1000. So what’s the point? That’s anyone’s guess.

The unusual thing about the Maestro 32/96 is that it’s one of the very few ISA sound cards which have a built-in synth accessible via a MPU-401 interface, but can also take a full-size Wave Blaster compatible daughterboard controlled through a secondary MPU-401.

The daughterboard is therefore notĀ unusable, but it’s questionable how it’s useful. If the daughterboard were a significantly different instrument (say, a Yamaha DB-50XG or a Creative Wave Blaster II), it would be easier to understand. As it is, the only possible utility the daughterboard might have would be to expand the polyphony of the built-in synthesizer. IsĀ that’s really why it was installed? We’ll probably never know.


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2 Responses to What’s the Point…

  1. Me says:

    I can’t say for sure why this particular pairing was performed, but I’ve more than once connected parts that worked but didn’t make sense as a storage convenience. A loose sound card and daughterboard takes up more space and is more prone to damage than the pair married together. If one asked me to bet, that would be my first guess here.

  2. Michal Necasek says:

    That does make sense. I don’t know that it makes sense to also sell it that way, but for storage yes.

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