DOS Days

MediaTriX Periperhals, Inc.

MediaTriX were a Canadian audio hardware company, based in Quebec. One interesting bit of trivia: MediaTriX Peripherals Inc., had also been involved in a bid to acquire Ad Lib's assets in 1992. Though unsuccessful in their attempt (Ad Lib were bought by Binnenalster GmbH), a different kind of opportunity presented itself following Binnenalster's dismissal of the engineers at Ad Lib. Seeking to preserve and utilize this talent, MediaTriX hired these individuals, and set them to work on a new task - the design of the AudioTrix Pro.

From around 1999 MediaTriX moved in to the telecommunication technology market, leaving their audio roots behind them.


AudioTriX Pro    

Launched: 1994
FM Synthesizer: Yamaha YMF278B (OPL4)
Audio Codec: Crystal CS4231A-KL
DAC: Yamaha YAC513
Bus: 16-bit ISA
Price When New: $325, then $299
Part #: EBMT005E / MT005-E004

The AudiTriX Pro is a Sound Blaster-compatible sound card released in 1994. Being an OPL4 card it is backward compatible with all OPL2- and OPL3-based cards, but adds 24-voice wavetable synthesis on top of standard 20-voice FM synthesis capabilities. The Crystal CS4231 CODEC/DAC chip was considered the best for its time, and was used on numerous sound cards from its introduction in 1993 to early 1995. It was the last Crystal audio chip to not have an embedded FM synthesizer (later chips would come with their OPL3 clone which they called CrystalFMTM).

It has an onboard 2 MB ROM containing 128 melodic and 47 percussive General MIDI sounds, but can be expanded by a further 512 KB via the RAM expansion socket.

One key thing that set the AudiTriX Pro apart from its competition of 1994 was its sound quality. It was capable of enhanced full-duplex recording and playback (enhanced because you could have different record and playback rates) at up to 44.1 kHz sampling frequency. The card's overall noise at the audio out socket was -87 dB, which was pretty decent as a mid-level card.

Expansion was also top of the MediaTriX' agenda when they designed this card, with no less than three connectors: a SCSI module connector, an Effects Processor daughterboard connector (this $90 MSRP optional daughterboard provides echo, reverb, flange, distortion, panning and surround processing), and RAM expansion for up to 512 KB of samples to be loaded (a $135 optional board).

Another point to note about this card is its almost unique ability to send an ACK MIDI response when receiving MIDI messages. This means it's able to fool numerous games titles that demand "intelligent MPU-401 mode" into thinking that's what they're talking to!

Best OPL4 patch set. Solid Windows card. Solid SB/FM support. Low noise. Supports ADPCM. Very good one-card solution but a bit on the expensive side especially if you add the optional CD-ROM interface, RAM DB, Effects module or other options.  SB-Pro support would help. 8 out of 10 for digital audio quality, 6.5 out of 10 for music quality.

PC Magazine from 28 March 1995 had this to say: "The Mediatrix Audiotrix Pro ($299 list, $225 street) from Mediatrix Periperhals provides a lot of bang for the buck. Above-average sound quality, a wealth of bundled software, and various upgrade options make the board easy to recommend. The package has some rough edges, but it will still satisfy MIDI lovers, game players, business users, and higher-end audio users and developers on a budget.

The Audiotrix Pro features Mediatrix's implementation of the Yamaha OPL4 chip set and supports SCSI CD-ROM drives and proprietary drives from Mitsumi, Panasonic, and Sony. Installation of the board was painless (both DOS and Windows installation utilities are included), and the card has no jumpers; IRQs and DMAs are both software-addressable.

The Audiotrix Pro performed well on our sound tests. The card's pre-amplifier is top-notch. Results on our Digital Recording tests were also excellent; its only flaw in a Channel Separation score of -67 dBr on the Preamplifier tests, which will make creation of a completely crisp stereo image difficult. MIDI lovers and game users will be impressed by the quality of the board's wavetable sound. Percussives are punchy and crisp, while keyboards are realistic and convincing. For even better sound quality, Mediatrix offers a $90 effects processor that adds SRS's three-dimensional sound system. You can also add an $85 RAM/ROM expansion board for storing customized wavetables."

Rich Heimlich said this of the AudioTriX Pro card: "Best OPL4 patch set. Solid Windows card. Solid SB/FM support. Low noise. Supports ADPCM. Very good one-card solution but a bit on the
expensive side especially if you add the optional CD-ROM interface, RAM DB, Effects module or other options. SB-Pro support would help.
". He scored it 8.0 out of 10 for digital quality but only 6.5 out of 10 for music quality.

IMPORTANT: This card's MIDI/game port is wired differently to most Sound Blaster-compatible MIDI/game port cables. It is believed that the cable that was provided with the Audiotrix Pro had three tails - MIDI IN, OUT and THRU. Check this diagram for details of what pins provide the MIDI in/out signals for the MediaTriX cards. *For reference, Sound Blaster cards use pin 1 for TxD, pin 12 for Rxd and pin 4 for GND.

You can compare this card's audio output side-by-side to numerous other cards in my Sound Blaster CT2770 Retro Review!

Driver Disks (includes DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows NT 3.51, Windows NT4, and Windows 95)
Driver Disks (includes DOS, Windows 3.x, Windows NT 3.51, Windows NT4, and Windows 95)
User Manual

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AudioTriX 3D-XG    

Launched: 1997
FM Synthesizer: Yamaha YMF-715E
Audio Codec: ?
DAC: Yamaha
Bus: 16-bit ISA
Price When New: Unknown

This card is a PnP sound card that came bundled with a Yamaha DB-60XG wavetable daughterboard. The card supposedly has a better SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio) than the already great Creative Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold.

No drivers exist for Windows XP and beyond, so for Windows you're stuck with 95 as the most recent. For DOS however, it's a fantastic card if you can get your hands on one. Plus, since the driver software for it is much better than most, it can (and should!) be used with just about any other YMF-715E chipset-based card.

There is a report on Vogons that the driver software that comes with the 3D-XG causes the card's Line-In to be silent. The line-in works just fine if using the SETUPSA utility found with other YMF-71x cards. This is a consequence of MediaTriX routing the final audio output from the DB-60XG back into the Line Input of the YMF715E, so that the "effected" output can be recorded. Because of this, the Line Input has to be muted as a playback source, as it creates an audio feedback loop otherwise.

There is a workaround which is designed for anyone with this card but is not using a genuine DB-60XG. By changing JP4 and JP5 to be 3-4 instead of 2-3 causes SFX/OPL signals to be sent directly to Line-Out and amplified Speaker-Out. This means you can use the standard OPL3-SA setup utility like v2.11.

The Line Input problem aside, INIT3DXG also initializes the A/D parts on an attached DB60XG/XR385, whereas SETUPSA utility does not. If you're having this problem, use SETUPSA instead.

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