DOS Days

Retro Review: MultiWave AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI) - Part 1

28th November 2023

Here's an interesting sound card I picked up in April this year - the rare AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI) from MultiWave Innovations. Looking around on the internet, there is pretty much nothing on this card, so I'm having to dig around with this one. MultiWave weren't a prominent player, at least in sound cards. They had a larger presence in the communication devices and professional video market.


MultiWave AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI)
Bought in April 2023 for £59

The AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI) is a 16-bit ISA sound card that supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro and Windows Sound System. There was a 'Pro' version of this same card, but I'm really not sure what it added.

The Flypast

It's another excellent example of an early 90s busy card with lots to see. Here are the highlights:

  • A Crystal CS4231KL audio codec
  • Two Media Vision 'Thunder' chips (MVD121 and MVD201)
  • A Yamaha YMF262-M audio chip
  • A Yamaha YAC-512M digital-to-analogue converter
  • A Zilog Z0538010 SCSI controller chip
  • A 4-pin CD Audio input header
  • A lot of jumpers
  • A Game/MIDI port and four 3.5mm jacks on the backplate

The card has an FCC ID of KLZ1005I, is a version 1.0 card and is dated 1993 on the silkscreen. The newest soldered-in component with a date stamp is the Crystal chip which is week 33 of 1993, putting its manufacture sometime during 16th-22nd August that year.

It has been identified by Vogons' contributor bristlehog that a version of the AudioWave 16 AISP exists which is labelled AudioWave 16 AISP (SONY), which is version 1.3 and has a Sony CD-ROM header instead of a SCSI one.

Did You Know?
The AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI) sat alongside three other sound cards from MultiWave in 1993 - AudioWave Platinum 16, AudioWave AWS32, and AudioWave 16 AISP PRO.

The Platinum 16 (Part #MW-0203121, FCC ID KLZ1006W) also had a Crystal CS4231KL audio codec but came with a MediaVision Jazz chipset instead of the Thunder Board chipset. It also had Sony, Panasonic and Mitsumi CD-ROM headers instead of the SCSI header on the AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI), as well as a wavetable header. The Platinum 16 was also sold as the "Edison Platinum 16 with AISP" and was a version 1.3 board.

The AudioWave AWS32 was a bundle offering, comprising the Platinum 16 card, their DreamWave wavetable daughterboard (Part #MW-0203125) which used the Dream SAM9203, and their 3D Space module which provided 3D audio effects.

I have no knowledge of what the AudioWave 16 AISP PRO was - possibly just a standard AISP with a software bundle.

MultiWave's website had this description for all four: "The above AudioWave Sound Card was design based on the Crystal Semiconductor's CS4231 sound chip since 1993. This sound chip was the first sound card that introduces Full-Duplex capability. Multiwave Innovation was the first to launch the first Full-Duplex sound card based on our AISP or Platinum sound card. Some of the early designs of the AISP card was based on Analog Devices chipset which was a half-duplex sound card."

The AudioWave 16 AISP (SCSI) was also sold as the Compro LaserWave Supra 16.


Crystal CS4231KL

The heart of this sound card is the Crystal CS4231KL - a 16-bit audio codec whose role is to handle the analogue audio to digital signal compression/decompression, audio filtering and mixing. It had a number of enhancements over its predecessor, the CS4248 (aka AD1848), including up to five analogue inputs over CS4248's three, mixer attenuation control on line input, MPC Level 2-compliant mixing, ADPCM and Big Endian audio format support, full duplex DMA, and independent selection of capture and playback audio data formats.

Like its forebear, the CS4231KL came with MWaveTM technology, which was a DSP invention developed by IBM and Texas Instruments that combined audio telephony (modems) with 16-bit CD quality sound card capability.


Audio Chipsets

This sound card's audio standards come from three seperate sources on the board:

1) The two Media Vision Thunder Board chips - MVD121 and MVD201.
2) The Yamaha YMF262-M chip.
3) The aforementioned Crystal CS4231.

I'm not 100% sure what the 100-pin MVD121 chip is - according to Vogons member Ozzuneoj, the chip is "apparently a later version of the chip used on the PAS16... possibly more closely related to the Jazz16. Either way, this chip is likely the source of the MIDI functionality, and is the reason that the card has MIDI jumpers and is advertised has having MIDI support on the box.". Or is it just a separate codec for the MVD201? The jumpers for MIDI port address and MIDI Enable do go into the MVD121 chip.

The 44-pin MVD201 chip (also seen badged as 547-0002, and as 547-0001 on the original Thunder Board) was the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) that provided the card with its Thunder Board, Ad Lib, and Sound Blaster 2.01 compatibility.

In February 1992, Media Vision entered into an agreement with Cirrus Logic to have their new chips fabricated. The MVD101 Multimedia Audio Controller, the MVD201 which was an audio processor compatible with Ad Lib and Sound Blaster boards and was designed to be tightly coupled with the MVD101, MVA416 with their ADC/DAC and MVA611 which was their AGC (automatic gain control mic and power amplifier). It's not beyond comprehension that Cirrus Logic (later Crystal Semiconductor) might have also got the rights to reproduce one of these under the Crystal branding as part of this agreement.

In August 1992, MediaVision was involved in a lawsuit with Creative Labs and as part of the settlement they had to licence Creative Labs' DSP v2.01 code. Because this card's chips both have the "THUNDER" logo, it is likely they were manufactured before this lawsuit settlement. Chips etched with 547-XXXX came after the lawsuit. Several clones of the MediaVision Thunder Board were produced and these all had this identical pair of chips. Some examples of such cards include the Protac Thunderboard (FCC ID: I4UAV205P4) and Compro LaserWave Supra 16.

Also present on the card is an original Yamaha YMF262-M (OPL3), which provides the card with stereo Sound Blaster Pro support, and a Yamaha YAC512 which is the audio DAC for the YMF262. It makes you wonder why they felt the need to also include the Thunder chips since the OPL3 chip fully supports Ad Lib and Sound Blaster 2.0 as well. If you know or have a theory on this, let me know.

Finally, the CS4231KL provides the card with its Windows Sound System support. So all in, the card supports five distinct sound standards.


SCSI Controller

The card's SCSI CD-ROM interface is implemented using a Zilog Z0538010 chip, which is a clone of the NCR 5380. This is the same identical set up as found on the MediaVision PAS16.

The chip is designed for CD-ROM drives, but it can be made to work with other SCSI devices in Windows 95/98 such as SCSI hard drives, removable/erasable optical drives and removable cartridge drives.



The Backplate

Probably the first sound card I've seen that doesn't have any indications on the backplate to tell you which jack does what. Not to worry... when the card is vertical in an expansion slot, starting from the TOP they are:

  • Speaker Out
  • Line Out
  • Line In
  • Mic In

The game/MIDI port is fully MPU-401 compatible, which is provided by the MVD121 chip (the earlier MVD101 chip used on some of the original Media Vision cards like the ProAudio Spectrum used a proprietary interface that was not MPU-401 compatible). This compatibility is important, as it's required if you wish to connect an external MIDI unit to this game/MIDI port, such as a Roland SC-55, Yamaha MU80, or others that adhere to the Roland MPU-401 interface standard. Bear in mind that this MPU-401 compatibility only extends to UART mode, not Intelligent/Normal mode. For more information on these modes, visit my MIDI page.


Configuring the Card

As I mentioned earlier, the card has lots of jumpers - it's *not* a Plug & Play card. Here's a breakdown of what each of them does (the ones in bold indicate the card's default setting):

In the upper-left corner of the card are the following 9 jumpers:

Jumper Purpose Settings
JSDEC Game Port Address Open = 201h, Closed = 200-207h
MA0/MA1 MIDI Port Address Open/Open = 330-331h
Closed/Closed = 300-301h
Open/Closed = 310-311h
Closed/Open = 320-321h
ENMPU MIDI Port Enable Open = Enabled, Closed = Disabled
DA2/DA1/DA0 Sound Blaster I/O Port Address Open/Open/Open = 220h
Closed/Open/Closed = 220h
Closed/Closed/Open = 210h
Closed/Open/Open = 230h
Open/Closed/Closed = 240h
Open/Closed/Open = 250h
Open/Open/Closed = 260h
ENFM FM Synthesizer Enable Open = Enabled, Closed = Disabled
ENJS Game Port Enable Open = Enabled, Closed = Disabled

JP1 and JP3 are next to the Zilog SCSI controller chip. This is where you configure the board's SCSI and MIDI IRQs. JP1 is used to set the MIDI IRQ (only used for the SCSI interface), and JP3 are your choices for the SCSI controller :

Jumper Purpose Settings
JP1 MIDI IRQ IRQ 5, 7 or 2/9.
If all jumpers are open it is disabled.
JP3 SCSI IRQ IRQ 5, 12 or 15.
If all jumpers are open it is disabled.

Just below these two are two more jumpers marked SEL0 and SEL1, which are used to set the Windows Sound System (Wavetable) I/O port address:

Jumper Purpose Settings
SEL0/SEL1 Windows Sound System [Wavetable] I/O Port Address Closed/Closed = 530h
Open/Closed = 604h
Closed/Open = E80h
Open/Open = F40h

And below that is one marked 'CD-ROM':

Jumper Purpose Settings
JP2 CD-ROM I/O Port Address Open = 340h, Closed = 320h


Drivers & Utilities

Despite being a card from 1993, MultiWave Innovation did produce Windows 95 drivers for the card. The original sound card came with DOS, Windows 3.1/3.11 and OS/2 drivers only.

DOS & Windows 3.1/3.11 Installation Disk
v1.21, 14th Jul 1994

For the AudioWave 16 AISP (non-PRO)
For Win3.1 and WFW 3.11.
Contains DOS Utilities and Windows 3.1 drivers. Alternatively, Win95 users can use the Windows Sound System driver, OPL3 compatible driver, MPU401 driver, and joystick driver.
DOS and Windows 3.1 / 3.11 Installation Disk
v1.22, 14th Jul 1994

For the AudioWave 16 AISP PRO
For Win3.1 and WFW 3.11.
Contains DOS Utilities and Windows 3.1 drivers. Alternatively, Win95 users can use the Windows Sound System driver, OPL3 compatible driver, MPU401 driver, and joystick driver.
DOS & Windows 3.1/3.11 Drivers
v2.10, 26th Dec 1995

For Platinum 16 sound cards.
Windows 95 Driver
v1.0, 2nd May 1996

Support for Full Duplex mode in Windows 95.
Suitable for Platinum 16.
DOS & Windows 95 Drivers
v2.10.W95, 22nd Feb 1996

For DOS and Windows 95 only.
Contains DOS utilities and true Windows 95 drivers. Support for Full Duplex mode in Windows 95. Suitable for Platinum 16, AISP 16, or AISP 16 PRO card with Crystal Semicomdutor CS4231 chipset.
Windows NT 3.51 Crystal CS4231 Driver
v1.50, 1st Sep 1994

Crystal Semiconductor CS4231 chipset OS/2 Driver. Suitable for AISP 16, AISP 16 Pro and Platinum 16 sound cards.
OS/2 Crystal CS4231 Driver
29th Sep 1994

Crystal Semiconductor CS4231 chipset OS/2 Driver. Suitable for AISP 16, AISP 16 Pro and Platinum 16 sound cards.
3D Space Daughterboard Driver
(Available in AWE32 Kit)
9th May 1994

(This file, 3DSPACE.EXE couldn't be found)

In Part 2, I will install the drivers and check out what this sound card can do.