Creative Wave Blaster
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The Wave Blaster was an add-on MIDI-synthesizer for Creative Sound Blaster 16, Sound Blaster AWE32, and AWE64 family of PC soundcards. It was a sample-based synthesis General MIDI compliant synthesizer. For General MIDI scores, the Wave Blaster's wavetable-engine produced more realistic instrumental music than the SB16's onboard Yamaha-OPL3.
The Wave Blaster attached to a SB16 through a 26-pin expansion-header, eliminating the need for extra cabling between the SB16 and the Wave Blaster. The SB16 emulated an MPU-401 UART, giving existing MIDI-software the option to send MIDI-sequences directly to the attached Wave Blaster, instead of driving an external MIDI-device. The Wave Blaster's analog stereo-output fed into a dedicated line-in on the SB16, where the onboard-mixer allowed equalization, mixing, and volume adjustment.
The Wave Blaster port was adopted by other sound card manufacturers who produced both daughterboards and soundcards with the expansion-header: Yamaha, Ensoniq, Orchid, Oberheim, Guillemot, Diamond, TerraTec, Roland, and Turtle Beach. The header also appeared on devices such as the Korg NX5R MIDI sound module, the Oberheim MC-1000/MC-2000 keyboards, and the TerraTec Axon AX-100 Guitar-to-MIDI converter.
Although new Wave Blaster-capable sound cards for computers haven't been produced for years, Terratec still produces their Axon AX-100 Guitar-to-MIDI converter that uses a Wave Blaster port to add sound generation capability. In 2005, they released a new Wave Blaster daughterboard called the Wave XTable with 16mb of on-board sample memory comprising 500 instruments and 10 drum kits.
Creative released the Waveblaster II shortly after the original Waveblaster. Waveblaster II used a newer EMU-8000 synthesis-engine (which later appeared in the AWE32). Despite using a smaller 2MB instrument ROM (vs 4MB of the original Waveblaster), the Waveblaster II delivered better renditions in most MIDI-scored games, likely due to better sample refinement and balancing between instruments.
While the original Waveblaster greatly improved upon the acoustic quality of the SB16's built-in FM-synthesis, the acoustic quality of its instrument-set was poorly regarded. By the time the SB16 reached the height of its popularity, competing MIDI-daughterboards had already pushed aside the Waveblaster. In particular, Roland's Sound Canvas daughterboards (SCD-10/15), priced only slightly more than Creative's offering, were highly regarded for their unrivalled musical reproduction in MIDI-scored game titles. (This was due to Roland's dominance in the production aspect of the PC game soundtracks; Roland's daughterboards shared the same synthesis-engine and instrument sound-set as the popular Sound Canvas 55, a commercial MIDI module favored by game composers.) By comparison, the WaveBlaster's instruments were improperly balanced, with many instruments striking at different volume-levels (relative to the de facto standard, Sound Canvas.)
WaveBlaster Connector Pinout
|11||DGnd||12||Audio R in|
|15||AGnd||16||Audio L in|
|19||AGnd||20||Audio R out|
|23||AGnd||24||Audio L out|
- AGnd = Analog ground
- DGnd = Digital ground
- Some Wave Blaster cards offer audio inputs ( Yamaha DB60XG )
- Some Wave Blaster cards offer TTL-MIDI output
- Reset is active low