Images / Faq

A lot of the content in this section is from the 'AWE Hot Spot' site. The AWE Hot Spot was one of the first, if not the first homepage for AWE users. The site was created in May 1995 by Jesper Nordenberg and Johan Nilsson and was quite popular for a long period of time. Sadly, the authors no longer have time to update the site, so they decided to close it down. The AWE Hot Spot ftp site still lives, though. It has more than 170 MB of SoundFont and songs and is still being updated from time to time, feel free to upload soundfonts and songs. Thanks a lot to the Jesper and Johan for letting me use the content from The AWE Hot Spot.

And now...

The HammerSound FAQ


SoundBlaster AWE / SoundFonts



I've read this FAQ, and I still haven't found a solutions to my problem, what do I do next?

You have several options:

Where can I find a soundfont with X type sounds?

If you cannot find what you are looking for in the SoundFont Library, try posting a request to the MessageBoard, maybe someone else has the soundfont you are looking for.

How can I publish my own soundfonts on HammerSound and receive instant fame?

Check the 'Sounds | Share your SoundFonts' section at HammerSound.

I'm having problems downloading one of the soundfonts in the SoundFont Library, what's wrong?

The link might be dead, or there might be some problem with the server. Send a mail to the HammerSound webmaster and tell him the name of the soundfont as well as the exact error message you get when you try to download.

The file I downloaded is not in the sf2 file format, what do I do with it?

Most of the files in the Library are compressed. Here's a list of the filename endings used, and what to do to get usable soundfonts from the files.

Filename ending

What to do

.arj Download WinZip and uncompress the file.
.exe Just run the .exe file to uncompress the file.
.sfArk, .sfa Download sfArk and uncompress the file. If your browser saves the file with the .sfa ending, you'll have to change it to .sfArk. If you're a Netscape user having problems with sfArk files, this might help. If it doesn't, you'll have to use Internet Explorer instead, or try downloading from one of the Norwegian servers. Sorry about the inconvenience, I'm working on it.
.sfPack Download SFPack and uncompress the file.
.rar Download WinRar and uncompress the file.
.zip Download WinZip and uncompress the file.

The pages on the HammerSound site load real slow, what's wrong?

The server is probably busy, try one of the mirror sites. You'll find a list of mirrors on the front page.

I have created a song that I want to share, where can I upload it?

Jordan Van Bergen has a very good website, the SoundFont Website, where anyone can upload songs (midi file + soundfont). The songs are stored on his ftp-server, and each day, there's a 'featured song' from the archive available for direct download from his web-site. The ftp-server is open for anonymous access, but there is a user limit of 5.

If your song contains a soundfont you've created yourself, please consider uploading it to the HammerSound ftp-site.


SoundBlaster AWE / SoundFonts

What kind of software/hardware do I need to use SoundFonts?

If you want hardware support for SoundFonts, you can chose from the CreativeLabs range of SoundFont compatible soundcards (SBLive!, SoundBlaster AWE64, SoundBlaster AWE32, SoundBlaster 32), EMU (Audio Production Studio, 8710ps PCMCIA, 8710 PCMCIA) and TDK (DMC9000 PCMCIA). The software you need to create and manage SoundFonts is delivered with each of these cards or can be downloaded from Creative Labs' website (direct link).

If you do not own any of these soundcards, you can go for the software-only solution. Both Reality and SurReal from Seer Systems has software support for SoundFonts for several different soundcards. Here's what one of the HammerSound users had to say about Reality:

"Soundfont integration seems seamless - Soundfonts open and play without any problem. BUT, it can ONLY use soundfonts that don't use any of the original; waveforms from an AWE card. I guess this is so it will be compatible with all DirectX cards, not just AWE's. All other banks open fine and the sound quality & latency is very good. Haven't done any direct comparison with playback through Vienna, though."

What is the difference between the GS and the GM patch set?

GM means General Midi. It is a standard containing 128 patches (sounds). This standard ensures that if you have selected a brite piano on any GM device you will get that sound. The standard is described on the MMA (MIDI Manufacturers Association) pages.
GS is a Roland standard which can be thought of as GM + additional sounds. So there are more patches (sounds) then in the GM standard. These additional sounds can be used using bank selection via a sequencer.

What are ROM samples?

The AWE uses samples (sounds) stored in ROM. There is 1 MB of samples. The samples are 16-bit and they're not compressed. There're actually 4 MB allocated for ROM samples but so far there haven't been any versions with 4 MB ROM.

What is the SPDIF jumper?

It's a jumper on top of the board marked SPDIF. All you have to do is connect it to an outside SPDIF (Sony/Philips) in eg. minidisk,  DAT or a dedicated D/A converter for the ultimate in high-fidelity. Pin 0 is signal and pin 1 is ground. Note that his is not an optical line-out.

How do I use soundfonts in Cakewalk Pro 8.0 (and up)?

Check out this article.

How do I change soundfonts in Cakewalk Apprentice?

Do the following:

  1. Click the right mouse button on a track and call up the event list.
  2. Hit insert.
  3. Double click on the type and choose controller change.
  4. Set values to 0 and then the bank number you want.
  5. Selct a patch number

How do I change soundfonts in Cakewalk Pro x.x?

If you're using Cakewalk Pro 3.0 you can change banks by just typing in the bank number in the Track window. You will have to configure the Bank-select-method to controller 0 only. Once you've done that it will work with all MIDI-files.

How do I change the sound FX and the MIDI volume in DOS?

Run SB16SET (either command-line parameters or with mouse/keyboard) and turn up the midi and the wave volume.

How do I make an extra "Line in"?

If you're not using a CD-ROM you can make a cable that uses the CD-ROM Audio in connector on the AWE board. You can then use the CD mixer option as "Line in 2".

How do I expand the RAM memory?

If you got an AWE with simm-sockets (not the AWE value) then you can expand your RAM memory up to 28 Mb. The AWE has two simm-sockets. To expand your memory you will need two simm-modules of the same kind (30 pin and 80 ns or better, parity or no parity). You can't use only one simm. You can use up to 16 Mb modules but you will only get 28 Mb instead of 32 Mb. This is because the EMU chip can adress 32 Mb, 4Mb ROM (but the AWE only has 1 Mb) and 28 Mb RAM. There's a jumper you'll have to switch on the AWE. It selects either built-in DRAM or SIMM-RAM. You can't use both the built-in RAM and the SIMM-RAM at the same time.

How do I change the reverb and chorus effect types in a midi song?

These effects are compatible with Roland GS. This means that if you put them in a midifile all GS synths can use them.
Reverb sysex macro:
F0 41 10 42 12 40 01 30 xx 00 F7
xx indicate effect type:
00 - Room 1
01 - Room 2
02 - Room 3
03 - Hall 1
04 - Hall 2
05 - Plate
06 - Delay
07 - Panning Delay

Chorus sysex macro:
F0 41 10 42 12 40 01 38 xx 00 F7
xx indicate effect type:
00 - Chorus 1
01 - Chorus 2
02 - Chorus 3
03 - Chorus 4
04 - Feedback chorus
05 - Flanger
06 - Short Delay
07 - Short delay (FB)

How do I set NRPN parameters?

As NRPN and Data Entry messages are MIDI controller messages, any MIDI sequencer software that supports editing of controller messages (such as Cakewalk, MasterTracks Pro) is capable of sending them.
For SB AWE32 NRPN to be functional, NRPN MSB has to be 127, and NRPN LSB set to the desired parameter to be controlled.
To control the AWE32's NRPNs, enter the following series of controller events:
Ctrl: 99 = 127 This is the NRPN MSB. It is always 127.
Ctrl: 98 = NRPN LSB # The number of the effect.
Ctrl: 06 = Data Entry MSB # (See equations below.)
Ctrl: 38 = Data Entry LSB # (See equations below.)

Data Entry MSB # = (Actual Value + 8192) / 128
Data Entry LSB # = (Actual Value + 8192) % 128
Where "Actual Value" represents the desired increment in a specified range ). For example:
NRPN LSB 26 (Reverb Effects Send)
Realtime : No
Range : [0, 255]
Reverb may be controlled from levels 0 to 255. Select the desired reverb level, and use that number as the Actual Value in the equations above. These equations determine the parameters for controllers 6 and 38, respectively. For example, if you wanted to have a reverb value of 140, you would put 140 into the equations above, and come up with the value of 65 for Controller 6, and 12 for Controller 38.

If you need to determine the Actual Value of an NRPN already present in a MIDI file, use the formula:
Actual value = (MSB * 128 + LSB) - 8192

How do I change pitch bend sensitivity?

Insert the following controllers in your midifile:
Control 101 0 MSB for RPN
Control 100 0 LSB for RPN -> Pitch Bend Sensitivity
Control 6 X Data Entry MSB; X= number of semitones
Control 38 X Data Entry LSB; X= number of hundredths of a semitone
All these numbers are in decimal.

How do I reduce noise on the AWE?

The critical part on the AWE (and other cards) is the analog part (often the DAC). It's very sensitive for electrical disturbances. There are many parts that produces magnetical fields inside the computer.

What are the differences between the different Soundblaster AWE soundcards?

Here is a comparison of the different ISA cards, made by Johan Nilsson in 1997. Since then, Creative Labs has released several new PCI cards. The PCI cards are described at Creative Labs' website.

First release
Full edition
First release
Plug'n Play
Plug'n Play
Plug'n Play
AWE64 Gold
Plug'n Play
ASP/DSP/CSP Yes Yes Upgradable No Yes No No No
RAM Onboard 512kB 512kB 512kB 0kB 512kB 0kB 512kB 4MB
SIMM-sockets 2 2 None 2 2 2 None None
Creative RAM Upgrade Connector No No No No No No Yes Yes
CD-ROM Interface Multi CD* IDE 8x Multi CD* IDE 8x IDE 8x IDE 8x IDE 8x None
Chipset Old SB16 Old SB16 Old SB16 Vibra Old SB16 Old SB16 New(?) New
Waveblaster Connector Yes Yes No No Yes No No No
Modem Blaster Connector No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
S/P-DIF Digital Out Yes (16-bit) Yes (16-bit) Yes (16-bit) Yes (16-bit) Yes (16-bit) Yes (16-bit) No Yes (20-bit)
On-board DAC 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit 16-bit
Synth Polyphony 32 32 32 32 32 32 32+32 32+32
Multi CD: Sony, Mitsumi and Creative CD-ROM drive
ASP/DSP/CSP is a digital signal processor. It's used for real-time compression of samples when sampling and decompression when playing. This is used on the Soundblaster 16 part of the soundcard. The EMU synth doesn't support compressed samples.
RAM Onboard
The versions called AWE all come with a 512kB RAM onboard. The RAM is used to store user samples/sounds. SB32 hasn't got any RAM but can be upgraded (see below).
All versions except the AWE Value and AWE64/Gold have simm-sockets. They are used for upgrading the RAM. The maximum amount of RAM is 28MB divided into 2x16MB simms. You can't get 32MB because 4MB are reserved for ROM even if there's only 1MB ROM on the soundcard.
Creative RAM Upgrade
The new AWE64 and AWE64 Gold uses Creative RAM upgrades instead of simms. These are 2MB or 4MB (so far) and the cards still support 28MB of RAM. You can't get 32MB because 4MB are reserved for ROM even if there's only 1MB ROM on the soundcard.
CD-ROM Interface
There're two different CD-ROM interface versions of the cards. The old cards were equiped with the Multi CD interface (Sony, Mitsumi, Creative) and the new ones have IDE interface that supports all IDE CD-ROM drives. The ISA-buss limits the transfer to 8x. If you want to use faster CD-ROMS you'll have to connect them to the EIDE interface in your computer instead.
Synth Modes
The AWE cards were designed for the following modes:
  • General Midi (GM)
  • General Standard (GS) a Roland standard
  • MT32 A Roland soundmodule that used to be popular

Both GS and MT32 uses RAM and therefore the SB32 can't use GS/MT32 unless the RAM is upgraded.

All AWE cards uses the same chipset as the Soundblaster 16. There's been released a new chipset called Vibra. The main difference between the Vibra and the old chipset is that Vibra doesn't support analog bass/treble control (no loss). Vibra is said to produce less noise than the old chipset.
Waveblaster Connector
Waveblaster is a doughter-board that can be used to expansion the soundcard with another synth. Other manufacturers have made their own daughter-boards such as Sound Canvas and they can be connected to the Waveblaster connector. .
Modem Blaster Connector
Modem Blaster 28.8 DSVD: Add full telephony/communication functions to the card.
This is a connector that is used for digital output. You can only get digital out from the EMU8000 chip and NOT from the SB16 part. It follows the Sony/Philips standard so the AWE can be connected to most DAT/MD/DCC that use coaxial digital in. The AWE64 Gold sends 20-bit data and a cable + a rear computer connector are supplied.
On-board DAC
There're separate DACs for the SB16 part and the EMU8000 part. The table states the amount of bits used by the EMU8000 part DAC.
Synth Polyphony
The synth can only handle a limitited amount of samples for playback at the same time. All soundcards supports 32 and the AWE64/AWE64 Gold supports 32+32 because there's a software synth supplied. The software synth is called Creative WaveSynth/WaveGuide and can handle 32 samples at the same time.

The complete HammerSound website, including all text, images and databases,  is copyright (c) 1997-2000 Thomas Hammer
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