MK8330 ISA Sound Card – The “Cut Price Orpheus” – Goes On Sale

Back in April we reported on the announcement of the MK8330, a new ISA sound card from the makers of the Orpheus aimed squarely at a more budget market.

The card is based around the CMI8330 chip, a popular choice for onboard audio in the mid-late 90s, and boasts high compatibility – with support for AdLib, SoundBlaster, Windows Sound System 2.0, DirectX 5 3D spatial audio and more, with drivers for DOS, Windows 3.x, 9x, and even OS/2 Warp:

  • Sound Blaster 16/PRO/2.0 and AdLib compatible
  • Windows Sound System ver 2.0 compatible
  • Microsoft Direct Sound 3D DirectX 5.0 compatible (HRTF 3D Positional Audio)
  • Hardware auto switch between WSS and SB16
  • Internal OPL3 synthesizer emulator (OPL3 clone that is close to 1:1 to the original)
  • Digital audio SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) Input/Output
    (due to chip design *only* PCM/FM and DIGITAL-IN are outputted from the S/PDIF port)
  • Full Duplex 16-bits CODEC
  • Sound Blaster 16/PRO Mixer and Windows Sound System Mixer compatible
  • MIDI port – compatible with MPU-401 UART mode and Sound Blaster MIDI mode
  • Dual channel GAME port. (Support Microsoft Game-Pad up to 8 ports)
  • Five software select DMA lines (0, 1, 3, 5, 7)
  • Six software select interrupt lines (5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12)
  • Driver support for: Windows 3.1x/9x/NT , DOS and OS/2 Warp 3.0

I was the first to get my hands on this card and it certainly seems to live up to its promises, with a pretty much 1:1 recreation of the legendary OPL3 chip, zero noise / interference thanks to its 4 layer PCB design, flawless MIDI with Roland “Intelligent Mode” support (via the optional PC MIDI add-on, previously available as a separate ISA card or integrated into the Orpheus), and a painless install and configuration process. I also got a chance to get my hands on the new E-Wave wavetable board, which is based around a NOS ESS AudioDrive chip and available bundled with the card.

The MK8330 is available to order now from, costing €90 for the card, with the E-Wave wavetable board costing an additional €40 – a €15 saving over buying the E-Wave separately. The PC MIDI expansion has unfortunately been delayed due to the global component shortage, but the MK8330 will work quite happily alongside an existing standalone PC MIDI card and it’s certainly not essential for users wanting an authentic-sounding SoundBlaster and AdLib experience.

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