In 1989 Creative released its first Sound Blaster sound card, it became instant hit and every developer included Sound Blaster support into their games. Partly thanks to the Sound Blaster success, the Adlib went tits up. Five years later, they came out with the Sound Blaster AWE32, first Creative sound card with the wavetable on-board.
This is its cheaper sister the Sound Blaster 32. Unlike the AWE32, you can’t adjust bass, treble and gain since it utilises Vibra chip for sound effects. Main chip is actually from the AWE64. Also, you can’t connect wavetable daughterboards to the SB32, because it’s missing Wave Blaster connector. The only way to connect any external MIDI device is through the gameport / MIDI connector. The AWE32’s got 1MB on-board memory for loading sound banks, however the SB32 doesn’t. Both cards can be expanded with two 30 pin memory modules up to 28MB. Even though you can add two 16MB modules, the synthesizer can’t address all of it. Some versions, don’t have memory slots at all, so you’re out of luck there. Creative released like million different versions of this card, one version is missing one feature, another version is missing something else.
Personally, I don’t like FM synthesis in general. However, some versions have Yamaha OPL3 chip on board, but this one has Creative’s own FM chip. Yamaha sounds a bit better, in my opinion. I’m not saying it’s rubbish, but not as good.
If you want just FM synthesis for your DOS games, it works perfectly fine in every game I tested. But, if you’re looking for a wavetable card, I couldn’t get couple of games working. It’s working great in Windows for listening to MIDI files though.
Output is quite clear, playing CDs, MP3s or some other wave files is pretty much good, not great. But it’s not distorted, or otherwise ruined. Overall, the Sound Blaster 32 is a good sound card for DOS gaming. You can get it for as cheap as 40 dollars or 30 pounds on ebay. Some people list it as the AWE32, so be careful and check out the exact model.