Ad Lib

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Ad Lib Inc.
Ad Lib.png
Founded 1986?
Closed 1994
Headquarters Quebec City, Canada

Ad Lib Inc. was a Canadian manufacturer of sound cards and other computer equipment. Their most popular sound card, the Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card became the first de facto standard for video game audio in the PC market thanks to Sierra Online popularizing it. However, the company was too slow to release a more advanced sound card and lost their market majority to the Sound Blaster by Creative Labs. By the time Ad Lib released their follow up sound card, the AdLib Gold 1000, a better Sound Blaster was already out and at a cheaper price.

Ad Lib was unable to compete and declared bankruptcy on May 1st, 1992. There were several bids for Ad Lib's assets, including from Mediatrix Peripherals who eventually hired some of the old Ad Lib staff. However, it was German conglomerate Binnenalster GmbH, who made the successful bid and created Ad Lib MultiMedia, Inc.

Ad Lib MultiMedia sold the remaining AdLib Gold 1000 cards and went on to produce two other sound cards to little fanfare prompting Binnenalster to sell AdLib Multimedia to Softworld Taiwan in 1994.


These are the games that credit the music and/or sound to Ad Lib. This may be a possible alias of Derek Schofield.

Released Title Sample
1989-??-?? The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge (DOS)

Music Development

Audio Formats

Ad Lib developed the following file formats to use with their sound cards:

Released Formats Notes
1987-??-?? ROL Holds notes, dynamics and instrument changes for editing.
INS Holds the actual OPL2 instruments for playing ROL files and editing (before V1.5).
1988-06-29 MUS (AdLib) Former ROL file optimized for playing.
SND (AdLib) Bundle of all used INS files and names for playing MUS files.
1989-01-?? BNK Bundle of all available INS files and names for playing ROL files and editing (since V1.5).
1989-05-08 MDI Former ROL and BNK file optimized for playing.

Audio Personnel

Ad Lib sold various music disks that featured music arranged in the ROL format. This music was arranged by personnel at Ad Lib, though their identity has not yet been discovered. The 'Ad Lib Inc.' name has also appeared in some video games such as The Amazing Spider-Man and Captain America in Dr. Doom's Revenge (DOS).

Marc Savary and Dale Glowinski are named in most source code files by Ad Lib Inc.


Sound Devices

Released Sound Card Audio Chips
1987-??-?? Ad Lib Music Synthesizer Card YM3812
1992-??-?? AdLib Gold 1000 YMF262, 12-bit stereo DAC
199?-??-?? MSC 16/32 QS1000, CS4236
199?-??-?? ASB 32/64 CS9233, CS4232, CS8905


Ad Lib wrote the following programs to function with their sound cards:

Released Software Notes
1987-??-?? AdLib Juke Box Plays any ROL and INS (later BNK). Bundled with the sound card.
1987-??-?? AdLib Visual Composer Edits any ROL and plays selected INS (later BNK).
1987-??-?? AdLib Instrument Maker Edits any INS (later BNK).
1987-??-?? AdLib Sound Driver Receives and plays events and preloaded INS (game programmers must parse ROL and BNK themselves).
1988-06-29 AdLib Convert Converts a ROL to a MUS (AdLib) and appends all used INS to an SND (AdLib).
AdLib Play Plays a MUS and SND.
1989-01-?? Bank Manager Adds/extracts INS files to/from a BNK. Included with later versions of bundled software and AdLib Visual Composer V1.5.
1989-05-08 ROL to MIDI Converts a ROL and BNK to an MDI.
MIDI Play Plays an MDI.