In the Forums...
Posted: September 9th, 2001
Written by: Cliff "heXen" Liple
VideoLogic in the past has specialized in speakers and video cards. Their latest series of video cards, dubbed "Vivid!", utilize PowerVR Kyro technology. Turtle Beach, an American company specializing in sound cards, had a new product aimed to compete directly with the Sound Blaster Live. Competition for Creative is scarce and to succeed, the company would need to attack them in more than just the states. To extend the profits of both VideoLogic and Turtle Beach, the two companies signed an agreement stating VideoLogic would distribute the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz in the UK. In addition to this, Turtle Beach would distribute VideoLogic's speakers in the US.
Before I start my review, It should be specifically noted that this card is for distribution in the UK and Australia only.
Right out of the box I noticed one thing that differentiates this card from the SB Live! and Philips Rhythmic Edge - Color. It's your standard green PCB, whereas the Philips and Creative solutions come in a stylish black. This card is also slighty larger than the others.
The package includes a very impressive set of software. Here's a quick rundown:
1 MusicMatch Jukebox
2 Making Waves
3 FutureBeat 3D
5 Yamaha Softsynth XG & XG Studio
6 Voyetra Audiostation 4, Midi Orchstrator 32, and AudioView 32
7 Voyetra Digital Orchestrator and Music Write 2000
8 Sonic Foundry ACID Xpress
9 PCDJ Phat
10 D-lusion MJ studio
11 Dancer DNA
12 Soft Karaoke
This very large list of software should satisfy the audiophile inside all of us. VideoLogic went the extra mile and provided you with a Male ¾'' to Stereo RCA wire. This is used to hook the card up to a home theatre system. If your intent was to hook your PC up to your $9,000 home theatre for some Quake III immersion, you wont even need to head to Radio Shack to get the proper wire. It should be noted that the one downside to this wire is that it's very short. My stereo is on the opposite side of my desk and the wire wouldn't reach my tower, so the trip to Radio Shack was still required.
Minimum system requirements: Pentium® class 200 MMX or equivalent processor, 32 MB RAM, Windows 95/98/2000/Me/NT 4.0, PCI 2.1 expansion slot, headphones or amplified speakers. Minimum requirement for full frame rate software DVD playback is Intel 350 Celeron or equivalent.
Audio Processor: High-performance Cirrus Logic Crystal 4630 SoundFusion DSP with 96 stream DirectSound / DirectSound3D acceleration and 64 voice hardware wavetable engine.
MIDI Wavetable Synthesizer: 8MB DLS synthesizer with scalable DSP/Host load sharing. Up to 64-voice hardware with up to 1024 software voice.
Effects processor: Two independent effects channels allowing individual control of effect emphasis, position (pan and fade), and input channels. Select from Reverb, Small room, Bathroom, Auditorium, Big hall, Arena, Hallway, Sewer pipe, Warble, Chorus (Heavy), Vibrato, Chorus, Flange, Spatial, Slap back echo, Medium delay, Long delay, Repeat delay and Nervous.
Audio Converters: Dual AC-97 2.1 audio codecs with hardware full-duplex for simultaneous record and playback and up to 48 kHz sample rates. 18-bit A/D converters for high-resolution recording. 20-bit D/A converters for high-resolution playback of up to 6 independent streams.
External connectors: 2 stereo headphone/line out jacks. Software switchable VersaJack for one of the following: PCM (48 kHz) or DVD 5.1 digital stream; line output for centre/sub 5.1 playback or additional headphones; secondary stereo line input (for quad recording). Stereo line in jack. Microphone in jack.15 pin game/midi port.
Internal connectors: CD in (for analog CD audio input)–MPC3 (Molex). Aux in –MPC3 (Molex). TAD in –MPC3 (Molex). Digital in (32,44.1 or 48 kHz) for CD audio input.
Bus architecture: 32-bit PCI 2.1 local bus. Plug and Play compliant. High performance drivers: Microsoft Windows 95/98, DirectSound3D, A3D™1.0, EAX™ 1.0/2.0, I3DL2, Sensaura MacroFX™, MultiDrive™and Virtual Ear™.
Games compatibility: Supports most DOS games in Windows 95/98 (DOS box and Real Mode).
Approvals: PC 99 compliant. FCC Class B certified for home or office use. Compliant with EMC directive (CE).
Technical support: Technical hotline and online support at www.videologic.com.
Warranty: Five years.
The card utilizes the Cirrus Logic CS4630 chip, which is quite impressive by itself. It has the ability to reconfigure itself for optimal performance depending on what task your computer is performing. If you're listening to mp3s, it will channel it's energies to the mp3 decoding process. If you're playing games, it will channel all of it's power over to the game. It is a truly efficient DSP (Digital Sound Processor). Even though the Sound Blaster Live's processor looks faster on paper, the efficiency in the CS4630 is enough to give it a run for it's money. The CS4630 also supports software upgrades, ensuring that it won't become outdated when new audio technologies become prominent.
The SonicFury also supports a wide range of audio standards. Among them are DirectSound, DirectSound 3D, EAX 2.0, I3DL2, Aureal A3D 1.0, DLS, and Sound Blaster for DOS games. Beyond this, it includes Sensaura MultiDrive, MacroFX, and Virtual Ear 3D positional audio technologies.
Sensaura notifies you when it's being used through it's splash screen. To be frank, it's amazing when you first hear it. I was extremely impressed with the sound PowerDVD was pumping through my Cambridge Soundworks sound system as it utilized this technology. I felt much more immersed in the environment than ever before. Sensaura is the most impressive thing I've heard since the first time I experienced EAX.
The only game I noticed taking advantage of Sensaura was Unreal Tournament. Unfortunately, the results were less than impressive, especially compared to PowerDVD. Sound effects used when picking up items were deafening, and the guns were whisper quiet. The shells hitting the ground were louder than the actual gun. Such audio oddities take away from the overall enjoyment of the game. However, it should be noted that many others are not having any problems of this sort. It is probably an odd bug encountered with certain software. It is not certain you will have a experience to mine.