Equipment and tunes
We auditioned the Revolution 7.1 against a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum EX with the following equipment:
JVC RX-DP10VBK receiver (THX Ultra, THX Surround EX, DTS, DD5.1/DDEX with 24-bit/192kHz CC Converter)
Samson S1000 dual channel 1000w RMS amplifier
ART 351 single channel 31-band EQ/Low-pass
ART 342 dual channel 15-band VU-metering EQ
Wharfedale Diamond 8 fronts
Klipsch ProMedia satellites for center/surrounds
Klipsch ProMedia satellites back-surrounds
SV Subwoofers (SVS) CS-Plus 20-39+ 525w RMS cylinder subwoofer
Both soundcards were tested using their analog output connections with BetterCables’ interconnects.
Tracks/CD and games used
The Eagles – Hell Freezes Over (DTS CD)
Nat King Cole – Aquellos Ojos Verdes (CD – In the Mood for Love soundtrack; Wong Kar Wai)
Shigeru Umebayashi - Yumeji's Theme (CD – In the Mood for Love soundtrack; Wong Kar Wai)
Philip Bailey – Soul On Jazz (Hybrid SACD)
Glenn Gould – Goldberg Variations 1985 (Dolby Digital 2.0 DVD)
Bruno Walter Conducts – Schubert: Unfinished Symphony (New York Philharmonic) (CD)
Eminem – Marshall Mathers LP (CD)
Queen – A Night At The Opera (24-bit/96kHz DTS DVD)
Various other tracks were used but with less focus and examination.
Quake 3 Arena
Unreal Tournament 2003
What it’s all about
Right off the bat, with just our typical collection of MP3 files, we were shocked by the immediate differences that we could hear between the two sound cards. The Revolution 7.1 always sounded much more enveloping, with a wider sound stage and a lot warmer in the mid and low range. We’re not talking about minute differences that should be taken with a grain of salt here. The Revolution 7.1 is very noticeably warmer and more enjoyable to listen to than the Audigy.
With the range of music that we played, we noticed a few things from each category ranging from classical all the way up to recent rock and in-between. With oldies, we found that the combination of Circle Surround II Music and SRS Dialog Clarity offered a totally new and awesome listening experience, giving the impression that the old tracks were recently remastered. With classical, there are usually two categories: wide soundstage symphonies and small rooms with one or two instruments like a piano. With concert and symphony type tracks, Circle Surround II Music worked well, expanding the soundstage and making things seem more expansive than before. With singular instrument tracks, things sounded warmer and truer to life with CSII left disabled.
Some of the very noticeable improvements we heard were with Jazz, R&B and most pop. Tracks where there are a lot of vocals will really sound enhanced with a bit of Dialog Clarity dialed up. DC helped most in older tracks from way back when and also made a lot of Hip Hop sound enjoyable. Most of the time we left TruBass off as it was just a tad on the boomy side and bass just sounded warmer and rounder by using the level adjustment provided by our subwoofer.
Inside games, the Revolution 7.1 faithfully reproduced all the sounds we expected using the various API’s found in today’s games and older ones. EAX effects sounded very slightly better on the Audigy 2, but were still well within range on the Revolution 7.1. With Half Life, where sound is one of the main features of the game, the Revolution 7.1 did not fail and gave an excellent performance that actually sounded better than the Audigy with Circle Surround II Music enabled.