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Diamond XtremeSound - 5.1/16 bit Sound Card Review

Former staff writer    -   February 7, 2008
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Testing:

Testing will be done by comparing the XtremeSound 5.1 to the onboard Realtek ALC883 on the ECS A770M-A. We will be looking at the sound performance in games, movies, and music being output from Creative 5.1 speakers, and Altec Lansing Headphones. We will be commenting on clarity, quality, and overall performance. We will also compare the output signal with the input signal and examine them for noise and distortion using a loop back test in SoundCheck.

Testing Setup:

 

Applicaitons:

  • Stranglehold (Gaming)
  • Team Speak (Voice Application)
  • Kill Bill 1 & 2 (Movie)
  • CD Audio, iTunes (Music)
  • SoundCheck Loop Back Testing

 

Stranglehold:

Very rarely do reviewers actually get to play games, mostly it's running benchmarks gazing wearily at the screen. Stranglehold is my current game of choice, and is very entertaining with a different game play for a First Person Shooter, and good story line if you are a fan of John Woo films.

On-Board Realtek ALC883:

Speakers:

The on board audio is surprisingly good. The XS 5.1 has its work cut out for it. In Stranglehold the clarity was very good. The enemies footsteps and voices were easy to pick up to get a lock on their position. Output and and background noises were easy to distinguish.

Headphones:

Using headphones when gaming is where most people will use their sound cards. The on-board Realtek provided good sound through the headphones. Again, the enemies were easy to pick up, and the sounds were clear.

 

XtremeSound 5.1:

Speakers:

Switching to the XtremeSound 5.1 provided good sound output. The sound was crisp and the positional audio worked very well. The on-board Realtek ALC883 is not going to give up easily.

Headphones:

Gaming with the headphones on while using the XtremeSound 5.1 provided no discernible difference in sound quality. Clarity was very good, and the XtremeSound provided and immersive gaming experience.

 

TeamSpeak:

On-Board Realtek ALC883:

Headset:

While in TeamSpeak using an Altec Lansing Headset after mic levels were set sound quality was clear. Speaking into the mic boom was not a problem, and there were no complaints on levels.

 

XtremeSound 5.1:

Headset:

As with the on-board sound, output levels were crisp and clear. Mic levels were good, and there was noticeable difference.

 

Kill Bill 1 & 2:

Kill Bill has good range of sounds to test output quality and clarity. From Elle Driver whistling down the hospital hallway to Black Mamba taking on the Crazy 88 in the the House of Blue Leaves, the movie just rocks.

On-Board Realtek ALC883:

Speakers:

Every unsheathing of the katana and every squirting artery were heard with the on-board sound. Unbelievable output from the Realtek ALC883.

Headphones:

Listing to this movie using headphones is almost criminal. Again the Realtek audio shines.

 

XtremeSound 5.1:

Speakers:

The XtremeSound fell flat on the audio playbak of the movie soundtrack. I wasn't as immersed in the film and it seemed as if something was missing.

Headphones:

Again, through the headphones the XtremeSound 5.1 just wasn't as crisp and clear as the on-board HD audio.

 

CD Audio, iTunes:

On-Board Realtek ALC883:

Speakers:

Music sounded clear and quality was good. All notes were played where they should be, and there was no muddiness in the playback.

Headphones:

Finally a downfall in the on-board. Headphone output in music wasn't as vibrant as it was with the XtremeSound 5.1.

 

XtremeSound 5.1:

Speakers:

Seems as if the XtremeSound takes a sweep in the music testing. There was more pop and life in the music with the Diamond XtremeSound 5.1. Looks like it won't leave empty handed today.

Headphones:

Again, the quality of the music experienced from the XtremeSound reverberated through the headphones. Great experience.

 

SoundCheck:

SoundCheck allows us to compare the output signal to the input signal and view the results via output and input wave forms. We are looking for matching wave form patterns between input and output. Any anomalies are distortion in the signal.

 

On-Board Realtek ALC883:

 

 

 

Again the Realtek ALC883 puts in a good performance. The test above shows that the input waveform closely matches the Sine wave form of the output test pattern. In the Square wave form test output, we see some distortion on the leading and trailing edges of the wave.

 

XtremeSound 5.1:

 

 

 

The Xtremesound 5.1 input on both the Sine wave and Square wave outputs are less than desirable. There is visible distortion, and the sine wave input looks like the square wave output where there is considerable cutoff of the wave form.




  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Installation & Configuration
  3. Specifications & Features
  4. Testing
  5. Conclusion
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