Diamond XS 7.1 Sound Card
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: June 24, 2007
Price: $29.99 USD
One of the most popular gems in the world is the diamond. It is pure, clean, and extremely eye catching. Today we have Diamond’s XS 7.1 sound card and we’re going to see if its product can captivate the ears much like a diamond does the eyes. We're going to find everything out about this card to see if the Dolby EX gives the extra edge in any tests. Will this card sound crisp and pure consistently throughout the vigorous tests? Will it be able to pump out quality sound when placed under high demand? And finally, how will it do against a card that is in its division? Let’s open it up and find out!
Diamond Multimedia has been around for two decades producing some of the best graphics, sound, and communications products on the market. The company has pulled together many different aspects of computing to create a company that stretches across many different markets in order to reach out and captivate as many customers as possible.
While you can buy this sound card, I didn't get any packaging for the sound card because of how new it is. So let’s go ahead and look at what you get when you purchase this card. You’ll get the sound card, which is shipped in an anti-static bag, and a bag that contains an instruction booklet and a software CD.
The sound card has ten ports on it. Starting with the green port and going down you have: Front-Out, Rear-Out, Center-Out, Bass, Microphone In, Line-In, S/PDIF-In and S/PDIF Out. The black ports on the top right side of the card are the Aux-In and CD-In ports. Notice how the card is as long as the PCI slot connector, which is good because you know it won’t take up too much room inside your case.
When you install a new sound card, it’s always a good idea to go and uninstall all of the old drivers so that complications won’t arise. If you use something like “Driver Cleaner Pro” to remove the drivers, you should be good to go.
Turn off your computer and push the new sound card firmly into an open PCI slot, plug in your sound system’s cables into their designated ports, and then turn on your computer.
Now you can insert the included CD into your optical drive to begin installation.
There are 5 tabs in the program that is included with the Diamond XS 7.1 sound card. I’ll be giving a brief description of each so that you can get a feel for what this program enables you to do with your sound card.
The first tab is “Main Settings”, which is where the user can modify the basics of their setup, such as room layout and the number of speakers. For the room layout, the user can view it in 2 different formats; one is virtual layout, where you can change the virtual position of the speakers, and the other is for the real layout.
Next, we have “Mixer”, which is the exact same as the Windows mixer. This allows the user to have all the options consolidated into one program.
The “Effect” tab is my favorite tab of all, simply because this is where the user is given all the options to use predefined mixer settings to accommodate the sounds of different genres of sound. I was especially surprised to see “Live” as a setting because I have a ton of songs which were recorded live, so this setting gives me the feeling that I am standing in the crowd listening to the band play.
With Karaoke being more popular than ever, Diamond has created a tab in the program to make Karaoke a much more enjoyable experience and to get rid of the hassle of setting up the sound. The last tab is where the user can find all of the information for their card, see what drivers they are currently using, and more.
|Hardware Decode||Dolby EX, DTS|
|SPDIF In|| Coaxial
|SPDIF Out|| Coaxial
|Operating Systems Supported||Windows 2000 / Windows XP / Windows XP Media Center|
|Features||Front Out, Surround Out, Sub/Center Out, Rear Out, Line In, Mic In, S/PDRIF Digital Out, S/PDIF Digital In|
|Package Contents|| XS71 XtremeSound Sound Card
I’m going to be comparing this sound card against a Turtle Beach Montego 7.1 sound card (OCC Review). I will report how each card sounds with games, movies, and music. I'll also be checking for any sound clashes, wrong sounding notes, or crackling. Each sound card will be administered the same tests with Logitech's 5.1 X-540 speakers since I don’t have any S/PDIF cables around the house to test the 7.1 capability. There are going to be two different categories for each test, Diamond and Turtle Beach, with two subcategories, speakers and headphones. Every observation will be recorded.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Processor
- ASUS P5N32-SLi SE Deluxe Motherboard
- Mushkin XP2-6400 (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 Memory
- eVGA 7950GT KO Video Card
- Cooler Master 750watt Power Supply
- Western Digital 250GB IDE Hard Drive
- Western Digital 160GB SATA 3.0GB/s Hard Drive
- Seagate 80GB IDE Hard Drive
- LG DVD-R DL Burner
- Windows XP Media Center 2005
- Diamond XS 7.1 Sound Card
- Comparison Sound Card: Turtle Beach Montego DDL Sound Card
- Enermax Uber Chakra ATX Full Tower Case
- iTunes (Music)
- Team Speak (Voice Application)
- Counter-Strike: Source, Battlefield 2, and World of Warcraft (Gaming)
- Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (DVD Movie)
Diamond XS 7.1:
- Speakers: The quality of sound produced from this sound card was very good. However, everything sounded like one big sound - not distinct. If I turned some sounds higher than others, it sounded as if that sound made the whole song stop for that note. I did get it to crackle at a high volume but it wasn't too noticeable. As far as volume goes, I could take this sound card relatively high, but it wasn't as loud as the Montego. The settings that the program had were absolutely wonderful because there were so many settings to put the mixer on. I especially liked the mixer setting of "Live" because it gave a real touch to the song making it sound as if I was at a concert listening to the band.
- Headphones: Headphones really made the task of picking out wrong notes or crackling noises was hard. I didn't feel like the card produced one big sound here; it sounded as if I was listening to my iPod and not my computer. Everything sounded great with the headphones and I can't complain about volume because if I turned it up any louder than what I had it at, I wouldn't have ear drums anymore.
Turtle Beach Montego:
- Speakers: The Montego has to win in the speaker category simply because this card really plays all the different sounds distinctively. The volume was noticeably louder than with the Diamond card, but I still felt like this card could be a bit louder. I couldn't get any crackles out of the sound card even when I turned it full blast. The software was decent but had nowhere near as many mixer settings as the Diamond software.
- Headphones: I can honestly say that I couldn't tell the difference between either card with headphones on. Each of them sounded perfect.
Team Speak (Test):
Diamond XS 7.1:
- Headset: TeamSpeak RC2 is a program designed for teams or clans to use with microphones while they play video games together. My buddies and I got onto the OCC Counter-Strike: Source server and fragged for a few hours. During that time, I really got a feel for this sound card. Nothing sounded out of line at any time, no matter how loud everything was. I heard all my buddies as if they were sitting right next to me and they said I sounded crystal clear. Overall, it was a very good experience.
Turtle Beach Montego:
- Headset: My friends couldn't even tell that I switched sound cards during this test, so I was obviously happy about that.
Diamond XS 7.1:
- Speakers: This card is equipped with Dolby EX, which is for gaming scenarios. I could definitely tell the difference between this card and my on board sound and my old sound card. I was astonished at how much better it sounded with the Dolby EX enabled. I still felt like the sounds weren't too distinct, so that was pretty annoying.
- Headphones: What? I had headphones on during this test? I couldn't even tell. Everything sounded very good and I felt like I was closer to the game since the sound was closer to me. No problems occurred during this test.
Turtle Beach Montego:
- Speakers: I was very glad that this card played everything distinctively because it really gave me the upper hand while fragging my noob friends since I could clearly hear them running.
- Headphones: I still couldn't tell that I swapped out cards during this test.
Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Test):
Diamond XS 7.1:
- Speakers: This card certainly wiped the floor clean with on board sound. I could undoubtedly tell the difference between this card and on board sound and I was amazed at how many more sounds I could hear. I'm still sticking with my claim that this card makes all the sounds sound like one big sound. It wasn't too noticeable in the movie but I could still hear it.
- Headphones: I like watching movies with speakers much better than with headphones because of the surround sound. The sound was good in the headphones and I have no complaints about it.
Turtle Beach Montego:
- Speakers: This sound card has Dolby Digital Live and boy was it noticeable. I could tell a major difference in the movie with this sound card over the Diamond XS because of the DDL capability. Dolby Digital Live is the new way that I'm watching all my movies that support it because it really makes everything sound a lot better.
- Headphones: Even in the headphones I could tell the difference that Dolby Digital Live made.
So what can we conclude with these results? I think it's safe to say that the Diamond sound card kept up with the Montego in all the testing, except when I was watching a movie. However, the Dolby EX capability with this card really propelled it ahead of the Montego while I was gaming. I think it was evident that this card doesn't play sounds very distinctly, but it is much better than onboard sound, without a doubt. In the picture below, you can see the Diamond card on the right and the Montego on the left.
After thoroughly testing both sound cards, I think I have a really good grasp on how they work and what their abilities are. I’m going to have to say that the Diamond card wasn’t as good as the Turtle Beach card for a few reasons. The main reason was that the card made everything sound as if it was just one sound coming out of the speakers – not very distinct. I also heard some crackling when the volume was turned up as high as it could go. The volume couldn’t go nearly as high as the Montego’s volume could, so volume has to be a con. There were some things that I liked with this card though. I was really impressed with the software and how many options I was able to choose from. Getting everything set up and installing the card was a breeze. The main thing that saves this card is its price. It retails for thirty dollars, which is half the price of the Turtle Beach card. So if you’re looking for something that certainly sounds better than on-board sound but don’t want to spend too much, look into this card.
- Sound (Isn’t very distinct)