Turtle Beach Montego DDL Sound Card

Makaveli - 2007-05-28 23:53:06 in Sound Cards
Category: Sound Cards
Reviewed by: Makaveli   
Reviewed on: June 10, 2007
Turtle Beach
Turtle Beach
Price: $59.99 USD

Introduction:

With surround sound being more popular than ever before, the demand for sound cards that can handle a 7.1 speaker setup is quite high.  Everyone wants to be immersed into their music, games, and movies. So what is a better way to do that than get the big 7.1 speaker home entertainment system? In order to use that entertainment system, you'll need a sound card that can handle the system and put out the sound you desire to hear. Turtle Beach’s Montego Dolby Digital Live (DDL) card is the first 7.1 sound card released from Turtle Beach. Let’s see how it performs when it’s put to the test of an avid gamer, musician, and movie-goer.

Turtle Beach is one of the biggest companies of the audio technology industry.  It has been around for more than 30 years, providing some of the most innovative audio products backed with a world renowned standard of high quality. Turtle Beach has always been an elite and innovative manufacturer in the audio industry and the company continues to strive to keep its place at the top of the list.


Closer Look:

The shipping box that the Montego DLL came in had the Turtle Beach logo tape on it and was in near perfect condition. The inside of the shipping box had plenty of packaging peanuts to keep the box from being damaged during shipping. The box has the card’s name over it, with a magnificent wave in the background looking as if it’s about to crash over the logo.  The back of the box boasts about how the card is the “complete surround sound solution” as well as the uses of the card and its software.  On the side of the box, you can read the specifications of the card.

 

 


Once you open the box, you’ll find a piece of cardboard folded up to securely hold the sound card in place. Included with the sound card is a quick start guide, a few messages for the user, and the software CD.

 


The sound card is packaged in an anti-static bag, which is the only way to safely ship a sound card.


I took out the card and examined the front and back. On the front you can see the Aux In/CD In ports and the audio chipset on the card. The back of the card has the card’s logo printed in white. There are 8 ports on the sound card. Starting with the green port, you have the front-out, rear-out, center, bass, microphone in, line in, S/PDIF Out, and S/PDIF In ports. The S/PDIF Out/In ports have plugs which you pull out in order to plug in the respective cables.  

 

 

Installation:

Before you install the sound card, it’s a good idea to remove all the sound drivers for the card you had installed before this card. To install the sound card, you’ll need a free PCI slot on your motherboard. Just firmly push the card into the PCI slot and then plug in your speakers into their respective ports and turn on your computer. 


 


 


Once you’re computer is on, insert the software CD into your optical drive and follow the on-screen instructions.


Configuration:

After you install the control panel, you’re going to have a plethora of options to tune your music to perfection.  Let’s take a look at the different tabs in the control panel. The first tab is called “Speakers”. This is where you can control the master volume, which speakers the sound comes out of, and arrange your speakers on the screen so that the software can adjust and play accordingly.


The next tab is the equalizer. Here you can select one of the 8 music categories with predefined slider values, or you can make your own profile and save it.

Configuration:

“Effects” is definitely my favorite tab because it allows the user to drag each speaker in the picture so that you can have it set up exactly how your setup looks like. For me, I have the sub somewhat in the middle and then my rear speakers mounted behind me and my front speakers in the front of me.  In the next column, you can tell the program what kind of environment you’re in. I told the program that I was in a large room (the basement) and that it was a music pub.



The last tab is “Mixer”, which is where you can modify the sliders for Wave, SW Synth, Microphone, CD Player, Line-In, and Master volume; just like the default mixer in Windows.


Included with the control panel software is a demo for “Audio Surgeon” and a program called “Recording Station”.  Since “Audio Surgeon” is a demo, I couldn’t do much, but I snapped a shot of the program so that you can get a gist of what it’s about.  The screenshot on the right is the “Recording Station”, which was fun messing with because it was really easy to make some pretty wild sounds.  

 


Specifications:

 

Model
Brand Turtle Beach
Model TBS-3300-01
Audio core
Channels 7.1
Sample Rate 96KHz
Digital Audio 24-bit
Hardware Decode Dolby Digital, DTS
Ports
Line In Yes
SPDIF In Up to 16bit/48kHz
SPDIF Out Optical
MIC In Yes
Spec
Interface PCI
Operating Systems Supported Windows 2000 Professional / Windows XP / Windows XP Media Center
Features
Features Front Out, Surround Out, Sub/Center Out, Rear Out, Line In, Mic In, S/PDRIF Digital Out, S/PDIF Digital In
Packaging
Package Contents TBS-3300-01 Montego DDL Sound Card
Driver Disk

Testing:

To test the sound card, I’m going to be comparing it against a Diamond XS 7.1 sound card. I’m going to critique on how each card sounds with music, games, and movies. I'll be checking for any sound clashes or wrong sounding notes. Both units are being tested with Logitech 5.1 X-540 speakers since I don’t have any S/PDIF cables around the house to test the 7.1 capability. Each application is going to have 2 different categories, Turtle Beach and Diamond, with two subcategories, which will be speakers and headphones. I will report any findings of mine throughout the testing.


Testing System:


Applications:


iTunes (Test):


Turtle Beach Montego:



Diamond XS 7.1:




 

Team Speak (Test):


Turtle Beach Montego:



Diamond XS 7.1:



 

Gaming (Test):


Turtle Beach Montego:



Diamond XS 7.1:




Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift  (Test):


Turtle Beach Montego:



Diamond XS 7.1:




 

The Diamond sound card isn’t that bad, but I felt like it played all the sounds almost as one whole sound. In other words, it wasn’t too distinctive with the notes.  The Montego was absolutely wonderful in distinctively playing each individual sound to make it all sound crisp. I could definitely tell with both sound cards that the categories in the mixer were roughly the same and sounded nearly identical. So overall, the Montego got better marks because of how it distinguished each note instead of sounding like one big sound as with the Diamond card. Also, the Dolby Digital Live capability of this card definitely made a noticeable difference in the movie.  Below is a picture of the two cards next to each other. The Montego is on the left; notice how the cards are almost identical with few differences.

Conclusion:

Music, games, and movies are nothing without sound. After looking at the results, you can get a pretty good idea that the Turtle Beach Montego sound card performs quite well against the competition. With the DDL (Dolby Digital Live) capability, you really can’t go wrong when you’re watching a movie. It was a completely different movie with Dolby Digital Live and I can't believe I've gone this long without having a DDL enabled sound card. The main reason I like this card over the Diamond XS 7.1 is that each sound is very distinctive instead of sounding like one giant mix of notes. My old sound card was huge and took up a lot of space in the case, but this sound card is as small as it can be to fit in the PCI slot. The software included was very good because it was very easy to use and really let me set up my environment and settings in a matter of minutes. If you’re picky like me when it comes to sound, but don’t want to break the bank with a new sound card, take a look at the Turtle Beach Montego DDL sound card. I would certainly recommend this card to my readers, friends, and family because it’s got a really good bang-for-the-buck. For some reason, I couldn't quite get the sound up to where I wanted it to be volume wise. Don’t get me wrong, it was very loud, but I felt like I needed a bit more.


Pros:


Cons: