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Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM Review

Former staff writer    -   March 9, 2007


Testing:

I will be testing the SRM on desktop. Normally when I test sound cards or headphones it is mostly by ear. This time I will not only conduct my normal testing, but I will use RightMark, which is an audio testing benchmark. I am very interested in how the Audio Advantage stacks to on-board sound.


Testing Setup:

Desktop:

  • AMD 64 3700+ Sandy
  • MSI K8N Neo4 Platinum
  • OCZ Platinum Rev. 2 DDR 3200 2x512 Memory
  • XFX 7600 GT XXX
  • Realtek AC97 5.1 On Board Sound
  • Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM
  • Logitech X540 5.1 Speakers
  • Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA Headphones
  • Antec 500W Smart Power 2.0
  • Maxtor Diamond Max 10 200Gb SATA
  • Memorex 52x CD/RW
  • Windows XP Media Center

Benchmarks and Apps:

  • iTunes (Music)
  • Team Speak (Voice Application)
  • Call of Duty 2 (Gaming)
  • You Me and Dupree (DVD Movie)
  • RightMark 3D (Sound Benchmark)

iTunes (Test):


Speakers:

Since I listen to a wide range of music, it's very important to me to be able to hear highs and lows as clear as they were meant to be. I want sound that will fill the room and allow me to feel the ambiance and bass - I want it to surround my senses. I will be honest in that up until a short time ago, I was very satisfied with on-board sound and believed it came a long way from the days of the Pentium computers. Recently my mind has changed. The advantage of using add-on sound cards is by far more beneficial, even if there is a small difference in sound quality. Add-on sound cards as I have tested, do not eat as much system memory as on board sound.


Realtek AC97 Sound:

Was I able to experience the highs, lows and ambience? Yes, but nowhere near the quality of my home entertainment system. There was a lack of bass and when I left the room, the sound didn't travel with me - it became less distinguishable, as I was only really able to make out the words and hear the repetitive beats. I adjusted many controls and was still unable to get the quality I preferred; the sound was either too tinny or too flat. At times, the bass was non-existent or too heavy. The Realtek control panel has great options, but I knew what I was expecting and didn't get the results I was looking for.


Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM:

Was there an advantage when I used the Audio Advantage SRM? Yes. Immediately, without even tweaking the control panel, there was music - music with depth and purpose. I could sense that I had speakers behind me and the room became full. Leaving the room, the sound followed me and didn’t start to fade until I got much farther away from the room than with the on-board sound.


Headphones:

Luckily I have many sets of headphones to choose from. Since the Audio Advantage has a Mini Din connection, it's easy to plug in the Ear Force set directly into the module, but what do I use in the Realtek ports? Since my Razer headphones are very similar to the Ear Force headphones being 5.1 surround, I chose to use them.


Realtek AC97 Sound:

The quality was somewhat better than it was with the speakers, but it didn’t seem like I was part of the music. I couldn’t get the speakers to truly separate the sound, so to take effect of the different channels.


Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM:

Since the control panel has so many options, I was able to tweak the setting so that I was able to actually hear the separation of the music I was listening to. The effects settings were a great help and I moved the virtual position of the speakers to different positions, to acquire a perfect listening environment. Some eighties music I listen to switches channels from left to right and front to rear. I guess that was an attempt back then to give the effect of surround sound. Well get rid of those old 4-way speakers - I almost felt as if I was spinning because of the way the music circled throughout the headset.


Team Speak (Test):


I used team speak with headphones only. What I wanted to find out, was how well the microphone transmits my voice. Will whomever I was chatting with be able to hear me clearly or will I sound broken up? Both the sound cards performed similarly, but the Audio Advantage had an extra perk - a built-in microphone. The built-in microphone picks up sound so well, that I actually had to move the SRM five feet away from me, because I was told that I was screaming. Finally, I did have to attach the headphone mic, when the dog started barking. By attaching the microphone to the headset, the microphone on the SRM is disabled. Again, I had no problems with having everyone hearing me clearly.


Call of Duty 2 (Test):


I love to game and when I do, it is usually Call of Duty 2. What I expect out of a sound device when gaming, is clarity and the ability to hear my opponent before they turn the corner and get me first. Call of Duty 2 is a FPS which contains a lot of background noise due to it being it of the WW2 genre. So if I could hear footsteps which are usually quite low, I’ll have an advantage over my opponent.


Realtek AC97:

Speakers:

I really cannot comment too much on the quality. There was mostly a bunch of noise and at times it seemed that only my center speaker was working - there was no separation of sound.


Headphones:

Using the headphones was definitely better. I was able to separate sound and at least hear my opponents better. Not as well as I would prefer, but on the whole, it was better. Most gamers use headphones. Why? We don’t want to disturb our families at four am for a start. Voice activation worked well. My team-mates and I were able to communicate, but at times I had a hard time understanding them due to the abundance of background noise in the game.


Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM:

Speakers:

Was there a big difference? Yes and No. Yes, because using the control panel, I was able to tweak the speakers to separate sounds more evenly. This did help because the background noises were more focused to my side and rear speakers. And no, because it was still a little hard to hear my opponents footsteps as I would prefer, although it was an improvement over the on-board sound card.


Headphones:

Tada, I got what I wanted: clarity, separation and the ability to communicate and hear my team-mates. My kill ratio went up approximately seven percent, since I was expecting my opponent; it was also nice to be able to know in what direction they were coming from.




  1. Introduction & Closer Look
  2. Closer Look Continued
  3. Installation and Configuration
  4. Configuration Continued
  5. Specifications and Features
  6. Testing
  7. Testing Continued
  8. Testing & Conclusion
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