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The Control Panel window is divided into six tabs.

nForce control panel

The Main tab consists of three sections (Speaker Output Levels, Equalizer, Input and Output) and carries the basic sliders to set up the signal levels, equalizer parameters and so on. Note that the sliders don’t set up sound volumes, but change the amplifier coefficient (frequency characteristic) from 0dB (lowest position) to infinity (highest position). As a nice addition, there is a per-channel volume indicator that tells whether there is any signal at all. It shows peak levels in orange and overloads – in red. The equalizer allows loading any preset from a long list.

Speaker Setup window

The Speaker Setup tab allows configuring the type of your speaker system and choosing analog or digital output. It’s here that you set 3D sound as well as volumes for each channel. Besides, you can test every satellite of the system by turning on the test signal.

The options gathered in the Surround Settings tab require some comments:

  • Dolby Surround Encoding: activates the encoding of audio data for further playback through the home theater receiver (the data stream is taken from the analog stereo-output solely);
  • Dolby Digital Encoding: allows encoding audio data for playback through the 5.1 receiver of the home theater (uses the digital S/PDIF output);
  • Create Center Channel: generates audio data for the central channel from ordinary stereo (suits well for playback of MP3, WMA and other file types);
  • Create Channel 3D Pan: uses the central channel to create panorama for sound effects when they go in between the left and right satellites (games with DirectSound 3D only);
  • Create LFE Channel: this option shapes up a low-frequency signal for a speaker system with an independent subwoofer. If this option is enabled, the user can change the crossover frequency (see below);
  • Rear Speaker Phase Shift: controls the phase shift for rear satellites;
  • LFE Crossover Frequency: corrects the low-frequency signal volume for front satellites and routes it to the subwoofer (the value varies in the range from 50 to 500Hz).

MIDI sound setup window

The MIDI tab is…well, for MIDI content. The Downloadable Sounds section allows loading/unloading DLS and SoundFont sample banks. Any changes can be listened to right here, on a test MIDI-file. The drop-down menu below lists surround sound presets and allows customizing effects. This section is nearly the same as the one on the Environment tab (see below).

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