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Subjective Listening Impressions

The aural part of the testing is always a subjective thing, but this is what you buy the card for – to listen to the sound. As I had anticipated Revolution 7.1 excelled Audigy2 as far as music playback is concerned. Its sound may be characterized as more emotional, with distinct voices. Even when SRS Labs algorithms are in use, there is no timbre misbalance. The musical picture is highly detailed, accompanied with good dynamic range. These subjective data were garnered via professional Sony MDR-7506 headphones (thanks to my friend, DJ), and speaker systems from Creative – MegaWorks 510D and Creative Inspire 6.1 6700 (special thanks to Creative Eastern Europe).

As for games, Revolution 7.1 loses to Audigy2, in my opinion. Revolution produces a less detailed music picture and is less efficient at positioning sound sources. This is no fault of the software developers who wrote the driver. The point is that Revolution uses Sensaura algorithms for games and these have never been better than Creative EAX. Of course, Revolution is mainly intended for music processing and playback rather than games and Sensaura is just another appendage to the card’s capabilities. Well, the card can give sound to games, but is no treat for a fastidious gamer.

Conclusion

Now, let’s have all of our i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

Revolution 7.1 has nothing to pit against Creative cards in computer games. The support of the half-dead Sensaura technology is no solace for such a high-quality card, while many hot games, like Hitman 2 and Splinter Cell, use EAX 3.0 (EAX Advanced HD). Of course, M-Audio Revolution 7.1 will suite nicely as a component of a home PC-based DVD-theater, but this application field is certainly too narrow.

Of course, Revolution 7.1 offers highest audio playback quality and its hardware part nearly corresponds to that of the professional sound cards. The card supports ASIO and seems to meet the demands of budding musicians, but I guess the absence of a digital output and MIDI interface will repulse many users. Of course, the absence of these and some onboard connectors was a move to make the product less expensive. However, the card is not priced appropriately. Today you can buy it for about $90, while Audigy2 comes to retail at $100. And while Revolution lacks certain functions, Audigy2 has a number of them, like its FireWire controller and so on…

Any revolution comes in with waving banners and standards. In our case we see no new standards support, and there is nothing new the card can actually. So, this revolution is just a name: the marketing men do their job well. 

Highs:

  • High-quality hardware components;
  • Eight-channel speaker systems support;
  • Excellent results in SpectraLAB;
  • ASIO support;
  • User-friendly and informative control panel;
  • Good technical support.

Lows:

  • Inappropriate pricing;
  • Poor 3D sound in games;
  • DirectSound is only supported through Sensaura libraries;
  • No digital input;
  • No internal auxiliary connectors;
  • No MIDI support.
 
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