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  Diamond XtremeSound 7.1 DDL soundcard review

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Diamond Multimedia is a company some of you PC Enthusiast veterans may remember. From my earlier PC owning days, the first add-on graphics card I purchased was a Diamond Monster 3D II 3DFX Voodoo2 8MB. Also way back when this site was called “3D Spotlight” we reviewed some of their most outstanding products like Voodoo and Rendition-based graphics cards, the Diamond Rio 500, and the Monster Sound soundcards. Since those days they have had a quite an interesting ride.

That is no longer important though, the brand is back, and they are giving it another shot with a complete product range.

Today we will be looking at one of their new audio products, the CMI8768+ based, Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 DDL (Dolby Digital Live) PCI soundcard. Featuring real-time Dolby Digital encoding, 24-bit/96kHz playback, 8-channel analog output, and a relatively low price tag, it’s a compelling product for sure.

Connectivity

The Xtreme Sound 7.1 features 4 Line outputs, Line In, Mic In, Optical S/PDIF-Out, and Optical S/PDIF-In on the soundcard’s bracket, which makes it extremely capable on the connectivity front.

As noted in our Creative X-Fi review essentially every non-Creative 7.1 soundcard uses 4 Line outputs. The use of Optical S/PDIF output will no doubt please many on the quality front (from a budget soundcard), while the Optical S/PDIF Input puts a cherry on top. Internally Aux In and CD In are available, not that the majority of people should care.

Over the course of the review the Xtreme Sound 7.1 was connected to several different output devices including the Panasonic SA-PM 19 Stereo, Creative Labs Inspire 6.1 6700, and Sennheiser HD-595 Headphones.

Out of the box

Documentation came in the form of a printed Quick Start guide for basic installation tips, with everything else needed on the drivers CD. Installation went smoothly with no hardware or software issues to speak about - I did encounter one during the X-Fi’s installation as a comparison.

Software and Drivers

Besides Drivers, the Xtreme Sound 7.1 “Bonus Software” included Acrobat Reader which is entirely forgettable, while WCPUID seems like an odd choice for a soundcard bundle. Audacity however is a “free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems”.

An Open Source application bundled with a soundcard? That is a first for me and I have reviewed many soundcards. Of some interest though, I’m unable find any mention on the Audacity website/forums of this bundling. You can always download it free even if you don’t buy the Xtreme Sound 7.1 – or want to try a newer build. Regardless of whether this is of use or not it’s nice to see Open Source software getting some exposure instead of another throw-away proprietary software inclusion.



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