Posted by Thomas
McGuire on October 03, 2001
Manufacturer: Hercules Product:
Find soundcard prices here.
qualitative testing of Music/Stereo sources with the
Fortissimo 2 I used my usual suspects so to speak. That
being Total Recall: The Deluxe Edition (CD), Enemy At The
Gates (CD), Aliens: The Deluxe Edition (CD), Gladiator (CD),
Predator (MP3 – 160Kbps), The Mummy (CD), Starship
Troopers (CD), The Perfect Storm (CD), Robbie Williams –
Sing When You’re Winning (WMA) & some other varied
stuff (Usually the MP3 Soundtracks installed with any of the
Games I have).
Audio quality for Music was great, much like I’d
experienced with the Game Theater XP, CDs sounded very clear
& no doubt benefited from the 20-Bit DAC (Digital-to-Analog
Conversion) that was used during playback of CDs –
Digital playback that is, not Analog (For Analog the DAC on
the CD/DVD Drive would be used, which could be of a lower
quality to the Soundcards). It will be interesting to see
what quality will be offered by the 24-Bit DAC on the
Creative Labs Audigy Soundcards, once matched with equally
good quality Speakers anyway.
MP3/WMA playback was good too, not particularly better than
any other Soundcard I used before, but not any worse either.
There were no real problems with any Audio artefacts being
audible, at least none I noticed that weren’t already
there before due to poor encoding or a Low-bitrate. One of
the main differences between the CS4624 & CS4630 DSP is
that of Hardware MP3 Decoding of a single MP3, which the
Fortissimo 2 lacks. This isn’t a bad thing however as the
feature has poor compatibility & some other issues which
I’ve mentioned in the Game
Theater XP Review.
DVD playback the Fortissimo 2 comes with Power DVD 3 - 4
Channel Edition as part of the Software Bundle. This is a
really great quality Software DVD Decoder, both in terms of
Visual & Audio quality. Regarding the S/PDIF Output mode
available in Power DVD 3, this will output the AC-3/DTS
stream of a DVD to your Hardware Decoder. This is achieved
by connecting an Optical cable (Not included, probably due
to the cost of such cables no doubt) from the Optical Output
jack on the Fortissimo 2 to the Optical Input of a
compatible decoder. Only the DTT2500 Dolby Digital Decoder
was at my disposal so this feature remains untested,
although using the Coaxial S/PDIF Output on the Game Theater
XP worked just perfectly so I doubt that Fortissimo 2 would
raise any issues in this area either.
Speaker mode output was quite good & assuming your Front
Speakers aren’t too far apart you should have a thoroughly
enjoyable experience with the Audio quality offered by Power
DVD. If your Front Speakers are far apart then you’ll get
a far better experience from DVDs with a real Centre channel
available (Although you’d also need either a Optical Input
accepting Decoder & 5.1 Speaker system to get all these
Channels). Some of the DVDs I tested out being Predator,
Saving Private Ryan & Platoon.