As hinted previously
the Revolution 7.1 is a highly capable soundcard when it
comes to music playback, in several aspects more so than
competing consumer level products. However, not to be
confused by certain sources of misinformation, the
Revolution is currently not capable of DVD-Audio playback,
while the DACs used in the board are indeed promoted for use
with DVD-Audio players; the only current PC DVD-Audio
solution for now is the Audigy 2.
M-Audio offers the
following statement regarding DVD-Audio support:
The Revolution 7.1 software bundle is
already extremely full-featured, with over $200 of retail
software included, but M-Audio is actively working toward
offering upgraded new features to our users at the minimum
cost possible. Currently, no software DVD-Audio player is
available on the market. We are actively working with
developers of DVD-A player applications to try to accelerate
the development process. It is not yet clear whether it is
possible to support all of the required CPPM copy protection
in software-only, but early information looks promising.
If M-Audio is able to provide a
software-only feature upgrade to existing Revolution users,
we will attempt to do so at only marginal cost to interested
users: just enough to cover the cost of licensing the
software from a 3rd party, plus the cost of media &
shipping/handling. Users interested in taking advantage of
this opportunity should register their Revolution 7.1 card
with M-Audio. We will contact registered users when more
information is available.
Basically put, the
Revolution may, or may not, provide DVD-Audio support in the
future, if it does it appears that this capability will be
available to other manufacturers at that point though.
On a brighter note is
that the Revolution is capable of playing audio
without resampling up to 192 kHz when ‘No Surround
Processing’ is selected in the Surround Sound drivers
options. This is of most relevance when it comes to CD
playback, which is normally at 16-Bit/44.1 kHz. Most PC
Soundcards resample 44.1 kHz sources to 48 kHz, be it
Santa Cruz or Audigy 2, if it features an AC 97 codec
then it will do this.
For playback of CDs I
used Windows Media Player 9, while for MP3s I used
along with the
& ASIO Output plugins. For optimum output quality I
configured options as specified beneath:
Next I modified the
SSRC waveOut output plug-in, settings used shown beneath
Finally, I configured
the ASIO Output plug-in.
For testing music
playback I used a variety of sources including Medal of
Honor AA (128Kbps MP3), Episode II: Attack of the Clones
soundtrack (192Kbps MP3), ET soundtrack (CD), Close
Encounters of the Third Kind soundtrack (CD), Gladiator
(CD), The Two Towers (CD) and several others.
As I hoped, sound quality was excellent.
Based on listening tests with the MegaWorks 510D I’d have to
say the Revolution provides the best overall music playback
quality I’ve heard, with the Audigy 2 and Santa Cruz coming
close enough to some extents, certainly noticeably better
than the likes of the Live!, Audigy, nForce or Hercules
range. On a lower end system like the Inspire 6700 the
differences aren’t so distinct though.