primary selling point of the SonicXplosion DVD is, as
you’ve probably guessed, DVD playback & related
features. To be perfectly clear the SonicXplosion itself in
no way performs any Dolby Digital/DTS decoding,
rather this is all down to InterVideo
WinDVD 4. WinDVD is itself perhaps the most well
regarded software DVD decoder at the moment and the bundled
release comes with all the necessary features to enjoy DVD
playback on your PC.
bundled version of WinDVD 4 appears to be a hybrid of WinDVD
4 & WinDVD 4 Plus given its support for, & lack of
support for, several WinDVD4 Plus features.
that the SonicXplosion is capable of 5.1 analog output
WinDVD is similarly limited to at most 5.1 analog output. As
a result Dolby Digital Surround EX decoding support is
unavailable, yet DTS decoding and Dolby Pro Logic II support
remains. Suffice to say, out of the box at least the
SonicXplosion DVD is one of the most DVD feature complete
Soundcard packages currently available. Though this could
apply to just about another other Soundcard as well were you
to purchase PowerDVD XP or WinDVD 4 Plus for it.
wise the following options were available in the Setup
my case I set WinDVD to use 5.1 analog output. For further
tuning WinDVD I’d recommend using WinDVD
Tweaker. It’s also worth re-pointing out that
DVD playback is essentially the only area where 5.1 output
is available with the SonicXplosion as it lacks a virtual
5.1 mode as is available with many other Sensaura based
Soundcards, e.g. Santa Cruz & Game Theater XP.
testing DVD playback with the SonicXplosion I used both, the
bundled WinDVD 4 and PowerDVD XP. Both software decoders
support S/PDIF Output which I quickly tested by connecting
the SonicXplosion’s Optical S/PDIF Output to my Sound
Blaster Extigy’s Optical Input. The Dolby Digital LED lit
up as could be expected with both players (After setting
them to their respective S/PDIF Output mode & the
SonicXplosion’s Digital Output to Digital Mix/DVD
& playing a DVD).
I then tested out included
, The Fellowship of the Ring (Both regular & special editions),
Se7en, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Fellowship of the Ring,
Minority Report, The Office & some others. Audio format
wise this covered - Dolby Digital, Dolby Stereo & DTS.
playback with the system is rather pleasant & using a
speaker system like the Inspire 6700 there seemed little
difference in audio quality as compared with the Audigy 2.
Sound positioning was great in all cases, though this had
little to do with the Soundcards, rather the respective
decoders used & using the Control Panel I could further
optimize the sound by adjusting the volume level for 4
general channels – Front, Rear, Subwoofer & Center
channel. Dialog & all other effects were reproduced as
well as the system allowed & the SonicXplosion was hard
to fault in any respect.