Page 12 - Movies
DVD Revenge of the Mind Trick
What is the point of having an encoding sound card just to play games? Well, glad you asked, muhfriend. You watch movies. And we watched a lot of movies with the X-Meridian, so much so that our burn rate was about 9 a week. Not enough to trip the Netflix throttle, but close. We used the VLC player to play movies. This is a style choice, as this reviewer tries to keep down the cruftware that accompanies a PowerDVD or WinDVD installation.
An example movie.
Now then, when we plugged in our Logitech Z-680s into the X-Meridian for testing we discovered the first surprise: the backplane is mislabeled. We covered this earlier in the review, however, but nothing gives the feeling of uh-oh like dialog coming from the wrong speakers. (edit: I didn't read the manual, the backplane is correctly labeled for 7.1 systems. 5.1 systems use side surround, thanks!) Once that was all sorted out, and Episode IIIs opening scene played out, long after the neighbors complained about the noise, I came to a conclusion about Episode III I never had before: It was so glorious!
When switching to the digital modes, which Episode III supports Dolby, it was clear that the analog mode simply blows away the Z-680s digital decoders. The two encoding methods DTS and DD Live both offer decent surround methods, but lacked the sense of depth that the analog surround mode offered. Clearly, the X-Meridian has very good output, and will mate very well with high-end home theatre setups.
We did notice some dynamic range problems in a few movies that were dialog heavy, such as The Name of the Rose, where the voice levels were quite low. I'm not sure if VLC has it, but PowerDVD and WinDVD both for sure have compression to even out the loud and soft ranges of a movie.
Well, as a media player VLC does a pretty good job, but it wont play the ultra-high resolution 2-channel 24 bit/192 KHz files found on DVD-Audio discs. Creatives DVD-Audio player does play those files, and sounds excellent doing it, if it doesnt BSOD, as was our case.
On Sad But True, off Metallicas Black Album, we happily scared off small animals and frightened the children in our building. Basically, any sound that came out of the speakers was of excellent quality. I did not expect such a large difference between the X-Meridian and the X-Fi, but it was obvious the X-Meridian presented much more space than the X-Fi did, in either Stereo or 5.1 surround.
For something more challenging, The Beach Boys Pet Sounds DVD-Audio disc offers 5 different ways of playing the album, including the original mono mix. Basically, the same difference as noted above: X-Meridian offers excellent output, noticeably in depth of soundstage.
Basically, nearly every DVD and CD, from Dr. Strangelove to The Matrix to Porco Rosso, the X-Meridian provided exceptional sound. In some cases, X-Meridian was roughly equal to Creatives X-Fi, and in other cases it was not even funny how much better the X-Meridian sounded. Honestly, two boxes of Kleenex to catch all the drool.
For those who bought the X-Plosion, Auzentech offers a $50 trade-in for the upgrade to the X-Meridian. This is a good deal. The features are not changed from the X-Plosion, however, the increase in sound quality do make it a better choice.