The Revolution is Done
If you're looking for a sound card in the $100 range, you really should give the Revolution 7.1 a listen. The Revolution 7.1 does not disappoint. It is a high-quality 24 bit/192kHz sound card that caters to the gamer and music lover. If you absolutely need every frame that you can get out of a game, which may be the case for Doom III, then there are other choices. But if you care more about sound quality than FPS, then the Revolution 7.1 should be on a very short list of sound cards.
There are many things that it does not do. It does not load buggy drivers, for instance. Nor does it make inane, hard-to-disable jingles at startup. It won't antagonize you with 'helper' toolbars or AOL advertisements. The Revolution 7.1 does not crash with games, benchmarks, or DVD's. It does not induce hair loss. This is a good thing.
The lack of DirectSound acceleration may at first glance seems like a negative point against the Revolution 7.1. In reality, even modest computer systems are fast enough to make up the extra difference. It should not make a visible difference in games. You'll see a far greater difference in upgrading to a newer, faster video card or CPU. The RMAA 5.1 measurements produced a 'very good' assesment of the Revolution 7.1, and I think it is better than what it measured. You can consider those RMAA results as the very least you will get from your own Revolution 7.1.
In games, the Revolution 7.1 will certainly impress, but it won't blow you away. The Sensaura 3D game mode induced a slight lag (about 1/16th of a second) in the games that I used. Since I don't believe the 3D placement technology really works in today's games, I left the Sensaura off. In RTS and sneakers, the Revolution 7.1 works fine, but lacked a little bit of depth and that magic Immersion Factor. For straight-up shooters, the Revolution 7.1 produced exceptional sound, and should be a strong consideration if you're interested in getting all the advantage you can get. It won't help you aim any better, but you'll definitely hear 'em coming.
In DVD's the SRS TruSurroundXT technology is interesting and works like it should, but the effect is a little too much for my tastes. The Dialogue Enhancement and TruBass are neat to play with and work great with external speakers, but didn't work well with headphones.
The Revolution 7.1 is refreshing for its simplicity and utter lack of annoyances. That simplicity translates into a high quality sound card with solid professional feeling behind it. See if you can't ask Roj to let you come over to his house to listen to a Revolution 7.1.
Works Cited, Blah, Blah, Blah
Special thanks, as always, to the man, the Godfather, Hilbert Hagedoorn, for letting me continually write blathering reviews that take forever to complete. And special thanks to M-Audio for providing the review sample Revolution 7.1. We'll have it back RSN.
AMD 1700+ (@1466MHz)
Gainward GeForce4 4200
IBM 60GXP, 75GXP
M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Terratec DMX 6-fire
Rotel RX-846 reciever
Sony XA1-ES cd player
Rega Planar2 vinyl spinner w/Sumiko Blue Point MM cartridge
Grado SR-125 and SR-60 'phones
Metallica: St. Anger
ZZ Top: The Best Of
Rush: 2112 MSFL Gold disc
Prokofiev: Symphonies No. 1 & 6
Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Beastie Boys, and about 1200 other songs and artists. I'm serious.
This review dedicated to the SoBig worm.