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      Hercules Game Theater XP 6.1 and XPS 510 Surround Speakers Review

     
     
     Date: January 9th, 2002
     Type: Review
     Supplier: Guillemot
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $329 AUS (R.R.P.) for Game Theater XP 6.1, $199 AUS (R.R.P.) for XPS-510 Speakers
     

    These days the personal computer is not just a work device, many people use them for playing games or even watching DVD's, this means that not only do you require a decent graphics card but also a decent sound card with full dobly digital surround sound and of course what you need to go with this is a set of speakers with decent power output and a Subwoofer. With this kind of setup you have a powerful home entertainment system at your fingertips.

    The Game Theater XP 6.1 (soon be released later this week - $329 AUS (R.R.P.)) has many features that are not found with other setups, for starters not only do you have the sound card, but it is connected via a large parallel style cable (DB44) to an external unit (rack) which provides additional functionality and more power.

    The Game Theater 6.1 Package Contains:

  • Game Theater XP PCI Sound Card and External Rack
  • 2 meter cable to link Sound Card to External Rack
  • Headphone Adapter
  • Installation CD-ROM
  • Installation Guide
  • As you can see by the above photos the bundle is rather packed full of big goodies, the three main parts are the soundcard itself, the rack and then finally the 2m DB44 cable to connect the rack to the sound card. Even though the rack is yet another component its simple and stylish design make it pleasant to the eye. One of the main benefits from having this external rack is that the volume controls and ports are easily accessible whenever needed.

    The Soundcard:

  • A powerful Cirrus Logic audio processor to take full advantage of the 3D audio effects in games on 2,4,6 or 7 (6.1) speakers, without slowing down performance (Microsoft DirectSound 3D, EAX 2.0 and A3D 1.0 Hardware Accelerators).
  • 360 degree sound positioning, thanks to Sensaura audio technology.
  • External rack for easy access to the audio connectors, game port and the 4 USB ports.
  • The circuit board itself looks just like a normal soundcard, the only main differences are that there are far fewer chips on the circuit board (mainly because the rack has alot of the hardware within it), and the second is that there is only two main plugs on the back, firstly the DB44 one and then a AUX Input jack.

    6.1 Channel Surround Sound for DVD Fans - Using PowerDVD Pro 6.1 and the Game Theater XP 6.1, users can enjoy:

  • Dobly Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
  • 6.1 Channel Surround Sound with the new generation of Dolby Digital EX 6.1 DVD's.
  • 6.1 Channel Surround Sound with standard Dobly Digital 5.1 DVDs.
  • Dobly Headphones to discover the pleasures of surround sound on a standard headphone set.
  • DTS technology, via the digital outputs (coaxial / optical).
  • A Complete Studio for Audiophiles and MP3 Fans:

  • MP3 encoding and MP3 hardware decoding (MP3 Encode provided with MUSICMATCH Jukebox)
  • Accessible USB ports to connect USB MP3 players.
  • Gold-plated digital and optical audio inputs and outputs.
  • Pre-amplified microphone input with gain control.
  • Complete MIDI interface (DIN MIDI-In/MIDI-Out connectors)
  • As with any new products it also comes with free bundled software:

  • Gameloft package (utilities to play online and game demos including Rogue Spear, Midtown madness and others).
  • Sensaura Virtual Ear (3D sound positioning configuration utility).
  • PowerDVD (DVD player with 5.1 and 6.1 decoding and Dobly Headphones Technology).
  • MusicMatch Jukebox (complete digital audio solution).
  • Yamaha Soft Synthesizer S-YG50.
  • Sonic Foundry ACID Xpress (25 free loops).
  • Sonic Foundry SIREN Jukebox press (20 free MP3 rips/encodes).
  • Koolkaraoke Lite (up to 20 free songs).
  • Magix playR Jubebox.
  • Minimum System Requirements:

  • Windows 98/98/Me/2000/XP
  • Intel Pentium MMX 233MHz and higher or compatible
  • PCI 2.1 slot
  • 16MB RAM
  • CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive
  • Headphones or amplified speakers
  • Technical Specifications
    Data Transfer
  • PCI 2.1 bus
  • Audio Processor (DSP)
  • New Generation Crystal CS4630
  • Audio Converters
  • 18-bit ADC / 20-bit DAC
  • Wavetable Synthesizer
  • DSP accelerated synthesis engine allows for an unlimited number of voices (64-voice hardware)
  • 8MB General MIDI / GS sample set
  • DLS support - GM (General MIDI)
  • Yamaha Soft Synthesizer S-YXG50 (676 instrument and 21 drum kit soun
  • PCI Card Connectors
  • DB44 connecter to rack
  • 1/8" Aux Line-In jack
  • Front Connectors
  • 1/4" Headphone ouput jack with volume control
  • 1/4" Line-In 2 / Mic-In toggle with mic gain control
  • 1/4" to 3.5mm adapter provided
  • RCA Line-In jacks (left and right)
  • Game port & 2 USB ports (1 and 2)
  • Rear Connectors
  • 1/8" Main stereo Line-Out jack
  • 1/8" Surround stereo Line-Out Jack
  • 6 gold-plated Line-Out RCA connectors for speakers
  • 2 Additional USB ports (3 and 4)
  • DB44 connector to PCI card
  • Digital S/PDIF Input (Coaxial & Optical)
  • Digital S/PDIF Output (Coaxial & Optical)
  • MIDI In/Out DIN Connectors
  • Rack Dimensions
  • 4.3 x 21.6 x 15.5cm (1/2 U)
  • 2m cable between rack and PCI card
  • The rack has a nice stylish design and is rather well constructed making it a durable piece of hardware, along with the many features that it has all of the RCA plugs are gold plated to provide better quality connections.

    The above photo is just a quick snap to show what it looks like sitting onto of a normal computer tower, although it would be better mounted in an easily accessible place like your workstation computer desk.

    As with any PC hardware you want to make sure that your Device Drivers are up to date, for this reason we downloaded version 3.02 (latest current release at time of review) for the Game Theater XP which was available at http://au.hercules.com/support/ (Drivers for Windows 95/98/98SE/Me/2000/XP). Once you have the Game Theater XP setup its time to plug your speakers in. These drivers will be required when you install the Game Theater XP into your computer system.

    NEXT: Hercules XPS-510 Speakers

     

      Supplier Information

     

    Hercules Australia (a division of the Guillemot Corporation) have a wide variety of computer gaming and multimedia products from the Graphics Cards to Sound Cards, TV cards, Speakers and also other gaming equipment, they are one of the leading brands in todays rapid computer technology market. If you would like more information on the company then please visit there site: www.guillemot.com.au, alternatively if you would like to browse the Hercules product line then you can visit there Australian site: au.hercules.com.

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