Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 with Dolby Digital Live Sound Card
The Package & Software
The package for the Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 comes well packaged in a box designed to hold the product snugly when shipped. Inside the box is documentation and the driver CD.
Taking a closer look at the Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 card, we can see that the audio codec is the CMI 8768+ chip. This chip is responsible for delivering the Dolby Digital Live feature in digital mode, and 8 channels of audio in analog mode.
For those of you keeping tabs on the PC audio market, Diamond is using the same chip that BlueGears uses on their X-Mystique 7.1.
On the back of the card are four stereo jacks for your speakers and two optical jacks for digital input and output. Unlike the Sound Blaster X-Fi, there isn't a joystick port.
The software that comes with the Xtreme Sound 7.1 DDL is not fancy and has all the basic controls. You can choose analog or digital (with Dolby Digital Live) output, turn Xear3D on or off (more on this shortly), adjust mixer levels, apply DSP effects, and speaker settings. There are even key shift and karaoke sliders in case you need them.
The Xear3D setting is an interesting effect that enhances the audio output and spans the audio across all channels. In practice, I found this setting fairly good at enhancing effects. I will provide more impressions of this feature in the subjective listening section of this review.
There is even a media player bundled, but it's pretty crude compared to what you can download freely on the Internet.
Included with the Xtreme Sound 7.1 is audio editing/authoring software called Audacity. Audacity is an Open Source editor that packs a lot of functionality but is a bit awkward to use for a casual or novice user. However, it's a good program for those seriously looking to create and edit audio. This is the first time I've seen Open Source software bundled with PC hardware.
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