MACWORLD - M-Audio plans surround sound Revolution

Audio and MIDI hardware maker M-Audio has released Revolution 7.1, which the company says is the first high-definition 7.1 surround sound card for Mac and PC systems that provides up to eight channels of professional 24-bit/192kHz audio with consumer-oriented features. M-Audio should be showcasing the Revolution at this week's Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

Revolution 7.1 is targeted to users who want to play DVDs and music in surround sound, experience more realistic gaming, and record or mix their own music. With direct analog output for up to seven speakers and a subwoofer, Revolution 7.1 supports both 5.1 and 7.1 formats.

The Revolution 7.1 card lets users experience up to eight channels of high-definition 24-bit/192kHz audio simultaneously. The product also supports stereo, 4.1 and 6.1 formats, and features Dolby Digital and DTS pass-through for external decoders on its digital output. The open source VLC Player -- available for download from M-Audio's Web site -- is one example of a Mac-compatible DVD player that currently supports pass-through (Apple's own DVD Player software does not yet support this feature).

Revolution 7.1, with 3D positional audio, is also designed with gamers in mind. It supports Sensaura, EAX, DirectSound, and A3D, although support for such technologies in the games themselves is required, of course. Surround sound can also be simulated on a two speaker system using the card's built-in SRS TruSurround XT technology. SRS Circle Surround II also provides surround sound to stereo CDs or MP3s, electronically separating instruments, vocals, and even crowd noises for multi-channel output.

Revolution 7.1's specs include a 107dB signal-to-noise ratio and low distortion (THD) rating of 0.0031 percent. The card delivers all eight channels at full 192kHz fidelity, according to M-Audio. Pricing wasn't available at the M-Audio Web site when last we checked.

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