Hercules Gamesound Fortissimo II - HotHardware

Hercules Gamesound Fortissimo II

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The Hercules Gamesound Fortissimo II
Big Sound, Small Price...

By Robert Maloney
April 17, 2002

Before we begin, I would like to give you a little background information because this is my debut appearance on HotHardware.  I have been working on and with computers for most of my life (as I am sure most of you reading this can say the same) and consider myself somewhat of a techno-geek. New hardware always makes me a drool, even when I have no need for it. My first IBM clone was a sleek 486DX50 with a whopping 4MB of RAM. Being a novice to clones at the time, I bought this one with only two words in my head as a requisite: ?SOUND? & ?BLASTER?. All of the advice I heard said that you needed one of these cards to play the latest games, and I fell in love with them. Over time, I upgraded from my original SBPro, to the SB16, then the AWE32, AWE64, PCI 128, and finally the SB Live! and Audigy. At one point in my career, I even contemplated working as field representative for Creative Labs, although that never panned out. At any rate, I had recently run into bouts with my Athlon XP system, and what I thought was the infamous ?squeal of death? from my Audigy. At last it seemed like it was time for something new?

Enter the Hercules Gamesurround Fortissimo II, a soundcard that is advertised as being made for both the "hardcore and casual gamer". Priced at around $60 U.S., it fits in nicely between Hercules? high-end GameTheatreXP ($150) and their entry-level MuseXL ($30). The original Fortissimo was based on the Yamaha YMF744 chipset that worked admirably at the time, but is not sufficient for today?s demanding user. The Fortissimo II is based on the Crystal SoundFusion 4624 audio processor, a slightly scaled down version of the SoundFusion 4630 processor found in the GameTheatreXP and Turtle Beach?s Santa Cruz. The comparison between the two is not unlike comparing an AMD Duron with an Athlon. What is missing then, you ask? Well, with the 4624 chipset, you only get 4 channel gaming, and no MP3 acceleration where the 4630 supports 6 channels and MP3 acceleration. What this means is that you won?t get any 5.1 speaker support, which may lead to some consternation among audiophiles, especially those who watch DVDs (and paid extra for that center channel speaker). MP3 acceleration is not really a concern, however, since just about every modern PC has enough power to use ?software? decoding for MP3s. Let?s look at the specifications:
 

Specifications / Features of the Fortissimo II
Full Featured Audio
DATA TRANSFER:
PCI 2.1 bus

AUDIO PROCESSOR (DSP):
Cirrus Logic SoundFusion CS4624

AUDIO QUALITY:
CD and Pro Audio quality 20-bit quad output and
18-bit dual stereo input codec
Up to 48kHz sampling rate

GAME COMPATIBILITY:
Sensaura based 3D positional Audio with support for Microsoft DirectSound? 3D,
EAX? 1.0, EAX? 2.0 ,
A3D? 1.0, I3DL2?, MacroFX?,
MultiDrive?, ZoomFX?, EnvironmentFX?
Legacy audio support for older DOS games

AUDIO COMPATIBILITY:
Compatible with Microsoft? DirectSound? and DirectMusic?
Compatible with Dolby Surround?

SOFTWARE WAVETABLE SYNTHESIZER:
DSP accelerated engine for unlimited number of voices (64-voice hardware)
8MB General MIDI/GS? sample set
GM?(General MIDI) and Yamaha XG? compatible
Yamaha S-YXG50?:
676 instrument sounds and 21 drum kits
Effects: reverb, chorus, variation...

EXTERNAL CONNECTORS:
Analog din with: mic-in, headphones, front and rear speakers
Digital In / Digital Out
Game Port
Line-in


CLICK ANY IMAGE FOR AN ENLARGED VIEW

Opening the well-adorned box, I found the soundcard itself (made on the standard Hercules blue PCB, which anyone familiar with their video cards should be used to seeing), a driver CD, a DIN cable with four connectors, an installation manual and a manual for PowerDVD 3.0. The card has everything that users are looking for, with a few twists.

At the top if the bracket, is a DIN connection, replacing the usual input jacks for the microphone, speakers, etc. A single cable attaches to the DIN port and splits into four cables, one each for front and rear output, microphone, and even a separate one for headphones, saving valuable space on the card's back plate. Then there are the line-in connector, two S/PDIF TOSLINK inputs and output connectors, and finally the game port. The connections on the PCB were for CD-IN and AUX-IN, but noticeably missing was a S/PDIF 2-pin connection, used for digital connection to a CD or DVD drive.
 

Quality & Installation 

 

 

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