Terratec Aureon Vs. AudioTrak Prodigy - HotHardware

Terratec Aureon Vs. AudioTrak Prodigy

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Terratec Aureon Vs. AudioTrak Prodigy
Two 7.1 24-Bit/192kHz Cards Under $150

by Jeff Bouton
September 18, 2003



For a long time, when you thought of a sound card there were two basic choices; there were cards from Creative Labs and then there was everyone else.  However, over recent years, there has been an increasing number of challengers, both new and old, looking to take a piece of Creative's pie.  Recently, we've seen some compelling choices arrive from M-Audio, AudioTrak and Terratec.  Each offers a moderately priced, yet powerful audio card based around VIA's ICEnsemble Envy 24HT audio processor, which provides 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 surround sound functionality.  The processor also offers up some advanced features, that help the card reach the widest audience, from the casual gamer to the audiophile looking for advanced recording and editing functionality.  While there are a few flavors of the Envy such as the 24 and 24PT, the 24HT is a powerful, cost effective processor that can be utilized in audio card designs or motherboards, to provide high end features for a reasonable price point. 

A while back our man Rob Maloney took an M-Audio Revolution 7.1 for a spin, pitting it against an Audigy 2 from Creative.  This time around, we have a go at two offerings from some seasoned veterans of the audio world, the Terratec Aureon 7.1 Space and the AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1.
 

Terratec Aureon 7.1 Space Bundle And Setup
A Lot of Potential



The Terratec Aureon 7.1 Space Bundle
 
Terratec Aureon 7.1 audio card
Aureon 7.1 User Guide
Cyberlink PowerDVD4
WaveLab Lite 2.0
MusicMatch Jukebox 7.1
Optical Audio Cable
Drivers

The Terratec Aureon 7.1 package included a fair amount of useful software including MusicMatch Jukebox and Cyberlink's PowerDVD 4.  For advanced editing capabilities, a copy of WaveLab Lite is included.  To top things off, Terratec included a "HotStuff" folder on the CD with a great selection of popular shareware titles.

The multilingual manual included an overview of the basic features of the Aureon 7.1 Space as well as detailed installation instructions.  Beyond that, we found the documentation rather brief, failing to cover the intricacies of the driver's features.  While it's doubtful that the experienced user will have any major questions, the novice will be left with little documentation to help get their questions answered, or to just get more familiar with their new audio card.

Along with the card and documentation, Terratec also included an Optical Audio Cable for connecting to the optical audio input/outputs of the Aureon 7.1.


Setup:

The Installation CD automatically runs, launching an intuitive interface as a portal to all of the CD's contents.  Along with the necessary drivers, there was a nice collection of other features to be found.  This is where the installers for the included software can be accessed as well as the Hot Stuff folder that has an ample collection of audio editing software demos.


 

AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 Bundle And Setup
Looking good

The AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 Bundle

AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 audio card
Prodigy 7.1 User Guide
InterVideo WinDVD4
FASOFT nTrack Studio
Emersys Maven 3D Pro
SpinAudio
Drivers

The AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 included its own complimentary software, including InterVideo's WinDVD4.  For the advanced user or the novice looking to dabble in audio editing, copies of nTrack Studio, Maven 3D Pro and Spin Audio are included to take advantage of the card's native sound processing capabilities.

AudioTrak included a monolingual manual which included details of every aspect of the card.  Along with a complete overview of the Prodigy's features, detailed instructions were provided as well as thorough coverage of the complimentary software included on the setup CD.


Setup:

The menu of the Prodigy installation CD is behaves more like an advertisement than an clean, intuitive menu.  Once it loaded, we selected the card out of the list and followed the instructions along the left side of the page.


 


First impressions of these two cards show each package has its pluses and minuses.  We were pleased to see two useful software titles included with the Aureon, where the Prodigy had one in WinDVD4, and even then, we feel PowerDVD is the better choice.  When you run the two DVD software packages head-to-head, PowerDVD utilizes less CPU power and has a more intuitive interface.  On the flip side, the Prodigy's documentation was quite good (although there is a typo on page 24 that may make some blush).  The manual covers all of the bases thoroughly, especially with its advanced capabilities, namely the Native Sound Processor and DirectWire.  The Aureon documentation, on the other hand, was rather brief in our opinion.  Users looking to explore the features of the Aureon will need to access additional documentation on the installation CD to get their answers.

Now that we have a good idea of what each product has to offer right out of the box, let's take a more intimate look at each card and see what these two products bring in quality and functionality.

First Up...The Aureon 7.1 

 
 

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