Marco ?BigWop? Chiappetta
March 19, 2000
pieces of ?budget? hardware don?t come with
any sort of software or bundle, but the Fortissimo
is an exception.
The Fortissimo comes with two programs,
Media Station and Acid DJ.
I know... nothing earth shattering, but at
least Guillemot?s giving us SOMETHING!
Station is a pretty fun piece of software.
It?s basically your sound card?s ?control
panel? with a decent CD and MIDI Player thrown
me anything that let?s me control sound levels
without having to look at Window?s volume
control is a welcome addition.
Here?s a peek of the interface:
second piece of software, "Acid DJ", is
a standalone application, that although its
something I?ll probably never use, is fairly
powerful and I can understand its value.
Basically its a sequencing program that let?s
you play around with sound / music samples.
DJ?s (oddly enough) or people with an ear
for music might be able to put together some great
stuff with this program.
used a reference sound card, an Aureal SQ2500, as
the benchmark for sound quality comparison.
We also used what we think are a great set
of speakers, in the front, we have Altec
Lansing ACS500 Pro-Logic Towers and in the rear
Altec Lansing ACS33?s.
Before I installed the Fortissimo I played
Unreal Tournament, Quake 3 and Half Life for a
little while, played some MP3?s, played a couple
CD?s (Dr. Dre and Shania Twain?weird combo
huh?) Actually, I wanted to play CD?s with
both heavy bass and crisp highs. I also
watched a few minutes of a DVD (Blade).
and Quake 3 on both cards, I have to say that the
Fortissimo falls a little short of the Aureal card
in 3D gaming, but not by much. I noticed, under both games, that all the sounds tended to be
more ?separate? with the SQ2500 whereas with
the Fortissimo it was harder to discern where each
sound was supposed to be ?placed?. Also, in times where there was heavy action, like when
multiple players are in the same room and there
are many rocket explosions / gunshots, the
Fortissimo would SLIGHTLY crackle.
I know it?s not my speakers as the SQ2500
doesn?t have this problem, however it?s not
necessarily a hardware shortcoming and future
driver upgrades may eliminate this.
There was also no noticeable difference in
However, frame rate did drop 1-2 fps,
indicating higher CPU utilization by the
Fortissimo. In Half Life, with 4 speakers
turned on, the Fortissimo's 3D positioning
couldn't compare. During the opening
sequence, while riding on the train, if I spun in
a circle I could clearly hear the woman's voice
over the PA changing positions as I moved with the
SQ2500, but with the Fortissimo the channel
separation just wasn't there. In general, with all
3 games, 3D positioning wasn't as good as the
the CD and MP3 testing, I found the Fortissimo
actually sounded a little bit better than the
other card. Remember, ESPECIALLY with sound quality, you really should
listen to it before you can pass any judgment?everyone?s
got a different ?ear?.
I tend to like my music with both heavy
bass and very crisp highs.
If you were to leave me in your alone car
with music playing, 90% of the time when you came
back I would have turned your treble up slightly. I could not hear any discernable difference in the quality of
the bass playback, but the Fortissimo?s highs
were more prominent.
playback was another story. Using Power DVD 2.55 which has true support for the Vortex 2,
the Fortissimo couldn?t touch the SQ2500.
Playing back movies in simple stereo, it
was hard to tell a difference. However, once
I switched to 4 channel, the difference was huge.
It sounded like the Fortissimo was playing
the same sounds through all 4 speakers.
One thing to consider though is that the
Fortissimo has a Digital Out. Power DVD 2.55
supports digital output, but digital speakers were
not available at the time of this
evaluation. As a result, we were unable to
test out what kind of difference that would have
SQ2500 also has a digital out, but most cards do
summarize, the Fortissimo is like a top 10 ranked
boxer. It?s not quite the Roy Jones of the
sound card market, but very respectable
On the other hand, at $49.99, it?s tough
to beat for the ?bang for the buck? crown.
At the end of all my reviews I like to ask
myself if I would have a problem recommending this
product to a friend / reader / customer In
this case, with the Fortissimo, I would have no
fact, I think the Guillemot
Maxi Sound Fortissimo should be the card of choice
for the budget gamer. In addition, it?s
going to be the card powering a second machine
that I?m in the process of building.
give the Maxi Sound Fortissimo at Hot Hardware
Heat Meter Rating of...