Bouton - November 13, 2000
thing I?d like to thank the good people at
Guillemot for is actually labeling the inputs on
the back of the card with words.
Say goodbye to those little pictures that,
other than the microphone, are as helpful as those
cryptic pictures on dry cleaning labels.
I can?t tell you how many times I?ve
had to break out the manual for my Creative card
because I couldn?t tell the difference between
the speaker and line-in ports.
course, included with just about every piece of
new hardware today, there is a CD with some kind
of free software. Well, the
Maxi Sound Muse is no different except that
they offer a total of 7 titles including: Media
Station which allows you to adjust your cards
settings, Sonic Foundry ACID Xpress and Siren
Jukebox Xpress which allow MP3 ripping and
playback, Yamaha Xgstudio synthesizer (pictured
below) offers hundreds of unique sounds for MIDI
playback, and more.
I found the Yamaha Xgstudio synthesizer to be a
pretty entertaining piece of software. You
can create your own MIDI songs or play and alter
pre-configured ones, and with sound effects like
Xplosion, Starship and Machine Gun, it's pretty
hard to get bored.
piece of software that was included is called the
Earjam? Internet Music Player?. This is
an excellent MP3 player that lets you to burn MP3
CD's, download ton's of skins and comes with some
truly stunning visualizations.
Crackle and Pop!
our test system, we used the Creative SoundWorks
Digital speaker system with subwoofer and 2
satellites in front and a pair of Altect Lansing
speakers in the rear.
Before and after replacing the card, I
spent equal amounts of time playing F.A.K.K. 2 ,
which supports both A3d and EAX.
Afterwards, I played a broad range of music
from Enya and the The Crystal Method, to the ever
popular Korn, trying to cover a complete spectrum
of highs and lows.
We sampled several songs from each artist
in both CDA and MP3 format.
Maxi Sound Muse also supports DVD,
but at the time of this report, it was not
available on the test machine.
After starting deep
in the swamps of F.A.K.K. 2, it was immediately
clear that the 3D sound quality just wasn?t
there in 4 speaker mode.
It was barely discernable when something
behind me was on the right or the left. Whether In A3D or EAX mode, there basically was no difference
in the 3D sound quality.
Since the card only supports the now
defunct Aureal?s A3D 1.0 and EAX 1.0, this wasn?t
really a surprise since the rear output is in
issue was popping sounds during heavy game play.
In some portions of the game, there was
some heavy static and crackling during more
intense parts of the game.
When I adjusted the sound to standard 2
speaker mode, the noise seemed to stop and the
sound in general was clear and robust.
The other thing that was a bit of a
nuisance was that although there was a rear volume
control available in the Windows Volume Controls,
the slider didn?t do anything, so the output was
a fixed volume.
Bear in mind that several of these problems
may be an issues with the lack of drivers specific
to Windows ME, so there may be an improvement in
future driver updates.
far as music payback, with both MP3 and CDA
formats, I found the quality to be very good.
The cards highs were quite crisp and the
bass was rich and clean.
At low levels, a slight hum could be heard
from the speakers.
There are a lot of variables that could
cause this including the card, cabling or the
speaker system, and keep in mind the this is an
analog card so there is going to be some slight
degradation in sound quality, especially at low
everyone is going to use different equipment,
results may vary.
one thing that must be stressed when reviewing a
sound card is that everyone has a different ear.
Whatever your plans are for a sound card
strongly affects how you will respond to its
If you are a budget minded person looking
for a decent sound card with excellent stereo
playback and high quality 3D playback is not an
issue, then this will be a good card for you.
If you are a hardcore gamer that wants the
sound experience as real as it can get, then this
card is not for you, but then you wouldn?t be
looking at a $30 card, would you? We give
the Guillemot Maxi Sound Muse a Hot Hardware Heat
Meter rating of....