Guillemot Maxi Sound Muse

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The Guillemot Maxi Sound Muse
Keep that coin in your pocket!


By, Jeff Bouton - November 13, 2000

One 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.

Software 

Of 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.

Personally, 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.

Another 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.  

 

The Muse's Performance
Snap, Crackle and Pop!

On 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.  The  Maxi Sound Muse also supports DVD, but at the time of this report, it was not available on the test machine.

Gaming Performance

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 MONO.  Another 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.

General Fidelity  

As 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 levels.  Since everyone is going to use different equipment, results may vary.

 

The 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 performance.  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....

 

 
 
 

  To Hot Hardware !

 

 
Tags:  sound, ui, GUI, Muse

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