Hercules Audio Muse Pocket USB External Sound Card

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Hercules Audio Muse Pocket USB External Sound Card - Page 2

 

Hercules Audio - Muse Pocket USB External Soundcard
Audio at your Fingertips

Jason R. Gibsom
February 29, 2004

 

 
Setup and Installation
Plug it in and fire it up...

Just like most other USB devices, installation could not have been any easier.  After plugging the Muse into our test system we tossed in the setup CD and selected "drivers" from the main menu.  One reboot later, we where up and running.  The only noteworthy item is the prompt that we received during the driver installation.  Windows advised us that the drivers we where installing had not passed their compatibility test.  By simply clicking "Continue Anyway", the setup continues and the device is installed properly.

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Install Screen Driver Install Warning

Once the Muse was properly installed, we proceeded to link up our speakers and headphones to the I/O connections which are set around the edge of the base.  Rotating clockwise around the unit, one can find the; Line-In, Front, Center/Sub, Rear, Microphone and Headphone 1/8" jacks.  Though it is not necessary, we did find it a bit surprising that Hercules did not implement gold contacts for these connection points.  Since this device is aimed at a mobile market, we feel the use of standard steel contacts was not a wise choice.  Most 1/8" connections are quiet susceptible to corrosion/oxidization due to changes in temperature/moisture.  This in turn results in a degraded signal quality that is most undesirable (static, crackles, etc.).  Through the use of gold connections we feel Hercules would have increased the duration of a trouble free product.

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Front and Line-In Rear, Center/Sub, and Front Shiny Metal

Nevertheless, the standard steel connections did supply a strong signal that was free of static even when the plugs where subjected to horizontal or vertical stress.  All of the pictures (above and below) where taken while the camera was rotated around the Muse in a clockwise fashion, starting at the USB cable.  The bottom right-hand picture was supplied by Hercules to further display the possible connectivity options of the Muse.

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Microphone Headphone Connection Diagram

 

Controls
Taming the Beast...

 

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Mixer Speaker Test Configuration

Included in the software bundle was a very simplistic application which allows the adjustment of volume to each individual speaker, a speaker test and the manipulation over a few reverb options.  Though these programs do offer an ample amount of control, they are a far cry from Hercules usual software interface.
 

 


 

  • Push down on top of the control knob to mute/un-mute the Muse.

 
 


 

  • Rotate the control knob counter clock-wise to increase the volume, or clockwise to decrease the volume. 

While, aesthetically the Muse is very appealing, unfortunately it is lacking a bit in functionality.  Also its housing is quiet sturdy, made of solid aluminium, but other components are absent of the same eminence.  Sadly, the two issues we encountered involved the main feature of the Muse, the control knob.  For instance, the knob is very loosely mounted on top of the base.  Loose to such an extent, that we feel after repeated use, it may cause damage to the unit.  The big issue however, is how poorly calibrated the control knob is.  When turning the knob one can feel the subtle notches which are there to aid in adjustment, unfortunately, even with those present, you can not accurately predict the volumetric adjustment.  Sometimes a small slow turn would result in a huge increase/decrease in volume, while at other times, a fast large turn would result in no change in volume.  We found this a bit annoying for sure.  Considering manual volume control is one of the key selling points of the Muse, we feel Hercules should have invested a lot more care into this area.

 

An Inside Look, Test System and Benchmarks

 
   

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