Hercules Gamesound Fortissimo II

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The Hercules Gamesound Fortissimo II
Big Sound, Small Price...

By Robert Maloney
April 17, 2002


 

The installation manual was surprisingly well written and included a number of helpful tips for new and old users alike. The only thing missing was a section for Windows XP and there were no XP drivers included on the CD either.

Installation and Setup 
Like Wrestling a Large Snake...

Installation of the card was uneventful and although at first I didn?t think I would like having the extra cables emanating from the back of my PC, the fact that they were not only color-coded but actually labeled (!) made connecting devices a snap.

  

Windows XP started up without a hitch, and in fact I did not even see a mention of new hardware being found. Checking the Device Manager, I saw an item under Sound, video, and game controllers titled ?unsupported customized Crystal Sound Fusion Audio device?. Since the provided CD did not have Windows XP drivers, I checked Hercules? website (http://us.hercules.com) and downloaded the Version 1.5 drivers found there. Installation of the drivers required a restart of the system, after which the Found New Hardware wizard came up. We chose to find the drivers automatically (the recommended solution) and although they were found, we were informed that they had not passed WinXP compatibility testing.

Undaunted, we continued anyway, and followed the same procedures to install the Fortissimo II WDM interface and game port. Finally done with the drivers, we restarted the system and were rewarded with the first few dulcet tones of Windows XP starting up.

Popping the installation CD into the drive, I was offered a slew of programs to install to ?enhance? my experience with the Fortissimo II.

A quick rundown of what you get:

  • Yamaha XG Player ? An application used to playback multimedia files.

  • Media Station ? Multi-function graphical stereo interface with mixing panel.

  • Game Commander 2 SE ? Voice control for games and simulations.

  • Acid Xpress ? Sonic Foundry?s loop-based multi-track music creation tool.

  • Storm Hercules SE ? All-in-one studio software.

  • MUSICMATCH Jukebox ? CD ripper and MP3 encoder.

  • Siren Jukebox Xpress ? Music management and playback utility.

  • Kool Karaoke Lite ? Full feature Karaoke player + 10 songs.

  • PowerDVD 3.0 ? Arguably one of the best software DVD players.

Located in the system tray, I found a bat flying next to a Roman numeral II. Interesting. Right-clicking on the bat allows to you to start up any of these programs as well as change the Fortissimo II properties, although simply left clicking performs the same action. I was presented with five separate screens: Main, Mixer, EQ, Midi, and the always curious Other.

 
MAIN                            MIXER                          EQ                               MIDI                        OTHER

The Main screen allows you to set the master volume setting, as well as test your speaker setup. I used the sound rotation test, and appreciated the ability to change the individual volume settings for each speaker as a drumset rolled around my ears.  The Mixer is straightforward, nothing new here. You can also choose the level for each of the input types.  Next comes the EQ, or Equalizer. Instead of the simplistic toggles for raising or lowering just the Bass of Treble, audiophiles can choose presets listed at the bottom of the screen, or customize the output as they see fit.  On the MIDI page, you can choose the synth bank, and how many Hardware or Software notes.  And lastly, is the "Other" section, there are boxes to enable or disable Sensaura 3D, DirectSound 3D, DirectSound 2D, a checkbox to Enable Stereo Expansion, which is good for users with only 2 speakers, and modifications for the digital output.

Not sure of exactly what any setting does? No problem. Click on the question mark at the top to find another surprisingly concise and helpful help page for each screen.

Performance, & Conclusion

 
Tags:  game, games, sound, hercules, sim, RT, IM, ESO, AM

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