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
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
Popping the installation CD into the drive, I was
offered a slew of programs to install to ?enhance?
my experience with the Fortissimo II.
quick rundown of what you get:
XG Player ? An application used to playback
Station ? Multi-function graphical stereo
interface with mixing panel.
Commander 2 SE ? Voice control for games and
Xpress ? Sonic Foundry?s loop-based multi-track
music creation tool.
Hercules SE ? All-in-one studio software.
MUSICMATCH Jukebox ? CD ripper and MP3 encoder.
Jukebox Xpress ? Music management and playback
Karaoke Lite ? Full feature Karaoke player + 10
PowerDVD 3.0 ? Arguably one of the best software
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 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
The Mixer is straightforward, nothing new here.
You can also choose the level for each of the
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
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