M-Audio Revolution 7.1 Review

The MAudio Revolution 7.1 Review - Page 1

The M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Viva la revolución!

"Burned in" by Robert Maloney
June 23rd, 2003

The history of the audio card industry can be summed up by saying there has always been Creative Lab's SoundBlaster line, and then there have been the "others".  When Aureal disappeared from the picture in 2000, it seemed to spell the end of any true competition for the audio giant.  Other companies just couldn't risk going up against Creative's "beat 'em or buy 'em" strategy.  On one hand, that might not have really been too much of a bad thing.  I mean, after all, many games or applications were designed on and for SoundBlaster cards.  In fact, many system requirements would have the ubiquitous "SoundBlaster-compatible sound card" listing as a necessity.  But, times change, and not always necessarily for the better.  It's still safe to say the Creative Lab's holds a large part of the audio card market share, but there have been a handful of cards that have been produced in the last couple of years that pose a question; are Creative Labs cards really the best solution any more?

We've had a look in the past at a few of Hercules' audio cards, and have been mostly impressed.  Today, we have our first taste from M-Audio, a company well known for providing high-end audio solutions for professionals and consumers alike.  While M-Audio has produced a few other audio cards in the past, they look ready to hit "prime-time" with the production of their latest, the Revolution 7.1.   The Revolution 7.1 is positioned as a card that will provide a great experience when listening to MP3s. watching DVDs, or playing games. Combining 24-bit/192kHz fidelity with 8 speaker support, M-Audio has produced what could be the best sounding audio card to hit the market.  Let's take a deeper look into what makes this card rock.  


Specifications / Features of the M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Full Featured Audio



Technical Specifications

Data Transfer
  • PCI 2.2 bus
  • VIA Envy 24HT 8 channel controller
Audio Quality
  • 24-bit/192kHz audio playback on all output channels
  • Analog line-in and mic-in supporting recording
     up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • Dynamic Range: 106 dB (typical, -60 dB input, a-weighted)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (digital to analog): 107 dB
     (typical, a-weighted)
  • THD+N: 0.003% or -90 dB (typical)
  • Frequency Response: +0.0/-3.0, 80Hz to 17kHz
  • Crosstalk: -120 dB 
Gaming Support
  • Supports all of the following:  EAX 1.0 and 2.0, Sensaura,   DirectSound, DirectSound3D, A3D, EnvironmentFX, MultiDrive, MacroFX, I3DL2, ZoomFX
Audio Compatibility
  • Supports Dolby Digital 5.1 (AC3)?, Dolby Pro Logic?, DTS?, and other multi-channel formats.
  • SRS TruSurround XT? Technology delivering 5.1 virtual surround sound over stereo speakers, deep bass and dialog enchancement
  • Advanced Circle Surround II technology - creates true multichannel surround sound from stereo CDs and MP3s
External Connectors
  • 4 x 1/8" stereo mini jacks providing 8 discrete channels
  • S/PDIF digital coaxial RCA output - linear PCM or AC-3
  • Stereo 1/8" mini analog line-in
  • Mono 1/8" mini analog mic-in
Internal Connectors
  • None
Minimum System Requirements
  • Windows ME/2000/XP
  • Without CSII - P200MMX, 64MB RAM
  • With CSII (5.1) - PIII 500MHz, 64MB RAM
  • With CSII (7.1) - PIII 700MHz, 128MB RAM

The Bundle:

M-Audio Revolution 7.1 audio card
Revolution 7.1 User Guide
Quick Start Guide
Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3 (full version)
"M-Powered" Artists CD sampler
Applications CD
Drivers CD

At first glance, the silver and blue box exudes a certain sexiness, as if by marketing forces alone we will be in for a good time.  Once inside, we found two manuals and four CDs.  The Quick Start Guide is good for those who just want to plug the card in and go, while the User Guide covers audio basics and setup more thoroughly.  It really is a good read, and we recommend flipping through the pages as you will get the most out of the card this way.  The Drivers CD is just that, drivers for installing the Revolution 7.1 and Control Panel.  The Applications CD comes filled with various audio programs, some full versions and others in trial mode.  A CD sampler is included that showcase some of the artists who use M-Audio's products, and gives you a chance to hear their tunes. An odd choice, perhaps, was the addition of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, especially a full version.  While we would never find fault in including a game in a bundle, Tony Hawk 3 does little to showcase the Revolution 7.1's strengths.  Instead, we might have preferred something more audio specific.  For example, a nRCA cable to be used with the S/PDIF port to connect with a mixer or receiver, is conspicuously missing from the bundle.  Still, the bundle offers a little taste of everything to test out your new audio card.

Installation and Drivers 


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