Turtle Beach - Santa Cruz, Continued
The installation of the software from the enclosed driver CD requires the use of the serial number that is on the jacket of the disc. I am not a fan of this requirement at all. If you lose the serial number, you are hosed, and out of luck. For anyone purchasing the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card, I highly recommend writing the serial number on the inside of the user's manual. (When I downloaded the new updated drivers from the web, and ran the install package, I was not prompted for a serial number, so I felt this was a nice improvement.)
The Santa Cruz control panel is split into six tabs that run across the top of it. They are Main, Mixer, EQ, Effects, Synth, and Other. I found the control panel for the Santa Cruz easy to use, and very similar in both features and options to the Game Theater XP control panel. As far as providing more help on the use of the Santa Cruz Control Panel, Turtle Beach only included a Windows help file, full of questions and answers more than anything else. I found when I asked the help file for more information on the Versa Jack, it was more than happy to bring up some additional info that told me what I needed to know about using the jack. I don't have a problem with this approach, but this function covers what used to be the purpose for the manual.
As for the performance of the Santa Cruz, it was near the middle of the pack in most all of our tests, but it was a consistent performer with good scores and good sound. As said in the Game Theater XP review, I could not really tell the difference between the two cards. If I had been subjected to one of those blind listening tests, I would have not known which card was which. I am not saying that this is a bad thing, I just want to let you know how closely alike the cards sound. Like the Game Theater XP, the Santa Cruz's overall sound was excellent! The card had a wide sound field with nice, crisp high end. The card has a good low end range, and I found the performance to be excellent with just about everything that I listened to.
The Santa Cruz is a nice card with great performance. It provides a good level of performance and value for the price. I like the idea of the Versa Jack and found it to work well in every situation, although you might need a specific cable to interface to your setup, but even that should not be too much of a problem. I thought that including both the upgrade header and the wave table header provided that extra something new that was lacking in other cards. If you don't need the function and features of an internal or external rack, then this is a great card to consider with stable drivers and good performance.