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Entry-level Multi-channel Sound Card: Hercules Gamesurround Muse 5.1 DVD

Game Performance: Benchmarks

DirectSound 3D Static and Steaming results

Using the theoretical benchmark Audio Winbench 99, the Muse 5.1 DVD can be seen to far outstrip the Audigy Sound Blaster with respect to the load on the processor when the card is in operation. This can be explained by the fact that very few voices are hard-wired, and even those voices require the PC to perform only a minimum amount of work. That is certainly not the case for the Audigy. Theoretically, this ought to translate itself by a reduction in games performance, which the following graphics demonstrate to a certain extent. This reduction is not totally damaging - far from it - but anyone who wants maximum performance is advised to look for a card that is better adapted for the purpose.

Conclusion

In tests, the Muse 5.1 DVD did not prove to be an outstanding performer for either music or games. However, considering its extremely low price ($29.99) and its many functionalities such as decoding 5.1 sound, it performs a great feat. In fact, with the exception of integrated chipsets, it is the lowest priced sound card in its category. For anyone who wants to play DVDs and benefit from Dolby Digital at the lowest cost, we don't hesitate to recommend the Muse 5.1 DVD. Even gamers who are not the slightest bit interested in 5.1 sound should also give it a go, although they will probably prefer the Fortissimo II Digital Edition, which is a much better performer in this field.