|Gainward Hollywood @ Home 7.1 Soundcard|
Gainward have long been known as a manufacturer
of quality graphics cards as with any industry it is wise to branch
out into other related areas and today we have one of Gainwards first
attempts at a non graphics component. Announced at the end of October
2003 the Hollywood @ Home 7.1 soundcard is Gainwards option for mainstream
The card itself is made from a striking red PCB, the usual outputs/inputs are present as well as a digital optical out and the audio processor is the VIA Envy 24 HT-s. Installation of the card was a breeze, just plug it in, startup your system and install the audio controlpanel/driver. It is worth noting that the drivers on the CD were the same as the most up to date drivers on the Via website http://www.viaarena.com/?PageID=327 , something which is not always the case when we receive hardware to review. This should also be the case for anyone buying one of these cards.
As well as the audio software the card also comes bundled with Win Cinema Pro which is a nice addition considering the price of the package.
The audio control panel offered is currently the VIA reference control panel, it is fully featured and easy to use. You have full control over the volume levels for each speaker set/connection as well as the ability to enable or disable the enhanced modes such as pseudo surround for stereo systems. Gainward have also informed us that in the near future they will be adding their own branding to the panel which although not necessary should make the software that bit nicer looking.
Max Payne 2: The Fall Of Max Payne
As well as being a feast for the eyes
Max Payne 2 also has some excellent sound effects and so makes an
excellent choice for testing out the soundcard. Firstly I tried Max
Payne 2 on 2.1 mode, the stereo separation was excellent, even spinning
the character round fast the audio positioning kept up. Moving to
all 8 speakers I fired up the first real level of the game “elevator
doors” mainly because it features a couple of interesting gun
battles, the ability to create large explosion and finally an outdoor
area with rain.
Call Of Duty
Call Of Duty has the ability to completely draw you into the game environment, in stereo which is the mode I’ve previously played COD the sound was excellent and I was really looking forward to using it in surround mode. The first thing that struck me using the H@H 7.1 was how rich the orchestral soundtrack over the intro/menu was, the track really filled the room. Moving into the game itself I was very happy with the sound provided, whilst not as impressive as I had expected (there just didn’t seem to be much oomph ) the sound provided was still more than adequate and provided a completely immersive experience.
Need For Speed: Underground
Need For Speed: Underground has an excellent musical soundtrack, and additionally its one of the few THX certified games out there. From a musical perspective the H@H 7.1 provided clear vocals and some excellent bass, very effective when you’re tearing round a track at 150mph and have a hip-hop track thumping in the background. The engine sounds produced by the card were also good, no distortion was noticeable. One of the most surprising things about the audio experience provided by this card was that even when you have several engine noises, a loud soundtrack and all the various crash sounds there was never any muddy sound and all channels remained clear.
Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells 25th Anniversary Remastered Gold CD
No complaints on the audio quality here, all instruments were clearly defined, adequate bass and even when the volume was increased the sound quality remained good.
Massive Attack – Mezzanine
Again good audio provided by the H@H 7.1, bass was nice and the vocals clear. The overall quality was not as good as my NF7-S soundstorm audio however there was nothing bad to speak of.
The Matrix (Scene
used : Lobby Shooting Spree)
Card is available
in the UK at EBUYER