Those with fairly long memories will remember Diamond Multimedia, a video card and one time audio specialist that also split off the (now sadly defunct) Rio mp3 player brand. Famed in the 90s for reasonably priced high quality products, the company is back for another stab at the sound card market.
Two sound cards will be offered under its new ‘Xtreme Sound 7.1’ line, an entry level model of the same name and an upgraded version which adds DDL (Dolby Digital Live) to the title. As the descriptive branding suggests, both incorporate Dolby 7.1 surround sound (EX and DTS formats), they also come with 10 band graphic equalisers, pre-set audio environments, headphone and speaker support for up to eight channels and multi-track recording and editing software.
As for DDL, this is a real time encoding technology which converts any audio signal into a Dolby Digital bitstream for transport and playback through a home theatre system. Niftily, DLL allows any PC or games console to be hooked up to a Dolby Digital equipped audio/video receiver or digital speaker system via a single digital connection, eliminating cable clutter and ensuring greater signal integrity.
In Diamond’s first incarnation I remember reading reviews in school which generally agreed that the company’s audio cards were marginally better than the Creative SoundBlasters of the time but also substantially cheaper. I never did take the plunge with a Diamond product, but with the entry level card retailing for just $29.95 and the DLL costing $59.95 at least one of these two elements looks set to repeat itself.
The move completes a remarkable turnaround from Diamond as it also re-entered the consumer graphics card market at the end of 2003. Funnily enough it actually abandoned PC components to chase the mp3 player market where there were substantially bigger margins. Funny how times change! Nice to have you back guys, don’t screw it up…