- Page 1 Terratec Aureon 7.1 FireWire Review
- Page 2 Terratec Aureon 7.1 FireWire Review
Obviously, including these features would make it quite a different box, but as a musician, the feature set tantalises but doesn’t seduce. The software mixer is also rather basic with no metering and I personally would have preferred more sensitive levels adjustments than 1dB.
Attaching a record player gives a very satisfying sound and whilst you’ll find better options than the Algorithmix software for removing record noise, the software does work as stated and the audio converters are of a high quality. I was pleasantly surprised to note how low the noise floor was, a combination of the Wolfson WM8770 codec and the external housing. It is possible to use the device in a standalone mode, where the inputs can be used to convert an incoming analogue signal to a digital output.
I have a quick and dirty method of examining the relative noise level of sound cards by firing up Adobe Audition, turning all the microphone inputs down and looking at the noise floor when just the line input has been selected with 0dB of gain. This is by no means an accurate method but I have found it reliable in measuring the relative noise floor of cards and so far my results have always been confirmed by the more rigorous tests. Using this method gives a noise floor of -90dBFS (decibels below full scale). This is an excellent result and is comparable to my professional Emu 1212m audio card and quite a bit better than the Creative Audigy 2.
Taking a more analytical approach using RightMark Audio Analyzer, the results are again impressive, with an almost flat frequency response, a noise level of -98.8dBA and a dynamic range of 91.8dBA. The test sample rate was 48Khz at 16-bit and the external loopback approach was used where the outputs of the card were physically connected to the inputs. Unusually, this was the only approach available since it doesn’t seem possible to route a signal internally. This is worth noting in case you’re ever in the habit of capturing an internal audio signal that is playing live – for example recording a music performance being played using the ASIO drivers.
On the game front, there are 64 hardware 3D buffers, a similar amount to the Audigy 2. As I mentioned, EAX2 is available via Sensaura, but this is somewhat behind the times for gaming, with EAX4 the current standard. Sensaura is Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) based, which means that its effectiveness will vary according to the individual (pseudo-3D sound which is HRTF based never works well on my pixie ears). There were a couple of occasions where I had to pull the Firewire cable out and plug it back in after the sound stopped playing. This may be due to idiosyncrasies of my system but does indicate that a FireWire or USB based external card is unlikely to give you the stability of an internal PCI card.
The Aureon 7.1 Firewire seems to fall between stools. The sturdy construction indicates that Terratec is aiming at delivering quality and while it succeeds in part, the product as a whole suffers from a lack of focus. Whilst it performs well, it doesn’t offer either enough features for the musician or enough for the gamer to make it a compelling purchase. It’s a decent enough option if you want a portable audio solution, or want the convenience of not having to open your machine to add a PCI card, but it doesn’t offer enough to excite. Terratec’s own Phase 26 offers coaxial digital connections plus MIDI for less money (although with only 5.1 output) for the musician and there’s no shortage of good game cards out there.
If you’re interested in the specific features offered by the box, go ahead and buy with confidence, otherwise for the money you could buy a more focused device or plump for one of the cheaper Audigy cards.