Wow thing, you move me.
When I think about all the peripheral love PCs get, I start to feel sorry for
the neglected console systems. They're treated like the redheaded stepchildren
of some dysfunctional gaming hardware family. I mean, PCs get cool joysticks,
3D accelerators, sound cards and various speaker systems all specially designed
with the gamer in mind. What do the under-loved consoles get? A torrent of crappy,
gimmick-heavy controllers, racing peripherals with all the comfort of wearing
a full set of South African neck
rings, supposed video-enhancing gold-plated video cables, and those fabulous
fishing rods that have about as many uses as a fresh booger.
audio technology pundit SRS Labs has decided to assist our favorite gaming systems
by introducing their new Wow Thing for gaming consoles (no, not the Wild
Thang. Tone Loc introduced
that years ago.) Priced just right at $29.95 (the PC version is $24.95),
the Wow is a simple device that blesses gamers with added booming bass
and mild 3D-positional sound. Finally, the Cinderella of gaming systems gets
a glass slipper…of sorts.
Installing the Wow is relatively simple. Your console of choice - N64,
PSX, Dreamcast, PS2 & even Gameboy (via the included two-way headphone adapter)
- plugs into the Wow Thing control unit, and the control unit plugs into
your TV. It's a cinch!
The control unit is where all sound tweaking takes place. Once it's installed
and turned on, you can toggle the Wow Thing's enhancements on and off
via the "Bypass/Wow" switch. The "Bypass" setting reverts your sound to the
old, flat TV quality gaming sound we have come to expect. You don't have to
always listen to booming bass with rich quality audio, but we know you'll want
to...in which case you simply flip it to "Wow" and listen to the audio enhancements.
Other switches and knobs for your fondling pleasure include the "Wow" knob,
which allows you to adjust the level of Wow's enhancements. And rounding
out the unit are bass and volume dials, which function just as they would for
any other sound system. It's a truly complete and easy-to-use package.
And from that package you can expect a huge leap in audio quality for your
console gaming. The games literally come alive with hard pounding bass and improved
clarity. Our ears were pleased with the enhanced sound for all games tested
(Twisted Metal: Black, Gran
Turismo 3 A-Spec, Armored Core
2). The engine sounds and tire screeching in GT3 are amazing to begin
with, but when you strap the Wow to your PS2 the game adopts a new level
of realism. You'll be awestruck by the obvious difference.
The Wow boasts 3D positional sound, but fails to compete with PC sound
cards and their fancy-shmancy EAX and A3D capabilities. However, the positional
sound does become more apparent when you plug a set of headphones into the provided
Ultimately, the Wow Thing is a great little gadget that every gamer
can love and afford - and it actually does what it's supposed to do.
Peripherally deprived consoles can now skip the 12-step therapy sessions and
go straight to SRS Labs' Wow Thing for much needed audio support.