Sounds like a good deal.
One of the worst things about PC gaming (and the best reason to get a console
system) is that you constantly have to upgrade your hardware to keep playing the
games. Faster processors, new video cards, new sound cards, new hard drives –
they all cost money. What’s top of the line one year is bottom of the barrel two
For the most hardcore gamers, it’s all about the games and it doesn’t matter
how much they spend. For the rest of us, however, it’s a delicate balancing
act between food, rent, social life (optional to some), and gaming. With those
limitations, you have to try to get the most bang for your buck, and that’s
not always easy.
Far and away, the cheapest upgrade to your computer is the sound card. Most
computers ship with horrible sound cards because most computers are meant for
work instead of play. If you’re a die-hard audiophile, you can end up spending
hundreds of dollars on a full surround sound card with all the bells and whistles,
but is it worth it? Enter the Maxi Sound Fortissmo sound card from Guillemot.
With a retail price of $50 and genuinely good sound, it’s hard to rationalize
some of the more expensive cards.
The Fortissimo supports both A3D and EAX to give you full positional
audio for all your favorite games. For lovers of first person shooters, positional
audio is a must – if someone is firing at you, you really want to know where
it’s coming from. Though it is designed to work with four speakers, it works
remarkably well with two.
Installation of the Fortissimo is a breeze. I encountered no conflicts
on any of the computers on which the card was installed. Even if you’re not
skilled with computers, you can still install the card without much help, saving
you the cost of hiring a professional geek.
For those technically inclined, the Fortissimo is a PCI card running
on the Yamaha YMF744 engine. If you’re interested in doing a little music creation,
it comes packaged with Acid DJ, perfect for house, industrial, and any other
low frequency rave music you want to create.
Let’s face facts – sound cards on computers aren’t just for games anymore.
With the growing popularity of MP3s, more and more people are listening to music
on their computers as well, and the Fortissimo delivers with clear, solid
audio. Though you should be warned, the better your sound card is, the more
you notice the loss of sound quality between the MP3 format and normal CD’s.
Game Revolution recently gave our thumbs up to the Aureal
Vortex 2: SQ2500 as an excellent sound card. That still applies (especially
now that Aureal cards have EAX support), but there are several differences between
the Aureal card and the Fortissimo.
The most obvious is the price. The Aureal card is $100, but then again it comes
with three really good games. So, if you really want those games, the extra
$50 isn’t that much to ask.
The other main difference between the two cards is the inclusion of a Digital
Optical out on the Fortissimo. For those of us with a good surround sound
system, this port is a godsend. There’s something strangely satisfying running
fiber optic cable from your computer to your sound system (Yes, I’m a geek.)
With virtually no quality loss, the sound coming out of a good stereo is fantastic.
All in all, the Fortissmo is a good sound card and well worth the money.
If you’ve got an old sound card, you honestly don’t know what you’re missing.
And for $50, you definitely won’t be sorry. Now if only it could make the video
game music itself better…