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Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Review - PAGE 1

- Wednesday, February 7th, 2001 Like Share






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anonymous Feb 8, 01
Of course his review would put the Acoustic Edge over the Santa Cruz in everything that other reviews put the Santa Cruz over the Acoustic Edge, such as headphones/2-speaker 3D positioning.

One cannot live up to his biased reputation without doing such things. Just look at the very last sentence of this Santa Cruz review.
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Ron Feb 8, 01
Dear Anthony Roberts's

I just read your fine review of the Santa Cruz Sound card and noticed your comment about not getting the Blue speaker Icon back into the system tray. I had the same problem and took a trip over to the TB FAQ site and found these instructions to turn it back on with the latest drivers.

---------------------------------------------

Santa Cruz: Control Panel Icon in System Tray

The Santa Cruz Control Panel can be accessed using the blue loudspeaker icon
in the Windows System Tray. If this is not present, you can re-enable this
feature.

1. Start > Programs > Turtle Beach Santa Cruz > Santa Cruz Control Panel

2. Right-click anywhere in the Santa Cruz Control Panel and a pop-up menu will
appear.

3. Select "Load System Tray" with a check mark.

4. The Santa Cruz tray applet will appear in the Windows System Tray
as a blue loudspeaker icon:

-A single click with the left mouse button will bring up a master volume
control that will raise or lower the volume of the entire audio system.
Clicking once on the Mute button will silence the audio.

-Double-clicking with the left mouse button will launch the full Santa Cruz
Control Panel application.

See Also: "Features & Controls" > Right-Click Menu" in the Santa Cruz Help
File.



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Ron Feb 8, 01
Hello,

I just installed the TB SANTA CRUZ CARD on a machine with DIRECTX 8.
It locks up on almost every game and even when I shutdown the machine. I get the nasty blue screen.
I contacted TB support and they tell me they know about this problem with the card and are working on the fix.
It should be in the next set of drivers after 71.


This is the comment I received from TB support.

Santa Cruz: DirectX 8

Some users have reported that they experienced some difficulty after upgrading
to DirectX 8.

We are looking into it and until we know more, we do not recommend upgrading
to this version of DirectX. Previous versions like 7.0 or 7.0a are known to be
rock solid with no problems ever reported.

Questions or problems may also be addressed to:
http://support.microsoft.com






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Ether Feb 8, 01
Ron:

The blue systray icon does not appear even if I try what the FAQ says because the option is disabled even if I right click as you describe. Also, I purposely did not upgrade to DX8 thanks to the other FAQ you mentioned. I am still running DX7.0

Anonymous (can't u even leave a nickname?):

Actually if you read the review you will notice I prefer the Santa Cruz for 4 speaker gaming, I guess I should have noted I prefer it for headphone gaming too (the sentence was not perfect). For 2 speakers, I only said that Qsound is superior for stereo expansion, and that's just an opinion that I stand by. I have edited the statements to clarify them, but the stance is the same: 2 speaker setups and sounded better on Acoustic Edge when stereo expansion is needed (ie movies, music). Headphones and 2 speakers in general worked better on Santa Cruz for games.

If you read the review also, you will note I praised the EQ and reverb effects engines, the latter of which is most unambiguously superior to what the Acoustic Edge offers. In spite of this, I felt the Acoustic Edge brought more innovation to the table and I felt it had "cooler" features.

If you disagree with my opinions, let me know by bringing up cogent points rather than labeling me as "biased" and pairing that reference with some vague and unsupported remarks .

This message was edited by Ether on Feb 08 2001.
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Ether Feb 8, 01
MP3 Acceleration
I just wanted to clarify a statement that 3dSoundSurge made when they posted news of our article:

quote
Mikael wrote:
One difference in their results compared to our review is that we were not able to decode more than one MP3 stream in hardware at the time, at least it seemed like only one was done in hardware. Worth noting I haven't tried this with the latest driver release.
I just want to clarify that, when using the latest drivers (dated Nov 2000) we found results that suggested acceleration of multiple MP3 streams: mainly the CPU usage was kept to a minimum even as we added more and more streams using AudioStation4. I actually loaded up 6 copies of AudioStation4 and monitored average CPU usage as each copy was set to decode a stream. What we interpret as MP3 acceleration was that with each additional stream the jump in CPU usage was minimal, like 1-2% per added stream after the initial. Without MP3 acceleration each of the stream ate up 8-9% up to 45% when we loaded all 6 streams. I just want to make sure and state this explicitly because all comments 3dSoundSurge make about audio reviews must be heeded and addressed so you guys don't think we're not doing our homework .

WinDVD, PowerDVD, LFE, and Bass problems
I've had some questions regarding what I meant by "bass problems" in movies. The review is quite brief in the explanation, but the details are too boring to go into.

I am talking about movies right here:

1) In home theater there are two speaker types: Large, and Small
2) Large speakers are able to handle a wider frequency range, right down to the bass levels, while Small speakers are only designed to reproduce the higher frequencies (I guess these are usually called "satellites").
3) Most multimedia speakers, like the MidiLand S4 7100, are classified as "Small" because all the bass is reproduced in the subwoofer
4) Unfortunately, the software DVD players, namely WinDVD and PowerDVD, decode and send their audio information as though you had Large speakers - so bass is NOT filtered into the subwoofer channel.
5) This means that the subwoofer channel only carries the LFE info (as per the Dolby Digital spec when using Large speakers), which is only meant to enhance the bass effects already reproduced in your regular speakers... this means most of your bass info is being sent to the satellites, satellites which CANNOT reproduce those sounds... the result is you lose significant bass

So how does Virtual 5.1 "fix" this?
Virtual 5.1 will actually take information from all 4 of the regular audio channels and push them to the subwoofer channel, adding that on top of the LFE.

Problems:
1) is that there is a noticeable decrease in overall center channel quality... I am assuming this is because the center channel is again generated from the front stereo channels, which is BAD.
2) your subwoofer is left to filter out the frequencies... the drivers do NOT filter out the higher frequencies from teh subwoofer.

A more ideal solution would be for Virtual 5.1 to recognize whether the source already has a center channel, and disable its center channel generation as necessary - that and option ONLY to filter bass into the subwoofer.

Note that the Acoustic Edge also has the exact same bass problems, and it does NOT have a Virtual 5.1 option at all. Instead, the only workaround now is to turn OFF true Dolby Digital and watch problematic DVDs with QMSS enabled for DPL/Stereo -> 5.1 expansion, because QMSS will filter the bass in the subwoofer channel properly.

In the case of Philips, their design team plans on adding a Small Speaker/Large Speaker option to the drivers, so that the card itself will filter the bass if necessary. I can only assume Santa Cruz has similar plans (maybe along the lines of the modified Virtual 5.1, or a virtual subwoofer filter or something), since it is a KNOWN issue.

Sorry for the long winded post, hope this helps clarify some things for some of you.
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Daniel325 Jan 7, 02
This is not a request for support. I have already done everything possible to make SC work:

I am getting all kinds of GPF's, BSOD's, and errors because Turtle Beach is not updating their Windows 9x drivers. I believe for newer hardware, they are out of date. While viewing DVD's ported to my TV, if I click around too much in the Santa Cruz Control Panel (SCCP), it will GPF on me. This also occurs while simply listening to MP3's. When the SCCP GPF's, it turns into a white box which stays on my DeskTop. The SCCP button remains on the TaskBar. When I press CTRL-ALT-DEL, the SCCP is not there. The only way to remove the white box and TaskBar button is to reboot. Sometimes just clicking on the Equalizer tab will give me a GPF. Below are the 2 errors which occur together in succession.

I reinstalled using their downloaded web drivers. I still got the GPF's and BSOD's. After reinstalling their drivers 3 times, I emailed their tech support. They told me Santa Cruz cannot share IRQ's. I moved it to another slot so it does not share an IRQ and reinstalled a 4th time but it still GPF's.

I bought their Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card expecting to buy the best on the market or at least equal to the Sound Blaster Live product line. I called Turtle Beach and they said they are no longer updating their Windows 9x drivers. If a user upgrades his hardware such as a motherboard, video card, etc..., and he keeps a Windows 9x O/S (98, 98SE), their Win9x drivers will be out of date. Their last Win9x drivers are dated Jan 15, 2001. If you upgrade your hardware but keep a Windows 9x O/S, buy a sound card manufactured by another company. I do not recommend Santa Cruz in Windows 2K/XP either because it will probably share an IRQ. I am very disappointed with Santa Cruz.

Daniel


This is my system built November, 2001. I do NOT have ACPI enabled in Windows 98(1):
**************************************************
Windows 98(1);
AMD Athlon TBird 1400/266 MHz;
Thermalright SK6 all copper heatsink w/Arctic Silver II;
Thermaltake TT-6025A-2B 4.5K RPM, 21 CFM, 28 dBA fan;
Abit KG7-RAID (RAID not enabled);
2 - Crucial 256 MB DDR ECC Memory;
Asus V7700 Deluxe GeForce 2 GTS 64 MB w/Video (TV) In/Out;
Panasonic S17 17" Monitor;
Promise Ultra66 IDE PCI Controller card;
2 - 30 GB Maxtor 7200 RPM;
Lite-On 12x10x32 w/Burn Proof CD-RW;
Toshiba DVD-ROM 16x;
Mitsumi 12x CD-ROM;
Mitsubishi LS-120 IDE 120/1.44 MB Floppy;
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Sound Card?????;
US Robotics 56K Performance Pro PCI Modem;
Enermax 430 Watt Whisper PSU;
Case Mid-Tower, ChenMing, Model ATX-601AE
w/Front & Side Door, 2 intake & 2 exhaust fans
http://chieftec.com/products/dragon/dx01wd.htm
(Same as ChiefTec Dragon DX-01WD case)
(Same as Antec SX1030/SX1040 case w/o Antec PSU);
(Same as Maxpoint/Enermax FS-710 case);
Epson Stylus Color 980 USB Printer;
Epson Perfection 1250 USB Scanner;
Belkin F5U116 USB Hub with 4 USB, 1 Printer, & 2 Serial Ports;
PK Electronics 500VA Blackout Buster UPS (connected to monitor and printer);
PK Electronics 1,000VA Blackout Buster UPS (connected to PC case);
**************************************************


**************************************************
SantaCruzCPL
An error has occurred in your program. To keep working anyway click Ignore and save your work in a new file. To quit this program, click Close. You will lose information you entered since your last save.
[CLOSE] [IGNORE]
**************************************************
Date 01/02/2002 Time 10:58am
SANTACRUZCPL caused a general protection fault
in module MMSYSTEM.DLL at 0001:000002d3.
Registers:
EAX=c29b0006 CS=1b67 EIP=000002d3 EFLGS=00000246
EBX=006d0018 SS=3997 ESP=00000fbe EBP=00000fe4
ECX=006d0001 DS=2c5f ESI=00003988 FS=1097
EDX=00018590 ES=0000 EDI=00000000 GS=0000
Bytes at CS:EIP:
26 66 ff 06 18 00 66 26 ff 36 20 00 9a 63 03 67
Stack dump:
**************************************************


This is the text of the occasional BSOD I get when I click on the Equalizer tab in the Santa Cruz Control Panel. It is not 100% reproducible:
**************************************************
A fatal exception 0E has occurred at 0028:C001EC2C. The current application will be terminated.

*Press any key to terminate the current application.
*Press Ctrl+Alt+Del again to restart your computer.
**************************************************
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Roj Jan 7, 02
A couple of points after reading the review:

"Other reviewers and users have found the driver stability to be the weakest part of the product, and I tend to agree. I did most of my testing in a Win9X environment"

No doubt. The Win2K and XP drivers are a much more mature and stable driver set. For those wanting the best from this card, I'd recommend updating their antiquated OSs. I have had NONE of the stability problems iterated in the article but then again I run ONLY Win2K or XP.

MP3 acceleration is not installed under either of those two OSs and is completely superfluous above 300Mhz clock speed anyway.

"This may make Virtual 5.1 seem primitive, but it actually works out pretty well in movies."

With an analog 5.1 system **that does proper bass management such as the Monsoon MH-505 and Klipsch 5.1 models**, you would NOT enable Virtual 5.1 for movies. The only systems that need this are those that were not designed with proper bass-management (Altec Lansing and Midiland come immediately to mind). PowerDVD XP quite ably outputs Dolby Digital 5.1 to my analog Monsoon MH-505s in six-speaker mode with all channels operating as they should WITHOUT Virtual 5.1 enabled. In fact, Virtual 5.1 under those circumstances is a considerable mistake.

The moral of the story? Buy speakers that implement bass-management PROPERLY and avoid the others and thus the issues.

"We didn't do too much testing in a Win2K environment, but our understanding is that even there the driver support needs a little more work."

I use my Santa Cruz under XP for music and DVDs and have several friends who are heavy gamers under that operating system as well - we don't have the issues you described.

Note that the 4142 (and their predecessors the 4112 release) drivers are WHQL Certified for XP, thus indicating that they are certified for use with DirectX8. I used both sets of drivers with DX8 under Win2K and XP flawlessly as did the folks iterated above. There are no DirectX8 issues with those OSs and the WHQL XP Certified drivers for the card.

In terms of music, this card has no peer in the consumer genre. The Acoustic Edge suffers from slight high-end roll-off that is audible with a quality set of multimedia speakers and the Audigy has a sound that's too rough-edged (harsh highs and mids). The Live! is NOT a contender in the sound quality category - it isn't even an also-ran. Personally, I don't like the "fake 5.1" the Acoustic Edge applies to music, but then again I'm something of a purist.

However, I do agree that the Acoustic Edge algorithms are an advantage for 5.1 gaming.

This message was edited by Roj on Jan 07 2002.
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SC User Jan 9, 02
Roj,

You and your misleading Santa Cruz FAQ at www.viahardware.com are wrong and continue to refuse on many occasions to admit it. I believe that you have some connection to Turtle Beach.

Turtle Beach know very well about their current Windows 95/98 driver not being fully compatible with DirectX 8.

They have told me on a number of occasions that they know about the problem with their Windows 95/98 driver but aren't working on a fix.

I know you mate, you don't even use Windows 95/98 and you don't play games either, so stop misleading people.

FACT: Turtle Beach are aware of the problem and aren't doing much about it. They are not supporting Windows 95/98 drivers anymore. The XP driver works fine though.

You can safely ignore any comments from Roj about Windows 98 drivers and DirectX 8 with Hardware Acceleration turned on, he is talking about something he knows dick all about because Turtle Beach have admitted the problem but will not post it on their website.

See you around Roj!
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Roj Jan 9, 02
"You and your misleading Santa Cruz FAQ at www.viahardware.com are wrong and continue to refuse on many occasions to admit it. I believe that you have some connection to Turtle Beach."

Sorry to disappoint you - I don't.

"Turtle Beach know very well about their current Windows 95/98 driver not being fully compatible with DirectX 8."

Glad you limited your comment to the 9x drivers - the Win2K / XP drivers have no such problems. You of course chose to omit that point.

"They have told me on a number of occasions that they know about the problem with their Windows 95/98 driver but aren't working on a fix."

That's because like most vendors, they are moving away from those toy OSs and concentrating on the new mainstream. The 9x junk is four years old and to expect continued support is silly at best.

"I know you mate, you don't even use Windows 95/98 and you don't play games either, so stop misleading people."

There are many DX8 users on 9x who simply don't have problems, leading me to believe that the issues are system specific. Have a look at this thread:

http://www.3dsoundsurge.com/cgi-bin/wwwthreads/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=Forum1&Number=46249&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=

How do you explain that? Can't? I thought not.

Next.

"FACT: Turtle Beach are aware of the problem and aren't doing much about it. They are not supporting Windows 95/98 drivers anymore. The XP driver works fine though."

Aghhh, I see you got around to mentioning the XP / 2K drivers finally. I was wondering if you were going to "conveniently" omit to mention that...

"You can safely ignore any comments from Roj about Windows 98 drivers and DirectX 8 with Hardware Acceleration turned on, he is talking about something he knows dick all about because Turtle Beach have admitted the problem but will not post it on their website."

I let the thread (and those gamers using 9x, DX8 and the card) speak for themselves in it.

What have you got to offer in return?

This message was edited by Roj on Jan 09 2002.
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Nobody99999 Jan 9, 02
Roj, Have you looked in the soundcard newsgroup, you will find this.... I think it should be added to your FAQ.

The best bit is where it says... CAUSE: This behavior can occur if the Voyetra Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card is installed in your computer. The Santa Cruz sound card drivers may not fully support Direct Sound acceleration.

Looks like you're blown of the water on this one Roj.

The article was taken from MS and was modified in Dec2001. Looks like this could be a big cause of problems for peeps and it should be in your FAQ.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;Q303110
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Cypherdude Jan 9, 02
Now I'm glad I'm getting an OEM Audigy. That Microsoft article you have below mentions MechWarrior 4. I am a big MW 2-4 gamer. I can't believe how bad Win9x TB Santa Cruz drivers are.
quote Nobody99999
Roj, Have you looked in the soundcard newsgroup, you will find this.... I think it should be added to your FAQ.

The best bit is where it says... CAUSE: This behavior can occur if the Voyetra Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card is installed in your computer. The Santa Cruz sound card drivers may not fully support Direct Sound acceleration.

Looks like you're blown of the water on this one Roj.

The article was taken from MS and was modified in Dec2001. Looks like this could be a big cause of problems for peeps and it should be in your FAQ.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;Q303110
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Cypherdude Jan 9, 02
SC,
IMO Roj is biased. In this thread you can see he IMO refuses to admit the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz Win9x drivers are out of date and buggy: 3dsoundsurge SC thread

Now I find out in MicroSoft Knowledge Base article Q303110, the SC Win9x drivers do not work correctly with MechWarrior 4. I am a big MW 2-4 gamer. I'm glad I'm getting the OEM Audigy. If you look at Q303110, you see how it mentions:
"You receive an error message (blue screen) similar to the following: A fatal exception 0E has occurred at 0028: address...". If you look at my first post in this thread, you'll see that is EXACTLY what I am getting.
quote SC User
Roj,

You and your misleading Santa Cruz FAQ at www.viahardware.com are wrong and continue to refuse on many occasions to admit it. I believe that you have some connection to Turtle Beach.

Turtle Beach know very well about their current Windows 95/98 driver not being fully compatible with DirectX 8.

They have told me on a number of occasions that they know about the problem with their Windows 95/98 driver but aren't working on a fix.

I know you mate, you don't even use Windows 95/98 and you don't play games either, so stop misleading people.

FACT: Turtle Beach are aware of the problem and aren't doing much about it. They are not supporting Windows 95/98 drivers anymore. The XP driver works fine though.

You can safely ignore any comments from Roj about Windows 98 drivers and DirectX 8 with Hardware Acceleration turned on, he is talking about something he knows dick all about because Turtle Beach have admitted the problem but will not post it on their website.

See you around Roj!
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Cypherdude Jan 9, 02
There are actually 4 Microsoft Knowledge base articles which mention Santa Cruz. Thanks to you I did some more searching and found them. SC drivers really are IMO garbage. Had I seen Q303110 mentioning MechWarrior 4, I would never have bought it and saved myself a lot of hassle. Here are all of the MS KB articles:
q303110
q287701
q294672
q285323
BTW, most of the above links don't mention the O/S. In 3, the O/S can be anything from Win95 to Win2K
quote Nobody99999
Roj, Have you looked in the soundcard newsgroup, you will find this.... I think it should be added to your FAQ.

The best bit is where it says... CAUSE: This behavior can occur if the Voyetra Turtle Beach Santa Cruz sound card is installed in your computer. The Santa Cruz sound card drivers may not fully support Direct Sound acceleration.

Looks like you're blown of the water on this one Roj.

The article was taken from MS and was modified in Dec2001. Looks like this could be a big cause of problems for peeps and it should be in your FAQ.

http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;Q303110
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Roj Jan 9, 02
Cypherdude:

If the drivers are WHQL Certified, they completely support DirectSound. You can't get WHQL Certification unless you support DirectSound.

The 9x drivers aren't WHQL Certified.

However the Win2K / WinXP drivers quite handily *ARE*.

It should be rather obvious at this point even to you that the article refers to only old outdated OSs that can no longer be purchased.

Other dead giveaways that this is old information (despite the timestamp on the article which gets updated regulary by their maintenance routines and is not indicative of the actual age of the article):

References to Exception OE Errors - only Windows 9x experiences those.

References to VXDs as sound drivers - Win2K and XP both use the WDM driver model exclusively.

WHQL Certification of drivers *and* hardware (both of which the Santa Cruz has) are of course the advantages of running a modern OS.

You run an old OS, you put up with the foibles of the old drivers and the lack of support accompanying them - that's life.

Your point?

Naturally what you're also neglecting to mention is that you were told to do a complete reformat and reinstall but refused to do so. You also refused to put the card in a slot that doesn't share an IRQ as instructed to *in the manual for the product*. in fact you refused to follow ANY structured problem solving techniques, choosing instead to bad mouth a product you patently knew nothing about.

The documentation of your nonsense is here:

http://www.3dsoundsurge.com/cgi-bin/wwwthreads/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=Forum1&Number=46249&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&fpart=

Quite bluntly: you're a twit.

This message was edited by Roj on Jan 09 2002.
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