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Sound Card & Speakers Articles

ASUS Orion Pro Headset Review
With any luck the ASUS Orion Pro under the spotlight today will be the perfect headset for any gamer!

ASUS Vulcan ANC Pro Gaming Headset Review
ASUS brings professional gaming headgear to a new level with the first active noise cancelling headset for gamers.

Cooler Master CM Storm Sonuz Review
The CM Storm Sonuz promises crisp, clear audio for $70 thanks to its large, high quality drivers.

ASUS Xonar U3 USB Audio Card Review
ASUS tackles lackluster sound quality in note- and netbooks with the Xonar U3, a small USB audio card.

Corsair Vengeance 2000 Wireless Headset Review
Corsair aims to take gaming, music and movie sound quality to the next level with its Vengeance 2000 wireless headset.

Sound Card & Speakers News

Closer look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor introduces Talion, undead ranger

0 comments Rory Young - 11:04am (PST) Like (1) Share

Talion kind of comes across as the Witcher of Middle-Earth

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Our first look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor wasn't much of a look, was it? The action game was announced with relatively little fanfare and virtually no media that wasn't exclusive to certain outlets. Not exactly how you want to announce a game in our modern era, right? Today, however, we received a shipment of concept art and screenshots in the emails. It's got orcs! It's got a dude with a sword! Hm, this doesn't help much at all.

Perhaps the worst part of these assets is that the screenshots are highly stylized and have clearly been edited in post, at least to some degree. As such, it's difficult to discern whether they're actually representative of the game. Forgive the disturbing association, but I'm feeling a lot of Dragon Age 2 when I look at these screenshots. That's not a terrible thing, after all Hawke looked rather outstanding in the keyart released before launch. However, it is a bit foreboding when considering what the game actually turned out to be.

As for what sort of game Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor actually is, here's a shortlist of main "features" according to the development team:

  • Talion - Players take the form of Talion, a ranger who loses his family and everything he holds dear, only to be returned from death by a mysterious Spirit of vengeance.
  • Mordor - Set between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor begins on the night of Sauron’s return to Mordor, throwing the region into turmoil.
  • Nemesis System - Discover a powerful and dynamic next-gen gameplay mechanic that allows players’ actions to shape enemy relationships and characteristics, creating personal and unique stories and gameplay arcs that remain persistent even after death.
  • Wraith abilities - Players command Wraith Powers to orchestrate and execute their vengeance to outwit enemies, infiltrate the ranks, and dominate within an adaptive world. 
  • Melee combat - A multitude of enemies will require different tactics, encouraging the player to advance their skills, abilities and weapons to become legendary through a system of rune rewards crafted according to the player's strategy.

I'm excited to see exactly how Shadow of Mordor plays out real-time, though I'm worried about how they'll be able to show off their Nemesis System in a simple trailer. It really seems like an exciting feature, but is it really only exciting in the context of a whole game vs. just a short battle?

Either way, it's much too early to make any substantial calls on Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Basically, all we can say is that they've got a great intellectual property to work with and some solid feature ideas. Let's hope they do their best with what they've got. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor will be coming to PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.



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Witcher 2 dev insists "DRM does not protect your game"

0 comments Rory Young - 12:18pm (PST) Like (1) Share

Does DRM provide developers a false sense of security?

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CD Projekt Red is one of the few developers to argue against DRM in games. Still, that didn't prevent them from adding SecuROM to a version of The Witcher 2 upon release. Needless to say, the results were as they expected: it didn't work. 

In a presentation today during GDC, CD Projekt Red CEO Marcin Iwinski said the following:

"We release the game. It's cracked in two hours, it was no time for Witcher 2. What really surprised me is that the pirates didn't use the GOG version, which was not protected. They took the SecuROM retail version, cracked it and said 'we cracked it' -- meanwhile there's a non-secure version with a simultaneous release. You'd think the GOG version would be the one floating around."

Iwinski goes on to say that his company will never use DRM in their games again, because it overcomplicates things. To say it's refreshing to see a developer discuss the issue like an adult, without politicizing the issue, would be an understatement. Still, it's a rare perspective to see in the industry, and not likely to persuade other, larger publishers and developers.

After the presentation, Iwinski tells Joystiq:

"DRM does not protect your game. If there are examples that it does, then people maybe should consider it, but then there are complications with legit users."

 
 

Sonos unveils new all-in-one iPhone speaker system

0 comments scrux - 8:40pm (PST) Like Share

Wireless music system controlled using iPhone

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Earlier today home theater systems company Sonos unveiled their latest sound system, the Sons S5, a wireless sound system built to function seamlessly with the iPhone.

Unlike traditional media players, the S5 doesn't require you to dock your device in order to enjoy your music. By using the Sonos controller app, one can easily stream all of their music, whether it be from an iPhone or the internet, through the media player -- no tethering required.

Features:

  • Full control of your music experience with your iPhone, iPod touch, PC, Mac or Sonos Controller including your iTunes library and all of the popular online streaming services such as Pandora, Rhapsody, Napster, Siruis
  • Crystal-clear, room-filing sound from 2 tweeters, 2 mid-range drivers and subwoofer built in
  • Access to music from your iTunes library and most every online music service/internet radio station
  • Best-in-class wireless technology for multi-room music
  • Simple setup & expansion - simple to add rooms

 
 

Freeware utility Driver Sweeper 2.0 released

0 comments Sean Ridgeley - 3:01pm (PST) Like Share

Written from scratch, lots of improvements for all your sweeping needs

If you don't like driver issues, Driver Sweeper is a free program we can wholly recommend using.

The long and short of it is before installing a new driver (like say, those new NVIDIA drivers released today), you uninstall the old ones, reboot, run Driver Sweeper to get rid of all the old bits lying around, then install the new set, thereby minimizing the possibility of any future conflicts or issues. We've been using it for some months now with only good results, so there's that.

Version 2.0 is released today, complete with an overhaul, Windows 7 support, lots of improvements and more. Grab it at Phyxion; link and changelog is below.

Driver Sweeper is completely rewritten from scratch at 2.0.0

  • This version requires at least .NET 3.5 installed.
  • UAC message requiring administrator access on Windows Vista and Windows 7 on startup if UAC is enabled.
  • Resizable window.
  • Lowered requirements to .NET 3.0.
  • Windows 7 support.
    Only the final version is supported.
  • Updated:
       - Improved ATi - Display cleaning.
       - Improved NVIDIA - Display cleaning.
       - Improved NVIDIA - PhysX cleaning.
       - Renamed AGEIA - PhysX to NVIDIA - PhysX
  • Added many translations

 
 

Beta drivers for Audigy, Live! and X-Fi Xtreme Audio cards under Windows 7 released

0 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:18am (PST) Like Share

Beta 1.04.0090 added to Creative's growing list

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Now that Realtek soundcard users are taken care of, it's time for Creative users to get some Windows 7 support. The company has added to its website today additional support for the OS, specifically, for its Audigy, Live! and X-Fi Xtreme Audio cards.

These new drivers constitute Beta version 1.04.0090, and should offer an overall improved experience under Microsoft's latest. Grab the set here, and visit Creative's Windows 7 - Driver Availability Chart for other card and product support information.

 
 

Realtek releases 2.25 HD Audio drivers

2 comments Sean Ridgeley - 3:17pm (PST) Like Share

Now Windows 7 compatible

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Realtek releases today its 2.25 set of HD Audio drivers, these ones being the first compatible with Windows 7.

Hit the link below and click 'Software' to proceed to the new driver set. Note download speeds vary arbitrarily depending on which site you choose, so shop around!

 
 

Bell to buy out The Source outlets

1 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:31am (PST) Like Share

Circuit City subsidiary to see amalgamation

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Folks may recall January's news of U.S. electronics retailer Circuit City shutting down, with us left wondering what would happen to its Canadian subsidiary The Source.

The news in this week tells us wireless, digital TV, internet and home phone provider Bell will be capitalizing on the losses, buying the chain out and "enhancing [its] growth"; it will continue to operate as an electronics shop on top of carrying all of Bell's services.

The deal is expected to be finalized by Q3 of this year; no price has been disclosed as of yet.

"(The) acquisition supports Bell's strategic imperatives to accelerate wireless and leverage momentum in services like Bell TV, Bell Internet and Bell Home Phone," said George Cope, president and CEO of Bell and BCE.

Bell shares closed down 2.54 per cent Monday at $24.20.

The Source previously ran under the monkier of Radio Shack until it was bought by Circuit City in 2005.

 
 

Circuit City down for the count

9 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:29am (PST) Like Share

No buyer, no refinancing, no stores

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Circuit City has had a really rough 2008. First it saw a bid from Blockbuster, then some Sony trucks turned around on them failing a delivery due to bad credit, then they closed 155 of their stores, and finally, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. There's one final note to this sad tale: the chain is now shutting down completely. In retrospect, maybe a Blockbuster acquisition would've been a good idea.

They announced today they will be liquidating their remaining 567 U.S. stores after failing to find a buyer or figure out a refinancing deal. At the time CC filed for bankruptcy protection, they held 5-10% of the US video game sector. Circuit City was the nation's second biggest electronics retailer.

There doesn't seem to be any specific liquidation sale on their website, as one might expect, though its Canadian subsidiary The Source has an up to 70% off event.

 
 

Lenovo to sell 'Wii-like' PC 'air-mouse'

5 comments Sean Ridgeley - 10:35am (PST) Like Share

New PCs packed with 'hand-held motion-based remote controller'

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PC fellows Lenovo will soon be selling its lauded IdeaCenter A600 machine, which will feature an optional "hand-held motion-based remote controller", as well as a wireless mouse (all pictured above), allowing users to interact with their computer similar to how gamers do with a Wii remote. The PC is boasted to be the world's thinnest all-in-one computer.

The remote control is said to function as an 'air-mouse', working at a distance from the unit, so the user can control the system without having to operate a mouse utilizing the traditional method.

CBR's opinion is it "could be seen as more than a gimmick, [maybe] kick start[ing] more serious consideration by the industry of motion-tracking pointer devices as alternative input options for business computer users."

The IdeaCenter is one of a new portfolio of systems Lenovo will be showing at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. With its impressive starting specs -- 21.5'', 1920x1080, 16:9 aspect ratio screen, Intel Pentium Dual Core or Core 2 Duo processor, integrated Dolby Home Theater sound system, 1GB DDR 3 RAM, integrated DX10 graphics card -- the machine sells for a fair $999 (selectable upgrades optional).
 
 

KRK Rokit brings studio sound to the consumer

0 comments Gabriel Vega - 9:36am (PST) Like Share

5,6 and 8 inch models available in new release.

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Gamers often find themselves at a hard end of the audio spectrum, things are isolateed to headphone jacks or optical jacks and the rare situation where someone uses a few splicers to turn their headphone jacks into 6 audio out jacks. It never seems to be a pretty picture and most of the time the easy way out is just hooking up a 5.1 in a box to just get into action instead. The problem of course is the quality suffers most of the time using plastic cabinets without porting and no remote insulation of any form to help supplement the sound. Hardcore users will take the next step and use a digital line to their recievver to hook up a pair of bookshelf speakers and get some respectable sound but for those who want something more the KRK Rokit 8 seems to fill that void.

The G2 series is running about with great specs showing a Glass Aramid composite Woofer giving people some strength and flex for high power situations, while everything has a breaking point the use of this reduces the issue quite a bit and provides a wide range of frequency response without reaching a distortion point so fast that everything peaks and the driver goes into overload.

Key things to know:

Rokit 5 G2:

5" Woofer with dedicated 1" Tweeter
XLR support with RCA and TRS connection support.
75 Watt dynamic power bi-amp, 18dB Octave Filters
53Hz-20kHz response range per cabinet

Rokit 6 G2:

6" Woofer with dedicated 1" Tweeter
XLR support with RCA and TRS connection support
100 Watt dynamic power bi-amp 24dB Octave Filters
49Hz-20kHz response range per cabinet

Rokit 8 G2

8" Woofer with dedicated 1" Tweeter
XLR support with RCA and TRS connection support
150 Watt dynamic power bi-amp 24dB Octave Filters
45Hz-20kHz response range per cabinet

The cabinet focuses on audio response over high end abuse, the thing to note is that the 150w power rating is a great sign of actual output instead of using inflated burst / pmpo ratings and it signals a brief end to the often second thought inclusions of a subwoofer to make up for a lack of low frequency response by the actual drivers like many companies end up doing right now as the company has invested in the hardware itself. The XLR, RCA and TRS support seal the deal for many audio professionals with high end connection compatibilty.

For $300 - $500 set the Rokit isn't exactly cheap but it has the potential to deliver audio quality that rivals the $300 kits running around right now. For the more audiophile based users the sets will probably be quite a nice touch as some younger gamers often desire EAX5 with 7.1 over something that might provide higher quality output. If we get a chance to put these to the test we surely will, I've sampled KRK monitors in the past few months and the potential is pretty wild and very defined.

Anyone wanting more info can hit their site krksys.com



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