- AMD K6 233 MHz, 1 meg of cache
- 64 meg of SDRAM
- Quantum Ultra DMA 2.5 gig
- Matrox Millenium 4 meg
- Canopus Pure3d
- JAZZ 3d Speaker System front
- Hitachi Speaker System rear
- MAG DX17
- Quickshot Masterpilot
- TM F22 Pro and TQS
Remember a few years back when the Sound Blaster was the only game out there? Then along came a few upstarts like Media Vision and Turtle Beach. These days choices are a little more complicated, and overall quality and reliability has increased greatly. Diamond is about to release a PCI based sound board for only $99 US, and Turtle Beach has beat them to the punch with their new Daytona!
Moving to the PCI bus and DirectSound under WIN95 means fewer hassles. In fact, if your sim of choice is a true WIN95 game, installation and use becomes virtually painless, and sound quality improves. Since Plug'n'Play is far more reliable with PCI boards as opposed to ISA boards, this definitely is the wave of the future!
But thats not all. A sound board sitting in an ISA slot is running at.. would you believe 8 MHz? That means more CPU power, power that sim fans desperately need to reserve for gameplay. Practically speaking, moving to PCI means fewer pauses while accessing speech or midi files, and in some cases even a slight increase in frame rate since the CPU spends less time monitoring the applications' interaction with your sound board. This is good news for sim fans since our applications are about the most demanding out there. Any processor time we can free up means better game play: more fun, more suspension of disbelief.
Furthermore, the SonicVibes chip on boards like the Daytona
means on board channel mixing and processing; combined with DLS (downloadable sound fonts) it gives software designers even more flexibility in the sound department, locking in up to ten meg of system RAM.
Welcome the Turtle Beach Daytona, an entry into the market that will compete directly with Diamonds latest release of the Monster Sound (also at $99 US). Turtle Beach sent me their newest sound card and I promptly installed it into the system above.
The Daytona installed painlessly in WIN95. Believe it or not, this board is even bus mastering, a necessary byproduct of TBs proprietary DLS technology whereby the board reserves needed system RAM to store MIDI files. The Daytona will also emulate the Sound Blaster Pro standard in a WIN95 DOS box, but if you need full DOS support you will have to keep your old sound board in its ISA slot, exactly as required by Diamonds product. In fact you may have to do this anyway.. legacy DOS support is weak.
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Naturally, the Daytona also supports full duplex operation and Surround Sound. The latter means that you will have fairly good spatialized and located sound with a two speaker system, and even better results if you run the board through a four channel amplifier. Its amazing how well this works, and in Janes Longbow 2 or F22: ADF you will hear your wingman slightly behind and to the right if thats his correct location. I also jumped into my favorite French Spad XIII to check out the tear of canvas and rattle of the guns =)
Subjectively, this is as clean as ANY sound board I have ever heard and better than most. Turtle Beach has a reputation for clean, and the Daytona won't have them sweating about their future! As for specifics, the Daytona uses S3s Sonic Vibes chip which allows 32 voice synthesis. Channelized reverb and chorus is also supported on MIDI wavetable instruments. The MIDI interface is through the joystick connector, which by the way is speed compensated.
In fact, it may be the new joystick I was experimenting with, but joystick response never seemed smoother to me. It could be a combination of the joys of digital technology (the new TM Millennium) and the freed up CPU cycles, but response in F22: ADF had definitely improved. ADF and Longbow 2 are two of the more demanding simulations out there at the moment, making judicious use of sound and effects while also calculating a lot of other elements!
In case you are also a music buff, software includes a nice package like MIDI orchestrator Plus, Audiostation 2 (CD, WAV and MIDI controller), AudioView (Digital editor), Jam Grid music maker, AudioCalendar, SayIt! (audio notes program) and some music games for kids.
The sound board market has never been better for gamers. Diamond is about to release a new version of their Monster Sound at $99, and TBs Daytona can be had for $79 at Chips and Bits. With simple installation and great quality, the only thing this board lacks is an onboard digital signal processor for full DirectSound acceleration. If you are set on A3d sound and want even more horsepower, check out the Montego at $119.