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Sharky Extreme : June 23, 2000




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"A3D", for those unfamiliar with it, is a popular standard for the usage of two or four external speakers to create an immersive 3D sound experience. In games that support A3D, the effect when playing is that the various game sounds can be heard either to the left or right of your head, and even behind you, should the circumstances warrant it.

"The ability to make a player believe that they have actually become a part of the game is something every game developer strives to achieve. Given that positional 3D audio provides such an impressive impact on the 3D gaming experience, we see both game developers and consumers turning toward adavanced audio solutions."

-Mary Behr, director of marketing, LucasArts Entertainment

Even with just two external speakers, or a set of headphones, the A3D effect is dramatic and impressive. With another two speakers, for a total of four, it's downright creepy in its effectiveness. When playing Unreal for example, the sounds of battle and of the corresponding hushed silence occur where they should in relationship to the player's location, meaning they come from the proper direction and distance.

The option to add the "extra" two speakers is unique to the MX200, as the less expensive PCI sound card model from Diamond (the M80) only supports the standard two. The MX200 also supports and accelerates through hardware Microsoft's DirectSound3D audio standard, which is built into Win95/98.

Diamond didn't stop with just great 3D sound abilities for the MX200, they decided to incorporate one of Roland's best Wavetable Synthesis sample sets in a hardware plug-in daughter card. Sporting 4MB, and 64 voices, the "Dream 64" wavetable daughter card is included with the MX200 free of charge. In testing, the daughter card's recreation of drumbeats, the piano, and all of the horn sections sounded dead on the money, and as Wavetable Synthesis goes, those are the hardest types of instruments to emulate properly.

Typical to the perceived role that the MX200 will most likely fill, Diamond includes a few mediocre quality games with the card in the form of a bundle. Full versions of Incoming, Outlaws, and a 3-level only demo of Jedi Knight make up the package's content.

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