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The Card

One thing I love about the MUSE is the black PCB. You open up your case and there is this mass of green PCB, and right smack in the middle is this wicked looking black MUSE, kind of draws attention to itself. There are five external outputs on the card (Front out, Rear out, Microphone in, Line in, and of course the game/MIDI port) as well as 3 internal headers (CD-in, Analog in, and Aux in). It's a pretty simple PCB layout with the 3 internal headers in the upper right hand corner and the C-Media 8783 DSP sitting right above the PCI connector. But taking a closer look at the MUSE, it is quite easy to see where corners have been cut to cut costs. For example, there are no plastic connectors for the CD-analog input and aulillary sound inputs. Instead there are just open pins which the connectors plug onto, not a big deal, just be careful that you don't acidentally pull one of the wires off while mucking around in the case.

Click for a larger version Real world performance is not too shabby for a $30 card. 3D sound rendering in AudioBench was quite acceptable, vertical positioning is a little more sketchy though. You have to sit there and stop to think about where the sound is actually coming from, the vertical placement is not good enough that you can place it subconciously. Unreal Tournament happily used the MUSE for 3d accelerated playback in surround sound. Sound placement was acceptable, not spectacular but still lightyears ahead of 2 speaker "surround sound" setups.. Remember that the Muse only supports A3D 1.0, so games like Quake 3 Arena, Descent 3, Diablo 2, etc. that use A3D 2.0+ will fallback and use A2D. A2D is a software overlay for A3D 2.0 and 3.0 which uses the CPU to render the 3D effects, and as we'll see next this is something we definitly don't want.


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