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CreamWare Pulsar SRB 4 SHARC DSP Expansion Board

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      29.06.2000 16:50
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      This is not a soundcard in its own right. Instead it is an expansion to Creamware's fantastic Pulsar Soundcard. The SRB stands for Sonic Rocket Booster - the chaps at Creamware maybe losing their cred for a second there. If you don't already know what the Pulsar does then see my review of that first. Basically it is a studio on one card, allowing you to link up a selection from hundreds of virtual modules. The running of these modules is then accelerated by the 4 DSP chips on the board, theoretically without touching your CPU. The problem is that the running of virtual musical instruments, particularly synthesizers, requires some phenomenal number crunching, and you will quickly reach the limit of the DSPs. I run my card in a PII-400, with 192MB ram, and with the Pulsar alone I used to be able to run about 4 synths, a couple of effects, 5 sample players and the big mixer. It was frustrating to try and add another synth, or increase the polyphony of one of the ones I was running, and be told I had exceeded the limit of the DSP chips. The way around this is to record a few tracks and dump them to Wav files. The Wav files are then played in my sequencer, using the CPU, and my Pulsar is freed up to record more MIDI tracks. This is a difficult way to work though. The SRB contains an extra four chips thus doubling the capacity of the original Pulsar, and work has been a lot less stressful since I added it. But can I recommend it? The thing is, it is very expensive, and you are still going to reach a limit - just not as soon. If you can cope with piecing things together a few tracks at a time, then I wouldn't bother with the SRB.

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