The SonicVortex2 is the latest hardware accelerated PCI sound card from VideoLogic, a company known better for their 3D graphics chips, rather than their sound cards. The board is based around the Aureal Vortex2 SuperQuad PCI design, which allows advanced features such as quad speaker support and an S/P-DIF digital optical output all on the one card, an attribute not shared by its rivals such as the Diamond Monster MX300 and the Turtle Beach Montego Quadzilla which both require an additional card to host such features. Internally, the card also offers CD, TAD, and auxiliary input in the form of MPC3 connections, so that items such as CD-ROMs and Voice Modems can be connected to the card. The SonicVortex2 uses Aureal’s Vortex2 AU8830 audio processor which helps to reduce the strain on your CPU, resulting in slightly faster processing and higher frame rates in gaming situations. The SonicVortex2 supports A3D 2.0; Aureal’s 3D audio positioning standard that accurately simulates various acoustic environments and takes into account everything from the position of the sound source in relation to the listener to the room geometrics and acoustic properties of difference surfaces in order to provide the ultimate in acoustic reality. For example, the sound of a car engine in front of you in a tunnel would sound different to the noise of the same car behind you in open-space. The SonicVortex2 now also supports Creative Labs’ like-minded EAX audio system, when used with the latest drivers found at http://www.videologic.com/Software/SonicVortex2.htm As with most sound cards, the SonicVortex2 is about as easy to install as it gets – uninstall your old card’s drivers, then remove the old card and slot in the SV2, connect the reboot and windows will detect the card and autoinstall it. Once the hardware is installed it’s time for the software, I would recommend you start by downloading the latest driver from the VideoLogic web
site. Once that has been done, you can begin to explore the multitude of software that is included on the CD-ROM. The main titles included are the full versions of the superb Jet Audio multimedia suite, which provides all the media playback you could ever want and Future Beat 3D for 3D music composition. Perhaps surprisingly for such a gaming orientated device, there are no full games included, only a few demos - Incoming, Klingon Honour Guard, Myth 2, Powerslide, and Thief are all included. Considering that this is a card primarily marketed at the gaming community, the SV2 copes excellently with music, delivering superb clarity, with deep but clear bass and clean treble. The S/P DIF output is also a great facility for musicians, meaning that you can put your MP3’s onto MiniDisc easily and at the highest quality, with output at either 32, 44.1 or 48 kHz. Videologic have given the SonicVortex2 a Recommended Retail Price of £64.99, although it's high-street price is more like £40, which I believe represents excellent value for money, considering the quality and features available. I would recommend this card to any serious games player or anybody with a need for a S/P DIF output at a great price.