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      Hercules Game Theater XP 6.1 and XPS 510 Surround Speakers Review

     
     
     Date: January 9th, 2002
     Type: Review
     Supplier: Guillemot
     Author: mayhem
     RRP: $329 AUS (R.R.P.) for Game Theater XP 6.1, $199 AUS (R.R.P.) for XPS-510 Speakers
     

    Setup
    The first thing to do is of course unpack all of the equipment from the respective boxes and double check that all the parts are present. When you have verified that everything is ready then you will need to power down your computer system and remove your current sound card (if present). Remove the Game Theater XP from its static bag and securely place it in a free PCI slot in your computer, then just screw it in (you might want to leave your case off just in case you have problems).

    The next thing to do is to setup the rack unit and plug the DB44 cable into the back of the it and then into the PCI card, once this is done all you need to do is setup the speakers in the positions that you want and then connect them to the proper RCA connections (Left/Right Front, Left/Right Back, Center and Subwoofer).

    Now that everything is connected all that is left is to power up your machine, when Windows loads it should detect the new hardware and prompt you for the drivers, this is where you can either use the ones present on the supplied CD-ROM or use the latest which you can download from the Internet (recommended - see page 1).

    The expanded sections from Device Manager are the new pieces of hardware that Windows 2000 finds once the Game Theater XP 6.1 has been installed.

    Once the drivers are installed you only need to do minor setting up within your system, such as setting the system to six (6) speakers and adjust the settings to your liking. Apart from adjusting these settings you don't really have to do much to get the speakers working, most of the settings you will change around for the first couple of days of even weeks until your happy with the results (just like any home entertainment system or car audio system).

    All that is left to do is enjoy the sweet sounds of a new computer audio (entertainment) system.

    Testing
    In order to test this system we wanted to put it through all the fancy surround sound tests, but mostly the day to day uses, such as playing MP3's and listening to Audio CD's, this is mainly because not only do you want a sound system that has great quality for your movies, but you want great all round quality also.

    The following system was used to test the Game Theater XP and XPS-510 Speaker Setup:

    • Intel Pentium II 450 MMX
    • Gigabyte 686-BX Motherboard
    • 192MB PC133 SDRAM
    • Hercules 3D Prophet 4500XT (64MB KryoII)
    • Samsung 16x DVD (borrowed from a friend)

    MP3 - Firstly testing of MP3's was done using some of todays TOP-40 music, such as Nelly - Ride With Me, Dante - Miss California, Usher - U Got It Bad, Linkin Park - In The End etc, these were played at different volume levels and also different sound setup schemes such as Bass Boost, Pop, Rock (all in the Game Theater XP EQ Setup Control Panel). finally some classical music was tested (such as Beethoven and Bach) these were done in the Classical EQ setting.

    Audio CD - Firstly "The Bass Mekanik" Audio CD was used to test the bass that the system put out, once again these was done at different EQ settings for best output. Finally a Country Music CD was used to see what more instrumental and vocal music sounded like.

    DVD - In order to test the full surround sound on all six (6) speakers a borrowed Samsumg 16x DVD player was used and the movie "Tomorrow Never Dies" from the James Bond collection was played, I picked this movie mainly for two reasons, 1. We only recently bought a home DVD player and 19 James Bond DVD's is all we have, 2. The movie contains alot of loud music, explosions and the likes which would be good to test the speaker system.

    Unfortunately the only way to get full six (6) speaker surround sound working is with DVD players (software such as PowerDVD and WinDVD), this normally it will only in two speaker mode with the extra speakers simply duplicating the others (but they will all work, just not in surround sound).

    Conclusion
    Overall the sound quality of the Game Theater XP and the XPX-510 Speakers is quite impressive, especially when turned to maximum volume, the speakers are quite clear and free from and interference and crackling.

    Pros

  • The best features of this setup is the 5.1 and 6.1 surround sound support.
  • Gold plated terminals and Digital In/Out terminals.
  • Excellent value for sound card (Game Theater XP) and speakers (XPS-510).
  • Extra features such as MIDI, Line Input, Headphones and USB ports.
  • Bundled software.
  • Cons

  • The speakers require a specialized sound card like the Game Theater XP (RRP $329), Fortissimo II (RRP $129) or a SB Audigy Platinum eX (RRP $460) etc.
  • Amount of cabling required for setup (10 for basic, then more required for additional functionality), but this is un-avoidable for the amount of speakers.
  • The Hercules Game Theater XP 6.1 and XPS-510 Speakers are defiantly worth looking into for your next computer audio system, for their price and quality they are quite a challenge to the top end Boston Speakers and Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum available and especially since they are a 6.1 system.

    A big thanks must go out to Jean-Francois Galle from Guillemot Australian for supplying us with both the new Hercules Game Theater XP 6.1 and the new Hercules XPS-510 Surround Sound Speakers. To find out more information on the range of products that Hercules have then please visit their website, au.hercules.com.

    Score: 9 / 10

    FORUM: Talk about this and other products

     

      Supplier Information

     

    Hercules Australia (a division of the Guillemot Corporation) have a wide variety of computer gaming and multimedia products from the Graphics Cards to Sound Cards, TV cards, Speakers and also other gaming equipment, they are one of the leading brands in todays rapid computer technology market. If you would like more information on the company then please visit there site: www.guillemot.com.au, alternatively if you would like to browse the Hercules product line then you can visit there Australian site: au.hercules.com.

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