Todays PC audio is getting more and more sophisticated. It used to be that all you had were a pair of desktop speakers and a 2 channel soundcard and you were happy. Back around 2000 that all started to change with the advent of quadraphonic soundcards and 4.1 speaker systems beginning to hit the scene. It wasn’t too long after that that we began seeing 5.1 surround soundcards followed slowly by a good selection of 5.1 capable speaker systems, but, this is always the case.
You won’t see support for a new feature until the manufacturers are certain that the new feature will actually be embraced by consumers. Then we saw the first 6.1 soundcards followed pretty quickly by 7.1. With the second generation of 5.1 soundcards we also saw more manufacturers begin including optical S/PDIF outputs which allow you to hook your 5.1+ home theater system with optical digital inputs up to your soundcard for surround sound from Dolby Digital sources. Up until recently (except in the case of nForce 2 based motherboards with SoundStorm audio) this meant that you were only able to get Dolby Digital support from DVD audio since no other audio sources (games, music, ETC.) featured Dolby Digital audio support.
Up until recently this lack of on the fly Dolby Digital encoding has been the norm amongst even the most high dollar soundcards. Enter the Montego DDL. The Montego DDL from Turtle Beach features real-time Dolby Digital encoding on the fly so that all your sound sources going to your 5.1/6.1/7.1 home theater systems with optical digital inputs will have surround. This means if you are using your PC as a HTPC/gaming rig you’ll no longer need to have dedicated 5.1 computer speakers for surround support in games or do without surround if you were just using your home theater sound system exclusively for sound playback.
Listed below are the specs for both the Montego DDL and the onboard audio that I’ll be comparing it to in the listening and user interface areas.