by Matthew Harris on December 5, 2005 in Sound Cards
We all have the desire to have the cleanest sound on our computers, but like everything else, there are far too many sound cards to choose from. Turtle Beach has been known for their high quality audio products, so we are taking a look at their top of the line Montego sound card. It looks good, but how does it perform for our audio junkie?
The system I will be testing the sound card in is as follows:
- Motherboard: Chaintech 9CJS Zenith
- Processor: Pentium 4 2.4C
- Memory: Crucial Value 2GB (1024*2)
- Graphics: eVGA GeForce 6800 Unlocked to 16 Pipes 6 Vertex Shaders (385/810)
- Sounds: Turtle Beach Montego DDL
- Storage: 2 * Western Digital S-ATA 160GB
- Power Supply: Antec 480W
- Odds and Ends: Logitech Z-560 4.1 THX Certified Speakers, Koss UR40 Headphones
- Etcetera: Windows XP Professional SP2
For my subjective listening, I used the following music to evaluate both cards with both headphones and speakers: Nine Inch Nails; Closer and Pantera; Hollow. For my movie listening I watched Batman Begins.
Here’s where the EQ comes into play… When I listened to my old setup I never used any EQ which is why I neglected to get a screenshot of it but that’s ok since it and the DDL EQ are both basically the same, 10 band full octave EQ’s with center frequencies at 30, 60, 120, 250, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 4,000, 8,000 and 16,0000 hertz.
I bring this up because when I began my listening evaluation of the Montego DDL I noticed a large spike in frequencies around 120 and 60hz and a bit of a lack at 30hz. The result of the tweaking is what you see in the above screenshot, yes I know I added a little treble at 16k but that was just to get a bit of sizzle going since the high end seemed to be a bit muted.
After the tweaking I can say that the DDL had stellar sound quality across the board, the low end has good extension and you can really feel the air being moved by the sub during hollow but as great as this sounds it was virtually indistinguishable from the Envy24.
I wouldn’t consider this a bad thing really, I’ve had an Audigy Platinum EX in this rig as well and the Envy24 actually surpasses it in terms of sound quality.
Overall the DDL is a mixed bag, it offers really good sound subjectively speaking, there’s no extraneous noise, no noticeable distortion and unlike the Audigy it has really good output when using PowerDVD. The Audigy required me to crank the volume on the PC to 100% then turn the volume on my speakers up past halfway to get a decent listening volume on any movie but as soon as I exited PowerDVD the volume would be insanely loud. Vexing at best. This is the reason I had no qualms trading it off for my current PC case and returning to the Envy24, it did not have this issue either.
The DDL has the little problem of the noticeable peak around 100hz and the slight rolloff in the 16khz range but happily it has the EQ to help even these things up. The two main detractors are the lack of a mix control for the environment effects and the lack of a full complement of record level controls, for a card that comes with a pro-sumer set of audio such as the Audio Surgeon and Recording Station, the lack of individual recording level controls is nothing less than a sin.
On the plus side are the aforementioned pieces of software if you’re of the ability to use them and the real-time Dolby Digital encoding and the overall stellar sound quality. Not to mention the speed which their tech support department takes in evaluating and answering their customer’s issues. I’ve had automated responses take longer to get back to me.
When it’s all said and done I give the Montego DDL a 7/10 with the hopes that the interface problems can be taken care of in the next driver revision.
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