Soundcards have really come a long way over the past couple years. Up until then, soundcard technology remained essentially unchanged since the introduction of 16-bit sound with the Sound Blaster 16 almost 7 years ago - an eternity in the computer industry. With the introduction of the Sound Blaster AWE32 and other cards during this era, the biggest developments during that time focused largely on enhanced MIDI support. However, this was really already available during the days of the SB16 through the use of MIDI daughterboards such as Creative's Waveblaster or Roland's SCD-10/15.

Just about that time, MIDI was rapidly decreasingly in popularity as CD music was much more flexible, especially since gamers were coming exclusively on CD at that time. Finally, some progress was made with the advent of PCI soundcards that offered lowered CPU utilization and multiple audio streams. But the most revolutionary advancement was the advent of "3D" sound, and was largely pioneered by Aureal's Vortex 1. It offered the ability to simulate sound coming from different directions using just two speakers or headphones. Now Aureal is back with the Vortex 2, which offers wavetracing for excellent reflection effects and the ability to take advantage of headphones, two standard speakers, or four speakers for a more realistic surround effect.

Xitel seemingly came out of nowhere to be a major player in the soundcard market, beginning with their Storm PCI soundcard and followed by the Vortex 1 based Storm VX. But it was the introduction of the Storm Platinum as one of the first Vortex 2 based cards on the market that really put them on the map and in the minds of gamers.

Xitel Storm Platinum Specifications

Courtesy Xitel

Controller Chip

  • Aureal Vortex 2 - AU8830 Controller

CODEC

  • Quad Channel Output 18-bit AC'97 CODEC

Features

  • Hardware Accelerated A3D 2.0 and DirectSound 3D *
  • 96 DMA Hardware Accelerated Channels
  • Professional 320 Voice MIDI Synthesizer
  • Digital 10-Band Graphic Equalizer
  • Multiple Speaker/Headphone Support
  • Optical S/PDIF (TOSLINK) Output - Minidisc compatible *
  • Accelerated Joystick Port
  • SoundBlaster Pro Hardware Support

Inputs and Outputs

  • CD In (MPC)
  • Aux In (MPC)
  • Modem In (MPC)
  • Mic In (for electret and condenser mics)
  • 2 Stereo Line Outputs For Up To 4 Speakers
  • Optical S/PDIF Output (TOSLINK) - Minidisc compatible *
  • MIDI/Joystick Port
  • Wavetable Header
  • Expansion Header

General MIDI Interface

  • MIDI MPU-401 UART Mode
  • 16 Byte FIFO’s For MIDI IN and MIDI OUT
  • Doubles as Joystick Port
More Specifications

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