|Desktop Theater 5.1 Review - Part 3
The front panel includes controls for the following:
3.1 Creative Multi-Speaker Surround
There are three modes:
These work for the analog inputs.
Music and Movie modes allow you to convert a stereo input
to a 5.1 setup to give you a wider soundstage. Music replicates the front stereo to rear
stereo, while Movie Mode uses the rear channels to produce a ProLogic like effect.
The last mode, FourPoint literally converts my $500 Theater
5.1 system into $160 4Point system. =P
I usually use the FourPoint mode when playing SBLive!
DS3D/EAX games. Only the first two modes make use of the center speaker.
3.2 Dolby Surround Modes
There are three Dolby Surround modes, depending on which
inputs (analog or digital) are used:
- Dolby Digital AC3,
using the SPDIF inputs
- Dolby Pro Logic (Analog),
using the front stereo analog inputs, and
- Dolby Pro Logic (Digital),
using the PCM stereo digital input (from SPDIF)
3.3 Other Functions
There are three other buttons to handle Audio Mode, Speaker
Test and Mute. Audio Mode allows you to select Left Only or Right Only inputs (for karaoke
Speaker Test, produces a white noise signal successively
through each of the speakers so you can adjust the individual volume levels. Mute does
exactly what it says it does: =)
There are also 4 volume knobs: master, center, subwoofer
and surrounds. And to round off the front panel, a power switch.
The only odd thing missing is the rear delay setting, which
delays the sound output
3.4 Connectivity with Encore DVD
I am sure that most people will be buying this system to
complement their Encore DVD (or equivalent hardware DVD setups) and on that front, it is
good. The Encore SPDIF plugs right in, and works great just out of the box.
One of the things that I didnt like about the Encore
when I was using the stereo analog (downmixed) stream was that the speech didnt seem
to synch with the screen. The lips seemed to be moving at a totally different phase from
the audio/dialog. This is no longer a problem with the Theater 5.1.
3.5 Connectivity with Sound Blaster
This is where I have some problems with the system. Aside from
the two analogue stereo inputs (front and rear), there is just no other way to hook up the
SBLive! with the system.
"... the SBLive! lacks the
horsepower (and license from Dolby) required to ENCODE AC3 signals in real time, so the
Digital D-IN output was our last hope to getting more than quadraphonic sound from the
SBLive!. But this was not meant to be."
There is no way to hook up the much-hyped about Digital
D-IN output on the Lives daughtercard to this unit to get true 5.1 channels. I think
you can use the stereo PCM output (SPDIF) of the Live!'s daughtercard to connect to the
Theatre5.1, but the Live will only be outputting stereo.
I think it is already an over-discussed point in the
Creative SBLive! newsgroups that the SBLive lacks the horsepower (and licence from Dolby)
required to ENCODE AC3 signals in real time, so the Digital D-IN output was our last hope
to getting more than quadraphonic sound from the SBLive!. But this was not meant to be.
Another problem I have is the inability to mix AC3 5.1
sound from the Encore with the two analogue stereo inputs from the SBLive! (DS3D/EAX)
You have to choose from one of the following options:
||You can get all 5.1 channels from the AC3
input but the rear analogue input is ignored, and is merely a replica of the front stereo
||You also get all 5.1 channels from the AC3
input and again, the rear analogue input is completely ignored, but is derived by
processing the front analogue stereo inputs (a la Dolby ProLogic)
||You can get both front AND rear analogue
inputs but you lose the rear channels from the 5.1 stream (so you are basically left with
3.1 AC3 *blech*)
This is not really an important feature just
an inconvenience for future games (if any) that has DS3D within the game and AC3 for the
FMV. You will be required to toggle between FourPoint when playing a game, and switching
to Music/Dolby Digital when watching the FMV.