Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Audio Card
Author: Frank Stroupe
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 01-03-2007
Provided by: Razer
First Impressions/Software

Yes, the Razer logo is illuminated.

I mentioned earlier that the HD-DAI connector is not centered in the PCI bracket...

This causes the connector to bind against the case. I found that I had to use a fair amount of force to get either the adapter or HP-1 plugged in. I would imagine with the PCI card screwed in, it would be pretty difficult. Though, you could move the PCI bracket down slightly before tightening the screw and it should help. We'll see.

Anyway, let's listen to some music. Gaming is what this card is intended for, but I listen to more music than I game, so I will check that out first.

Test System:

AMD X2 4400+ (89watt) CPU
Abit KN8 nF4 Ultra Motherboard
4 x 512 Corsair XMS 2-3-3-6 Memory
XFX geForce 7600GT
Sunbeamtech Nuuo 550 watt PSU
Aiwa 80 watt (40 x 2) stereo receiver
1 pair JBL model 4311 Control Monitors

The JBL 4311 was the first "near field monitor (speaker)" on the market and are very highly prized today in the recording industry. I walked into a stereo shop in 1979, picked out a system and listened to every speaker they had... including Bose, the new brand Infinity, etc. These were hands down the best sounding speakers in the store and were on sale for $350 each. I don't know how they have survived for 28 years, but they still sound great.

I have a tradition that I've had for about 30 years. Any time I get new audio equipment, the first music I listen to on it is Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon". I wore out at least two vinyl records of it, a couple of 8-track tapes, at least one cassette and a couple of CDs, so I can say that I have listened to the entire album once or twice. There are a lot of sounds in it that are easily hidden by poor sound systems, and I feel that it is an excellent test for any sound system. So, I put DSOM in the tray, cranked up the sound, sat back and prepared myself.

After getting through "Time" and "Money", I realized that it has been quite a long time since I got chills at listening to David Gilmour's guitar solos. I got them this time. On "Eclipse" and "Brain Damage", Richard Wright's Hammond B3 comes right through the mix, with the chime sounding tone wheel beauty that often disappears when listening on a PC.

Five hours later, it hits me that this is the longest that I have sat just listening to music in a good while. It was just too damn enjoyable to quit. Rock, blues, jazz, Hammond organ Jazz, classical... every song that I can pull out that might try a sound system comes across clear, warm and pure. And I'm still at default settings.

Guys and gals, I could stop right here and attest to the fact that this is the best sounding sound card that I have ever listened to music through. Everything sounded great... even MP3s at lower bitrates sounded great. It was like the AC-1 filled in what the compression took out.

Next, I checked out the dashboard to see what the software has to offer.

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