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xRobert Richmond

Abit SP-50 Home Theater System

February 2003

Page Two

Page One: Specifications / Installation
Page Two: Testing Methodology
Page Three: Sound Quality / Software & Accessories

Testing Methodology  
Testing of audio equipment is a subjective matter for most listeners, as most consumer-oriented testing equipment can provide little more than relatively vague results for sound pressure levels. Similarly, the majority of sound analysis software available is best suited for testing of sound cards, not the actual speaker network being used for final sound output. One could use a variety of electronics diagnostic equipment to test for impedance, conductance, variances, resonance, and a multitude of other characteristics, though these results often do little to describe quality or performance differences between varying brands due to the specific design considerations involved with each of the various models.

Test Configuration

System Athlon 1200 TB @ 1400 MHz
384bm sd-ram pc-133 cas 2
2x Maxtor 10gb ata/66 raid 0
Hitachi gd-2500 8x dvd-rom
nVidia gf-2 gts 32mb agp
Abit AU-10 audio
Operating System Windows Millennium oem
Windows 2000 sp2
VIA 4n1 4.37
nVidia detonator 27.42
Abit AU-10 v1.00
Software PowerDVD v3.0
WinDVD 2000 (Abit oem)
Unreal Tournament v4.36
JetAudio Professional

The procedures utilized for this review lean more to the subjective side of the testing process. Being involved for several years within the competition circuits for car audio, I have obtained the skills needed for high-level processing and diagnosis of sound. In addition to my human intuition, a simple technique derived from a custom recording process provided the basis for the technical aspects of the testing methodology. Employing a high-gain, fixed-mount microphone coupled with a basic PC audio recorder/editor (Realtime Analyzer Light) allows for the quick (though extremely basic) analysis of frequency response ranges and sound pressure amplitude levels. Re-orientation of the microphone to best align with each of the speaker positions allows for testing of base directivity and channel separation.

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(Click Image to Enlarge)

The entire process is relatively simple, though the results are still acceptable for modest speaker network testing.  The primary sound source utilized for this review consisted of the AC-3 encoded soundtrack from Mission Impossible 2.  This DVD provides a great level of sound directivity for maximum spatialization, though the actual sound levels are slightly lower than those found with most other popular movies.  Other testing consisted of various multi-channel D3D, EAX, and A3D games, plus 2-channel sources such a CD and MP3 players.


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