Sound card Leadtek WinFast 4Xsound
The sound card some time ago that stopped being a luxury and it has turned into an indispensable element of every computer team. Nevertheless this is not an excuse so that the manufacturers are praised for including solutions of very low cost and of quality sometimes doubtful (although more that sufficient in many others).
The true thing is that the users must be conscious of his needs and his possibilities, to be able to value if a card integrated to the motherboard will fulfill his needs, or on the contrary it will not be ready to suffer the loss of yield and/or characteristics that his use sometimes brings.
Nevertheless, it is not the target of this small article analyzing the different solutions, but announcing a proposal of average scale, with very limited price and really interesting characteristics. This sound card is provided by the manufacturer of basic badges and graphic cards Leadtek, by means of his mark WinFast. In particular we are before "famous" Leadtek WinFast 4Xsound.
The content of the box
The first surprise we are it on having opened the box in which the product comes to us. Inside her we find a badge of almost poor aspect, with a dozen of condensers and the chip in charge of the whole process; this is really surprising bearing in mind the final quality of the product.
Let's speak now about the available connectors. In the rear part of the card we find the connectors for: brought in in line brought in of microphone, front loudspeakers, rear loudspeakers, exit SPDIF and connector for port MIDI or of games (joystick).
Yes, they have read good, this kidling (and ecónomica) jewel has support for 4 loudspeakers and built-in ride a digital exit with connector in format RCA. And fortunately it does not finish there the thing.
Before opening the box, we can read in a side street of the same one, and on a sticker the following phrase: Fiber-optic Module. Well, this means that in our box we have this small accessory, which was getting connected to our badge:
After connecting this module and doing a hollow to him in the rear part of the computer, we have another 2 connectors. In this case it is a question of digital connectors that use optical fibre. This means that we will be able to transmit the sound between different devices with a void loss of quality. This is, we will be able to connect our discman to the PC and record the information on our hard disk or use the loudspeakers of our computer to reproduce the audio CDs (how many times has he wanted to listen to a CD with his favorite music while he writes in the PC, and has not been able for being use the CD - ROM for other things?).
In the same way, all those that possess a MiniDisc will find in 4Xsound the ideal complement, since they will be able to transfer his files mp3, wav... to the MiniDisc by means of the optical cable, without any loss of quality.
Before getting directly with the installation of any component, screwdriver into hand and prepared ashtray, it is more than advisable to throw a glance to the manual of the product, for knowing if there exists some characteristic or condition to be born in mind.
The manual leaves a sweet and sour flavor. After enumerating the characteristics, the content of the box, the requests of the system and certain instructions of safety (the common ones to most of electronic devices), the second part comes with a guide of installation of the hardware... really plain, since it limits itself to indicating the external connectors (loudspeakers, microphone, etc) and interns, for the unit of CD and the optical module SPDIF.
The following chapter devotes itself to the software installation. In her, sections devote themselves for TWO, Windows 95/98 and Windows NT 4.0; although also they are included drivers for Windows 2000, his installation on (that is simple) one does not comment in the manual.
The chapter 4 describes the use of the multimedia application that is enclosed by the card, on which we will comment further on. The chapter 5 devotes itself to the correct position of the loudspeakers.
But the most interesting thing is still to come: in the last chapter also there is explained the connection of the digital module, as well as an accelerated course of handling in which there is explained by more than 30 photos the correct handling of the digital connectors, to be able to exchange information with portable MiniDisc, MiniDisc or DiscMan, coming at a very good detail level and telling each of the available options, as for example how to do that the MiniDisc recognizes the audio tracks or how to record with 24bits of quality (superior to 16 habitual ones in many other cards).
The only snag of the manual, the already habitual one: it is only in English.
Installation of the hardware and operating systems
The installation of the hardware does not cover almost any complication. After connecting the optical module, we will have to look for 2 free grooves. We can decide on the last groove PCI and be able to connect this way the digital module to the rear part if to lose no other groove. This module is the only one that gives certain fragility sensation at the moment of the installation, but once screwed, it has not given any problem.
We begin the computer again, Windows recognizes automatically the new hardware and asks us for the drivers. After inserting the CD, we have only to sail up to the directory where the drivers are for our version of Windows.
In case of Linux RedHat 7 it has been even simpler. The program of detection of hardware detected the new device and loaded the modules in memory for the chip CMEDIA (the heart of this one 4Xsound), working perfectly the sound without having at least than to begin the system again.
As for BeOS no complication has existed either. Although it did not have native support, after getting connected to Internet and the appropriate drivers bent (www.bebits.com), the card worked without any problem.
Since it is possible to observe, the functionality is assured that it should be which be the operating system that it goes to use.