VideoLogic on Audio
Where is PVR Series 3?
Anyone looking to read up on Series 3 (or VideoLogic's plans to enter the US graphics market) may be a little disappointed - when we met up with David Harold on Tuesday, there was little to be said about the company's video plans. Instead, VideoLogic was aggressively positioning a line of new audio
equipment to be shipped over stateside, in order to compete with such venerable speaker products offered by Creative Labs, Klipsch, and Midiland.
What in the world does a video company know about sound? Well, apparently a lot. The Sirocco series of speakers has garnered VideoLogic a plethora of awards in their native European market, not an easy task considering EU's tradition of musical scrutiny in the computing industry.
The baseline product offered by VideoLogic will be the Sirocco Spirit, a different kind of PC multimedia speaker. What's so revolutionary about these units? Instead of a rather standard setup of satellite/subwoofer, the Sirocco Spirit is composed solely of two solid bookshelf speakers. An integrated amplifier, along with two analog RCA-inputs are included in the back of the left speaker, but there is no subwoofer to speak of.
FiringSquad's standard grievances with satellite/subs are shrill highs and booming lows, with very little frequency response in the midrange. Bookshelf speakers are large enough for main drivers which can accurately reproduce midrange, and of course separate tweeter units handle high frequency sound.
VideoLogic was concerned about the lack of a large subwoofer on the Spirits, so they integrated a digital bass extender into the design. With the flip of a switch, the bass is amplified before being fed to the drivers, creating the theatrical boom that most gaming/movie audiences prefer. The Sirocco Spirit will retail for $249, placing it squarely in the realm of the MicroWorks, Klipsch, and even Aureal's new sound system.
Sirocco Digitheatre 5.1
Here's one that might be of interest to anyone looking for a REAL DVD experience on their computers. The Sirocco Digitheatre contains everything you'll need for Dolby Digital, 2 front satellites, 2 rear, a true center channel, and a thunderous subwoofer. What makes this speaker system different is the inclusion of a fully-functional Dolby Digital decoder box, with coaxial and optical inputs, right in the box. All of this is available for a retail price of $399. David stated that the Digitheatre was aimed squarely for computer audiences, but they've unexpectedly enjoyed a number of sales from folks wanting an inexpensive 5.1 home theater experience.
Sirocco Crossfire 4.1
VideoLogic's standard entry into the world of computer surround is their Crossfire 4.1 setup. Making use of 2 stereo front sats, 2 stereo rears, and a good sized subwoofer. While you don't get a true center speaker, the Crossfire's dual stereo setup plugs effortlessly into the ubiquitous stereo front/rear jacks on just about every sound card sold today.
What differentiates the Crossfire from other 4.1 speakers is the separate, included amplifier, which provides 3 line level inputs and 100W RMS power to the woofer and sats. The Crossfire system will retail for about $450 in January of 2000.
VideoLogic's most questionable entry into the US market may be the Sirocco Pros, an $899 bookshelf/subwoofer/amp combo. In Europe, the Sirocco Pros were targeted towards computer enthusiasts making music on their systems (a larger market segment in EU than in the US). For your $900, you get a pair of hi-fi Sirocco bookshelf speakers, an 8" subwoofer, and a separate amplifier a la the Crossfire system. Included on the amp is a toggle for subwoofer on/off, so music creators can hear how their pieces sound without amplified bass.
Even in the world of hi-fi, where any monetary value goes, $900 is a steep price for a pair of speakers, and a number of potential purchasers may be more inclined to go with more well-known hi-fi brands, such as offerings from such names as B&W or Paradigm.
More PowerVR to you
We've always been advocates of "hi-fidelity sound" for PC computing, and another entry into the market is a good sign. We'll have more info for you on how these speaker sets perform as soon as we get a few in our test labs.
While we had them here, we inconspicuously asked David about the PowerVR Series 3 video accelerator. He replied that it existed, it'll come after Series 2 (the Neon 250 was just recently announced in the US for the PCI bus), and it'll be fast. After a few minutes of prodding, we found that there should be a Series 3 announcement from a product vendor before the new year.
Asked about the rumors/reports of Sega abandoning the console hardware race after Dreamcast, they replied "Really? We haven't heard of this." Guess that's how this industry goes!