Hercules/Guillemot Fortissimo 4 v. AV710
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squatter88

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I live in NZ & 98% of all sound cards available here are Creative. Revo 7.1s go for over NZD200. Apart from Gainward Hollywood cards, the next best Envy-based card is the Fortissimo 4.

I can find little info on this card, but at about NZD110, it seems to be the best deal for the non-gamer who wants reasonable music reproduction. I have an SB Live 5.1 which has 1 broken front speaker port (a tradesman accidentally stepped on the plug & broke it) & it has seriously messed up my speaker setup.

There seems little talk about the Fortissimo 4 (1 to 3 are not Envy-based cards). Are the DACs reasonable for music or are they more like the Hollywoods, which I have seen here are regarded as not so good.

I might buy from the US but every on-line vendor I try, does not seem to want to ship outside North America. If I could, I might go for the Chaintech 710 instead.
 
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sgrossklass

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The Fortissimo IV is a "full-blown" Envy24HT card, somewhere between the Philips Ultimate Edge and a Terratec Aureon 5.1 Sky / 7.1 Space. (Note that while there is native 44.1 kHz support, there is no digital input.) It should sound quite good, given the DAC choices. (The WM8776 has a better-spec'd 2-ch DAC than the WM8770, with an OK-spec'd ADC that possibly is similar to the WM8775. The WM8766 for the rest of the output channels is not quite up to par with the WM8770. Overall, the front out can potentially be fairly good, depending on how the output stage is implemented.)
The big question mark lies within the driver quality and driver support. Apparently there is no native ASIO interface provided (not that tragic, ASIO4All exists), and Hercules specifically states in the FAQ that multi-processor systems are not being officially supported (on the other hand, the article is older than the card itself so it may not apply; Envy24HT cards generally work fine in duallies). At least the original drivers are now provided for download; when I originally learned of the card's existance back in December, the driver page didn't even know the model yet... Looks like they're based on the VIA reference drivers and dated October 2004. As driver support for the older Fortissimo cards wasn't all too bad, one can hope for updates.

I'd say the card would be worth a try. Some RMAA measurements would probably be appreciated.
(The ASIO output plugin for Winamp allows a channel shift which may be helpful with the WM8766.)
 
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