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Audio Quality

As with the video, when you play a movie on a Cinemaster based player, you come to expect a level of quality that is above average. Once again, ATI/Cinemaster steps up to the plate.

The Audio quality of most Cinemaster players is crisp, clean, and powerful. Cinemaster does offer some available adjustments to improve volume or clarity at the price of overall range of sound, but 1st you have to find them! Aside from a single LFE checkbox in the Windows Control Panel applet, there are no available audio adjustments for the ATI 4.1 player. NONE! Thankfully DVD Genie gives you more choices in case your output isn't up to snuff.

I tried enabling 4 speaker downmix through DVD Genie, but if it was different from 2 speaker stereo mode, I couldn't hear it? It appears as though ATI has decided that 2-channel stereo output is all you will need for standard playback (SP/DIF amp output and AC3 downmix are built in to the Cinemaster core, so try them as you will). Using DVD Genie you can see the other available options for enabling SP/DIF modes, AC3 modes, or selecting various compression formats that may help increase volume or remove distortion on some systems. DVD Genie is a must for Cinemaster based players!

LFE bass is still the big gun in ATI/Cinemaster audio. They have it, they use it, and it can shake the plaster if you have the speakers to use it! The Explosion potential of ATI Audio is frightening. While it seems to lack 4 speaker spatialization like WinDVD and PowerDVD, it has bass blast with LFE tones that neither can match! WinDVD supports LFE playback (PowerDVD does not as yet), but Cinemaster wins the ROCK THE HOUSE title for raw bass output. Even if its only in stereo (the rears seem to be identical to the fronts) you can't argue with the power!

Audio clarity is good as well. VaroDVD has a powerful bass blast near equal to ATI/Cinemaster's, but the highs are dulled somewhat. The ATI 4.1 player has high tones that are crystal clear (When using normal uncompressed sound mode via DVD Genie) and yet the bass booms out loud. Very impressive.

DTS sound is supported only in SPDIF output mode, but only for Win98. Windows 2000 SPDIF output is still unsupported for Cinemaster based players. AC3 downmix mode is supported by the Cinemaster core, but since ATI makes no claims to it, I had to base judgment on guesswork as to output; and from what I can tell it is limited to 2-channel stereo downmix.

Again, I must say that ATI is depressingly limited in Options, and that applies also to the audio. No Dolby Headphone support, no dedicated 3D sound modes, and no DTS in software decode mode. However, the audio it does have is so good, it holds its own with nearly any other player. Only WinDVD DTS really stands above it. WinDVD Dolby is a close comparison, but I'm a BIG BASS fan, and for big bass and explosive sound; ATI/Cinemaster is a tough act to beat. ATI's audio is simple yes, simply very very good. Well done with no complaints.

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