The Fortissimo range has been the delight of gamers ever since its first version in 1999. But so far Hercules had only ventured into the field of home cinema for PC with Game Theater XP and, more recently, Muse 5.1 DVD. To give the latest Fortissimo the versatility it lacked while maintaining the performance and quality/price ratio the range is noted for, Hercules has kept the Cirrus Logic CS4624 chipset but given the Fortissimo III Dolby Digital EX decoding in 7.1. So this really is a new feature and an important innovation in home cinema for PC.
The Digifire 7.1 is even more versatile in that it has greater connectivity in addition to Dolby Digital EX decoding. This addition comes in the shape two IEEE1394 ports for plugging in a digital camcorder or any other device, such as an external hard drive or CD burner. Hercules drives the video side home by adding to the card PowerDirector Pro 2.5 PM, a video editing program. Apart from this difference, Fortissimo III 7.1 and Digifire 7.1 are exactly the same with an architecture built round the Cirrus Logic CS4624 chipset.
Before going into detail on the technical features and performances of the cards, we must give an exact rundown on the sound standards of home cinema in general and Dolby Digital EX in particular.