After months of anticipation launched two days ago by Razer was their new Barracuda AC-1 sound card. This sound card is slated to provide "pinpoint specific audio sound cues in-game with 38% greater accuracy than conventional soundcards, providing for the ultimate gaming experience." The onboard audio chip also claims to support 3D/720 degree positional audio. Razer is known for their professional gaming peripherals and mice, so how well are they able to manufacturer a sound card? What all comprises the Razer Barracuda AC-1? Does the AC-1 work with GNU/Linux? Today we have our hands on the Razer Barracuda AC-1, and in this preview we hope to answer these questions plus more.
Some of Razer's new technology terms that got coined with the introduction of the AC-1 is Razer Fidelity, ESP, and 3D Positional Gaming Audio Engine. Razer Fidelity refers to the ability for gamers to take advantage of an expanded dynamic soundstage. Razer ESP stands for Enhanced Sonic Perception, which is a subset of Razer Fidelity for offering "gaming tuned" frequencies. Other technical features for the Razer Barracuda AC-1 include 24-bit audio technology and 117dBA SNR with 7.1 channel audio. The Barracuda AC-1 also boasts the HD-DAI connection for use with the Barracuda HP-1 Headphones. We had seen the HD-DAI connection when reviewing the Razer Barracuda HP-1, and this is a proprietary connection (its physical layout is similar to a DVI connection) is used for optimal signal transmission with Razer audio hardware. Using the included adapter, the Razer AC-1 can be used with traditional audio devices. At this time Razer has not made much technical information available on the Barracuda AC-1, but don't worry we have a few additional details to share later on in this article.
Starting with the product packaging, the Razer Barracuda AC-1 had arrived in a relatively large box. Like the Barracuda HP-1, the box was decorated nicely and advertised on the various sides were all of the features and unique characteristics to this gaming audio card.
Inside of the box was the Razer quick start guide, certificate of authenticity, driver CD, HD-DAI to analog converter, and the PCI sound card itself. Protecting the Razer sound card during shipment was a cardboard carton that had separated the contents.
Finally moving onto the gaming sound card itself, the Razer Barracuda AC-1 was a very sharp looking card to say the least. The AC-1 uses a black PCB and the passive EMI shield offers some nice artwork along with the Barracuda logo. The Barracuda AC-1 model is PCI based, and there is currently no PCI Express model, but we don't believe that is too far down Razer's roadmap. At the end of the sound card encased by the EMI shield are the front panel, auxiliary input, and CD-IN connections.
Covering a majority of the Barracuda AC-1 is the passive EMI shield. The shield is designed to reduce electromagnetic interference with the graphics card(s) and other components in the expansion slot area. The audio processor is labeled Razer Fidelity with a part number of RZR35192, GA-ML86G.02, and 0634G. In the next section of this preview we share what audio processor the Razer AC-1 really uses. There are other electrical components scattered over the PCB, but nothing worth highlighting.
The connections offered by the Razer Barracuda AC-1 are the HD-DAI, optical in, and optical out. The HD-DAI is to be used with the Barracuda HP-1, but otherwise the converter can be used to support 7.1 channels on traditional audio devices.
Our curiosity got the best of us, so we had decided to see what the EMI shield concealed. Removing the Razer EMI sheild, we had seen a great deal of capacitors. Offering a unique look for the Barracuda AC-1 is 16 green LEDs (2 x 8 arrangement) for offering a glowing Razer logo at the top of the card.