Razer Barracuda AC-1 Gaming Sound Card
Written by Michael Larabel in Peripherals on 22 November 2006. Page 2 of 2. Add A Comment

The other topic we will be covering in this Barracuda AC-1 preview is in regards to the GNU/Linux support. Prior to the official release of the Barracuda AC-1, and with Razer's mice, we had questioned them about their position on opening up their device specifications or to offer GNU/Linux software, but at this time they will not be doing so. We can only hope that they will officially support alternative operating systems (and even Mac OS X) in the future.

Even without Razer's official support for GNU/Linux, all of their mice have worked fine and a SourceForge project is available for the Copperhead. When the Barracuda AC-1 had entered our hands for testing we were a bit uncertain whether the AC-1 would even work with GNU/Linux. After firing up Fedora Core 6 with the 2.6.18 kernel and ALSA 1.0.13 the gaming sound card had unfortunately not worked out of the box. The Razer Barracuda AC-1 was detected as a "C-Media Electronics Inc Unknown device 8788." From this information, it appears the Razer Barracuda AC-1 is actually backed by the C-Media 8788 Chipset. The C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 is also the audio processor used by the Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 (another high end sound card selling for approximately $190). When it came to the ALSA support the C-Media device was listed in system-config-soundcard, but the Barracuda AC-1 failed to play any audio. The CMI8338, CMI8738, and CMI8768 are supported by ALSA, but the CMI8788 has yet to be supported. However, in OSS v4.0 Beta rc2-build 178 the audio controller support has been added.

Given the support by the Open Sound System, and previous C-Media audio processors being supported by ALSA, we imagine it will only be a matter of time before the Razer Barracuda AC-1 can work well for GNU/Linux users. Razer's claim for the Windows drivers is that it "features optimized proprietary software drivers to provide for the prioritization of enhanced gaming audio signals and an increased frames per second rate while using a minimal amount of memory and increased frames per second." On top of the Windows drivers, Razer offers a unique control panel for the AC-1. Below is a snapshot of the Razer audio control panel that was captured from the user's manual.

From what we had seen so far by the Razer Barracuda AC-1 it looks like it may be an incredible offering for professional gamers. The sound card offers 7.1 channel support and a HD-DAI connection for use with the Barracuda HP-1 headset. The sound card itself looks very nice as well for those of you with case windows. Moreover, as we had exposed in this article, at heart the Barracuda AC-1 is the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788. The price for this hardware beauty? $199.99 USD, which is not including the HP-1 Headphones. The headphones will set you back another $129.99 or a combined retail kit of $299 USD for both the Barracuda AC-1 and HP-1. The Razer Barracuda AC-1 will be available in time for this holiday season. We will be sharing some additional thoughts over at the Phoronix Forums, and once support has been added for ALSA we will be back with additional coverage on this professional gaming sound card.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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