M-Audio Launches Sonica Theater USB 7.1 Surround Sound Card

M-Audio today announced Sonica Theater, the easy-to-use, portable audio card for desktops or laptops. Sonica Theater provides ultra-immersive 7.1 surround sound output, crystal-clear audio quality, and high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz audio playback and recording. Sonica Theater is the ultimate audio upgrade for any desktop, or for the laptop on the go. It plays DVDs and music in surround sound, makes games more realistic, and can be used to record or mix music. 7.1 surround sound output and high-resolution 24-bit/96kHz fidelity insure that audio is experienced the way that it was meant to be.

Designed by M-Audio—one of the biggest names in the professional music industry—Sonica Theater packs advanced technology into a small, light, bus-powered, external package that’s simple to connect and use. Installation of Sonica Theater is as simple as plugging in a single USB cable. Advanced features like speaker setup software and professional bass management insure that speakers are connected properly and configured for optimum performance and audio quality.

“Sonica Theater is the ultimate surround sound upgrade for laptop users or anyone else who wants the simplicity and flexibility of Sonica Theater’s USB installation,” said Jason Ivan, Director of Product Marketing for M-Audio’s Consumer Audio Division. “The combination of 7.1 surround sound, pristine audio quality, and up to 24-bit/96kHz recording and playback make Sonica Theater the perfect audio upgrade for almost any application.”

With its high signal-to-noise ratio of 101dB, Sonica Theater provides extremely clean audio with little noise. From whisper-quiet audio to room-shaking volumes, audio is clear and clean. The product’s exceptionally low distortion (THD) rating also insures that audio will sound the way it was meant to.

Sonica Theater features Dolby Digital EX decoding with the included WinDVD 4 DVD player, allowing analog output of true multi-channel audio and turning the computer into a home theater component. Sonica Theater also features Dolby Digital and DTS passthrough on its digital output. Sonica Theater supports other multi-channel formats, such as Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio 9 Professional and SRS Labs’ Circle Surround II™, allowing the user to play streaming multi-channel audio off the Internet. Full support for Microsoft Windows Media Audio 9 Professional is a first for a laptop-compatible sound card. With Windows Media Audio 9, Sonica delivers high-quality, discrete multi-channel audio over the Internet today. With Windows Media Audio 9 Professional and Sonica Theater, desktop or laptop users can enjoy incredibly high-quality, high-resolution surround sound streamed live or on demand from the Internet. Sonica Theater’s support for surround sound up to 7.1 and laptop compatibility make it a great way to experience high-quality Windows Media Audio 9 Professional content at lower data rates than other formats. Whether playing back video files in surround sound, or today’s latest music released in stereo or surround Windows Media 9 format, Sonica Theater provides you the most immersive and portable surround solution around.

Built-in SRS Circle Surround II technology instantly transforms CDs or MP3s into incredibly lifelike surround sound. It dynamically separates instruments, vocals, and even crowd noises for an experience that has to be heard to be believed. “Sonica Theater is the first consumer USB audio card to offer the same high-quality Circle Surround II technology found in many home theater receivers around the world” said Ted Franceschi, Executive Vice President, Marketing and Sales. “SRS Labs is excited to partner with M-Audio in providing laptop and desktop users the ultimate surround sound experience over a computer.” Those without a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system can still enjoy stunning results from Sonica Theater, thanks to built-in SRS TruSurround XT™ technology.

This powerful virtual surround sound process delivers the multi-channel audio experience over standard stereo speakers or even headphones. TruSurround XT enables two-channel listening that brings home what the filmmakers intended to be heard, even if additional speakers are not present.

Sonica Theater includes over $200 of high-quality bundled software with full versions of Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, MixMan Studio, Vjay Lite, and the Dolby Digital EX version of WinDVD 4. Also included are award-winning music creation programs with over 100 sounds and loops as well as a free sampler CD of music from M-Powered artists who use M-Audio products.

Sonica Theater is due to ship in January 2003, and will be distributed in major retail stores throughout North America, and will soon be available in Japan and Europe. Estimated street price is $99.99.

M-Audio Web Site

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