SRS Audio Essentials is a software-based audio mixer that processes the audio stream from different file formats and enhances the sound in impressive ways.
The application offers six different preset modes from audio, movies, and gaming to external speakers, on-board speakers, and headphones. The different configurations create varied audio playback and some audio settings actually work better than their presets depending on what type of video is being watched.
SRS Audio Essentials is simple to use with the standard options, but the full version of SRS Audio Essentials features customizable sliders that affect the treble, bass, and sound dimensions. SRS Audio Essentials also features a simulated 5.1 surround sound option that can be used with most video playback.
But how did SRS Audio Essentials compare to the on-board audio?
SRS Audio Essentials was tested on an Alienware MX11 that uses Realtek High Definition Audio as the default audio processor. Two sets of headphones were used: Altec Lansing ear buds and WESC over-the-ear headphones.
With iTunes, four different songs from two different genres were tested. Hip-hop and rock music have comparable audio attributes, and the four songs chosen contain both a good amount of high and lows.
Across the board, SRS Audio Essentials beat Realtek High Definition Audio by producing a wider spectrum of sound and highlighting the higher pitches and solid lows. The hip-hop songs sounded heavier with the increased bass and the rock songs had new life brought to them with the percussion and smaller recorded sounds becoming more vibrant by SRS Audio Essentials.
For the video tests, Media Player Classic Home Cinema (in the K-Lite codec pack) and Windows Media Player were used to compare playback. SRS Audio Essentials is compatible with most media players and natively works with Windows Media Player while Media Player Classic had to be configured to recognize the program to process the sound.
Using three high definition music videos, SRS Audio Essentials again produced more impressive audio. Using two pop songs and one hip-hop song, SRS Audio Essentials was able to create a wider and more expansive sound. The pop song’s heavily layered instrumentals contained more depth while the vocals sounded much more natural and comprehensible. The hip-hop video played with an enjoyable amount of bass and the treble also presented small cues not heard with Realtek High Definition Audio.
The only problem with SRS Audio Essentials is that the presets do not work well with music video audio. In the case of both pop videos, there was a noticeable amount of cracking during playback that sat right behind the melody of the song and even adjusting the advanced option sliders did not remove the issue.
A dialogue-heavy movie was also tested and with presets (movie and headphones), the audio came across clean and audible. SRS Audio Essentials was also able to create more virtual surround with small background noise like crickets being easily heard. Considering the source was from DVD, it was impressive that SRS Audio Essentials processed the smaller noises not heard during playback.
The Binding of Issac was tested with SRS Audio Essentials. Containing both an introduction containing lots of dialogue and the game containing a heavy soundtrack, it was the perfect game to test. Once again, SRS Audio Essentials bested Realtek High Definition Audio by expanding and improving on the experience of the game through the sound. In the simplest case: the game sounded a lot more epic.
Since SRS promotes SRS Audio Essentials as a program that is for music, movies, and games primarily; the testing of the three different types proved that SRS Audio Essentials is actually an essential add-on to anyone’s computer that does not contain a discrete soundcard.
While SRS Audio Essentials is not absolute perfection, it is the closest possibility through software.