Turtle Beach Systems

Turtle Beach Systems

Turtle Beach Systems is a sound card and headphone manufacturer and direct competitor with Creative Labs-branded Sound Blaster. In 1995, the company merged with Voyetra, a company that made custom software for sound cards, to form Voyetra Turtle Beach Inc which is headquartered at Yonkers, New York, USA.


Turtle Beach was founded in 1985 as "Turtle Beach Softworks" by co-founders Roy Smith and Robert Hoke. The company's first product was a graphical editing system that supported the breakthrough Ensoniq Mirage sampling keyboard. The Mirage was the first low cost sampling device that allowed musicians to play realistic choirs, pianos, horns, and other instruments in their performances. The software, called "Vision", connected the Mirage to a PC and used the PC's screen and graphics to make the programming and editing of sounds much easier. Ensoniq decided to resell Vision through their dealer network and Turtle Beach Softworks became a profitable company.

Over the following years, the company developed a few other programs that supported Ensoniq equipment but realized that they needed to develop more generalized products. They retooled their product into "SampleVision", which initially supported the Akai S900, but was designed with an extensible framework, allowing other samplers to be supported. The SampleVision series was among the first to offer a Macintosh-like user experience on the PC (which at that time did not have Microsoft Windows to provide its GUI).

In 1988, Turtle Beach began to work on developing its first hardware product, a hard disk based audio editing system. Among the first of its kind, the product was named the "56K digital recording system" and was released in 1990. It was based on a Motorola 56000 DSP chip, and offered non linear playlist editing of stereo audio files. The 56K system was popular among radio stations and mastering studios because it replayed exactly the same digital stream that it recorded.

In 1990, Turtle Beach began developing its first PC sound card. This card used high quality A/D and D/A, a high quality synthesizer from eMu, and an onboard DSP chip. This product was called "MultiSound" and it went on to became Turtle Beach's claim to fame in the PC industry, winning every magazine's "Best of" awards hands down.Fact|date=October 2007 The MultiSound product took Turtle Beach from the insular music hobbyist and pro audio markets into the "big leagues" of the PC market, competing with Advanced Gravis (now defunct), Adlib (now defunct), Creative Labs, and Media Vision (now defunct).

As the company played out its technological lead in the sound card market, acquisition offers began to come in. Turtle Beach was acquired by Integrated Circuit Systems, a maker of clock chips for the PC market. ICS wanted to broaden its market to include the new multimedia chips and peripherals, and it made sense for them to buy rather than build.

With the addition of ICS's resources, Turtle Beach went from a boutique one-product-per-year to a full line PC peripheral company, releasing 8 new products within the 18 months following the sale. The MultiSound Monterey, The Tahiti, Maui, Audio Advantage sound cards rounded out its hardware product line, with products at every price point. On the software side, the company released "Wave for Windows", a sound editing program that was ahead of its time, but also ahead of the hardware curve. " [http://www.mcwest.org/~mccreary/tbeach/archive/quad_faq.txt Quad] ", the first multitrack recording application for the PC, and several other software titles. Turtle Beach soundcards could not be found in Singapore at all in the late 90's especially the Montego series, due to local brand Creative putting pressure on store owners and threatening to cut off supplies of Soundblaster cards if they sold a Turtle Beach product.Fact|date=February 2007

Typical of corporate acquisitions, after the initial honeymoon period the original founders were soon sent on their way. Martin Goldberg was brought in to run the company and after moving its operations to San Jose, ICS sold Turtle Beach to Voyetra Technologies, Inc. in 1996. Voyetra, founded by synthesizer pioneer Carmine Bonanno in 1975, had developed drivers and software for nearly every sound card manufacturer in the world during the early 1990s. The purchase of Turtle Beach allowed Voyetra to leverage its close ties with PC manufacturers by providing sound cards bundled with Voyetra software and drivers. After the purchase, the company changed its name to Voyetra Turtle Beach, Inc. and sold millions of sound cards to Dell Computer under the Turtle Beach brand.

In 2000, Voyetra Turtle Beach developed the world's first network audio receiver, the AudioTron. The device enjoyed tremendous success in the first year of its release, but was soon faced with tremendous competition from copy-cat companies who underpriced their products and eventually destroyed the market for such devices. Turtle Beach opted out of the network audio market in 2004 when it became apparent that it was nearly impossible to sustain profitable production due to overcrowding and unrealistic low-ball pricing.

Recently, Turtle Beach has diversified its product line to include USB audio devices, video capture products and a wide variety of headphones, including the Ear Force line of multi-channel PC and gaming headphones.


56K - The 56K Digital Recording System was the first of the Turtle Beach audio systems for the IBM PC platform. It made use of the Motorola 56000 Digital Signal Processor for accelerating digital audio data transfers through the IBM PC's ISA bus. The 56K was designed to be connected to the AES-EBU or S/PDIF jacks on a professional DAT recorder. With the included SoundStage graphical audio editing software, a 56K system installed in a 286, 386 or 486 Intel PC running Windows 3.0 or 3.1 can be used as a complete post-production digital audio editing solution. The 56K system consisted of three major components:
#The 56K-PC Digital Signal Processor Card (a 16-bit digital audio processor on a full-length ISA board).
#The 56K-D Digital Interface Box, which allows your DAT machine to talk to the computer via AES/EBU or S/PDIF-compatible digital formats.
#The SoundStage digital audio editing software.

Audio Advantage - Popular line of USB sound cards, all of which have digital S/PDIF outputs. It comes in three models: "Micro", "Amigo", and "Roadie".

Audio Advantage PCMCIA - old soundcard for notebooks, Hurricane architecture

Cancun FX - wavetable upgrade board for waveblaster connector

Catalina - 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, EAX 2.0 without on board sound processing. (uses CPU)

Daytona PCI - early PCI card introduced November 1997, S3 Sonic Vibes 86C617 Chipset, Downloadable Sounds (DLS), hardware wavetable, SRS 3D Audio EnhancementPart Number : TBS-0660-01V

EAR Force gaming headset - headset that does true 5.1 Surround Sound. Which comes with Preakness hearing protection that protects from hearing loss.

Fiji - cost reduced version of TBS Multisound Pinnacle, Motorola 56002 chipset.

Malibu Surround 64 - 4MB 64-Voice ISA bus Wavetable Sound Card introduced 1997. Uses Kurzweil hardware synthesis 64 voices including 32 hardware voices and 32 software voices, 4MB instrument samples compressed to 2MB ROM. Crystal CS4237B PnP chipset.

Maui - Maui was an inexpensive wavetable synthesizer add-on card. It used the ICS WaveFront synthesizer chip (as did the Monterey and the Rio) and offered optional RAM slots that would allow users to add up to 8 megabytes of their own .WAV format sounds to the wavetable playback. This process, called SampleStore, pre-dated the Creative/Microsoft "SoundFonts" concept by two years. This card was intended for Sound Blaster owners who wanted to improve their MIDI playback by adding wavetable synthesis. However, as the card allowed for uploading of true CD-quality samples, and as Turtle Beach provided a professional-grade sound programmer called WavePatch, many music enthusiasts used it as a cheap yet high-quality studio sampler.

Monte Carlo - Monte Carlo was the first Turtle Beach sound card that was not designed in-house. It was based on a Crystal semiconductor reference design for a "Sound Blaster Compatible" card. It was very inexpensive and did not really live up to the Turtle Beach quality or reputation.

Montego DDL - Dolby Digital Live-capable. 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound, EAX 2.0 with on board sound processing. Priced around $80 USD. See also: Montego DDL Control Panel

Montego A3DXstream - unrelated to the current Montego DDL in every way but the name. The original Montego was based on the Aureal AU8820 (Vortex) chipset.

Montego II Quadzilla - the Montego II was a family of cards that replaced the original Montego card. The card was based on the Aureal AU8830 (Vortex 2) chipset but differed from the reference Aureal design. The Quadzilla was the 4-channel version and achieved this via a separate daughtercard, whereas the other AU8830 cards such as Aureal Vortex SQ2500 and Diamond Monster Sound MX300 used a single card.

Monterey - Multisound Monterey was the first cost-reduced version of the MultiSound. In essence the synthesizer (the Emu Proteus) was replaced by the less expensive Rio card that was based on the ICS WaveFront chipset. The DSP and A/D was identical to the MultiSound, as the Monterey was a simple combination of the Rio mounted onto the Tahiti.

Multisound Classic - was a 430 USD full-length ISA sound card produced from 1992 to 1994. It contained an EMU Proteus 1/XR professional MIDI rack engine with 2 MB or 4 MB ROM sample pack and a Motorola 56001 / 68000 DSP chip pair for wave recording and playback. The card supported Windows 9x officially and can be used on Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 using Peter Hall's drivers. The sound quality and feature set offered by MultiSound Classic was truly revolutionary at the time, but Creative Labs acquired EMU in 1994 and the supply of XR chips stopped. The card had to be redesigned accordingly, creating the Tahiti.

Pinnacle - last real professional ISA card from Multisound line. Motorola 56002 chipset

[http://www.mcwest.org/~mccreary/tbeach/archive/quad_faq.txt Quad] - 4-track recording software for PC meant to somewhat mimic a 4-track cassette recorder.

Rio- The RIO was a daughtercard MIDI synthesizer that was compatible with the Sound Blaster daughtercard pinout. This product was intended for Sound Blaster owners who wanted to improve their MIDI playback by adding wavetable synthesis. The RIO offered one RAM slot that would allow users to add their own sounds to the wavetable playback. Unlike the Maui, however, the Rio used a SIPP slot for its expansion memory; compatible RAM was rather difficult and considerably more expensive to obtain.

Riviera - affordable Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound without on board sound processing. (uses CPU)

Santa Cruz - Based on the Cirrus Logic SoundFusion (aka Crystal 4630) DSP. It featured four analog channel outputs, a line input and microphone input are included on the back panel. Also included is a connector TB has dubbed the "VersaJack." The VersaJack has multiple functions selectable by software including digital SPDIF output, a second analog input, analog output or 5th and 6th speaker outputs. This card also supported an open source software based EAX.

Tahiti - Multisound Classic derivative without the on-card synthesis. Motorola 56001 chipset.

Tropez 32 / TBS-2000 - cost reduced versions of Tropez+ without SIMM slots. Only 1MB or 2MB wavetable ROM.

Tropez Classic - non PnP ISA card from same era as original SoundBlaster AWE32 and Gravis Ultrasound MAX. ICS Wavefront wavetable chipset, OPTi 929, 2MB ROM, 3 SIMM slots for max 12MB wavetable RAM.

Tropez Plus - PnP version of Tropez Classic. CS4232, ICS Wavefront, 3 SIMM slots for RAM.

TBS-929, TBS-930, TBS-931 - OEM low-cost cards for CD-ROM upgrade kits all uses OPTi chipset. TBS-931 uses OPTi 82C931, older are similar as Monte Carlo line.

ee also

*Aureal Semiconductor
*Creative Labs
*E-mu Systems
*Ensoniq Corporation
*Roland Corporation
*Yamaha Corporation

External links

* [http://www.turtlebeach.com/site/ Official website]
* [http://museum.gravisultrasound.net Soundcard photo museum]

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