If you’ve used Windows Media Player, you’re probably familiar
with SRS Labs. The company’s WOW and TruBass technologies are
included in WMP to enhance the audio experience. I use them a lot
with older material, and they’re very addictive. SRS HD Audio Lab
takes those technologies and adds more that you can use to enhance
your audio with virtually player you choose to use.
Though the sound field expander WOW isn’t specifically included
in SRS HD Audio Lab, the extremely similar 3D Space level is
present. Its 3D Center Level adjunct also serves to move the focus
of the sound to the back or to the front. TruBass is on hand to
deepen sound, and a speaker control shifts bass tones upward in
hertz to match the resonance of different sized smaller speakers.
The Focus level is described as moving sound field up and down to
match your ear level and SRS Definition had the effect of
clarifying the sound. There’s also a limiter that lets you can
clamp down overly loud sounds such as explosions in movies.
SRS HD Audio Lab includes presets for music, movies, and gaming
as well as optimization presets for headphones, laptop speakers,
and normal speaker setups. The latter includes separate settings
for 2, 2.1, 5.1, and 7.1 speaker arrangements.
Ah, but how does SRS HD Audio Lab sound? Pretty darn good, and
spatially, far better than the SRS FX in WMP. Older material
recorded in stereo gains the most, but it will make anything sound
better. Even old black-and-white movies benefit, although they’re
recorded in mono and won’t gain much in the way of bass. Of course,
you can also muck things up with so many controls, but the “Reset
configurations” option lets you can retreat to square one if
necessary. For some odd reason, the install program couldn’t start
the SRS service on an Acer Aspire One Windows 7 netbook; however,
on a full-sized Acer 5920 laptop the difference was such that I’d
actually listen to music and movies without headphones. You can
actually feel the bass thumping when you touch the body of the
The SRS HD Audio Labs interface is easy to use, if a bit…
let’s just say “young” for my taste. I chose to disable the
animations and much prefer the look of the company’s more
understated SRS Audio
Sandbox. Also, I found no way to auto-run the program at boot
in its minimized state, just full-sized. Hopefully, SRS Labs will
add an option to start in the background quickly.
Despite its youthful look, there’s nothing in the least juvenile
about what SRS HD Audio Labs does. If you want the best possible
audio experience from your computer, it’s well worth checking out.
Hopefully, you’ll have good luck with it on your hardware.
Note: You’ll need to switch the default Windows
audio device to SRS HD Audio Lab for seamless operation. Otherwise,
you’ll need to perform that switch in any program for which you
want the FX available.
–Jon L. Jacobi