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Turtle Beach Pinnacle Sound Card

This is going to be a load of gripes and therefore will probably only be of use if you are thinking of buying a Pinnacle. If you already have one some of the following may well be familiar to you.

Fancy selling an ISA board in 1998. Surely Turtle Beach was aware that this is a dying standard. My next motherboard may well not have any ISA slots.

Installation was a breeze…not! The usual conditions for Plug and Pray applied. Synth but no audio, audio but no synth. The Testing and Troubleshooting program sent me round in circles. Eventually, and for no apparent reason the two elements worked. Usually. But only for a few months.

Time to explore the Kurzweill Synth engine. Nice piano, etc. There sure are some crap sounds, but it is a GM set. I've got 32 Meg of RAM on the Pinnacle- the sky's the limit. I can just gradually build up a library of my own, and acquired sounds, using a combination of ROM waveforms and samples. OK, the samples have to be downloaded every time I boot up. At least the key maps etc. will be remembered. AAH…there's no backup battery for the patch RAM on the board. Oh well, never mind. Lets start compiling sounds. My, there's not a lot of patch RAM left, and I've only put in 5 patches. Oh, there's a message telling me that there's no more patch RAM left, and I've written just 7 pretty basic patches to the Pinnacle.

In some alternate universe the decision to only put in 12K (no this is not a typing error- 12K!) of patch RAM was not made. In our reality we are not so lucky. It is not just a matter of foresight; it must be easy to work out the severe limitation that this pathetic amount of patch RAM imposes. There are 511 patch locations on the Pinnacle. Why can I only use about 7 or 8 of them? Go and sit in the corner wearing a pointed hat.

Editing is a nightmare of course. The Pinnacle Patch Editor and the Everest are the only editors I know of; neither have the quality, reliability and ease of use that regular users of software synth editors will be used to, although the Everest is a brave effort. Both frequently crash. I don't know what is to blame - the software or the card. The Pinnacle Patch Librarian does not recognise sound banks files (*.pbf) saved with the Pinnacle Patch Editor or the Everest as valid 'pbf' files, and will not load them.

The uninstall does not remove all components. Lots of tbs stuff remains, as does references to it in the registry. Not good enough chaps.

At present I also appear to have some sort of hardware faults on the card. It is not always completely showing the same symptoms. This means that sometimes the synth is distorted and sometimes not there at all. The digital card doesn't ever work, nor does the CD or mike inputs. Believe me, I've tried everything!! As I also have an Event Gina (absolutely no complaints) card, I don't really need the audio (WAV) side at the moment. Except for the occasions when Cubase grabs the Gina (like always) and won't let any other program near it. But that's another story, and one that can't be blamed on Turtle Beach.

I personally can say that I totally regret having got the Pinnacle. However, I do know of a couple of relatively happy users, although they share my dismay at the klutzy editors and the shameful lack of patch RAM. Very nice sounds and features on the synth, if you can get to and use them!

Other gripes about the Pinnacle

  • Why no separate synth output? Surely this could have been available as a feature or an option. Doesn't Turtle Beach consider that the higher end user, for whom this card was obviously designed and priced, might want to mix, route, and/or treat synth and audio sounds externally?

  • I can't find any full MIDI spec for this machine. Can anyone help?

  • I have heard that there is a patch RAM upgrade. If this is so, that's great, but it's the old familiar case of gives you problems and sells you solutions. UPDATE: It appears that Turtle Beach are flogging off some older pre Rev. F boards with the patch RAM upgraded. It seems that this upgrade can not be applied on a Rev. F board, like the one I've got. Nice one Turtle Beach!!!

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