NewQ Gold: A Graphic Equalizer for PCs from 1999!

Greetings and welcome to an LGR thing! And this thing is the NewQ Gold PC audio
interface addon device. Originally released in 1999 and selling for
between $79 and $99 US dollars, depending on where you got it and what it was bundled
with. And well, what the heck is it? It looks a bit like a car stereo system that
plugs into a PC, but it’s not actually replacing anything in terms of sound devices. The whole idea here is that the NewQ Gold
is a combination of hardware that augments your existing sound card without software,
just an interface and a box that slots into a 5.25” drive bay. So you get some physical controls for things
like volume and equalization, some mic and headphone ports, and a virtual surround sound
mode. But most importantly, at least to me, is this
colorful vacuum fluorescent display, bringing swanky visuals to the built-in 7-band graphic
equalizer and spectrum analyzer. And yeah, as soon as I saw a photo of this
online a while back I was like, “I have to find one of those things.” Didn’t have any luck whatsoever running
across one for sale in the US, but then this one popped up on Yahoo Auctions Japan, I imported
it as fast as I could, and now here we are. Before we get to unboxing this and getting
it set up with a classic PC of the time period though, I wanna talk about NewQ themselves
for a minute. More specifically, who is NewQ in the first
place? Because there’s some conflicting info online
and their origins can be tough to nail down. To begin with, these devices were sold stateside
by NeoWave International, a company that was incorporated as a domestic stock company in
the state of California in 1998. But the actual manufacturer was NewQ System
Co., Ltd in Seoul, South Korea. And they manufactured several computer-related
A/V products like monitors, speakers, and audio interfaces through 2005. The first product from them was the original
NewQ, the Model 1379 from 1998, a 7-band graphic equalizer with physical controls to plop into
a PC, as well as provide Sound Retrieval System 3D support. There’s a good chance you’ve seen SRS
3D or TruSurround features on a TV menu or stereo system at some point or another, it’s
a pretty commonplace psychoacoustic 3D audio processing standard meant to mimic 5.1 surround
sound using stereo speakers and improve the “depth” of the audio in general. But yeah, the 1379 didn’t last very long,
being discontinued at retail in 1999, where it was made available to original equipment
manufacturers. It was swiftly replaced by the NewQ Gold,
aka the Gold DSP, which retained the SRS 3D support and added the color VFD panel on the
front for those fancy visuals. These were also sold through various OEMs,
like Samsung and Future Power, which leads to a bit of the confusion I’ve seen online
about what company actually made these. Regardless though, NewQ followed up the Gold
with a rather similar but more costly $149 Platinum model, looking more like an automotive
head unit than ever with its button layout, plus an enhanced VFD on front, an integrated
FM radio tuner, and even a remote control, ooh. But yeah, it is time to get the NewQ Gold
unboxed and set up because I have been intrigued highly ever since I saw this. I just argh, I wanted it! And as far as I know this one has not been
used. Got all sort the things in here. First things first though, I gotta check out
the actual head unit itself, I suppose you could call it. [unwrapping] Oh yeah. [sniff!] Mm that actually doesn’t smell particularly
great. It smells like aging plastic. Aw man check that out. That just looks so cool! You know, for all of the different kind of
modifications that I’ve done for PCs over the years and putting crazy lighting, and
you know, front audio interfaces like the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 that I had? Yeah, I’ve never actually had a VFD, you know
for graphic equaliser/spectrum analyzer stuff ever on a PC. I don’t know, I’d just never really seen
that as a thing so I’m kind of pleasantly surprised that it exists. So I can’t wait to try this thing out. And yeah, physical controls of any kind on
the front of a PC just makes… it just makes things better! Looks like we got a little thing right there
to plug into the interface box, which I think that’ll be the next item. It’s not really a box, but yeah. There we go. And one end is going to plug into the back
of the NewQ front panel and then these right here are, well, for plugging into the sound
card. And that’s why we get some cables right here. So it really is just a pass-through device. Looks like we have mic out, something called
low in, hi in, and speaker. And we have a low and hi switch, I guess we’ll
see what those do. Let’s see what else we got here. We’ve got this nice envelope in the package. Let’s see what’s in here. We have some registration information here,
of course in Japanese because this one did come from the NewQ distributor in Japan. We’ve got a quick install guide here with
some handy little visuals to let you know what to do. This is interesting. So the warranty card is in English and actually
goes to Neo Wave International in California. So we also have some English stuff here. Yeah, this is interesting. So I’m wondering if this one package was just
kind of sold all over the world and maybe they just stuck that little packet of Japanese
stuff in this one because it was sold in Japan. I’m assuming that’s what it would be, like
Neo Wave just sort of handled international distribution because yeah. As far as I could tell they were kind of headquartered
there and then manufacturing happened in Korea and then they sold them in different territories
around the world. Also get a handy little bag of screws here
for mounting it into the computer chassis. And lastly we’ve got the accessories packet. [tearing of plastic] Got some Coffee, Instant Type II, Spray Dried. Iodized salt. Packet of sugar distributed by Diamond Crystal
Brands. Creamer, Non-dairy, Dry for Coffee or Tea. Four grams. Classy little bundle of toilet paper. A latex free moist towelette. Box of matches. And a couple pieces of chewing gum. Nice. [Steve1989MREInfo tribute continues] [soft pouring of hot water] [coffee stirring, clinking] All right. Ahh. So I’ve got the Lazy Green Giant Pentium III
Windows 98 PC that we’re going to install this in. [plops down items] Let’s get to it! This sucks. It’s just a little more difficult than it
needs to be with this rubbery coating that I put on there, but it is what it is. This will just slide it into place like any
normal drive, except it’s not a drive it is a NewQ Gold. I don’t know that actually it looks pretty
sweet up against the green. It’s not the most ideal thing, like, it’d
be pretty cool if it had a nice brushed metallic finish instead. But eh I’ll take it for this project. So the next part of this is the back pane
here and let’s go ahead and get these cables undone. Right. So we got the audio pass-through cables, just
three and a half millimeter stereo. And then this is gonna go down there somewhere. Oh, yeah, and then of course we’ll go ahead
and plug this in while we’re there. It’s just gonna go right here, providing an
interface in between the two. And of course we need some power. And that’s that part. And I’ll just put the back panel piece… right
here. [various metallic clinking] Simple enough. It’s not much but it makes me feel better. Okay, so for the back panel bit of this we’re
really just gonna be connecting the I/O section of the NewQ to the I/O section of my Aureal
Vortex 2, this is a Diamond Monster Sound MX300. And after going over the documentation, the
quick start guide, I was wondering what that hi and low section was on the NewQ? And it turns out that that relates to the
impedance or the amplification level of the different line outs that may or may not be
available on your sound card. Typically, like it’s the headphone one that
is a bit amplified. And then this one will just be like line out,
so in that case we would just want the line out of the sound card going to the low input
of the NewQ, which is right here. And we switch this over to low. And then the only other thing left is the
microphone, so that’s going to go from the microphone output of the NewQ to microphone
input of the sound card, and then we’ll be able to plug in a microphone on the front
of the device. Which apparently the idea is more for using
in karaoke applications [chuckles] I don’t have any of those, but It’s kind of nice just
to have a front mounted microphone input anyway. Oh and of course we’ll be plugging in our
actual speakers, have some Altec Lansings here. And those are gonna plug in to the speaker
output of the NewQ, cuz everything is running through that now. So let’s power it on and see what happens! All right moment of truth. [computer powers on] Hey, we got a display, ooh-hoo-hoo! I like that, comes on line by line. Ah that’s neat. Oh man, dude that’s friggin red. I love displays like that, seriously. Reminds me of like going to Best Buy and Circuit
City and Radio Shack and anywhere back in the day that had these kind of cool car stereo
systems that I was always like “man they look so neat! Too bad don’t have a car!” And then I did get one in my car one day and
then somebody wrecked that car. But you know what, this is really neat. So check it out, it is already working. The computer has not even booted into Windows
yet, it’s still getting into Windows 98 there so, I don’t know if the sound is actually
doing anything. But we’ve got volume control and yeah, equalizer
settings. There is at least sound coming through these
speakers when I do that. Trying to get the both of these in the frame. [Windows 98 startup sound blares] OKAY! Well, we know the sound is coming through
and it didn’t seem distorted on my end, so I guess we plugged in everything correctly. So let’s go over all of the things that are
on here, just one by one. Starting with this green one here which is
for the SRS modes. So we have the first one here which is just
your normal SRS 3D and this is TruSurround. Which according to the manual, “specially
TruSurround mode is better to enjoy DVD play.” So we have the microphone input here and the
headphone output right here. And let’s just go ahead and talk about as
well the microphone button is right there, if you want to enable mic, it already is. But if you press auxiliary here that’ll bring
up this little cassette tape icon. And so that’s if you were gonna plug in some
sort of auxiliary input, whether it be cassette tape, MiniDisc, whatever else you want to
do. EQ is of course the all-important equalizer. So if we move this around by pressing it,
we are normal here. We go into rock, pops, classical, and then
we have three user configurable modes. And then if we wanted to we can actually switch
these around by holding that down, and then volume chooses the range of the sound that
you want to mess with. And then you have these up and down buttons
for doing your graphic equalizer stuff. Intriguingly, it appears that there’s also
hall, live, club, and stadium modes that were on this VFD. But it doesn’t actually have a way to use
them. Yeah the implication that I’m getting is that
this was used in some other kind of units perhaps that would have had those modes available
to the hardware, but not this though! The mode button we’ll get to in a moment,
and then lastly we have the up and down which are for, you know, messing with the menus. And then this one also doubles as a mute button. So let’s go ahead and get something playing, I’m just gonna start canyon.mid on Windows 98 over here. [MIDI starts playing] And this is the default
mode for the graphic equalizer or spectrum analyzer portion. So if we press this you’ll be able to see
the different kinds of displays that we have available. So yeah. [chuckles as device beeps, music plays] And it’s not a whole lot but you know, the few that are there? I mean, it’s pretty awesome. I like this stuff. I kinda like that one? I don’t know, I like all of them really, hehe. So uh, I’m just gonna put it… Actually I kinda like that one too. That one there’s a lot of movement, not really
useful. None of these are particularly useful, they’re
just kind of neat to look at. So we can check out a couple of these other
things while we got this music playing. Of course the volume. We have the mute button which of course mutes. And then the equalizer, so this is normal. Actually gonna put it right back here because
these other ones get much louder. So we’re gonna go to rock… pops… classical…
and then the user modes. So if we really wanted to we could crank up
the bass a bunch. Not that it’s gonna do much on these crappy
speakers! [buttons beeping, music still playing] All right, so that’s pretty much what that
does. Oh, the only other thing though is let’s try
out this TruSurround SRS 3D stuff. For that I’m gonna boot up a game. One of the few things I have on here is Forsaken,
which I recently reviewed. So let’s go ahead and try that out! [Forsaken theme plays] Yeah. Love that soundtrack. So, let’s see if we get any kind of audio
difference with this, which I’m sure we will just not sure what. All right that is the SRS 3D mode. Does not sound too much different. Now that does, that is the TruSurround mode. Yeah I’m not sure I’d call that “surround.” Does it emulate 3D around me? Not really, Like the built-in Aureal capabilities
that I have on this card actually sound more convincing on stereo speakers than this does. So like in, you know, A3D mode for games that
support it? It actually does kind of simulate a “3D
through stereo speakers” pretty well. But I mean, this is just I don’t know. It just sounds a little more complete or something
on stereo speakers, which is a welcome addition. I mean, for sure. [sounds of shooty-blasty FPS gameplay] Yeah, I mean it definitely sounds somewhat better. Like it’s a very subjective “better,” but it
sounds more like there’s a center channel when I enable the TruSurround mode. Whereas this just kind of sounds very flat,
like you know, there’s just sound coming from two speakers. Whereas the TruSurround with SRS 3D… Yeah, I wouldn’t call it “3D,” like I
don’t hear anything behind me, it’s not making that happen at all. Ah man this game is awesome. Well, I could just play this all day but I
suppose that’s about it for this video really. Uh yeah. Check out my video on Forsaken here if you
have not already because it is a fantastic little game. Well, I’m gonna leave it with a MIDI file,
because I can. [passport.mid begins to play,
SRS 3D/TruSurround enabled] [♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫] [chuckles for no reason] Ahh, MIDI files, and graphic equalizers, and sound things! It’s endlessly fascinating to me. As a kid I kind of fetishized this stuff really,
you know, it’s just–I didn’t have a sound card until 1997! Seriously! Took a while. So I was always drooling over anything audio
related, even in 98/99 when this came out it was still pretty fresh and amazing to me. So this would have blown my mind and it would
have been absolutely a piece of hardware that I would love to have had back then. Yeah today on the other hand, I mean there’s
not really much reason like in a modern system you can do all this and way more with built-in
stuff. Software and whatnot. And then of course, on here? I don’t want it here because the aesthetic
of course is not what I’m going for exactly. I would consider painting it green if… I wanted to do that, hehe. And also if it didn’t have that weird pass-through
situation in the back with multiple wires going everywhere, it’s just kind of a messy
thing in the situation of this particular computer. This is my project box and I’m swapping things
in and out all the time, I don’t need like more cables and other stuff like that in the
back getting in the way of other cards and things that I want to install! So I’m not going to keep it installed in this
one but I am gonna find some other computer to keep it installed in just because it looks
so cool. I love that aesthetic, I love all the little
mode switches, and you know, I can–I don’t need like actual equalizer settings, I typically
like to keep things pretty flat. But you know, having the TruSurround to boost
the output for certain speakers and stuff? That’s kind of welcome I suppose, so I’ll
take it! Well anyway. Yeah! That’s it for this particular video and I
hope that you enjoyed what you saw and heard. I think it’s a fascinating device from a fascinating
time period and I love taking looks at these kinds of things. So if you enjoyed this stick around, there
are new videos every week. And as always, thank you very much for watching!

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