Griffin Technology on Wednesday announced that it is shipping FireWave, its 5.1 surround sound output device that connects to your Mac’s FireWire port. FireWave costs $99.99.
FireWave is a small, portable external box that’s compact enough to work with a laptop. It features two FireWire 400 ports on its back — it gets power from the FireWire interface, so there’s no need for an additional power supply. Status LEDs on the front show when FireWave is connected to an active FireWire port and when Dolby audio is active.
The device touts 3.5mm outputs for left/right, center/subwoofer and left/right surround speakers. It supplies line-level output, so it’s suitable for connecting to an amplified multichannel speaker system or to an amplifier or receiver that uses discrete surround inputs (it doesn’t provide digital coaxial or optical outputs).
In addition to letting you play Dolby Digital-encoded DVDs and movies in surround sound and Dolby Pro Logic II, FireWave also supports positional sound in games that support the OpenAL audio standard. Those include popular titles like World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament — something that the digital sound output built in to latter-day Macs doesn’t support.
FireWave supports Intel and PowerPC-based Macs. Mac OS X v10.4.6 or later is required.