Testing - Performance in Movies and Games
Focusing on the performance with movies, as the Essence is not intended for decoding of movie soundtracks, it doesn't feature any onboard decoders for such use. Instead, you must pass the digital data from the films soundtrack through the Essence' coax digital-out to an outboard decoder like a home theater receiver to hear the soundtrack correctly. Another way would be to use headphones with Dolby Headphone to listen to movies using the on-board pre-amp. Either way works fine and will allow a fine high-fidelity reproduction of the films soundtrack.
Performance with games is not what I would call a primary concern of the Essence. However, it does support gaming through the latest Directsound 3D algorithms, which is better than having no support for gamers. But if you're a gamer first and foremost then I would not imagine you would have too much interest in the Essence anyway. I'm not going to go into great detail here, but yes, if you wish to use a board like this to game, you can up-mix using Dolby Live and Dolby Pro Logic 2x to create a phantom surround image. Of course, Dolby Headphone is also there for the same reason.