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           Creative Labs Audigy 2

Product :

 Audigy 2

Manufacturer :

Creative Labs

Reviewed by :

Wayne Brooker

Price :

£76.00 + VAT (Delivered Free)

Date :

February 3rd, 2003.

 

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Introduction

As any semi-serious PC user knows there's a wealth of confusion to be found in today's PC hardware market. There's memory with specifications that remain unofficial, there's DVD writers that won't always read what their brethren have written, there are CPUs that won't fit your motherboard's socket despite the sales guy's oh so convincing rant about the supreme upgradeablilty of the modern PC. Amid all this madness Creative labs have continued to build on the standard they almost single handedly defined and have continued to be the de facto standard for both internal and now external audio solutions for the PC.

The original Audigy came in for some, perhaps slightly unfair criticism for its lack of certain high end features but Creative are a business and like AMD and Intel and NVIDIA and indeed all the other industry big hitters you don't reveal your hand all at once. There isn't the same revenue stream from sound cards as there is from many other products, the standards and the technology simply doesn't evolve quickly enough to constantly be releasing a new product and those who complain that other sound cards have managed to implement some supreme, high end feature should take a look at what that company are charging for the privilege.

Today I want to take you on a quick tour of Creative's latest creation, the Audigy2. With an incredible feature list a world first claim to THX certification you know it's going to be a bit special, but how much is marketing hype and how much is fairly earned kudos? Hopefully we'll have an idea by the end of the review.

Before I get stuck in I know some of you, okay, a couple of you, like to have a long hard study at the specs and with Creative having done such a beautiful job of laying them out here they are ripped straight of their site! Get comfy, there's plenty of them!

Audio Performance

  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio with AES17 filter (A-Weighted)
     
    2V Rated Output
    1V Rated Output
    Stereo Output
    106dB
    102dB
    Front and Rear Channels
    106dB
    102dB
    Center, Subwoofer and Rear Center
    ~90dB
    ~86dB
  • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz (A-Weighted) = 0.004% (1V, 2V Rated Output)
  • Frequency Response (+/-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input ) = <10Hz to 46kHz (1V, 2V Rated Output)
High Definition Audio Quality for Playback and Recording
  • 24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion during playback with sampling rates of 8, 11.025, 16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz in 5.1 mode and up to 192kHz in stereo mode
  • 24-bit Analog to Digital conversion during recording in 8, 16 or 24-bit at sampling rates of 8, 11.025, 16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz
  • SPDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interface) input at up to 24-bit/ 96kHz quality
  • SPDIF output up to 24-bit at 48 or 96kHz
  • ASIO drivers for low latency (=2ms) multi-track playback and recording at 16-bit/48kHz)
Wave-Table Synthesis and Midi Features
  • Creative Hardware synthesizer (2x16 Channels) with 64-voice polyphony featuring E-MU®'s patented 8-point interpolation technology for accurate sample reproduction
  • Creative Software synthesizer - multi timbral wave-table (16 Channels)
SB1394™ Connectivity
  • IEEE® 1394 / FireWire® / i-Link® compatible interface with up to 400Mbps transfer rate
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 On-Board Connectors
  • Line level out (Front / Rear / Center / Subwoofer /Rear Center)
  • Digital Out for 5.1 support (6-channel SPDIF Output)
  • Line in
  • Microphone in
  • SB1394™/ FireWire® port
  • Telephone Answering Device in
  • Analog / Digital CD Audio in
  • 15-pin MIDI / Joystick port extension header
  • Internal SB1394 header to Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Internal Drive (Upgrade Option)
  • AD_EXT extension header to the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Internal Drive (Upgrade Option)
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum Internal Drive Front Panel Connectors
(Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum ONLY)
  • Headphone Out (1/4" Stereo Jack with Volume control)
  • Line In 2 (1/4" Stereo Jack, shared with Microphone In 2)
  • Microphone In 2 (1/4" Jack with Gain control)
  • MIDI In (mini DIN)
  • MIDI Out (mini DIN)
  • Optical SPDIF In and Out
  • Coaxial SPDIF In and Out
  • Stereo Auxiliary In (2 x RCA/Coaxial Jack)
  • SB1394 port
  • Infra-red Receiver

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

  • Processor: Genuine Intel® Pentium® II, Celeron 350MHZ, AMD-K6® 450MHz or faster
  • Motherboard: Intel®, AMD® or 100% compatible
  • System RAM: 64MB for Windows® 98SE and Me, 128MB for Windows 2000 SP2 and XP
  • Hard Disk: 600MB free space
  • Operating System: Windows 98SE, Me, 2000 SP2, or XP
  • Available PCI 2.1 compliant slot
  • Available adjacent slot for Joystick/MIDI bracket (optional)
  • Headphones or amplified speakers (available separately)
  • CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive required for software installation
  • Additional System Requirements for DVD Movies, DVD-Audio, DV Editing, Games and Internet Radio
  • Available 5 1/4" PC Drive Bay for Sound Blaster® Audigy™ 2 Internal drive (Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum only)
GENERAL APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS
  • Processor: Genuine Intel® Pentium® III 500 MHz or AMD 700 MHz or faster
  • System RAM: 128MB for Windows 98SE and Me, 256MB for Windows 2000 SP2 and XP
  • Hard Disk: 1.3GB free space (Disk Type: ATA-100, 7,200rpm)
GAMING SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS
  • Graphics Card: DirectX® 8.1 and OpenGL® compliant 3D accelerator with at least 16MB of texture RAM
DVD MOVIES AND DVD-AUDIO REQUIREMENTS
  • Soft-DVD player: Intervideo's WinDVD® 2000 or CyberLink's PowerDVD® 3.0 and above recommended
  • DVD Drive: 2nd generation 6X DVD-ROM drive or later for DVD Movie and Audio playback
DVD-AUDIO ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENT
  • Operating System: Windows 2000 SP3 or XP SP1
  • Processor: Genuine Intel® Pentium® III or AMD Athlon™ 1GHz or faster
  • System RAM: 256MB
  • Visit www.soundblaster.com for updates on other OS support
INTERNET RADIO REQUIREMENT
  • Internet: 56kbps modem or faster and an active Internet connection
Setup under Windows 98SE requires the original Microsoft Windows 98SE Installation CD. Games may not work optimally under Windows 2000. Check out latest updates from www.soundblaster.com. Included applications may need higher system requirements or microphone for basic functionality. Refer to individual applications' documentation for details.

 

Sound Blaster 16 PCI Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Sound Blaster Audigy Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinium
Application 2.1 Entry Level Digital Entertainment Dolby Digital 5.1 Entertainment Standard 24-bit ADVANCED HD for Digital Music Superior 24-bit ADVANCED HD DVD-Audio Superior 24-bit ADVANCED HD DVD-Audio and Connectivity
Audio Quality/Bit Depth
Sound Blaster Quality Sound Blaster 16-bit Sound Blaster 16-bit Sound Blaster 24-bit ADVANCED HD. 24-bit/96khz Sound Blaster 24-bit ADVANCED HD. 24-bit/192kHz Sound Blaster 24-bit ADVANCED HD. 24-bit/192kHz
Audio quality/bit Depth 16-bit/44.1khz CD-Quality 16-bit/44.1khz CD-Quality 16-bit/48kHz 24-bit DVD Audio quality 24-bit DVD Audio quality
THX Certification NA NA NA Yes Yes
DVD-Audio NA NA NA Yes Yes
DACs NA NA 24-bit/96kHz 24-bit/192kHz 24-bit/192kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) 90dB 94dB 100dB 106dB 106dB
Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 Playback
NA
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Dolby Digital EX 6.1 Playback
NA
NA
NA
Yes Yes
Full support for Windows Media 9 24-bit/96khz 5.1 content
NA
NA
NA
Yes Yes
Recording 16-bit/48kHz 16-bit/48kHz 16-bit/48kHz 24-bit/96kHz 24-bit/96kHz
Connectivity
Sound Blaster 16 PCI Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Sound Blaster Audigy Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinium
High Speed SB1394 FireWire port No No Yes Yes Yes - Two Ports
Analog speaker support Headphone, 2 Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1 Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1 Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1,6.1 Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1, 6.1, Optical
Digital speaker support
NA
Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1 Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1, 24-bit / 96kHz speakers Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1, 24-bit / 96kHz speakers Headphone, 2, 4, 5.1, 24-bit / 96kHz speakers
Gaming
Simultaneous environment processing
NA
1 Multiple Multiple Multiple
EAX ADVANCED HD Multi-Environment
NA
NA
Yes Yes Yes
EAX 1.0 and 2.0 support
NA
Yes Yes Yes Yes
3D Positional Audio
NA
Basic Advanced Advanced Advanced
PC-to-PC Gaming with SB1394/FireWire
NA
NA
Yes Yes Yes
Digital Audio Creation / Playback
Sound Blaster 16 PCI Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Sound Blaster Audigy Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinium
Digital Music Player
NA
PlayCenter basic player / ripper PlayCenter 3 advanced player / ripper Feature Rich MediaSource with advanced player/ripper Feature Rich MediaSource with advanced player/ripper
EAX Music Presets
NA
NA Yes Advanced Advanced
EAX Presets
NA
Yes Yes Yes Yes
CMSS: Stereo Up-mix to Multichannel
NA
Basic. Up-mix to 5.1 Advanced. Up-mix to 5.1 CMSS 3D upmix up to 6.1 channels CMSS 3D upmix up to 6.1 channels
CMSS: Stereo spatialization over 2 channels speakers and headphones
NA
NA
NA
Yes Yes
PlayBack of Dolby Digital 5.1 Music Content
NA
Yes Yes Yes Yes
MP3/WMA creation tools / digital audio editing applications
NA
NA
Yes Yes Yes
ASIO Low Latency Multi-Track Recording Support
NA
NA
Yes at 16-bit/48kHz Yes at 16-bit/48kHz Yes at 16-bit/48kHz
SoundFont Support
NA
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Others
Easy Front-Panel Audio Connectivity Drive
NA
Upgradable Upgradable Upgradable Yes
Wireless Remote Control

NA
Upgradable Upgradable Upgradable Yes
Professional Music Creation Tools

NA
NA
NA
NA
Yes

 

24-BIT/192kHz DVD-AUDIO WITH PURE 106 dB SNR FOR PLAYBACK, RECORDING AND 6.1 SURROUND GAMING
With the introduction of the Sound Blaster Audigy 2, Creative has once more raised the bar for PC audio, bringing to you the most definitive audio experience yet!

Sound Blaster Audigy 2 delivers high-quality multi-channel recording and playback at up to 24-bit/96kHz and is the first PC product to offer playback of Advanced Resolution DVD-Audio at an astonishing 24-bit/192kHz with a stunning Signal-to-Noise ratio of 106dB, delivering spectacular audio quality that has now redefined PC audio standards. With EAX Advanced HD, 6.1 speaker support and Dolby Digital EX support, movies and games will be experienced with a breathtaking level of immersion and intensity, while SB1394 allows super-fast transfer of audio to external players.

"The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 not only propels PC audio forward; it drives a new standard of quality for all audio. As we have done many times in the past, Creative has established yet another new platform for the PC with Sound Blaster 24-bit ADVANCED HD™ audio. With the introduction of the Sound Blaster Audigy 2, we are setting an audio standard for the PC that is currently emerging in consumer electronics." - Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo

ADVANCED RESOLUTION™ DVD-AUDIO
The only PC-based solution to enable the Advanced Resolution™ era of 24-bit music fidelity with 192kHz in stereo and 96kHz in 5.1
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 brings you the purest music listening experience on the PC with support for the music industry's latest high definition format - DVD-Audio, which reproduces music with greater brilliance and clarity compared to audio CDs, whilst preserving the depth and warmth of the original recording. More Information
SOUND BLASTER 24-BIT ADVANCED HD AUDIO
The best Sound Blaster clarity ever, rivaling home-theater audio quality for music, games and movies - vastly superior to host audio
24-bit 96kHz 106dB SNR
Sound Blaster 24-bit ADVANCED HD audio performance at 106dB SNR in the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 delivers up to eight times better clarity than host audio. The new Audigy 2 chip, premium quality 24-bit/192kHz Digital to Analog Converters (DACs), and a true 24-bit ADVANCED HD audio path ensure "hiss-free" audio fidelity and exceptional clarity of 106dB SNR. Powerful Audigy 2 processing enables full 24-bit/96kHz audio resolution in discrete 5.1 surround sound with playback of Windows Media Audio (WMA) 9 Professional, the Web's first digital 5.1 surround sound audio codec from the new Windows Media 9 Series. More Information
THX®-CERTIFIED
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 is currently the first and only add-in sound card to be THX®-Certified.
THX®-Certified
Being THX®-Certified means that the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 has passed the most stringent and rigorous audio quality and performance tests set by THX, the audio experts in the movie industry, so you can be assured that the awesome THX audio experience you've enjoyed in the cinema will be reproduced faithfully on your PC. More Information
6.1 SURROUND SOUND
Experience superior multi-channel audio from MP3s, CDs, DirectSound® 3D games and Dolby Digital® EX movies with a rear center speaker
Dolby Digital EX Sound Blaster Audigy 2 enhances immersion with improved directionality and ambience perception delivered through an additional rear center channel on 6.1 speaker systems, bringing vivid and intense realism that will thrust you right into the heart of your favourite music, games and movies. More about 6.1 Gaming | More about Dolby® Digital EX
CREATIVE MEDIASOURCE™
The most exciting features yet with library search, automatic playlist volume control and hiss removal for MP3s
MediaSource Creative MediaSource provides you sophisticated and intuitive control over your entire MP3 and music library. Its intelligent search engine helps you quickly locate songs. SVM™ (Smart Volume Management) helps you maintain a balanced playback volume level across your entire playlist so you won't have to adjust the volume between songs. Audio Clean-Up gives even your old music collection a facelift by removing hisses and clicks from recordings of old cassette tapes and vinyl records. More Information
24-BIT/ 96 kHz RECORDING
The purest commercially available recording path captures the quality and subtle details of your audio creations
24-bit 96kHz Recording Sound Blaster Audigy 2 lets you make rich 24-bit recordings to your PC with an unprecedented 24-bit/96kHz recording capability, while ASIO support allows compatible music creation software to link directly to ASIO compliant hardware, allowing multi-channel recording simultaneously at 16-bit/48khz at ultra low latency of <=2ms. More Information
EAX® ADVANCED HD™ GAMING
The ultimate platform for delivering unparalleled audio realism from the hottest gaming titles
EAX ADVANCED HD Sound Blaster Audigy 2 gives you the ultimate game audio realism with its built-in EAX ADVANCED HD technology, which delivers accurate reverberations, seamless audio transition between environments, effects processing power capable of simultaneously processing multiple environment effects and more. All of which can now be enjoyed in over a dozen premier game titles including Unreal Tournament 2003, Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness, Neverwinter Nights, Hitman 2, and Soldier of Fortune 2. More Information

 

 


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