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Review- Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy

Review by Konrad Moszczynski, call sign: Omega X

May 10, 2002

 

Introduction:

The Creative Audigy chipset is the newest add-on to Creativeís classic Sound Blaster series of sound cards. The Audigy chip replaces the classic EMU10K1 which we have seen in previous Live! series. The Audigy chipset supports ďEAX ADVANCED HDĒ technology which uses 24-bit/ 96 kHz multi-channel output. EAX has been incorporated into many games to create for a more realistic 3D sound environment. It allows for up to 4 independent audio environments at once. (Iím sure a lot of us have experienced that pesky player that likes you sneak up behind you for a quick frag.) With the Audigy Gamer and a good set of surround sound speakers that will be a thing of the past. Creative also boasts a 100dba SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio). SNR is the strongest signal that can be handled by a sound card with the lowest distortion. This is especially important for those who like to crank up their speakers or headphones but dislike the distortion commonly associated with doing so. The new Audigy series have come equipped with a SB1394 port (aka Firewire, iLink, IEEE 1394). Firewire is a high-speed serial connector capable of speeds up to 400mbps. Commonly it is used for digital camera, but in this case Creative is emphasizing the 400mbit peer-to-peer network, which FireWire can be used for. This creates an incredibly fast gaming network. Nothing in my opinion can be too fast, but only a fraction of that bandwidth would ever be utilized during a game. Donít count on spanning entire rooms with it though; FireWire signal is only good for 14 feet before you need a repeater.

 

First Look:

 

My first impression was positive, a snappy box, proper packaging and a giant instructions poster. I quickly tossed the instructions to the side and went for the goody bag of games. I was somewhat disappointed to see the same things that Iíve seen with my older video and sound cards. It came bundled with Deus Ex and Giants: Citizen Kabuto which Iíve played too many times. It didnít take long for the games to be lost in the clutter of my room. Opening up the anti-static bag, I was impressed by the gold plated connections although I disliked the fact they lost their color coating. Many times during low light or when the case is in a hard to reach place color coated connectors make it a lot easier to find the right connection. The dark colored PCB gave the board a unique look that was a nice change from the usual green we are all used to seeing. There is also an excellent assortment of internal onboard connectors. The appearance of the card is superb, letís see if we can say the same about its performance

 

Product Specs:

(courtesy of creative)

Feature Description

MIDI Features

Synthesizer Chip

Audigy

Synthesizer Type

Wavetable

Polyphony

64 (with 8-point interpolation)

RAM size

Based on System RAM, up to 1GB

Sample Sets

4 MB

Synthesizer Effects

Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Pitch Shifter, Distortion, etc

MIDI Channels

48

Effects Engine

32-bit

Digital Audio Features

Duplex Type

Full

Max. Recording Depth

16-bit

Max. Recording Rate

48kHz

Max. Playback Depth

24-bit

Max. Playback Rate

96kHz

Signal-to-Noise Ratio

100dB          

Soundfont Support

Yes, including Soundfont 2.1

Built-in Amplifier

No

Compatibility

         Windows XP  

         Windows ME  

         Windows 2000         

         Windows 98

         Windows NT 4.0

         DOS    Yes

         Linux   Yes (Open Source driver required)

         General MIDI

         MPC3

         Plug & Play

         Sound Blaster PCI

         EAX Support

         Microsoft DirectSound

         Microsoft DirectSound 3D & Derivatives

         PCI 2.1

         AC97

         MPU-401 UART

         Dolbyģ Digital 5.1 decoding

         EAX Advanced HD

         ASIO Support

Connectors

         Microphone In

         Line In

         Line Out (Front)/Speaker Out

         Line Out (Rear)

         MIDI/Joystick Port

         MPC3 CD Audio In

         Auxiliary In

         S/PDIF In

         Telephone Answering Device (TAD) In

         24-bit DAC (Digital to Analog Convertor)

         24-bit ADC (Analog to Digital Convertor)

         Analog/Digital Out

         Digital DIN Support

         SB1394 Connector

         CD Digital In

Supported Features

         4 Speakers

         Creative MultiSpeaker Surround

         Creative Environments

         5.1 Speaker Support

         Headphone Support

         Front/Rear Speaker Level Adjustment

         Center Speaker Level Adjustment

         Subwoofer Level Adjustment

         Crossover Frequency Adjustment (10 - 200Hz)

         CreativeWare Program Elilgibility

         Dolby Digital 5.1 Pass-through (with Dolby Digital-capable softDVD player)

         DTS pass-through (with DTS-capable softDVD player)

 

 

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