While not to be compared with the ever
changing 3D graphics arena, 3D soundcards have also played a
very important role in enthusiasts’ priorities for the last
few years. And so, even with the variety of PC sound
products available in the market nowadays, Creative and the
Sound Blaster brand always seem to come first into mind for
For some, the Audigy
2 is what the original Audigy should have been, however
without trying to underestimate Creative efforts, they are
bringing us today a revamped soundcard that is set to raise
the bar like the original Live! did, many years ago.
You will be happy to
know that Creative has taken care of the board quality from
the ground up, newer and better DACs are used to ensure
24-Bit/96-kHz/192kHz playback and among the rest of niceties
the card offers you have DVD-Audio playback, full 6.1
surround sound, THX certification and the mandatory (for a
Creative soundcard) EAX Advanced HD.
Are you in for an Audigy 2? Well, the list of new features
offered is extensive to say the least and we certainly put
the card through its paces. Read on for a detailed
exploration into the Audigy 2.
Besides the optional
Joystick/MIDI bracket, the Audigy 2 features Line & Mic
inputs, 3 Stereo Line Outputs, a single Digital Output and a
single Firewire/IEEE 1394 port. Output wise the Audigy 2 is
fairly flexible, too, supporting up to 6.1 channel Analog
output, with the rear center channel carried on Line-out 3
in addition to the Front center and Subwoofer independent
channels (compatible with currently available Creative 6.1
Unlike most other
Soundcards though, the Audigy 2 can also send a 2, 4 or 5.1
channel signal over it’s digital output using a 4 pole
mini-jack. For the most part this will only remain
compatible with Creative’s own Speaker systems e.g.
MegaWorks 510D, Inspire 5700, etc. while other receivers are
likely to output this signal as stereo. During our tests I
used both multi-channel Analog & Digital output modes.
The Digital Output is always active
except when playing DRM encoded content, at which point it
is disabled. This is a requirement of DRM support otherwise
the Audigy 2 would simply not be able to play DRM encoded
content, e.g. DVD-Audio, as would be the case for other
Supposedly Creative Labs had to go to
great lengths to ensure this was the case and as you’re
probably aware it is the only PC Soundcard that supports
DVD-Audio playback (Stand-alone DVD-Audio players also only
use Analog outputs).
Documentation & drivers
Out of the box, the
Audigy 2 comes with a printed Quick Start guide to take you
through basic installation of the soundcard. If needed, a
more thorough PDF Manual is included on the Installation CD
with far more information you could ask for.
The Audigy supports
most major Windows releases, from 98SE, to XP. As a side
note and for informational sake, it is possible to use the
Audigy 2 drivers on an Audigy (with a little work) so in the
future Creative Labs will hopefully only need to release a
single package for the Audigy 2, Audigy and Live! Cards,
much in the same ‘unified drivers’ approach we are used to
Compared with earlier
Audigy drivers releases, Audigy 2’s proved to be more
competent from the beginning. SoundFont support is greatly
improved via several bug fixes, Dolby Digital decoding from
external sources is supported plus the decoder itself offer
more features. OpenAL drivers are included as well.
I should also bring up that with the latest drivers ASIO 2
support has been added. There is some confusion regarding
24-bit/96 kHz recording capabilities with ASIO 2 and the
Audigy 2, to clear things up Harvey Fong of Creative posted
The Audigy 2 & Audigy 2 Platinum models
that are currently available support ASIO 2 Direct
Monitoring. These Audigy products do not support ASIO 2 Word
Clock that is necessary for 24/96 recording. This level of
support requires a different level of hardware that will be
available when the Audigy 2 Platinum EX makes it's debut.
Please note that this
is for ASIO 2 and would not be related to other applications
that may indeed record at 24/96 levels.