I had originally planned to write up a little article on the Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 launch event I attended today, however, after just returning from it there wasn't much exciting happening at the event that deserves special mention. Furthermore, much of the information we obtained at the launch is going to be discussed in detail in our full review of the sound card that will be written as soon as we get our hands on a 6.1 speaker system to do thorough testing with.
The day started off with snacks and small talk with fellow journos in the lobby of the Mercure hotel in Sydney, where shortly after we were herded into a conference room by Nick Angelucci, marketing manager at Creative Australia. Once inside, Nick ran through a number of demos detailing the features and improvements made to the Audigy 2.
Firstly, the SoundBlaster Audigy 2 is the first sound card to support DVD Audio playback, meaning that all you need to have is a regular DVD player and you can take full advantage of 24-bit, 192kHz DVD audio playback. Nick mentioned that in the near future there will be plenty of DVD Audio titles on the market from all of your favourite artists. He was also quite confident that DVD audio is where the market is headed.
The Audigy 2 also supports 6.1 Dolby Digital EX sound. The extra channel means that there is support for a rear-center speaker, giving your games and DVD movies a much more realistic feel due to the wider spread of sound. Dolby Digital EX supporting titles are already flooding the market, including the popular Mafia and Soldier of Fortune 2 games as well as the movie Rush Hour 2.
Another unique feature of the Audigy 2 is the fact that it is the first and only stand-alone sound card with THX certification. Nick ran a pod race scene from Star Wars: Episode 1 during the demonstration and it truly did sound amazing. Coupled with their soon to be released Inspire 6600 6.1 speakers, the sound output was incredible.
Creative also played a Rush Hour 2 demo for us and we must say, the positional audio was great. We could even hear the footsteps of people running around us and explosions were produced superbly. Nick added that this feature is especially useful for gamers, as you can tell exactly where gunshots or other sounds are coming from so you don't suddenly find yourself getting shot in the back out of nowhere.
The SoundBlaster Audigy 2 should hit store shelves very soon and the regular card on its own will be priced at $US129.99 ($299 AU). There will also be a Platinum version of the Audigy 2 that comes with a 5 1/4" front panel, which includes Coaxial SPDIF In/Out, MIDI In/Out, Line In 2/MIC In 2, a headphone jack and an additional SB1394 port. This version will retail for around $US199.99 ($549 AU).
As mentioned earlier, there is plenty more to discuss regarding the Audigy 2, however, you'll just have to wait for our full review. On behalf of TweakTown, I'd like to thank Nick Angelucci and Creative as a whole for inviting us to the event and letting us take home a sample for review.