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Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Review - Test Results

Creative Labs has dominated the PC sound card market for as long as we can remember. Probably the most feature-packed SoundBlaster was the original Audigy sound card, bringing a ground-breaking amount of new features to PC audio enthusiasts. About four weeks ago Creative announced its new Audigy 2 sound card. Today Asher "Acid" Moses takes us on a journey documenting its new features including DVD audio and Dolby Digital EX 6.1 playback. Are these features alone worth your hard earned dollars? Read on and find out!

| Sound Cards in Audio, Sound & Speakers | Posted: Nov 17, 2002 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: Creative Labs

- Test Results

 

Firstly, let's compare the Audigy 2 to our original Audigy. After swapping back and forth numerous times, we managed to pin-point the Audigy 2's distinct advantages over the Audigy 1. As far as games go, we found that the bass reproduction from explosions and gun fire was deeper and richer on the Audigy 2 than on the original Audigy. This is also apparent whilst listening to audio tracks as well as DVD movies.

 

As for the extra channel provided by 6.1 audio - We found that this greatly enhanced the realism of both games and DVD movies, as we really felt immersed in the environment that was being presented to us. For example, on many of the war scenes in the popular DVD movie, Saving Private Ryan, the awesome audio coupled with the smart camera angles made us feel like we were actually out on the battlefield - Impressive!

 

Without going into too much detail, overall, when comparing both sound cards it is clear that the Audigy 2 is the higher quality product.

 

That said, although the bass reproduction and overall sound quality is slightly better on the Audigy 2, we do not feel that this is justification for an upgrade for owners of the original Audigy. However, if you own a previous generation Creative sound card or something in between or are on the market for a new PC, the Audigy 2 is ideal.

 

Now that a comparison has been made between the Audigy 2 and the original Audigy, let's move on to DVD audio. Due to the fact that DVD playing software such as WinDVD and PowerDVD cannot play DVD audio in its highest quality format, Creative have bundled their own DVD audio player with the Audigy 2. As mentioned earlier, the sound quality of DVD audio is infinitely better than CD audio, and we can only hope that more titles are produced in this format in the near future.

 

During testing we also made a detailed comparison between 16-bit/44kHz stereo sound and 24-bit/88kHz stereo sound. Although there is slightly less distortion under 24-bit/88kHz mode, we did not notice too much of a difference between the two frequencies. This is most likely because the human ear can only hear up to a certain frequency and thus, you could call it a "bottleneck" on our audio experience.

 

Thankfully, this is far from the case when comparing 16-bit/44kHz audio to 24-bit/96kHz 6.1 surround sound. Think of the difference between the two like the upgrade from CD audio to DVD audio. It is very noticeable and kind of makes you wonder how you ever did without it.

 

Positioning is great in both games and DVDs. For example, when we were testing the sound card in Hitman 2 and Soldier of Fortune 2, in many cases the fact that we could hear an enemy creeping up behind us saved our lives. This also gave both games and movies a more immersive feel, and in terms of music, we could distinctively hear each instrument without any muffling caused by sounds of different instruments coming from the same channel.

 

Further Reading: Read and find more Audio, Sound & Speakers content at our Audio, Sound & Speakers reviews, guides and articles index page.

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