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Music Media Hardware

Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Reviewed 377

Julio writes "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."
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Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Reviewed

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  • by Phosphor3k ( 542747 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:28PM (#5530892)
    Please advertise my un-innovative and slow-selling product for free. Thank you.
    • by Telastyn ( 206146 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:32PM (#5530933)
      Huh? they mentioned their extremely high selling live cards too. It's not Creative's fault that the card is now cheap ($27 oem from pricewatch) and sufficient for even gamers' needs...

      Odd that this market is one where people don't seem to be upgrading to something they don't need.
    • I certainly agree on that much, kinda...
      I have never liked Creative, they're as M$ sa sound hardware can be. But on the other hand I have been quite impressed by the Audigy I picked up. I wanted to get a MontegoII, but couldn't get one across here (UK), so in the end I caved and picked up the Audigy instead (I needed a replacement second soundcard since my 128 with the Yamaha GX daughterboard died, for mixing and music purposes) and the sound quality is the best I've heard yet. Given I'm pumping my soundca
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:28PM (#5530893)
    A review of a six month old product!

    Hip hip hooray!
  • DRM? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the Man in Black ( 102634 ) <jasonrashaad@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:29PM (#5530900) Homepage
    Any buil-in DRM things or other nastiness that I need to know about? Meaning, can I use the full potential of this card in Linux?
    • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Informative)

      by the Man in Black ( 102634 ) <jasonrashaad@@@gmail...com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:32PM (#5530934) Homepage
      Never mind.

      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 non-supporting soundcards.

      So, no thank you. Also...

      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.

      Sweet. So I also get a crippled Digital Out. Where's my wallet, I must have one of these!
      • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:39PM (#5531002)
        Well luckily that will only affect windows users That drm crap is in the software and won't affect Linux users.

        But at the same time if you still stuck in Windows-land I'd recommend M-Audio's new budget card to any windoze user who wants something decent without having to deal with Creative.

        Personally I'll still continue to buy OEM SB Lives since I've been using them for years and they're supported under every OS known to man.
      • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mozumder ( 178398 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:52PM (#5531097)
        They could have done what Pioneer has done in their top of the line Elite 49Txi receiver and 47Ai universal player- use an encrypted IEEE-1394 output instead of the optical/electrical digital link. They do this using approved standards for firewire audio transmission.

        This is the only DVD-Audio or SACD player on the market capable of outputting a digitial audio signal (the article is wrong).

        Of course the only thing that would be able to recieve this signal would be the 49Txi itself, but someone has to start somewhere to get high-end digital audio directly to the amplifier.

        Actually, with a firewire audio output and a receiver that accepts firewire input, you wouldn't even need a soundcard... Anyone wanna try to write a device driver that can play audio through firewire???
        • Re:DRM? (Score:4, Informative)

          by cheinonen ( 318646 ) <cheinonen.hotmail@com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @05:27PM (#5531915)
          Acually, the Sharp DX-SX1 SACD player and their SM-SX1 amp have a special connection that let them transmit the SACD bitstream as well. I haven't heard these, but have heard the Pioneer setup this past weekend and it's nice to only have the single cable since the DAC's on the 49Txi are so nice. I was pretty sure that someone else had a player that could transmit a signal as well, but can't remember who (since it was out of my price range).
      • by Anonymous Coward
        DVD-audio requires more bandwidth than can be handled by a digital coax / optical output. This is the same as on standalone DVD-audio players - they just have 6 analog outputs. Firewire is supposed to fix this...
      • Apparently if you want any form of DVD-Audio out, DRM has to be in place first, so that's not so much a Creative thing. Frankly, I don't see much value here above a Soundblaster Live anyway, for the mainstream user.
    • Re:DRM? (Score:5, Informative)

      by br0ck ( 237309 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:34PM (#5530956)
      From the interview [tomshardware.com] with Creative's worldwide marketing manager..

      Q: The digital outputs are disabled during DVD Audio playback, are there any plans to add more Digital Right Management and copy limitations to the Audigy 2 or any future product?

      A: At Creative we don't look at it as adding "limitations" to our technology. We wanted to add DVD-Audio, which we feel (and I am sure all your readers will agree) adds a massive benefit to our product line. However, DVD-Audio incorporates certain copy-protection features that MUST be in place before support of the format is allowed. This is not unique to our card. Even standard DVD-Audio players are not allowed any form of "bit-for-bit" digital output while playing DVD-Audio. Some solutions use proprietary digital connections to deliver the digital content to their amp, etc., which means that you can't plug the digital output into a digital recording device.

      Therefore as an "Enabler," we evaluate the benefit of a format against the limitations to the user. For instance, we also support WMA. This has requirements to support their DRM implementation, which we do. Remember that all these technologies do NOT stop you from making personal copies of unprotected media. They simply protect that content using the protection methods of the format.

      In short, will we ever add generic "Copy-Protection" technologies to our products that stop users doing what they want with their music/ audio? No.

      Will we ever add more formats that may incorporate stringent copy-protection technologies to protect itself? Most definitely, if the format is desirable to our users.

      Finally, although there may be very stringent copy-protection formats, it is normally in the field of protecting "exact" digital copies. There is normally flexibility where analog/ low quality copies wish to be made. For instance, the DVD-Audio format does give some flexibility in the areas of 16-bit/ 44.1kHz Digital outputs, or for making analog copies. It was not possible to enable this from day one, but we will work to expose this and provide as much flexibility to our users as we move forward.
      • I wonder if the drivers from the kx project [kxproject.spb.ru] can bypass this limitation?

        I seem to remember reading that this is the case... can anyone back me up on this?

      • Re:DRM? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by edhall ( 10025 ) <slashdot@weirdnoise.com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:18PM (#5531316) Homepage

        This has always puzzled me: why is there such an obsession with preventing bit-for-bit copies? Properly done, digital re-recording from the analog output is likely to cause considerably less distortion than MP3 encoding, even at 256Kb/s. And the RIAA will be the first to tell you that MP3's are by far the biggest "piracy" threat represented by the internet. Preventing digital output will only be a minor impediment to copying, while the inability to use digital interconnects is a major blow to functionality.

        • Because it is a PITA to do analog recordings right. Getting good S/N and low distortion is a lot harder than it sounds, requires good equipment, and the knowledge to operate it.

          • Re:DRM? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by edhall ( 10025 )

            It's a PITA once, for one person. Then everyone else uses the same setup, since they have the exact same card. I agree that there are a lot of variables involved in analog recording, and a lot of complex decisions to be made; a good recording engineer is as much artist as engineer. But virtually none of those variables exist in a simple analog out -> analog in loop. Once properly adjusted, full-scale on the D/A will result in full scale on the A/D -- maximum safe S/N, no clipping, and so on.


        • Re:DRM? (Score:3, Informative)

          by seaan ( 184422 )
          This has always puzzled me: why is there such an obsession with preventing bit-for-bit copies?

          The real secret -- the digital piracy threat plays great in Washington. At this point, and for quite a while in the future the threat is just a myth. It was certainly true when the first anti-digital law was passed in 1992 (Digital Home Recording Act), and Napster did not change anything.

          The threat than, and now, is low quality copies. Back then it was kids with $50 dubbing-cassette boomboxes, now its 128-bit
  • All I can say is cool and hope that it will have Linux support, either from Creative of by Linux kernel developers. ;)
    • Works in linux (Score:2, Informative)

      by bigskinnee ( 155373 )
      Works for me. I have this card in my box running Debian (sid) and it works fine with the CVS version of the http://sourceforge.net/projects/emu10k1 driver.

      Granted I dont use midi digital out or any of the fancy stuff right now but the I get sound from the line out and the headphones (from the live drive) and the fire wire port on the live drive works as well.
  • Well, the Audigy 2 (that I pulled from a Dell at work) didn't work properly with SuSE 8.1 or Mandrake 9.1RC2 new installs so I yanked it in favor of my onboard AC'97 sound. Frankly, a sound card is a sound card. If I want high fidelity, the audigy 2 isn't the answer IMHO.
  • SB16 (Score:5, Funny)

    by crumbz ( 41803 ) <<remove_spam>jus ... spam>gmail...com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:30PM (#5530914) Homepage
    Man, I remember putting a SB16 into my 486 dx2 just to play doom. Same reason I installed a NIC into it for the first time too. Head to head on a couple 486 boxen. No audigy for me, I got my $200 odd bucks saved for a 100GB drive.....

    • Re:SB16 (Score:2, Funny)

      by Malc ( 1751 )
      Probably had to remove the CDROM drive or hard drive, or knock a whole in the front of the case too. Those cards were big!
    • I did the same thing for Doom and Xwing.... Then I added a WaveBlaster daughterboard and the music was much better.
    • Re:SB16 (Score:3, Funny)

      by Powercntrl ( 458442 )
      Man, I remember putting a SB16 into my 486 dx2 just to play doom.

      Am I the only one that thinks the SB16 wasn't such a bad card? I don't mean the late-model single-chip crap ones, I mean the old first generation big ass ISA cards with the Creative/Panasonic (or SCSI if you were lucky) interface on them! I mean they have pretty decent audio quality, an actual 4 watt amplifier so you could use a cheap $10 pair of unamplifed speakers, or plug in your headphones and blast your brains around in your head. Th
  • AWE 32 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by msaulters ( 130992 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:34PM (#5530952) Homepage
    AWE 32 was the last big worthwhile 'innovation' in sound cards. I'm still using mine all these years later, and it's all I've ever needed. It's a real wonder sound cards are even around these days. Seems to me all the circuitry should be in the speakers, with audio delivered over USB. Reduce noise inherent inside the PC case, and you only have to pay once for some nice, expensive speakers (which you need, anyway). My days of paying $200 or more for a sound card ended somewhere back around 1993-1995. It's just not worth it to me to spend that kind of cash, when you still have to add the cost of speakers on top of it to see the performance boost.
    • Re:AWE 32 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chmarr ( 18662 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:37PM (#5530978)
      Hardly innovative. The Gravis Ultrasound was doing all of that long before the AWE32 hit the market.

      • Re:AWE 32 (Score:5, Informative)

        by msaulters ( 130992 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:45PM (#5531048) Homepage
        Good Point. Only reasons I'm not still using my old GUS:
        1) it was ISA
        2) driver compatibility issues
        3) was not full-duplex, inasmuch as I can recall.
        Like it or not, the AWE32 became the standard, and that's why I still use it today. Everything's backward-compatible with it.
        • Re:AWE 32 (Score:2, Informative)

          by Warphammer ( 610896 )
          Actually, IIRC the GUS was the first full-duplex capable card, it's just that noone really used it back then. You also had to set it up "split", so that the input and output sides took seperate DMA channels, a pain if you were resource-constrained.
    • Re:AWE 32 (Score:4, Informative)

      by RebelWebmaster ( 628941 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:41PM (#5531014)
      While I understand what you're trying to get at, USB is far from an ideal solution. First off, USB speakers have indeed been created (Microsoft had some), but the problem is the inherant issues with USB itself. High resource usage, bandwidth usage with multiple devices on the same bus, etc...

      The closest you're going to get to what you're talking about is a solution like the nVidia SoundStorm with realtime DD5.1 encoding. You could output that digital signal over standard coax or optical SPDIF to a receiver to do the sound processing. Of course, at that point you're spending more money than Joe Blow consumer probably wants to spend ;-)
    • Yup. I've been using my AWE32 for 7 years or so. I hope to get good drivers for it any day now.
    • Re:AWE 32 (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dalroth ( 85450 )
      I've got a USB sound card. It's called the Soundblaster Extigy and it's a piece of crap. It skips, pops, and whirs all the time while playing audio. It does the same thing while RECORDING audio, and what really sucks is it does the same thing while playing back that audio so you get double the pops, whistles, cracks and whirs.

      Windows XP system, fresh install, updated drivers for everything.

      No, USB sound cards are definitely *NOT* the way to go and once again have me questioning why I should ever buy a
    • You could have the nicest speakers in the world, but it wouldn't mean much in terms of sound quality. The Signal-to-Noise ratio of most commercial sound cards are pure crap. I owned an AWE32 for years, but it had a very audible hiss (especially at high volume).

      It's like staring at a computer monitor with its refresh rate at 50 hz. Gets very uncomfortable after a while.
    • Re:AWE 32 (Score:2, Informative)

      by truenoir ( 604083 )
      Well, a few things occur to me.

      First, I dunno if this was a driver limitation or what, but I seem to remember decent restrictions on multiple sound streams. As in, I would be playing an MP3 and so ICQ couldn't make sounds. This was with a ISA AWE64 Value in NT 4 anyway. Once I went to a PCI sound card ($17 OEM Yamaha card) I could have plenty of simultaneous audio. I think this was a restriction of the drivers and/or ISA bus more than the chip though.

      The Live and the Audigy that I've had after that have,
    • AWE 32 was the last big worthwhile 'innovation' in sound cards.

      While it's not an innovation unique to sound cards, multi-channel audio is pretty cool. NASCAR Racing with four-speaker surround is hellah immersive.

  • Audigy 2 review the title shouts! I thought hurrah, a review of some sort of special edition on that will be completly out of budget but makes an interesting review. But alas, it is a review of a card that has been avaliable for months. Slow news day?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:35PM (#5530966)
    ...it'll be about 4 years until they get the drivers right.
  • by Indy1 ( 99447 ) <spamtrap@fuckedregime.com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:35PM (#5530968) Homepage
    after the sb live fiasco a few years ago, i think anyone who uses creative is nuts. There are much better alternatives, such as the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, or Hercules Game Threater or Fortissmo III.
    • It's only recently that CL has been able to put out drivers for the original Audigy that don't do odd things. Their card quality also leaves something to be desired; go look through the newsgroups and you'll see what I mean. I even had to send mine back to the factory for a BIOS refresh because something got corrupted; they had the card for two weeks. Bleh.
    • I think you mean "*Windows* drivers for Creative cards still stuck".
  • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:36PM (#5530970) Journal
    Ok, consider first that I'm not a hardcore audiophile, and neither are most.

    Once I got positional audio by way of the Live! series, what motivation is left to upgrade?

    I mean I get positional audio and EAX in my games, I get surround sound in my movies. I rip/encode/playback my MP3s. I dont lose CPU time to the audio system, or deal with the setup hell that existed back in the ISA cards era. My PC isnt a media jukebox or lined through a $10,000 stereo, just a 4 way speaker set.

    Why would anyone upgrade past Live, if they weren't an audiophile demanding the very latest (and even then, why would they? Most true audio geeks I know run 10 year old equipment).

    I mean what breakthrough technologies have been developed? Two more speaker channels?

    It's not like video cards. When Doom 3 comes out, and doesnt run on my computer, I can guarantee it will be because of the old Radeon card, not my SB Live.

    So, really, what's been added to these things? Are there any good arguments to upgrade?
    • That is quite a question to put to the Creative folks. I wondered that for a while too.

      I bought the SB Live! 5.1 X-Gamer and aside from the nasty Via 686b southbridge problems (solved by upgrading to different mobo) I have no intention to ever upgrade my sound card. That is until mobos don't come with 32bit PCI buses.

      I thank creative for their work, but until new sound reproduction hardware is needed (vastly new speaker technology)... why bother? I'd rather put the $$$ in to RAID controllers, CPUs, or
    • by petsounds ( 593538 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:24PM (#5531363)
      Most true audio geeks would never use a SB Live in the first place, that's why. The Audigy2 is the first consumer card to do true 24/96 resolution for input/output, all the way through the audio path. The Audigy1 *claimed* 24/96, but the internal DACs were still 16-bit so having 24-bit outputs was useless. For comparision, it's the difference between the sound quality of a CD (16-bit) and the sound quality of a DVD-Audio disc (24-bit). It's a quality difference that won't "blow you away" and you may not even notice the difference unless you have a good pair of speakers/headphones or your ears are "trained" to pick up minor quality changes, but if you are someone who enjoys good audio fidelity, it's a great option for a consumer who is a bit of an audiophile, but also plays games so a pro-level card is not an option.

      If memory serves, I believe that the Audigy2 onboard processing is also far more powerful than the SB Live, so that enabling Creative's 3D positional effects in games won't be a resource drag on your system, and it supports Creative's newest advances in those kinds of effects (which may or may not float your boat).

      Personally, I think audio in games is vastly underrated, by both gamers and developers. Good audio is just as important in games as it is in movies. But I think a lot of people don't want to buy a separate speaker system for their computer, either because they already invested a lot in their home theatre system, or they don't want to seem like a "geek" by shelling out for one of the 5.1 computer speaker setups just to play games. I think console games will really start to overcome this, because the console is already hooked into the home theatre system. For instance, DTS just released an SDK to help developers put DTS into their PS2 games.

      But I digress. It doesn't sound like the Audigy2 is something you *need*, but it might make for a more enjoyable experience in Doom 3 because of the increased fidelity and effects processing since you indicated you already had a surround system hooked up to your box.
      • If you were truly gonna invest in a high bandwidth digital soundsystem, shouldn't the system be doing something like *firewire* sound?

        That way you can do pure digital (and no noise) from source (CD or DVD or whatnot) to the speaker (2, 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 6.1, etc) system?

        And when you phrase it that way, doesn't that immediately mean the sound card becomes irrelevant, unless it transforms into the equivalent of a video card, and does digital mixing, resampling, effects, and transforms, while it's left to the s
      • I agree that sound in games is vastly underated. Part of the problem is that "computer speakers" are garbage. Even the high end "500watts" 5.1 systems are not worth listening too. This limits the usefullness of consumer 24/96 audio.
    • You could upgrade to the Turtle Beach [turtlebeach.com] Santa Cruz [turtle-beach.com] card.

      IMO, Sensaura [sensaura.com]'s 3D positional audio is vastly superior to the Creative stuff and makes a huge difference with first person games. Really good drivers as well.

      And for the price, there's simply no comparison whatsoever.

    • Bus Mastering (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msobkow ( 48369 )

      The Audigy and Audigy 2 are full bus-mastering PCI cards, while the SBLive was not. The result is that many 2-3 year old VIA chipset mobos have problems with output crackling (and other distortions) when using an SBLive on a busy system. (Other chipsets have the issue as well, it's just impossible to ignore with certain VIA chipsets.)

      Aside from bus mastering, the Audigy 2 Platinum can actually accept the SPDIF feeds under Win2K/XP, while the SBLive software didn't, doesn't, and will likely never work w

  • I had read somewhere (perhaps thinksecret.com) that mac os x 10.2.4 would have audigy 2 drivers built in. Can anyone verify this?
  • I hope (Score:3, Informative)

    by fredrikj ( 629833 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:36PM (#5530975) Homepage
    I hope that their drivers are better this time around than with the first Audigy. Or at least, that their tech support has gotten better.

    Can you believe it, when I asked them for a fix to a bug that prevented me from loading soundfont files with my brand new Audigy, the answer was that there "was no such bug"?

    It took weeks before I accidentally stumbled upon a solution in a forum somewhere.
  • I love the Audigy Ex (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tmark ( 230091 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:37PM (#5530983)
    I bought the Audigy Ex (the first one) a few months ago. The Audigy 2 had just come out, but besides the fact that I got a great deal on mine, the external version had still not been released.

    I didn't really care about the sound features that much, so I don't know it stacks up in that department, but what I was really interested in was being able to move all my cables from the back of my PC to my desktop. It drove me absolutely batty having to adjust the headphone volume by either reaching around to the back of the PC, or by running the mixer app. And it drove me crazy having to crawl under my desk to plug/unplug my headphones. Now I can plug in and adjust the volume with barely a reach.

    I do wish that there was a master volume control on the panel, though, and I also wish that the damn cables attaching the external panel to the back of the PC wasn't so rigid - makes it really hard to position things. I understand that the Audigy 2 fixes at least the latter problem; I can't tell about the former because there doesn't seem to be specs on the Audigy2 Ex on the creative website.

    The final wish on my list would be for them to have put a USB hub in the unit...oh well...

  • It's heartening to see that Creative has taken some steps to remedy their past sins;
    the Soundblaster series has always been just shy of being worthy of serious attention
    from those who need their PCs to do more than play games.

    The Audigy, while still not the Holy Grail (affordable, production-quality soundcard),
    is head and shoulders above previous offerings.

    • Re:Progress (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You've obviously never used my favorite sound reproduction system.

      I call it PC Speaker.

      Get down with the boops and the beeps, yeah!!
    • Re:Progress (Score:2, Interesting)

      by zenst ( 558964 )
      Whilst its not just there yet on the studio production level with its internal DAC's would it not be most effective as such with its digital out and a comercial DAC! Lets face it if your realy realy serious about recordings then you would do everything digitaly and then when you need that lovely analogue sound then just use the digital output's that have been around since day 1 of the live series and an external DAC. Most hifi shops sell such audiophile components and combined with a nice soundcard and la
  • Audio cards (Score:5, Informative)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:42PM (#5531023) Homepage Journal
    Mackie [mackie.com], Alesis [alesis.com], M-audio [m-audio.com], Roland [roland.com], and MOTU [motu.com] (among others) also make professional audio interface equipment for recording and monitoring/listening.

    There are a couple of Creative-licensed OEM products (Some of the Alesis stuff looks awfully familiar...) but most of these companies provide far better hardware and software for "real" sound applications. A nice audio interface w/ a pair of active studio monitors will sound worlds better than some cheap consumer surround sound system. The prices are pretty much comparable with Creative's "good" stuff.
    • Re:Audio cards (Score:4, Interesting)

      by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoiNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:57PM (#5531130) Journal
      I must add Aardvark [aardvarkaudio.com] to your list; I own the q10, and it is swell! Built better than Protools (digi001) stuff, and sounds great.

      The Mbox from Digidesign [digidesign.com] is pretty nice too, altho Win/mac only. All do 24/96 without breaking a sweat.

    • Re:Audio cards (Score:4, Informative)

      by afidel ( 530433 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:41PM (#5531495)
      Consider that the Korg Tritan, possibly the best workstation ever, is based on the EMU 10K chip which is the heart of the Audigy I don't think that CL makes substandard equipment. I love the fact that my $40 Audigy OEM has ASIO drivers that allow me to get latency that is lower than many of the professional cards in apps like Cubase and Reason. Plus monitors suck compared to a good pair of refrence headphones, I personally use super-aureal Senheisers, cost me only $70 and sound better than any pair of speakers I have heard other than $10K super audiophile stuff.
  • ctfmon.exe?? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Malc ( 1751 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:43PM (#5531032)
    Have they fixed their drivers so that they no longer have a file called ctfmon.exe? My SBLive! Value drivers have this and it clashes with something by the same name from Office XP. It causes me no end of grief. Creative Labs will never issue new drivers for my card to fix. Just one of a long line of complaints I have about their poor quality software, and shitty support like with the DXR3. Stick with whatever drivers comes with your OS, or use a product from another company.
  • Not so hot (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:44PM (#5531037)
    There is talk on the web that the Audigy 2 has a hole in its bass response. Sorry I'm too lazy to hunt down a link.

    Interested parties, especially home-theater people, should look at stuff based on the VIA EnvyHT chip which does 7.1 and typically has better SNR and lower THD than the Audigy 2, and in some benchmarks has shown to be less cpu intensive for gaming (i.e. higher frame rates with the EnvyHT cards) than the Audigy 2, although it ostensibly does not have as much hardware acceleration for 3D positional audio.

    One such card, with *EXCELLENT* bass management is the M-Audio Revolution. See the card [digitalconnection.com] at one reseller.

  • I got the Audigy1 with all the bells and whistles, aiming to venture into the world of electronic music, sound capture, Dolby surround EAX gaming sounds etc.

    All I ever did was the games.

    It's really nice, but overkill - buy the budget version unless you intend to use the card to it's full potential.

    If you have an Audigy already, there's little reason to upgrade.
  • Still not there. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoiNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:44PM (#5531045) Journal
    The problem with the original Audigy was its misleading claim of 24 bit recording and playback. It *seems* that the abillity is now there, but hard to get. Defaults sound like upsampling is still being used. Of course, I like the sound quality of talking out of my ass...
  • 2496? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmnic ( 452122 )
    until it can do TRUE 24bit 96kHz operation(input/output) it will never be nothing more than gaming card.

    dont know about this iteration of Audigy, but the Live Platinum, Audigy and Extigy would automaticlly resample whatever signal was thrown at it to 16/44.1, evenif the original signal was allready 16/44.1.
    needless to say, this resulted in non Bit-perfect digital transfers(from DAT, CD, etc to HardDisc and vice-versa).

    I'll stick with my M-Audio Audiophile 2496 for $130 thank you very much
  • I wonder how much the person gets paid who comes up with funky product names like "Audigy"? What exactly is it, Audio+Prodigy=Audigy??
    • There was a story on Slashdot about "naming consultants" many many moons ago. They are the people who came up with all those dot-com era company names like "Agilent", "Accenture", and all those other stupid names by basically scouring the dictionary and inventing a new word out of two existing ones. And I think the fee was something like $50k per name.

      I'm sure most of the people who went into that line of work are now living under a freeway overpass in a cardboard box.

  • by wayward_son ( 146338 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:50PM (#5531084)
    I still like my old SB Live! Value. Good clear sound. Does well with games and mp3's. Of course, I'm not exactly an audiophile either.

    For most (90%) of people, a good set of speakers is a much wiser investment in sound quality than a good sound card. On a cheap set of speakers, an SB Audigy, SB Live!, the AC97 that came with your mobo, and even a 10 year old SB16 don't sound terribly different. Only good speakers can truly take advantage of a good sound card.

  • by SmirkingRevenge ( 633503 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:51PM (#5531096)
    Tom's Hardware Review [tomshardware.com] I own one and the problem I have with it is its ASIO access (for low latency with midi devices) isn't very fast, which makes it worthless as a synth.
  • by seigniory ( 89942 ) <bigfriggin AT me DOT com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @03:59PM (#5531137)
    I bought one of these when they first came out - without a doubt there's no better card out there for the money. However, Creative's still got e VERY annoying software set that may or may not really piss you off... consider:

    1. The software on the Creative website (soundblaster.com) are only updates. You CANNOT download full applications or drivers (that only work if you have the card, mind you). So if you lose your original install CD, you're hosed unless you poly up the $25 they want for a new CD

    2. The software that gets installed (the mixer, EAX control panels, speaker calibrators, etc.) is a) a HUGE memory hog (we're taling > 92MB on XP Pro with all the bells & whistles loaded) and b) slow, because they chose not to use the standard Windows toolbox to build it. All kinds of unnecessary stuff is in there - transparent drop downs (like OS X), etc...

    3. If you install the full software suite - it's ALWAYS there... at one point or another, every 10 minutes you'll be reminded of the fact that you have a CREATIVE card in your rig... and that stupid splash screen at every startup / login is one of the most annoying things... if you can find out how to shut it off the first time in less than 15 minutes of searching, I'll give you a cookie. Chocolate chip, even.

    As always, this is My $0.02, so YMMV. Me? I get around this by installing the drivers only and the individual apps as necessary (which is rare since most of their offerings have better share/freeware counterparts).
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Run msconfig, look in your startup list. There is the creative taskbar that I disable as well as the splash screen. Leave the CSTray.exe as this allows easy access to the settings of the card. Reboot.

      No more splash screen or taskbar. Makes using the Audigy a lot nicer.

    • There is a way to do a full install using the update versions of the driver.

      You can find it here [tweaktown.com].

      I managed to do it another way as well, but can't remember offhand. My disk was missing from my collection of driver disks when I got the OEM card, but the dealer had extras kicking around. It doesn't hurt to ask for them :)

      And as the parent says, full install SUCKS! Go with only what you need.
    • The software on the Creative website (soundblaster.com) are only updates. You CANNOT download full applications or drivers (that only work if you have the card, mind you). So if you lose your original install CD, you're hosed unless you poly up the $25 they want for a new CD

      I don't believe people are making clones, so I can't figure out why they'd have any justification to do this. I mean, so someone downloads the damn driver. Do they really think that that person *doesn't* have the card? Or is it just
  • I really do not understand the logic of Creative Labs. Why can't they offer up-to-date driver support for these other operating systems? Sure, they (Creative) are one of the featured Microsoft partners on *the Beast's* video ipod, but Nvidia makes the majority of the chips in the Xbox yet their relationship with MS doesn't hamper their ability to offer drivers for Linux, OS X, BSD, etc. Maybe they are just lazy. For all the talk about Linux adoption in Asia, Creative Labs sure is missing the boat, and t
  • by CommieBozo ( 617132 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:02PM (#5531160) Journal
    What does this give me that my on-board sound does not? My on-board sound seems to work pretty well, meaning it plays MP3s about as well as anything else.

    Maybe if I wanted to watch DVD's on a 21" screen or have my computer in the living room I would want a card that does all of that fancy digital output.

    For my needs the on-board sound does what I want to do, which is play MP3s in the background and let me hear Serious Sam blow things up.

    For everything else, my regular home theater system works just fine.

    • I'm with you, komrad. I don't understand how this is front-page material.
    • There are three problems with onboard sound.

      1. Poor sound quality

      2. Poor driver support under Linux

      3. Lack of support for playing more than one wav file at a time in hardware

      I could probably live with 1 and fix 2, but 3 makes it a no go. arts, esd, etc all do a really Bad job of trying to do sound mixing in hardware. Here is a list of situtations where lack of mixing is a problem.

      I have SB Live cards in both my computers for this reason. Live cards aren't even that expensive these days. I bought my sec
  • by teg ( 97890 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:03PM (#5531165) Homepage
    It's a great card, but I've had it for months already - and it wasn't just released when I bought it either.

    A couple of linux notes:

    * support was added in early January in the opensource driver [creative.com]
    * the newest beta of Red Hat Linux supports the card out of the box.
  • DVD-Audio (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mooset ( 9986 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:08PM (#5531211)
    It seems this needs to be cleared up for the ignorant reactionaries in the audience...

    The DVD-Audio protection does NOT cripple the Audigy 2 when compared to other sound cards because the Audigy 2 is the only card that supports DVD-Audio at all! DVD-Audio is not the same thing as audio channels on DVD playback which DO work through the Audigy 2's digital outputs.

    The only time digital output is disabled is when DVD-Audio discs are played, but DVD-Audio is such a niche format right now that it isn't likely to seriously affect anyone.
  • Has anyone had any success using non-SB sound cards in Linux? Specifically, are there any alternatives better than SB in quality and features?

    Of course, if they're aren't any, then that must be why SB is got a nice chunk of the market.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:11PM (#5531244)
    Creative's days of better-stronger-faster are numbered.

    Intel can't get away with it any more than Creative can, I believe, and it won't be long before Creative will have to start advertising real features consumers want, rather than how many speakers the card powers, or how man kHz sampling it's capable of. Noone who is not doing professional audio work NEEDS anything better than 44 kHz. Screech if you want, but who can tell the difference?

    Eventually, how high the sampling number is for a sound card is going to cease to be meaningful, if it hasn't already. As it is, I find the Soundblaster Live has TOO MANY features for my needs, which involve good stereo sound, and the ability to capture CD audio, and play it back.

    Now, seriously. Are we falling into the trap of just upgrading sound cards for the sake of doing it, because that's what people 'do' with PCs? Unless you're putting in a Dolby 5.1 system, for heavens sakes, for your computer, I just can't see the point here.

    Unless you like DRM protected audio.
  • Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:12PM (#5531257) Homepage
    Does anybody else find it quite interesting that julio@techspot.com is submitting a review from Techspot.com? And getting it through?

    A review that looks like this:

    • The (click for page 2)
    • Audigy2 (click for page 3)
    • soundcard (click for page 4)
    • is (click for page 5)
    • really (click for page 6)
    • cool (click for page 7)
    • . (click for page 8)
    • ...
    And has more ads per square inch than most pr0n sites?

    No? Oh, look! A black helicopter!!

  • A few years ago hardly any motherboards came with integrated sound and those that did were of poor quality so if you were a gamer or someone who was casually in to music you had to buy a card from creative or somebody else.

    Today, most motherboards come with integrated sound and most of the newer ones come with digital outs and 5.1 compatible chips. Why would anyone purchase an Audidgy 2? If your an audiophile, you know better than to touch a creative product especially after the crappy digital IO on the L

  • Why bother? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cruc ( 599914 )
    Bloated software, annoying DRM and uber-annoying splashscreens, all for the priviledge to be offerred another soundcard to end all soundcards a year later-all Creative soundcard trademarks since the Live! My new NForce2 board with built-in Dolby Digital (Nforce APU) really does sound better than my Audigy did, uses less resources, has no compatability/performance issues with DirectX and with no card, blocks less circulatory air.
  • To my knowledge, all Creative sound cards incl. Live and Audigy just all other consumer sound cards on the market use an internal sampling frequency of 48 KHz (DAT standard) and have to resample their output for CD-standard 44.1 KHz output. This is why audio professionals use much more expensive sound cards like the RME Hammerfall even when they only need analog stereo output.

    Do new consumer cards solve this problem, or do they layer up useless extra features?

  • by IcerLeaf ( 586564 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:19PM (#5531321)
    I held out for the A2 Platinum Ex like a good little audiophile, and I am very happy with it in most areas. I do some home recording with some pretty decent instruments, so I wanted to make sure I could do 24/96 recording through S/PDIF. So far so good. I couldn't justify getting a real pro recording sound card, since I still use my computer for gaming and such. A2 Platinum Ex was my "good recording/good gaming" compromise, and it is less expensive than a true musician's card.

    Good speakers can be a mixed blessing. They make a good signal sound great, but they also make a mediocre signal sound awful. I had Logitech's THX 4.1 system hooked up to the motherboard's AC-97 before I got the A2. It took me weeks to get the EQ to sound good. The A2, out of the box with no EQ tweaks, blew away my highly tweaked AC-97 sound. I was so happy! The signals, especially on the low end, are much cleaner than the AC-97. Bass lines that used to be way too boomy are now clean and crisp, yet still powerful.

    The audio inputs are the A2's greatest improvement over a stock card. With AC-97, things I recorded rarely sounded the same on playback. A2 is simply excellent in this respect. I am able to get a mix that sounds virtually indistinguishable from some professionally recorded cd's. It's not 100% perfect, but what do you expect out of a consumer-grade card and an inexperienced recording engineer? :-)

    The one kicker is that Linux support is virtually non-existant. *grr* I haven't been able to get one peep out of it in RedHat 8 (flame away), and I refuse to pay $40 for a third party driver. So much for pathos.

    Bottom line: Audiophiles, aspiring musicians, home theater buffs, this card is for you. You will need good speakers to make the most of your experience, so beware. We're talking about a very pricey upgrade. But if you appreciate great sound, I promise you will not be disappointed.

    Most folks, however, will be better served by the stock AC-97 and its plentiful support for both Windows and Linux.


  • My question is does this board, or ANY SOUND CARD work in a 64bit/ 66mhz / 3.3 volt pci slot like the one that the intel SCB2 "server" boards have. I have not been able to get a clear answer from either creative nor intel... and the last non-compatible card I tried in one of the boxes fried the power supply [yes; repeatable]...

  • by Nonillion ( 266505 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @04:43PM (#5531512)
    While I'm sure this is a nice card I have really no need for 24 bit audio in the computer shack. Furthermore, I have some concers reguarding DRM.

    1. Have the MPAA/RIAA forced DRM into the DAC on this card?

    2. What about CPU resources, is this card totally stupid and require the CPU to hold its hand in the D/A A/D process? Or is it smart enough to do this on its own.

    3. How is support under Linux? I'd hate to plunk down my hard earned cash only to find that it only works under Windows.

    4. Is it really worth it to justify replacing my perfectly functioning Sound Blaster Live! card I currently use?

    Unless I can think of a reason to use 24 bit 96 KHz audio (other than home theater) I'll just stick with what I have..

    yes > /dev/mem
  • I heard a lot of problem and limited support for this card on http://opensource.creative.com/'s Web site and forum.
  • Just a couple of weeks ago, I picked up an Audigy 2 at Best Buy. 10 days later I returned it and picked up a new burner and some RAM.


    I have had two problems with Creative's cards. The first one, and most annoying for me, is that they lock up. I don't know if this is a hardware or driver issue, but I've experienced this with an AWE-32, PCI-128, and most recently the Audigy. All three were completely different computers and operating systems (P-166, Win95; AMD 233, Win98; PIII-800, Win2k).

    When I brough
  • 24-Bit/96-kHz/192kHz

    This is provably useless to anyone who has done any basic signal theory.

    • 24 bit gives a SNR of 144dB. How many people have mikes and/or baffles with such a quality ? 24bit is useless unless maybe for processing, in order not to lose significant digits, but that should be in pure software. Case dismissed.
    • Your ears filter out anything above 20kHz. Make it 24 kHz for the so called golden ears. Therefore according to nyquist anything above 48 kHz is useless. Case dismissed
    • .


  • by lanner ( 107308 ) on Monday March 17, 2003 @08:41PM (#5533378)

    I bought a SoundBlaster Audigy card the last time that I upgraded my computer. I thought that Creative would have learned the lessons from making the SB 64, 128, and Live! cards, but no. My SoundBlaster Audigy makes a huge pop sound whenever the system is powered on or off. The sound also sometimes goes away while playing certain games. The AWE 32 Gold really was the last great Creative sound card -- trust those other posters who say so, they know it.

    If it was not for the fact that Aureal went out of business. and driver support under Windows 2000 and XP was so poor (or at least was the last time I knew), I would have never stopped using the Diamond MX300 Audigy 2 chipset based cards that I have. I even use one of the two cards that I have on my GNU/Linux desktop, which gives fantastic sound!

    As a systems administrator who is often purchasing hardware, Creative as a company does a really poor job. The driver nightmare is the worst. You find one of their cards, it has a model number on it, and the Creative website fails to list it -- it is like they don't support it. Sometimes you can find the product by name, but finding the drivers that you need on their website is a terrible. Just figuring out what product you have based upon their model numbers is a real challenge.

    Creative sound cards are heavy on the marketing. What the hell can the justification for a consumer, NOT professional (Ask a pro, they will tell you, Creative = bad) sound card that costs over $80 be?

    Creative is a really good example of a company marketing strategy though. They have really managed to build a demand for a product. It is like printing money, once you convince people that your product is worth more than it really is for the sake of status or whatever the reason is that people continue to buy Creative sound cards.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller