hey there, I'm just upgrading my PC and I'm currently trying to pick a soundcard but can't seem to choose. They are either too fully packed for my liking (I dont really need 7.1 sound since I dont have the room for lots of speakers so ill be sticking with my current 2 speaker setup) or they run mostly off the processor so theres a big performance hit on the system. For this reason I was wondering if anyone coudl recommend a particular soundcard. I was thinking either the Hercules Digifire 7.1 of the Audigy 2 LS or maybe if I can stretch to it an Audigy 2 ZS but this is rather expensive for something withe features I dont need. Many thanks in advance
OK, so you only need two speakers and you just want to lighten the load off your processor. You will be better off with any PCI soundcard solution, LOL! The cards you chose are worth a look if you do plan to step up to surround sound when you have the funds/space (which you clearly stated you wont be) and its ludacris that you are going to by these cards only to connect it to stereo speakers. That's like buying a ferrari and only driving around country lanes and not going any faster than 30mph! LOL! Nevertheless I'll give you a breakdown of each card you have chosen, and then I'll give you my response. Sorry to rant! :-)
Hercules Digifire 7.1 is a decent card which give you some multi channel DVD software, and you also get three firewire ports included. Do you plan to do video editing or plan to fill these three firewire points? If so this is the deciding factor in favor of this card. Also when you manage to get 7.1 speakers plugged into this card ready for watching Dolby Digital EX encoded movies, you will be able to receive DD EX 7.1 encoded movies out of the box as the DVD software is already included. That could be another factor in favour of the digifire card. Music will be OK on this card and many standards of games will be supported.
Creative Audigy 2 LS from the outside looks like a resdesigned SB Live Digital. It supports 5.1 speakers only but it has support for EAX Advanced HD (the latest game surround sound standard) and music will also sound great on this card. DVDs will also be superb quality but no DVD software is included
Audigy 2 ZS is the successor to the original Audigy 2 6.1 which is what I own and that card has been given superb reviews. It has all the features of the LS but it has support for 7.1 and the sound quality is a lot higher, plus it has the ability to decode DD EX 7.1 and DTS ES using hardware! However you will need DVD software which can be obtained from many file sharing services, ;-) LOL! This card would be overkill for someone like you using 2 speakers and you'll only benefit form the ZS if you are going to use the latest EAX standard. Also as a bonus, you get one firewire port included.
If you are planning to use 7.1 speakers, the Audigy 2 ZS will serve you perfectly, with a firewire port to spare, although buying this card would be a bit like using a steam roller to shell a walnut. Not to mention the features are not exactly cheap. For your setup the Audigy 2 LS will be fine and itll serve you pretty well. Whilst Hercules is worth considering, I prefer to go for Creative as they are the market leaders in consumer soundcards and with a Creative Soundcard in your machine, you can be guaranteed full compatiblity with all the standards to come.
PC Spec: AMD Athlon XP 2000+ running at 1.25ghz, ECS K7S5A Motherboard, 768MB SDRAM PC133, Sparkle nVidia Riva TNT2 M64 32MB AGP Graphics Card, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 6.1, Windows Me