A Prima Donna on PC: Creative Labs Audigy 2

EAX Advanced HD And 6.1 Sound In Games

Like the Audigy 1, the Audigy 2 is compatible with the DirectSound 3D, EAX 1.0, 2.0 and EAX Advanced HD 3D sound standards. The chip can manage up to four environments at the same time on 32 channels. It can also handle sources with different sampling rates, and, on top of that, can add a sound track encoded in Dolby Digital for things like background sound. Note the Audigy 2 supports up to 64 hardware-managed DS3D voices.

Here, in detail, are the strong points of EAX Advanced HD:

  • Multi Environment: In EAX 1.0 and 2.0, the environment effect depended on a given geometrical zone. But now each sound can have its own separate independent effect. The Audigy can manage and mix four different environments to give a real gain in lifelike results. Suppose you are standing still in a room; a sound of gunfire will be affected by the size of this room and the nature of its walls and floor, whereas the sound of gunfire coming from the next room, say a corridor, will be affected by the nature of that one.
  • Environment Morphing: This is one of the most significant developments in the EAX Advanced HD, formerly known as Dynamic Morphing. In the EAX 2.0, each environment was assigned a given place in a game and there was no mixing in particular when changing from, say, indoors to out. But with Dynamic Morphing, environments can merge in some places or one will dominate in others as the person moves around.
  • Environment Panning: This is a complement to Environment Morphing since it is used to add an environment giving the impression of a place about to come, such as a cellar or tunnel.
  • Environment Reflection: With this effect, sounds are not only transmitted by the source, but also redirected by the environment. Primary reflections and reverberations are controlled the way the Aureal A3D 2.0 did it some years ago.
  • Environment Filtering: Less explicit than the effects described above, Environment Filtering contains a series of data to hone and control the differences in tone between environments.

With regard to games, the most important new feature of the Audigy 2 is that you can play in 6.1 with any DS3D game. The result in GTA 3, Soldier of Fortune II: Double Helix, or Dungeon Siege is certainly convincing with a definite gain in sound immersion for the player. Positioning as such may sometimes be a bit fuzzy, but this is a rare occurrence. Games like Dungeon Siege with a music background gain hugely from the center surround channel. DirectX 9 is going to make 5.1 games the norm, and it is more than likely that 6.1 3D sound managed by EAX will soon be part of games.