A Prima Donna on PC: Creative Labs Audigy 2

Audigy 2: Technical Details

The Audigy 2 architecture is based on the DSP Audigy 2 CA0102. This is a separate version of the Emu10k2 because it includes the following new features:

  • Supports DVD Audio playback: 24 bit/ 96 kHz Advanced Resolution 5.1 and 24 bit/ 192 kHz Stereo;
  • Dolby Digital EX 6.1 decoding;
  • Signal-to-noise ratio of 106 dB in playback;
  • 6.1 sound in Direct Sound 3D games;
  • 32 bit effects engine with real-time effects, mixing and 3D positioning;
  • 64 hardware-managed DS3D voices;
  • Supports DS3D, EAX 1.0, 2.0 and EAX Advanced HD;
  • Supports SB1394;
  • 16/ 24 bit 48/ 96 kHz input and output;
  • 8, 16 and 24 bit recording at 8 kHz, 11.025 kHz, 16 kHz, 22.05 kHz, 24 kHz, 32 kHz, 44.1 kHz, 48 kHz and 96 kHz;
  • ASIO drivers;
  • 2x16-channel MIDI hardware synthesizer;
  • 64 hardware-managed polyphony voices;
  • Windows Media Audio 9 compatibility.

No doubt about it, the Audigy 2 is the most full-featured and versatile card on the market. It will change your PC equipped with a DVD-ROM player into a system complete with hi-fi, Home Cinema decoding, gaming 3D sound platform, digital video acquisition and 24 bit/ 96 kHz Home Studio. In short, a whole range of features to silence the nitpickers who still think that sound is the weakest link in computers. Such an orgy of features could make you think most people will have no use for many of them. True enough, but at least they're there, and it can't be denied that Creative has pulled off the impressive feat of combining them all on a single card managed by a single controller!

Apart from the Audigy 2 DSP, Creative Labs has used some new chips to ensure the card really does support 24 bit/ 96 kHz playback, recording and DVD Audio. The key element in this support is the Cirrus Logic CS4382. This is an eight-channel DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), providing 6.1 and 24 bit/ 192 kHz support for playing DVD Audio. Here are the features of this classy chip:

  • Eight channels;
  • 24 bit conversion;
  • 4 to 192 kHz sampling rate;
  • Dynamic Range of 114 dB;
  • Total Harmonic Distortion -100 dB;
  • PCM and DSD format support;
  • Volume control in steps of 1 dB (transition without clicks);
  • Simultaneous support of two synchronous sampling rates.

When Creative decides to go for 24 bit sound, they don't do it by halves. The CS4382 enables the Audigy 2 to support 24 bit/ 192 kHz playback and even reproduce sound on eight channels (5.1 for DVD Audio). And CS4382 is also compatible with the Direct Stream Digital (DSD) technology used for SACD encoding.

Another component not found on the Audigy 1 is the Sigmatel STAC9721. This is an AC97 codec designed on the whole for internal inputs since it is limited to a maximum sampling rate of 48 kHz. So, it acts as an internal DAC and uses delta sigma technology, the most usual for digital-to-analog conversion. Its signal-to-noise ratio is given as 95 dB, and the chip has a DAC and an ADC (Analog-to-Digital Converter) with the following analog inputs and outputs: four stereo inputs, two mono inputs, two stereo outputs and one mono output.