A Prima Donna on PC: Creative Labs Audigy 2

Audigy 2: My Captain, My King!

With its four analog outputs and its drivers, the Audigy 2 can decode DVD sound tracks encoded in Dolby Digital EX. You need a DVD playback software like Power DVD Pro or Win DVD. It is not needed to get the multichannel version of your DVD playback software as the Audigy 2 drivers will perform the decoding job themselves. If you have a stereo or a 5.1/6.1 version the setting is the same: just switch the audio configuration to "S/PDIF Out". By the way, it's a pity Creative Labs still does not provide the relevant software with its cards.

The card was tested subjectively with DVDs encoded in Dolby Digital EX, like Star Wars Episode One: Phantom Menace and Lord of the Rings, and with DVDs encoded in Dolby Digital, like Alien Resurrection and Saving Private Ryan. There is nothing in particular to say about decoding itself - the job was done brilliantly and came very close to the quality and clear positioning results of a dedicated decoder. The advantage of 6.1 over 5.1 is patent - the center surround speaker bathes you in sound much better. An appreciable point is that music and background noise are on these speakers, and so free up the main surround channels for sound effects. However, the gain in the sound effects themselves is negligible because 90% of them are still on the standard 5.1 channels. They are hardly to be heard on the center surround channels.

As we already said, a system that can decode sound in 6.1 or 7.1 is also good for playing DVDs encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1. Positioning is not as good as with EX sound tracks, but still effective. The surround sounds are spread over the three speakers so listeners are more fully bathed in sound. This should be avoided in some movies, however, because it reduces the force of the sound effects.

Test Configuration And Methods

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AMD Athlon 1800 XP - 256 Mo PC2100
MSI KT7 Master
Enceintes Megaworks 510D - 210D - Inspire 6700 - Logitech Z680
DVD-ROM Toshiba SM1302
ATI Radeon 64 Mo DDR
Drivers & Software
DirectX 8.1a
Windows XP Pro

The Audigy 2 sound card was tested objectively and subjectively. The following software and DVDs were used:

  • Right Mark Audio Analyser 4.2
  • Audio Winbench
  • Dungeon Siege
  • DVD Test Platinum Series
  • DVDs encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 and EX
  • Windows Media 9
  • Win DVD 4.0
  • Power DVD Pro EX
  • Creative Media Source