Big Sound, Low Price: Creative Audigy

Creative, A Pioneer Always In The Race

Creative's Soundblaster cards, which came onto the market at the end of the eighties, have become a benchmark in the field of sound cards. Since the first models using the ISA bus, they have come a remarkably long way: the Soundblasters have contributed to establishing a digital audio standard with first 8, then 16 bits for the PC, to the creation of musical instruments using synthesis and wave table synthesis, to the adoption of the MPU401 and General Midi formats, to the creation of downloadable sound fonts, and more recently to the management of multi-channel sound and spatialization effects for games and home cinema.

In March 1993, Creative took over the American company E-Mu, an important brand name making electronic musical instruments and known for its synthesizers and samplers. It will surprise no one to find a processor with E-Mu's name on it in the Audigy range, nor to hear effects (chorus, time stretch) equal to those of today's best synthesizers. The processor on the Live! sound card was none other than the famous 10K1 that created E-Mu's reputation. It was already a surprise to find this DSP on a sound card destined for the general public, when the electronic instruments that use it are so expensive. In fact, an operation like this is feasible because the processor has already largely paid for itself in the field of professional music, and because it is not production that is expensive, but R&D.

For its new range, Creative has simply used its successor, E-Mu's 10K2. Renamed Audigy for the occasion, it is 32 bit and, as its name indicates, twice as powerful as its predecessor (2000 MIPS). It is capable of modeling, processing, and positioning several sound sources independently in real time, a great advantage for three-dimensional spaces, games, cinema, surround mixing, etc.. Creative has linked this processor to digital-analog and analog-digital converters (DAC & ADC) able to create 24 bit samples at 96 kHz. In practice, it is possible to process the sound in real time using the card in 24 bits at 48 kHz. Previously, these specifications had been solely the province of professional soundcards.