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USB 2.0 Sound: Creative Labs Audigy 2 NX

The Software And Configuration

In this model, which is not specifically designed for musical composition, Creative has come to a sort of impasse in its bundled software and is thus happy to offer the usual set of software based on Mediasource. No software produced by an external publisher is supplied. Even if some buyers will find this rather frustrating, it must be admitted that it is quite a logical choice, especially if you look at the Audigy 2 NX's price.

Mediasource has become a very comprehensive tool for managing audio files, listening to them, transcoding them if necessary and even burning CDs. So there's not too much to moan about.

To use an Audigy 2 NX, the minimum requirements given by Creative are a Pentium III 500 MHz or an AMD K7 600 MHz processor with 64 MB memory running under Windows 98SE or Millenium and 128 MB running under Windows 2000 SP2 or XP. To be able to take advantage of all its options - including DVD Audio - a Pentium 4 1.3 GHz or the AMD equivalent are required, with 256 MB RAM. The operating system should be Windows XP or Windows 2000.

On the hardware side, a USB 2.0 interface is required. The USB 1.1 is inadequate for running a card of this magnitude. A DVD-ROM X5 drive is the minimum requirement for playing audio or video DVDs. For playing videos, Creative recommends WinDVD 2000, Power DVD 3.0 or something more recent. For games, a graphics card compatible with DirectX 9 and OpenGL with at least 64 MB memory is needed for textures.

Conclusion

With the Audigy 2 NX, Creative has put itself in the running - a race that is going to become even fiercer - in the USB sound card sectorby offering, at least in the field of multimedia, features that are similar to state-of-the-art internal sound cards.

It's all there, or almost all, because the external sound card formula operating from the USB port remains restrictive for certain special uses such as games or even for musicians. The Audigy 2 NX should be considered as a fortunate solution, however, for laptop users for whom it offers new possibilities. The standard uses will be high-quality listening, recording audio sources and playing Surround Sound movies. With its great performance and reasonable price, the device will also please those uncomfortable with installing a standard internal card in a desktop computer.