Test Configuration And Audio Measurement
Although the Audigy 2 ZS is not up to the 44.1 kHz native standard (so that it remains a mass market product?), the results on this sampling frequency have greatly improved. Remember that the measurements are made using a loop between the output line and input line 3. The frequency response still suffers from the problems of frequency conversion and thus remains identical to that of previous models - not bad but not all that great either. On the other hand, the signal/noise ratio, the stereo dynamics and separation offer much better results. In other words, they are up to what one might expect from a card of this quality... So the signal/noise ratio has improved from 88 to 97 dB! Strangely, Creative has not made capital out of this improvement.
Distortion has also noticeably diminished (it has halved) but that wasn't the most annoying feature. Intermodulation distortion seems to have undergone a much more drastic reduction but this is only the consequence of the change of measurement method used by the RMAA software. In fact, the previous technique was unsuitable for measuring cards operating at 44.1 kHz and produced unreliable results. It now uses the SMPTE (60 and 7000 Hz) measuring standard. So you can't compare the current measuring results with the previous ones using this criterion.
To enable you to make a visual comparison easily of the improvement in this new card at a frequency of 44.1 kHz we compared it to the Platinum EX, tested previously.
Comparison At 44.1 KHz
Frequency Response : at 44 kHz, both cards have an identical response which soon cuts into treble with ripples probably created by resampling.
Noise level : You will easily realize that the noise level of the ZS is much lower and very consistent.
Motional capacitance : No surprises here, the results match those of the noise level test...
Distortion : Once more the ZS is way ahead of its predecessor! Though remember all the values are in any case very low...
Intermodulation : Measurement standards are different so results should not be compared point by point.
Diaphonie : The ZS is much better than the earlier model which was very good in itself. What more can we say!