Software And Configuration Package
The software shared by the two Audigy 2 ZS models are naturally those that originated with Creative. Two have been added, Tomb Raider (The Angel of Darkness) and Tom Clancy (Rainbow Six 3 Ravenshield). With Platinum EX, Cubasis VST4.0 and Wavelab Lite 2.0 (an audio/MIDI sequencer and audio editor) have been bundled, along with Image Line FL Studio 4. The software package is much smaller than in certain previous models.
To operate the Audigy 2 ZS, the minimum you need is a Pentium II or Celeron 350 MHz or an AMD K6 450 MHz with 64 MB of memory running under Windows 98SE or Millenium and 128 MB running under Windows 2000 SP2 or XP. To exploit all the possibilities - including DVD Audio - a Pentium III 800 MHz or an Athlon 1 GHz are required, with 128 MB of memory running under Windows 98 SE or Millennium and 256 MB running under Windows 2000 SP2 or XP. As you will have realized, Windows 98 SE is the oldest operating system that will run the card.
On the hardware side, of course you will need a free slot for the PCI card and another slot for the installation of the MIDI/games connector if you want to use it. A DVD-ROM X5 player is the minimum requirement for playing DVD Audio or Video. For playing video, Creative recommends WinDVD 2000 or Power DVD 3.0 or something more recent. For games, a DirectX 9- and OpenGL-compatible graphics card with at least 32 MB of memory for textures is needed. Of course the amplifier speaker system for the 7.1 is essential if you want to benefit from all of the card's features...
With this new version of its high-quality cards, Creative has become that much more competitive. This was a vital development in view of the competition, which was already offering 7.1 sound.
However, the increase in the number of loudspeakers is not the only interesting feature the Audigy 2 ZS offers. The other major feature is its DTS decoding capability. Many films have DTS sound - alongside a Dolby Digital track - and it was becoming frustrating not to be able to take advantage of this feature with a Creative sound card.
Finally, if the audio performances are making some progress, the software is developing very positively, even if it is not yet perfect. Creative's current software library makes it possible to manage the card more effectively and allows easier access to the main applications.
Anyone who is not thinking of doing anything more than playing games or a DVD, an Audio CD or audio files in general, the Audigy 2 ZS is certainly the best choice in terms of the ratio between possibilities and cost. On the other hand, if you like to connect and disconnect various types of equipment and perform elaborate recording, you will more likely need the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro. In the case of multimedia and musical creative activities, the external housing makes it easy to use and offers a range of possibilities that will soon prove to be indispensable. Whatever the case and whatever the version you choose, the ZS has become the non-professional sound card that offers the best audio quality on the market.