by November 17, 2001 0 comments

Audigy from Creative is for hardcore gamers and audiophiles wanting to create and record professional quality audio. It comes with an impressive set of equipment. These are primarily a separate SB1394 interface, an Audigy Drive, and cables. The SB1394 interface is a FireWire interface with data transfer rates as high as 400 Mbps. This can be used for transferring footage from DV cameras or external hard drives, and a PC-to-PC connection for multiplayer gaming. The Audigy drive has connectors for various inputs/outputs for the sound system like SPDIF, headphones, Optical, MIDI, and auxiliary. The card also has an onboard Dolby 5.1 decoder for all your DVD movies.

Wiring up

The Audigy processor has a 32-bit engine and 131 hardware channels

Price: $249 (Indian price to be fixed)
Meant for: Music Professionals and hard core gamers
Features: 24-bit ADC and DAC, 32-bit Audigy processor, Audigy Drive, IEEE1394 compliant ports, infrared remote, professional audio software bundle
Pros: Excellent sound quality, extensive set of audio inputs and outputs
Cons: None
Contact: Compuage Infocom. Tel: 022-8305500-04 Fax: 8238619. Anjani Complex, 3rd Floor, Pereira Hill Road, Off Andheri-Kurla Road, Andheri (E), Mumbai 400099.

The card fits in an empty PCI slot and there’s a separate card for the 1394 interface. It doesn’t occupy a PCI slot, but nevertheless takes up an empty PCI-slot bay. Setting up the machine is simple, but certain cables need special mention here. There’s a power splitter cable for the extension card. For the CD audio cable, use either the digital or analog, not both. There’s a thick extension cable from the card to the Audigy Drive, which may be a little difficult to manage. Once through with the hardware, power up the PC and follow the quick start instructions to the dot, especially the part about canceling the ‘auto-detect’ of Windows. This saves a lot of hassle with drivers later. The setup program from the CD installs everything by itself, but takes some time.

The software

The comprehensive software includes a host of popular professional editing, mixing, DJing and recording suites like WaveLAB, Acid, Ulead VideoStudio, and Steinberg VST. Certain standard Creative software like Oozic, EAX effects, and Vienna SoundFont studio are also needed to exploit the card’s full potential. Separate FireNet software is there for enabling the SB1394 interface. The Audigy Drive also comes with an infrared remote. However, ‘Remote center’ takes up about 16 MB RAM and a significant amount (35-40 percent) of CPU usage. So make sure you install the card and software on a good configuration with lots of RAM.

What is new?

First was the brand new engine of the Audigy processor. This is a 32-bit engine and has 131 available hardware channels. It can playback 64 independent audio channels, each at its own sampling rate. The DAC and ADC are each 24-bit and take a maximum sampling rate of 48 KHz. This is equivalent to professional quality equipment.

How it fares?

It is recommended to wire it to a 5.1 speaker system for a complete home-theatre experience. We checked the sound card for its claimed performance on various parameters. These include the frequency response (20Hz to 20KHz), noise level, THD (Total Harmonic distortion) + Noise level and stereo crosstalk. An analog wave out to line-in external loop was used for the tests because it is the most common usage of a sound card. The settings we used were 2-speakers output with no environmental audio or stereo enhancement. We got very good results for all the tests. Worth mention are results for THD+Noise at 0.005 percent, a noise level (A-weighted) of —93.2dB and a dynamic range of 86.8 dB. In simple terms, these mean that the sound card has an excellent response over the frequency range and a very low signal-to-noise ratio. So you will not hear much of hiss even if your turn the volume to the maximum. As far as performance goes, the card is very good.

Ashish Sharma

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