Granted, evaluating a soundcard is difficult, there’s no higher frame-rates to measure, or higher clock speeds to write about, in the end it all comes down to the user experience. With that said the Audigy2 is simply an evolution of the original Audigy, neither product comes out on top of the other in terms of audio quality or performance. Audio quality is actually something which is highly subjective, and as such we’d quantify audio quality not by just the accuracy in reproducing our audio streams but also the presence, or rather lack of, cracks, hisses, humming, noise and all other things that you’d rather not hear when listening to your music or playing a game.
Fig 6. The SoundBlaster Inspire 6.1 6700 6.1-channel speaker system we used during the evaluation.
We didn’t experience any problems with the Audigy2, nor did we experience any problems with the Audigy that we used as a baseline reference. Both cards sounded excellent, as did the speaker system we used during the evaluation, the Inspire 6.1 6700. We were not able to distinguish between the two cards. Naturally if you have a home studio or a home theatre setup with a significantly higher price tag on your speakers you might be able to hear the differences. With the speaker system we used we unfortunately weren’t.
We didn’t run into any issues with the drivers or software either, and we’re referring to the Creative Labs software here, not the bundled package, installation went smoothly and within a few minutes we got everything setup and working. EAX support is actually quite widespread as not only the bundled games supported it but also recent titles such as Epic’ UT2003 and Medal of Honor Allied Assault. Turning on EAX in these games did noticeably enhance our gaming experience, with the positioning much better defined and higher quality surround sound overall.