Creative Audigy Platinum
The big momma of all the soundcards..? Is this the ultimate home musician's dream come true? We tried to find out...
Is history repeating itself?
Creative Labs' previous big mama of a soundcard was their Live! product line. Live! was very impressive on paper, and sounded good too... sometimes. Live! very soon got the questionable reputation of being a highly incompatible sound card that was capable of causing mysterious problems from small crackles and pops to serious data corruption on hard disks. Creative Labs wasn't too eager to fix the problems, or even to admit that there was anything wrong with the card or its drivers. This made Live! quite unpopular, even hated big momma of a soundcard in many people's minds...
So, what about Audigy?
I must admit, I was full of doubt after my dreadful experiences with Live! Fortunately, Creative Labs seems to have learnt something. Even the first driver release works surprisingly well, and the problems of Live! are much lesser or non-existing. The motherboard I tested the board was equipped with AMD 761/VIA686B chipset. The old sins of Live! seem to be gone, finally! Still, especially while testing card's low-latency ASIO interface with sequencer software, occasional problems in audio playback occurred. It's too early to say where they resulted from, but...
What about the sound quality?
On paper, SB Audigy is a very, very respectable sound card. Powerful EMU10K2 synthesizer/DSP processor, 100dB signal-to-noise ratio, etc. promise a lot. Is it really _that_ good?
It is. It's easily the best sounding sound card I've ever listened to. It's so good that it's almost... dare I say it? Musical. I don't claim it's high-end hi-fi, but it's definitely hi-fi. Very respectable; congratulations to Creative Labs. Audigy isn't cheap, but if you want to listen to your MP3s (high-quality ones, of course) and DVD disks through a good hi-fi system, this is a good way to do it.
Well functioning DV/Firewire-connector, respectable MIDI-synthesizers, and probably quite good 3D games-support don't hurt, either.
Well, the drivers aren't yet quite ready... Especially the remote controller application seems to crash a little too often to comfort. For the first driver/software release of a new card, this is acceptable. Now it's just Creative Lab's turn to prove us that they are willing and able to improve the situation, quickly. Nobody wants another Live! -case. Fortunately, Audigy shows far more promise than Live! ever did.
Written by: Tommi Hietavuo