Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro -
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Today we are handling a new soundcard review and it has been a while hasn't it? Good grief, thank God Creative Labs launched something new. Normally written and reviewed by my good pal Brann Mitchell, but since the man just got wed this month (yay!) I could not bother him with this quite important review. For our soundcard reviews Brann is a couple of notches better then yours truly though, but I'll do my best.
In December something big was released by Creative Labs. And the fun thing is almost all of you missed it, didn't you? Really quietly Creative Labs pushed forward a new soundcard under the label Audigy 4. You'd expect a big marketing campaign with bells and whistles and preferably gorgeous blonde women jumping up and down with the soundcard, but that did not happen. Especially that blonde women part annoyed me :)
So Audigy 4 where did thee go and what is so totally new that Creative Labs decided to skip a number? Do we have a PCI-Express card? Can it finally encode Dolby Digital realtime? Ehm... sorry no. See Creative did keep this launch a bit quiet because you, the end user, will not notice a big difference over the Audigy 2 series. I mean sorry, but that's just the way it is. Audigy 4 is a small upgrade over the Audigy 2 ZS where Audigy was it's predecessor and before that the Live! series. Personally I have not heard a difference in sound quality ever since the Live! series. Quality did get better though. See the normal consumer will not hear a difference, we are now at a level where we need to measure the difference and look at graphs to be able to actually see that difference. For the normal consumer that's not at all interesting, for the professional it is however the upgrade over the Audigy is quite a sizable one in noise reduction.
There's also another factor that we have to take into account when I state that we did not hear any differences in the quality of sound ever since the Live! series, these are called your speakers. We spend hundreds of dollars on a soundcard yet refuse to buy the speakers that should go along with such a professional soundcard. I honestly believe that even the Logitech 5.1 Z680 THX series that we use today in combination with this soundcard don't do the Audigy 4 any real justice. The level of quality that this card is producing is so much higher then what we are willing to spend on speakers. That my guru's is the level of sound quality we have in our PC's these days. The level of competition is so high that we have studio quality soundcards in that gaming rig of ours. Oh well that's not a bad thing eh!?
Well then, today we will be looking at the Audigy 4 Pro in specific, a really nice soundcard with a sweet breakout box.
So let's be honest here, for Creative Labs it is getting harder and harder to compete with the endless and very progressive integrated sound solutions on mainboards these days. I mean, you've gotta have a product out there that can really beat beat these solutions. The Realtek High Definition Codecs, VIA's Envy and NVIDIA's soundstorm are serious and direct competition for Creative. Luckily for Creative they have monopolized themselves with the greatest goodness of them all called EAX.
So you play Doom 3, Half-life 2 and Chronicles of Riddick and face it, you want a soundcard from Creative in there as it does make a difference. Especially the actual EAX supported titles can make that difference. Let's not forget something else also, performance. You can get higher framerates with a soundcard that crunches that sound on-board. Creative is a clear winner there compared to these on-board solutions (which are not at all bad I must add).
We're gonna have a look at these key factors in today's review. But first let us look at the technology behind the Audigy 4 Pro.
We review the Creative Labs SoundBlaster ZXR. Creative Labs has been a powerhouse force in the world of PC audio ever since there was such a concept as PC audio.
Creative Labs Gigaworks S750 7.1 Speakers
So 7.1 surround sound, do we really need to invest in it ? Ehm, no ... But I can tell you it does make a very nice difference over the traditional 5.1 setup for sure. I'll explain all that on this multi purpose speaker set later on when I will talk a little about my game/movie/music experiences in combination with the GigaWorks S750's.
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 4 Pro
In December something big was released by Creative labs. And the fun thing is .. almost all of you missed it didn't you? Really silently Creative Labs pushed forward a new soundcard under the label Audigy 4 You'd expect a big marketing campaign with bells and whistles and preferably gorgeous blonde women jumping up and down with the soundcard ... but that did not happen.
Interview with Creative labs Europe
An in-depth interview with Creative Labs Europe regarding them pulling out of the graphics cards arena.