As soon as we collected enough money for the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum eX audio card, announced in the spring of 2003 (see our article called Audigy2 Platinum eX: Top Sound Card from Creative), Creative came up with an update to the Sound Blaster family.
SoundBlaster Audigy 2 with the “ZS” index supports eight-channel (7.1) speaker systems, has received the THX certificate, and, what’s most important, features the new application programming interface EAX 4.0 Advanced HD. At the same time, the new family goes under the old “Audigy 2” trademark indicating that Creative doesn’t consider the new functions as anything revolutionary. I confess I thought this review would be about an Audigy 3; the new API and the eight-channel audio support would justify the change of the generation number. So the Audigy 2 ZS is a face-lift upgrade, which only slightly affected the hardware part of the card; you will see the changes shortly. But let’s be systematic and discuss the product features one by one.
Product Features and Accessories
So we’ve got a top-end model called Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro (they come up with ever longer names!). These are the most important characteristics from the product specification list:
- Support of eight-channel audio (7.1);
- Support of DTS;
- THX certification;
- Improved signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), 108dB;
- Support of the new programming interface, EAX 4.0 Advanced HD;
- Support of ASIO 2.0.
And these are the things you find in the package together with the card:
- SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro sound card;
- External I/O unit with an infrared receiver;
- Joystick/MIDI bracket;
- User’s manual (on a CD);
- Quick Start booklet;
- Infrared remote control RM-1500;
- Cable for the I/O unit (1.8m long);
- Power cable (from the PSU to the sound card);
- Digital audio cable for the CD drive;
- Power splitter;
- 6.3/3.5mm adapter (jack/mini-jack);
- Software bundle called Creative Software Pack.
Note that in the package of the Platinum eX, I found eight software CD discs. Now the ZS Platinum Pro box contained only five of them:
- Installation and Applications CD with the driver and the bundled software;
- Feature Showcase Demonstration CD;
- Creative DVD-Audio Sampler Disc;
- A collection of programs for music recording and editing (Cubasis VST CE, FL Studio and WaveLab Lite);
- AOL Version 8.0 with free dial-up hours.