SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS vs M-Audio Sound Cards at
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Old January 14th, 2005, 10:25 PM   #1
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SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS vs M-Audio Sound Cards

OK, I'm trying to decide on the best value low-end pro sound card for video editing with Liquid Edition 6 (PC). By "best value" I mean the lowest price card which is high-quality, and has excellent performance that meets all the LE6 requirements. I don't want/need to pay extra to obtain a card this is theoretically better by a few points but cost a lot more.

My immediate need is to support NLE of video/audio using LE6 and pro sound tools like Sound Forge 7. I would also like a card that has some capacity to meet my future needs like recording VO at the computer using pro XLR mics.

I have read and searched a lot in this forum concerning sound cards. The two brands that come up the most are SoundBlaster Audigy 2 series and the M-Audio Audiophile series. I have searched the 'net for reviews/comments on these cards, and found some interesting reviews (see below). Some feel that the Audigy 2 series is just "consumer game-oriented" and not up to pro NLE, and that the M-Audio cards are MUCH better. Some have pointed out that the Audigy "24-bit" processing is NOT really a 24-bit DSP, but only 16-bit. OTOH, there are reviews/comments that the Audigy 2 is fine, and even offers some benefits like 5.1 surround.

One key requirement of LE6 is that the sound card support ASIO 2. All of these cards support this EXCEPT the M-Audio Audiophile 192. Manuf. site states "ASIO" without the "2". This card is supposed to be based on and an updated from the Audiophile 2496 card, which DOES support "ASIO 2". So I don't know if this is a typo, or if for some reason M-Audio dropped back to the original ASIO. Anyone know?

The Audigy 2 ZS is the lowest price of all these cards at $69.

But it's still not clear to me which is the best buy. If you have used any of these cards I would much appreciate your comments. If there are other cards I should be considering, please let me know that also.

Manufacturer's Product Description
M-Audio Revolution 7.1 PCI Sound Card -- Best Price: $88
M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Audio Card -- Best Price: $109
M-Audio Audiophile 192 High-Definition 4/4 Audio Card -- Best Price: $179
SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS -- Best Price: $69


M-Audio Revolution 7.1 vs SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Specs
NCIX Forums: M-Audio Revolution 7.1 vs SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Forum: Audigy is a gamers board

In-depth Review of Audigy2 ZS by

I admit that I have been rather ambivalent towards Creative sound cards. While they provide sound cards laden with features and great software bundles, what comes with a lot of features inevitably comes a lot of bugs. That's feature-creep. However, Creative did a good job of working things out for the Audigy2 ZS and even added several new features. It's not slow, it doesn't sound half bad, and its drivers don’t suck.

That's about the highest praise I can muster.

I still can't recommend the Audigy2 ZS to audiophiles, however. It has exceptional but not audiophile-grade sound, no matter what Creative PR might tell you. There is still some question if it is truly performing at 24-bit standards or not. It would do a world of good for Creative to ditch the emu10K and upgrade to a fully 24-bit DSP. In addition, for recording musicians it would be wise to look for something a little more professional.

In-depth Review of M-Audio Revolution 7.1 by

If you're looking for a sound card in the $100 range, you really should give the Revolution 7.1 a listen. The Revolution 7.1 does not disappoint. It is a high-quality 24 bit/192kHz sound card that caters to the gamer and music lover. If you absolutely need every frame that you can get out of a game, which may be the case for Doom III, then there are other choices. But if you care more about sound quality than FPS, then the Revolution 7.1 should be on a very short list of sound cards.

The lack of DirectSound acceleration may at first glance seems like a negative point against the Revolution 7.1. In reality, even modest computer systems are fast enough to make up the extra difference... The RMAA 5.1 measurements produced a 'very good' assesment of the Revolution 7.1, and I think it is better than what it measured. You can consider those RMAA results as the very least you will get from your own Revolution 7.1.

Review of M-Audio Audiophile 2496 by

The M-Audio Audiophile 2496 made a good impression on us. It is a professional quality inexpensive audio solution. Despite the word "audiophile" in its name, the card will, first of all, be interesting for a computer musician, and only after that a lover of high-quality music playback.

  • excellent sound (high-quality converters located in the professional I2S codec AK4528);
  • wide capabilities (multifunctional Envy24 processor which provides a great deal of settings);
  • excellent VxD and WDM drivers (support of all operating systems including WinXP);
  • superb quality of the digital-out (due to the separate transceiver chip CS8427);
  • MIDI input and output with standard DIN-5 connectors;
  • support of professional interfaces (GSIF, ASIO, EASI) and low latency (in the WDM drivers as well);
  • not a high price (less than $200).
  • it's necessary to read the manual carefully to understand functions of the control panel and how the card works (I personally spent 2 days to understand it);
  • lack of an internal digital-in.

TIA for your comments.

Best Regards,
Pete Wilie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old January 15th, 2005, 08:08 AM   #2
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I work at a professional audio facility and we use MOTU interfaces and Pro-Tools hardware for most of our work. Well actually we have gradually phased out Pro-Tools and made the switch to MOTU which is far better. The point is, we also have a PC with a Creative audio card (can't tell you the model number right now) and it, well... sucks. On the other hand I use an M-Audio interface I bought a few years ago and the sound is awesome, at least as good as the MOTU hardware, I have tested them side by side. It's not full of features, and becuase it uses USB it has more latency than a Firewire or PCI bus solution, but it sounds good and that is what really matters.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 01:12 PM   #3
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Pete - Just to confuse you, the Audigy 4 is now out. I saw an amateur review that did rate it better than the 2. Now, if I can remember where that review was... ;)
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Old January 17th, 2005, 01:54 PM   #4
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The general word in comparisons between these two manufacturers has always been if you want both gaming and the ability to dabble in recording, then Creative is the way to go. If you could give a darn about gaming and just want serious recording capability, M is the way to go.

I was doing this same research not too long ago, and while I haven't made the purchase yet, I kept running into the general suggestion made above in all the research I did.
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Old January 17th, 2005, 03:26 PM   #5
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first, i am NOT a pro-audio guy by any means... but i do consider myself an audiophile. and from an audiophile point of view if you were to compare both m-audio and creative there's simply no comparison. they're geared towards different market segments.

1. creative is 100% consumer. if you want to play games there's pretty much no other choice, this is it. this helps your gaming video frame rates too (although just by a little bit).

2. m-audio makes pro-equipment so if you purchase even their cheapest you get all of their pro-heritage filtered down to the "value/budget" cards. they used to 100% pro but just recently turned their heads towards prosumer a little bit. just so you know they were bought by avid... so they're now avid cards. that makes their lines even more pro-oriented.

now since you want audio-authoring on the cheap, then there's only m-audio (out of those 2 choices you presented). if you game a little then buy revolution 7.1, that's what i have. i play games on there and the rev7.1 does a good job keeping up. it can also play DVD films in 7.1 and obviously i can author DVDs in 7.1 in vegas. so... i like it cause it's the best of all worlds... but if you don't play games i'd get the other higher end models.
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