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Creative Audigy 2 ZS PCMCIA. A worthwhile laptop upgrade?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
While I tend to go with my MP3 player with a can, there are moments where I prefer of need to listen to audio via my Dell Latitude D600 laptop. The problem is, it has a less than steller SigamaTel integrated audio chipset. While it's not horrible, there is noticable hiss/feedback and the drivers don't offer any real flexibility in terms of bass and treble and/or EQ adjustment. Since the Audigy 2 ZS card is going for around $50 these days, I was thinking of making a minor investment in a potentially major upgrade. For reference, I currently own a set of Senn PX-100s, Shure E2Cs, Koss KSC-75s, and AKG K81-DJs. I think they're all deserving of a better source...would this be it? Thanks.
post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hmm, nobody out there owns this card?
post #3 of 14

I don't like it

I was never happy with the card. The TotalBithead is a great upgrade if you can swing the 200.
post #4 of 14
I bought the Audigy 2 Notebook and returned it a week later. It made almost no improvement on sound quality. If you want 7 channel sound, go ahead and get it. If you want something for stereo headphones, get an Echo Indigo I/O or DJ. It costs more but it's well worth it. That's what I ended up getting and I guarantee you'll be happier with it. Most people here seem to have the DJ because of the line-out. I personally got the I/O because I sometimes need to use the line-in to record.
post #5 of 14
post #6 of 14
I vote for some variation of the Indigo as well. Worth the price, much better than how I remember my old Audigy 1.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spyrius
I bought the Audigy 2 Notebook and returned it a week later. It made almost no improvement on sound quality. If you want 7 channel sound, go ahead and get it. If you want something for stereo headphones, get an Echo Indigo I/O or DJ. It costs more but it's well worth it. That's what I ended up getting and I guarantee you'll be happier with it. Most people here seem to have the DJ because of the line-out. I personally got the I/O because I sometimes need to use the line-in to record.
So all the usual things I'm acustomed to from onboard audio (feedback, hiss, etc) would still be present with the Audigy 2?
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tedtropy
So all the usual things I'm acustomed to from onboard audio (feedback, hiss, etc) would still be present with the Audigy 2?
The only reason Audigy 2 Notebook remains in my laptop is the blessed freedom from said hiss (never use laptop to listen to music, and you don't need high SQ to recognize when the peaceful BGM in Oblivion changes into battle-mode ).
post #9 of 14

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Quote:
Originally Posted by tedtropy
So all the usual things I'm acustomed to from onboard audio (feedback, hiss, etc) would still be present with the Audigy 2?
To be fair, the latest drivers Creative released for the Audigy 2 ZS PCMCIA soundcard definitely helped reduce the annoying noises between tracks that plagued earlier versions. Depending on what your onboard soundcard is now, the Audigy would almost certainly offer a significant improvement for you. Still, it is not a good soundcard for music compared to alternatives that are available, which fall roughtly into 2 categories: PCMCIA cards or USB cards/devices. For gaming, the Audigy 2 ZS is a good card.

Good PMCIA sound cards like the Indigo are nice if all you need is good sound straight out of the headphone jack. I don't own one of these--so someone correct me if I'm wrong--but my understanding is that they do not offer digital-out. Therefore, if you want something that will give you the option of porting your tunes digitally to an external DAC someday, the Indigo is no help. There are very few PCMCIA cards that offer digital output in comparison to PCI cards for desktop PC's, and they are all pretty expensive.

For USB, there are jillions of choices, and I am too new at this to give you good advice. Do a search for USB on the computer as source forum, and you will be as overwhelmed as I am. I know from personal experience that the 2006 TotalBithead is one "hella-good" all in one solution for a convenient, immediate, substantial upgrade in soundquality for a laptop. It is nowhere near as nice as the MicroStack, but it's small and 1/3 the cost of the MicroStack. If I weren't such an obsessed nutcase, I'd have stayed with the 2006 Total BitHead.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 


Hmm, well instead of the Audigy, would the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro be a good alternative? I realize most people here are likely just using it as a DAC with an amp, but I've read that its onboard amp is surprisingly powerful, it'd still likely have better fidelity than my crap onboard solution, and can hopefully push higher volume than the integrated chip's amp. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's fairly inexpensive. Seem like a better option? Thanks again.
post #11 of 14
i've got an audigy2zs,

it sounds really nice,
i never have pops or anything similar,

with current drivers and a decent performance laptop its great,
superb for movies,

i looked into the indigo dj, but its lack of optical in and out and it 40 pounds higher price were a no no

most people on head-fi tend to say the zs card sounds crap,

i can hear the difference between 192 and 320 mp3s on my dt770, so i think i can comment a little on comparative sound

i've compared it to a nw-a3000 on line-out amped, the audigy sounds much better, the a3000 sounds the same as the hd5 and many people regard that to be the best sounding dap out there.

it also sounds better than my turtle beach,

i have the strong suspicion that people don't like creative as they are kinda monopolistic, same as people bash ipods,

i for myself like to have the opportunity of getting software upgrades and a nice support in the near future, this is guaranteed by creative, i rang them before i purchased the card and they answered all of my questions and the guy on the phone did seem very knowledgable,

i'm not saying the zs is the non-plus-ultra but i can't see it being so inferior in comparison to the indigo echo,as most people on here make it out to be.

i have a samsung laptop which has an optical line-out on-board, even the onboard soundmax doesn't his or crackle, i got the audigyzs because i needed some extra punch for my larger headphones

i was also interested in a bithead from headroom, but i'm not paying 40 to 50 dollars shipping to the u.k. besides 200 dollars for the actual item

resume: imho a very good sounding card, excellent for movies with surround sound
post #12 of 14

I agree re: movies

I agree the Audigy is good for movies, particularly if you invest in a 5.1 or 7.1 computer speaker system.

I was happy with the Audigy for music before I bought the Bithead and the K-701's. Then I found out what I had been missing.

It's not total crap; it's just not a good value IMO if all you want is good music.

The drivers that came with the card were horrid, and that colored my opinion; the new ones work much, much better.

The card and creative software also play DVD-A very well.

Creative software is the ultimate in bloatware, however, with the possible exception of Nero v. 7.

I don't know how the turtle beach thing would compare.

Good luck.
post #13 of 14
hmmm,

i've never found the drivers bloaty,
running a k701 directly from an audigyzs doesn't do it justice,
i need to amp my dt770 out of the zs,

i have just compared my d-ne800 amped with the dt770-80 and my zs amped with the dt770-80

differences are not really perceivable and i know the d-ne800 pcdp is very good

i think the key to good lap-fi is to get the weighting on the performance right,
the zs works well on my laptop, so did the turtle, many people have complained about zs's getting hot or turtle's popping and crackling.

perhaps somebody could directly compare the indigo and zs, if anybody happens to have both
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by astranovus
hmmm,

i've never found the drivers bloaty,
running a k701 directly from an audigyzs doesn't do it justice,
i need to amp my dt770 out of the zs,

i have just compared my d-ne800 amped with the dt770-80 and my zs amped with the dt770-80

differences are not really perceivable and i know the d-ne800 pcdp is very good

i think the key to good lap-fi is to get the weighting on the performance right,
the zs works well on my laptop, so did the turtle, many people have complained about zs's getting hot or turtle's popping and crackling.

perhaps somebody could directly compare the indigo and zs, if anybody happens to have both
The drivers weren't bloaty--they're just drivers--, it was the software suite that came with the card. I'm quite sure much of the software is not necessary to get full functionality from the card, but I didn't invest the time necessary to find out.

I have read comparison reviews between the Indigo and Audigy PCMCIA cards somewhere, but didnt' save the links. I do remember the results: Indigo crushed Audigy in the music department.

I don't want to come accross as a complete Creative basher--their products are decent, but they seem to be trying to do too much, and without working the bugs out of their drivers/firmware before release. That is certainly not a problem unique to Creative. Try installing Nero 7--it was almost as bad as upgrading from XP Sp1 to Sp2. Don't even get me started on Netgear...
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