Audio/Visual

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX V2 & DBPRO Review

Performance

In terms of hardware, I think the V2 is about on par with most modern onboard audio solutions, heck, most actually do use the ALC1220 chipset too, so it’s REALLY close actually. The quality sounded as good as my onboard audio at stock settings, and I have the Realtek ALC1200 Audio Codec on my motherboard. However, the overall power output was undoubtedly higher, especially on headphones.

However, when you dive into the software features that Creative offers, things get elevated to the next level. I’m already a big fan of Creative, and I use their speakers, soundbars and headphones daily. Their software is getting better these days, and the easy to use interface let me pick some fantastic pre-set profiles with ease. Gaming, Music and Movies are likely all you’ll need, but the custom game ones they’ve done are pretty cool too. This isn’t just an EQ, this is a complete profile that can configure all the features, so the differences are pretty dramatic.

Virtual surround, actually it works really well on my Creative T20’s, it really opens up the sound, and after a few hours of using it, it sounded wrong to me without surround at around 40-50, but that’s subjective. The Crystalizer is great too, it’s basically an upscaler, and that works great sitting at 50% too. What I do like is Smart Volume, it’s just range compression, but with it being a sliding scale, you can really dial it in to suit your needs. The same with Dialog+, I found it wasn’t great on heavy music, but for YouTube or podcasts, it made things clearer. Basically, tinker with the sliders and see what fits your usage.

There’s a powerful EQ here too, with a full preamp level, bass and treble sliders, as well as a full 10 point EQ mapper, and it has a heck of a range to it too. Personally, I like the EQ it set in Music Mode, but you can adjust to taste, and I guess the abilities of your speakers.

You can even shift to headphone mode, which has its own EQ per profile. I love this, as it’s not like the speakers and headphones will have the same traits, so per device EQ is superb.

I love that everything is easily laid out, though, and the only thing I had to configure was the audio quality, as it didn’t default to the maximum (likely to protect incompatible speakers!), but that only takes two seconds.

As for DSD files, they played just fine. I don’t feel I have the speakers to do them justice right now, at least not through my PC, but it’s a welcome feature to have. Got to love those file sizes though, a 6min song at 24/352 is 330MB, but in DSD, it’s around 1GB… yikes. However, at 11.2896Mbit/s, the quality is bit for bit, perfect.

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Peter Donnell

As a child still in my 30's (but not for long), I spend my day combining my love of music and movies with a life-long passion for gaming, from arcade classics and retro consoles to the latest high-end PC and console games. So it's no wonder I write about tech and test the latest hardware while I enjoy my hobbies!

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