Creative Technology has launched a new sound card which it says will enable PCs to put out the same sound quality as home entertainment systems.
The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 goes on sale in early November and will allow users with a DVD-ROM drive to access Advanced Resolution DVD-Audio with 24-bit/192KHz in stereo and 24-bit/96KHz in 5.1.
"This is the highest-quality audio solution available to PC users for gaming, DVD movies and digital music," said Nick Angelucci, Creative's marketing manager.
DVD-Audio has up to five times the audio detail of CD, higher sampling frequencies and "loss-less" compression, which enables it to pick up precise musical elements not audible on CD or tape formats.
Warner Music has released around 50 titles on DVD-Audio in Australia but the cost of players has so far made crossing over from CDs an expensive business. Angelucci said the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 costs less than a third of the price of a DVD-Audio player and will make the transition a more realistic proposition.
Audigy 2 also includes Creative MediaSource, a PC media player with Smart Volume Match across MP3 tracks, Audio Clean-up to remove pops and clicks from recordings, and a new library search tool to help find songs quickly by title or artist.
Angelucci said the 106dB SNR delivered by the new third-generation 24-bit card provides audio clarity in games, movies and music that was unachievable with the 16-bit version. It is the only standalone PC sound card to be certified by Lucas Film THX for providing theatre-quality sound.
"Some resellers said nobody would ever want to watch movies on a PC but they were wrong," Angelucci said.
The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 enhances rear-centre speakers to provide surround sound from DirectSound 3D games, Dolby Digital EX movies and MP3 or CD. For gamers playing first-person shooter or racing titles, it gives the competitive advantage of hearing an opponent approach from the rear.
Creative has also launched a new speaker system with Dolby Digital Surround EX support for PCs with Audigy 2. The Inspire 6.1 6600 includes a subwoofer and six speakers to enhance the gaming and movie experience.
The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 will retail for an estimated $299, with a platinum version featuring an expanded connectivity option for easy connection to audio equipment available at around $549.