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(Pocket-lint) - With the PC becoming a multimedia hive of activity, you need to make sure all your components are up to scratch. Better graphics might improve your gaming prowess, but it’s the sound that will give you the atmosphere. Creative’s Audigy2 boards have always been renowned for their performance, however will the new board - the Audigy 2 ZS live up to its namesake? We close the door, put the volume up in and try to shatter our eardrums in the name of science.

More of a upgrade than completely new, the ZS soundcard still manages to tick most of the boxes when it comes to getting a new soundcard. Since the previous version both the recording and playback sound quality has been improved, and with the bundled software users will be able to play DVD-Audio discs.

Those looking for complete immersion in sound will be pleased to hear this card supports up to eight speakers via its six analogue inputs, and if that wasn’t enough the card has also been certified by the chaps over at THX. Additionally, its 24-bit Advanced HD engine supports the Dolby Digital EX and DTS-ES formats.

The bundled software in the box is very impressive featuring many utilities. For the gamers this includes the latest Tomb Raider and Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Raven Shield. For the audiophile amongst you there’s also plenty of sound applications including the DVD-Audio playback utility and Creative’s MediaSource (version 2.0) application that allows you to create, play and organise your music files.


While this board is very comprehensive its offering, users of the Audigy 2 board will notice little difference in performance, with the only main advantage being the additional speaker support. If however you are still using an Audigy 1 or 4.1 supported soundcard and are also looking to invest in a new soundcard then this board offers a comprehensive offering. However, before you journey down the upgrading route, you will have to also upgrade your speakers to get the best results from your new purchase.

Writing by Stuart Miles. Originally published on 16 February 2004.