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Thread: The SB Audigy series are not really true 24-bit sound cards?

  1. #1

    Default The SB Audigy series are not really true 24-bit sound cards?

    From Wikipedia:

    "Creative Labs advertised the Audigy as a 24-bit sound card, a controversial marketing claim for a product that did not support end-to-end playback of 24-bit/96 kHz audio streams. The Audigy and Live shared a similar architectural limitation: the audio transport (DMA engine) was fixed to 16-bit sample precision at 48 kHz. So despite its 24-bit/96 kHz high-resolution DACs, the Audigy's DSP could only process 16-bit/48 kHz audio sources. This fact was not immediately obvious in Creative's literature, and was difficult to ascertain even upon examination of the Audigy's spec sheets. (A resulting class-action settlement with Creative later awarded US customers a 35% discount on Creative products, up to a maximum discount of $65.)

    Aside from the lack of an end-to-end path for 24-bit audio, Dolby Digital (AC-3) and DTS passthrough (to the S/PDIF digital out) had issues that have never been resolved.[citation needed]"


    So reading this, the Soundblaster Audigy SE SB0570 I bought is not a true 24-bit sound card? It will only play my music files in 16-bit only? Keep in mind, this is Wikipedia, and no citation is present for this claim. Anyone know for sure? Thanks.

    More on the Audigy series:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_Blaster_Audigy

  2. #2
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    Paging Cloudschatze (who has prior history in debunking Sound Blaster bit depth rumors)
    Offering a bounty for:
    - A working Sanyo MBC-775, Olivetti M24, or Logabax 1600
    - Music Construction Set, IBM Music Feature edition (has red sticker on front stating IBM Music Feature)

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    There was a class action lawsuit settled in 2005 where Audigy customers unhappy with their purchase could get a 25% discount. I got the letter....

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trixter View Post
    Paging Cloudschatze (who has prior history in debunking Sound Blaster bit depth rumors)
    I appreciate it and I look forward to hearing back. Thanks.

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    My firsthand experience with Creative products ends with the Live!. I'm afraid I can't comment on this particular issue until I look into it further. As I understand it though, the presumed limitation may relate to the fixed bit-rate of the AC'97 CODEC, rather than having anything to do with the EMU10K2 itself.

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    Its been a while since I looked at this but a good friend that used to work for Analog Devices selling similar chips tells me that in many cases some of the bits are what he calls "marketing bits" and that because the output they produce is below the noise floor of the following amplifiers their only purpose is to add profit for the vendor. I will leave you to do the maths...
    Dave
    G4UGM

    Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals

  7. #7

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    And the first generation of "16-bit" Sound Blaster 16 cards actually had a 14-bit DAC.

  8. #8
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    I stopped buying Creative products after the Daniel_K fiasco.

    https://www.wired.com/2008/03/creative-fixing/

    For those that weren't there, Daniel_K made custom drivers for I think the X-Fi cards to enable features that were advertised by Creative, but disabled or broken in the Vista drivers and only worked under Windows XP. He was publicly threatened on their forums by corporate execs at Creative for nonsense like IP theft, and only they were allowed to make drivers for their products. They further said stuff like "if we want to push crippled drivers, it's none of your business." But the X-Fi wasn't the only Creative card with broken drivers, the Audigy series was in the same boat, I dumped all of mine because they only worked right in XP and were crippled under Vista/7.

    It of course caused an explosive backlash, I remember when the thread started, it grew to 50 pages of angry people in less than 24 hours vowing never to purchase a Creative product again. I haven't, and I hope those people did the same because Creative is a disgusting company.

    Integrated audio from Realtek is just as good as any Creative audio card, and the drivers are a whole lot better. I remember buying a 5.1 Creative surround sound system and the center channel never worked with the Audigy as advertised, it just made static and garbage noise. I moved it over to the onboard Realtek and it worked fine.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by g4ugm View Post
    Its been a while since I looked at this but a good friend that used to work for Analog Devices selling similar chips tells me that in many cases some of the bits are what he calls "marketing bits" and that because the output they produce is below the noise floor of the following amplifiers their only purpose is to add profit for the vendor. I will leave you to do the maths...
    In this particular case, the gist really does seem to be that primary-channel data of a higher bit-rate from the Audigy's EMU10K2 has to be dithered to 16-bit/48kHz for analog playback via the AC'97 CODEC. Conversely, digital output of 24-bit/96kHz data, via S/PDIF passthrough, appears to be entirely possible.


    Quote Originally Posted by vwestlife View Post
    And the first generation of "16-bit" Sound Blaster 16 cards actually had a 14-bit DAC.
    This is demonstrably false.

    https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=62&t=66828

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloudschatze View Post
    That thread reminds me of why I don't spend much time on Vogons. So, yes, the card might technically have a 16-bit DAC, but on my own CT1740 I can hear the ugly quantization noise at low audio levels and aliasing noise at high frequencies that I don't hear on more modern sound cards (such as my Audigy 2 ZS). Even cheap onboard Realtek HD Audio blows it away in terms of audio quality.

    The ISA bus isn't that great for high-fidelity audio in general, due to its sparseness of ground pins to help keep the signals clean. MCA and PCI are both far superior in that regard.

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