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Creative Labs Audigy Review

Posted: December 6, 2001
Written by: Adam Honek


How does it all look?


Creative Inspire 5.1 5300 speakers


Black is a common color lately amongst PC hardware and Creative makes no exception for extending this statement into their Inspire 5.1 5300 speakers. If youíre used to the look of Cambridge SoundWorks speakers, then unfortunately for you, things have changed. The most noticeable aspect is the subwoofer and its shape. Creative and Cambridge SoundWorks used to make its subwoofers in the shape of a rectangle. Now this has been altered to make the Inspire 5.1 5300 feature a perfect cube in which the low tone speaker is embedded. All connectors on the subwoofer being gold plated assigns some class to the product.  A bass volume control knob is located at the rear to drive how much solid bass we desire for our listening preferences. Since this is a 5.1 speaker set, it includes five satellite speakers, which look identical. Some manufactures choose to identify the center speaker with a different enclosure, but Creative kept the design similar right across the board. The satellites do not follow the ideal cube look and instead each side extends outwards at a slight angle. This means the rear of the speaker is slightly smaller than the front. To keep it unique and interesting, Creative sells interchangeable grills, which can be purchased as accessories at Creativeís online store. You only get one set of grills which are black (standard), but if you so choose, you can buy blue and red grills to add to your collection.

Creative chose to remind us who made the speakers; the Creative logo appears on every single one.  Overall, I would say the speakers offer a pleasant (if not slightly elegant) look which should bring happy faces to a broad spectrum of users. The power adapter looks identical to that of the Cambridge SoundWorks speakers. Last but not least, a wired volume control with a smart design rounds off the package. It allows both volume and speaker balance calibration, which is an improvement over the Cambridge SoundWorks Digital/DTT2200 speakers that feature a less user friendly volume control.


Creative Inspire 5.1 5300 speakers

Click image to view larger version



Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum


The brand new Audigy sound chipset sits on a black PCB (the previous Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 cards had a brown PCB). The actual sound card has grown around 25% in length, while retaining the same width. This can be largely attributed to the bigger Audigy DSP on-board. The actual Audigy chipset itself is about 2.5x the size of the EMU10K1 chip used in previous Sound Blaster 5.1 cards. Even with the larger chip the Audigy manages to retain a less populated PCB design. One very distinctive change over with the new model is the game port has been moved and now resides on a separate bracket. This means you will lose two PCI or 1 PCI/1 ISA slots instead of the usual single PCI slot. Although this will not pose a problem for the vast majority, those with many PCI devices could end up in a tricky situation. There is a good reason behind why Creative changed the card's design: without it, the FireWire port could not be placed on the cardís bracket. 

The audio connectors at the rear are all gold plated including the SB1394 (FireWire) port. Itís a nice elegant touch, possibly adding a tiny bit more audio quality, too. Overall, one would look at the Audigy and conclude this isnít a cheap piece of hardware. At first impression, youíre absorbed by a very beefy looking card already releasing hints on how well it performs.


Creative Sound Blaster Gold Plated Jacks

Gold plated jacks and FireWire port feature as standard.

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum Sound Card

The Sound Blaster Audigy in all its glory. (Click image to view larger version)

Creative Audigy Chipset

The new Audigy chipset has grown and is now the size of a standard northbridge.


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