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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [08.26.06]
Softmod Created by: YouP-Pax


Audio Quality

This is what I was most curious about. Almost everyone who made comments about this softmod in various forums immediately claimed that they noticed an improvement in performance. Knowing that any quality improvements made on the Audigy 4 were at hardware-level, I was immediately skeptical (hence my wanting to research and write this article).

For completely non-subjective audio quality test results, we use Rightmark's Audio Analyzer. This software is used by everyone from hardware sites like us to Creative Labs to determine audio quality at the output level.

The input card is a Creative X-Fi, which has higher quality inputs than any Audigy card, so results should be totally accurate. All tests were performed at the highest quality possible: 24 bit, 96 kHz.

RMAA uses a word based scale to describe performance (such as "good", "very poor", "excellent"). We convert these to a scale of 1-6 to chart the results:

There you have it. Absolutely no difference in quality when using Audigy 4 drivers on your Audigy 2.

It looks like my skepticism has been valid; Softmodding your Audigy 2 into an Audigy 4 provides absolutely no benefit whatsoever, in performance or audio quality. In fact, some games will not detect your card at all (such as PREY). You cannot "turn your Audigy 2 into an Audigy 4" as some people claim. You cannot add DTS support, and you cannot change the DACs and Codecs on the soundcard. The best you can do is fool Windows into calling your Audigy 2 an Audigy 4. Any differences you perceive, whether in video games, movies, or music, is completely fabricated by your mind. In fact, even if you were to directly compare a real Audigy 2 to an Audigy 4, gaming would be identical, and any differences audio quality would be so minute, you would probably need software such as RMAA to detect it.

This type of softmod is even less useful since Creative combined the entire series of Audigy drivers into one release. Whether you have an Audigy 1, 2, 2 ZS, 4, or 2 ZS Notebook version, you will download and install the same driver package. Whatever features your card supports will show up in the Audio Console.

Now I don't want to come across as ripping on YouP-PAX for all their hard work. For the longest time it seemed like Creative had no interest in supporting users of their older products, so I don't blame people for coming up with their own ways of trying to update drivers themselves. However, there is little need to do so now, since Creative is doing a better job of keeping drivers up to date.

YouP-PAX is still releasing custom drivers for Live!, Audigy, and now X-Fi cards by modifying Creative's X-Fi drivers. While you won't see an Audigy 4 listed in your hardware device list, you might see the same 1-2% performance increase we found in games. However the trade-off is that you are using an unsupported, possibly unstable driver set that may or may not work properly with new games that come out.

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