External multimedia card

Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum ProThe $499 ZS Platinum Pro, the new flagship model in Creative’s always-evolving family of sound cards, packages an internal sound card, external connector hub and infrared remote control. The basic version of the card itself retails for $269.

The front of the Platinum Pro hub features FireWire, optical in and out, line-in, line/microphone-in and headphone connections, in addition to line/microphone and master volume controls. Turn it around and you’ll find stereo RCA inputs in addition to MIDI-in and -out, S/PDIF-in and -out and digital-out connectors, plus a second FireWire port. The internal PCI card has ports to connect to the external hub plus three 3.5mm connections for surround sound speakers — up to 7.1 speaker systems (such as Creative’s new $349 Inspire T7700) are supported.

Like existing Audigy 2 cards, this card supports true 24-bit/192KHz stereo, DVD audio playback, ASIO 2.0 for low latency MIDI (Creative claims up to 2ms can be achieved, depending on the system) and CMSS (which allows stereo recordings to be heard in surround sound).

Improvements that differentiate the Platinum Pro include the 108dB signal-to-noise ratio (up from 106dB for cleaner, hiss-free audio), support for EAX 4.0 ADVANCED HD game and playback effects, and tweaked software. Bundled software includes Creative Editions of FL Studio 4, Steinberg Cubasis VST 4.0, and Wavelab Lite 2.0. n

In brief: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro
An all-round card for home theatre, gaming and music production.
Price: $499
Vendor: Creative
Phone: (02) 9021 9898
URL: http://australia.creative.com