Linux Audio Comparison
Written by Michael Larabel in Software on 10 March 2006. Page 2 of 4. Add A Comment

The Creative Labs Audigy 2 ZS has such official features as being THX certified, 24-bit advanced HD audio, 8 channel 108dB SNR, and CMSS 3D Audio Technology. The Audigy 2 ZS DSP is labeled CA0102-ICT. Some of the features to the Creative Labs Audigy 2 non-ZS is EAX advanced HD processing, Dolby Digital EX Decoder, and SPDIF input at up to 24-bit/96KHz. Both the Sound Blaster Audigy and Live series are supported by ALSA, with a few features in some of the cards not being supported, while the Sound Blaster X-Fi series has no support at this time. With the X-Fi products bringing fourth a new architecture there is presently no support but ALSA developers are working on appending the X-Fi series soon. The Creative X-Fi products presently consist of the Elite Pro, Fatal1ty, Platinum, and XtremeMusic models. The Chaintech AV-710 uses the VIA Envy 24PT and has sampling rates up to 192 KHz and 24-bit support. The AV-710 Windows performance is talked up to be quite amazing for a budget solution thanks to the VIA Envy 24PT audio controller. Although the Vortex AU8820 is considered sub par by today's standards Aureal Semiconductor certainly packed a punch after its acquisition by Crystal River Engineering and we had decided to include these numbers to represent those running older audio devices such as the Vortex, Vortex Advantage, and Vortex2. The Aureal AU8810, AU8820, and AU8830 Chipsets are all completely supported by the ALSA project. For further comparative values, we also tested the Abit SG-72 integrated audio. The SG-72 uses the SiS 661FX + 946L Chipset and its audio is AC97 audio and uses the Realtek ALC655 Revision 0 chip. Of course, these sound cards are only a minute portion of the hundreds of cards supported by Linux and ALSA/OSS.

To provide non-subjective results as to performance effects for each of these solutions, we used the Unreal Tournament 2004 gaming benchmarks to see the frame-rate when the audio was disabled, and then again when each of these sound cards were being used. With each of these tests, the sound card was installed and tested individually on the above stated system (in the event of the integrated audio its status was toggled from the BIOS). Unreal Tournament 2004 was used due to its more mature status and less strenuous on the graphics solution with the X.Org ATI drivers for the Radeon 9250 128MB compared against other recent games. On the following pages are the affects each of the sound cards had on the system's performance in Unreal Tournament 2004 using our custom benchmarking script.

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