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Creative Labs preps 1394-based digital music rig

Let's hear it for Audigy

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Creative Labs' SoundBlaster Audigy sound system - details of it, at least - have leaked out onto the Web. Part of what looks suspiciously like the company's launch presentation has been smuggled out onto a Russian Web site.

Creative describes the as-yet-unannounced Audigy - from 'Audio Energy'? - as "the most advanced digital audio entertainment centre". In addition to the hardware and the software that controls it, Audigy appears also to refer to the sound chip underlying it all, also known as the EMU10K2.

A previously leaked roadmap suggests that Audigy is scheduled to be released any day now.

According to the Russian site, Audigy appears to be aimed at home music and video buffs. So there's the obligatory Dolby Digital 5.1 and Surround support, plus audio in. It also supports Windows Media Audio and MP3.

Interestingly, Creative has also included an IEEE1394 interface - or SB1394, as Creative calls it - to transfer files to hard drives, CD-RW units or even Creative's own Nomad Jukebox MP3 player. Ready for copyright-protected material, Audigy contains ContentPass technology to prevent unauthorised music duplications.

The presentation also claims that users will be able to "transfer your very own home video" using the 1394 link, but it's not clear whether Audigy will ship with video editing tools. A 'Home Studio' slide refers to "DV Movie making", so we assume it does. Alas the presentation appears to be incomplete, so we can't say for sure.

We can say - on the basis of what is up on the Russian site that Audigy will ship with Cubasis music composition software.

The Audigy system contains the Environmental Audio eXtensions (EAX) technology developed by Dolby and Creative, and will allow users to download plug-ins, adding sound effects such as reverb, chorus, echo, flanger, ring modulator (good for Dalek voices, this), and pitch and frequency shifters.

It also supports something called ASIO recording technology, but the presentation says little more than it "assures multi-track recording with low-latency and individual EAX-enabled effects per stream".

ASIO, we're told by savvy Register readers, stands for Audio Stream Input/Output Architecture. It was developed by Steinberg for sequencing software. Says one: "No new sound-card can possibly be taken seriously without ASIO drivers."

Audigy also ships with PlayCenter 2 software, which handles MP3 encoding at up to 320Kbps.

Photos in the leaked presentation suggest Audigy comprises not only a PC add-in card, but a drive bay unit - called, we hear separately, Audigy Drive - that provides the same set of input/output ports as the card's backplane (IEEE1394, mini-jacks and RCA connectors), plus remote control and optical connections for true digital I/O.

Incidentally, we hear that Creative will offer Audigy in a variety of forms, aimed at different types of users, including gamers, MP3 and online music listeners, and home music makers. Prices will range from $99 to $199. ®

Related Link

You can view the Creative Audigy slides here if Creative hasn't had them pulled yet

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