"great product"on by toddjoseph
Pros great replacement sound card for laptop
Cons none that i have found
Summary i bought mine about 5 years ago and have used it on 2 different laptops. i only paid about 50-60 bucks for it back then
Pros Vastly improves the sound of OEM notebook speakers. Super easy install, and excellent setup guide.
Cons Hangs out of card slot , no RCA inputs. :(
Summary I would recommend this product to anyone who wants great sound without having to spend beaucoup dollars on external speakers.
Pros Installation was a breeze, it takes time though. Very good sound. Digital out works with all outputs and provides real upgrade.
Cons Extra cables required.
Summary I have been using an older laptop as a player for my collection of CDs backed-up to an external hard disk (using lossless Monkeys Audio compression). I used to connect the laptop to the HT receiver via the headphone port. The sound level was low (needed to up the receiver volume way beyond other sources) and the quality was OK.
The card was easy to install, and I first tested it with analog connection to output stereo signal to the receiver. It did not really worked as a line out as the signal level was dependent of laptop audio volume. There was, anyway, an increase in signal level and in quality. But I was questioning, at this point, whether the card was worth the investment.
I then got a toslink optical cable (reversible to mini-plugs on both sides) and connected via digital out to the receiver. I was afraid that digital out would only work for playing discs from the laptop's player. But no! All sources come out digital. And now it rocks. Music came alive, detailed, at a volume very close to my DVD player (a bit lower than the CD player though). I'm not sure I'd be able to perceive a difference from the same CD coming from the Marantz CD player.
In summary, well worth the investment when using the digital out connection.
Pros Supports up to 7.1 surround, compact, excellent sound improvement over stock soundcard
Cons No remote, removing the soundcard suddenly may crash windows
Summary I have to say that this is one of the best investments for any laptops if you own a 5.1 or 7.1 sound system and your PCMCIA slot is unused. If you have a 2.1 system, I'm not sure if it would be as enjoyable or not. I use this sound card on my Inspiron 6000 with a set of the 5.1 Logitech Z-5300e so this review is based on them.
-- Package --
The packaging is quite simple, you have the PCMCIA Audigy sound card along with a protective case, some Creative earphones, bunch of manuals, a DVD-audio sampler for surround music, the cable to connect to the speakers, and you get to have a nice sticker for your laptop that says "Sounds Best on Sound Blaster 24-bit Advanced HD"!
-- Installation --
Installing the Audigy 2 ZS Notebook is fairly easy and straight forward. Just follow the instructions but you don't need to install everything. Don't forget to upgrade to the LATEST drivers from the official website. Creative Labs have fixed and implemented new features.
I.e. You no longer need to change the settings manually if you want to switch from speakers to headphones. It will auto-detect the headphone once plugged in and the software will switch it for you, which is VERY convenient.
-- Music --
The sound is clear and crisp and the bass is great and loud despite that mp3 songs are 2-channel stereo audio. I've tried the sample surround music disc that came with the soundcard and it was great. Instruments and vocals were coming out of different speakers simultaneously. In addition, you can play with the soundcard's surround mixer and graphic equalizer to tweak the sound a bit.
Overall, music generally sounds better using the Audigy, which is better than using the stock card. I am pleased with the quality it offers.
-- Games --
Gaming experience was never been so great in the past using laptops but this card significantly improves it. This is where the Audigy really shines.
My first and most notable experience was Doom 3 with EAX HD. The ambient sound came from 360 degrees. It was scary that the realism felt so real. Sound effects are amazing; you could hear from every angle.
I play Counter-Strike as well and I have to say that it is incredible how much precision you can obtain. You could even pinpoint where your opponents are coming from whether he is above or below you. Sound is really the key for winning in CS. If you use headphones, you would hear a bit further than you could with a stock soundcard.
I also played other games that have EAX support such as Far Cry, Call of Duty, Hitman: Blood Money and many more. In overall, every one of them sounds much better with EAX.
-- DVD movie --
The Audigy shines in this area as well. Watching a movie was never so exciting on a laptop before. Using Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound, it is a breathtaking experience like in a theatre. The soundcard successfully separate and deliver all the sounds to five speakers and subwoofer. In most cases, you could even watch a movie in 5.1 without voices by lowering the center speaker's volume!
-- Recording --
The installation CD has programs that allow you to record and mix you own songs. You can also use the sound bank provided in the installation disc as well. Since I do not do any recordings. I can't really review on it.
-- Conclusion --
This nice little Audigy is the best device to plug into your unused PCMCIA slot. Along with a good set of speakers, you can easily turn your laptop into a home theatre experience. It works for me, so it should work for you too!
Perhaps one of the common issues is that when you suddenly eject the PCMCIA card out, your windows may crash with a blue screen because you're not supposed to remove it like that. Moreover, your sound settings may reset to default as well if it happens. If you need to remove it, you will need to safely remove it the same way as a USB flash memory drive.Updated
To enjoy the movies in a 5.1 or 7.1 setup, you may need a different player than Windows Media Player. I use PowerDVD by CyberLink because it accepts SPDIF signals, which is what this Audigy 2 uses for 5.1 or 7.1.
Pros Surround sound.
Cons Poor sound quality when compared to Echo Indigo io/dj
Summary I am giving a 7 star rating only because of the awesome work done by Creative in providing 5.1 and 7.1 output etc.
But if sheer sound quality is only your concern, then consider the more expensive Echo Indigo IO or Echo Indigo DJ.
If like me you just use a good quality headphones (I usea fair enough Grado SR80), then Echo Indigo IO is simply excellent for a PCMCIA sound card. Evidently improved Bass, more prestine Mids/Highs and much more overall depth of music over ZS Notebook. (Then again for pure sound quality, also consider Headroom Total Bithead (USB Soundcard)).
Nevertheless, if you have a 5.1 or so speaker system into which you plug your laptop, or want a sound card for games with features optimised for them, then Audigy 2 ZS Notebook will be a totally awesome purchase.
On an ending note.. Koodos to Creative for clubbing all the bells and horns into one small compact form factor.