For those who are considering a new multichannel audio card for their HT/gaming setup, here is some of the info I've been able to gather on SB Audigy that might affect your purchase decision:
1. The card does not do 24/96 i/o EXCEPT pass through. All digital inputs at 24/96 are resampled to 48kHz internally (as per PC99 spec). Also, you cannot sample at 24bit @ 96 kHz (but 48/16). Only digital passthrough via SPDIF is bit-perfect (i.e. unaltered) - everything else is resampled, just like in the SBLive series
2. The card's claimed 100 dB s/n ratios are false. A/D stage is c. 82 dB, D/A stage c. 89 dB, D/D 89 dB (remember that it is resampled!)
3. Card does NOT have any HW compatibility problems with VIA chipsets as long as Via 4-in-1 drivers 4.33 or later are used. The situation should be the same with Live cards now. Latest Playcenter may still cause problems to some (so if you don't need it, don't install it).
4. The card has a measured drop in 300 Hz range in it's D->A conversion stage of about 20 dB. Also, the high frequencies start to attenuate at between 16-18 kHz and drop sharply after that, reaching a -6dB point at 20Hz:
Ref: Stereoplay germany, 10/2001, page PC2
5. Both analog and digital output cannot be active at the same time (you need to buy a separate digital i/o card for that).
6. Game speed is good as cpu utilization is even lower than before.
7. Bass redirection and selectable x-over points with internal DD decoding (but only if you use the internal decoding - of course)
8. No *major* compatibility problems have been reported yet (AFAIK!)
Ref: too many to mention
In conclusion, would I *personally* buy this card as a replacement for my current SBLive! card? No, it doesn't offer wide enough features for home theater (dd, dts, dts es, thx ex decoding, bass management), it's audio capabilities are still lacking and the gaming advancements are currently theoretical (not too many new games suport the new features).
Still, is it a bad card? No, I don't think so, but having personally spent so many hours researching and learning it - I just wanted to share some of my finding with others who might be considering purchasing it.
I'm still waiting for the new Terratec DMX 6fire 24/96 with EAX/A3D support and hopefully closer to true audiophile quality.
PS If you just want the best game experience and a digital pass through from you ht computer to you decoder, then this is probably the best card currently on the market (or very close to TB Santa Cruz and Herc Game Theater XP).