If we take a look at the figures, there’s a clear gain in the dynamic range of the new card, courtesy of the change in chipset, all tests used Right Mark Audio Analyzer 5.5 using the loop back test, all inputs were muted.
The largest difference appears during the 192kHz test with the Audigy 4 putting in a very good showing. At 48kHz, the card also performs as expected, indeed slightly more than the stated 6dB improvement.
Creative claims a figure of 113dB SNR for the Audigy 4 but as I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, these figures are unlikely to be found in the wild. I also like to use a very informal test by observing the noise generated by cards as viewed by the meter level in an audio editing package such as Adobe Audition. For my money this is much closer to a real world test.
For comparison, my Emu 1212m card (which despite being a Creative company uses a completely different chipset) hovers at around -84dB, an older M-Audio Delta 44 gives me -78dB and the Audigy 4 gives me a very steady -81dB, a most respectable figure.
The IMD and noise percentage is very high when testing at 44kHz due to the re-sampling and audio artefacts found in the audio signal due to the processing. Whole audiophile wars have been fought over whether these artefacts can be heard. It’s safe to say that if you’re of the persuasion where this is important to you, you’ll most likely not be buying a card like the Audigy anyway, but rather one focused only on audio production.