once again invaded the PC Audio scene with a new soundcard
offering. Earlier this year we took a close look to their
Aurilium external soundcard
which left us quite impressed by its solid output quality
and great work on its drivers, giving for once some real
competition to the Creative
This time around they are bringing us a
new internal soundcard based on the VIA Envy24GT chipset
which combined with the SoundAgent 2 drivers we tested on
the Aurilium, should make for a very solid entrance in the
The Philips Ultimate
Edge has been based around the now very popular
Envy 24-GT chipset.
Internally this can operate at up to 24-Bit/192kHz, analog
output however is limited to 24-Bit/96kHz for up to 6
channels (5.1). The DAC/ADC is provided by
a 24-Bit, 192 kHz 6 channel DAC with 24-Bit, 96kHz ADC.
soundcards based on the Envy24 chipset, such as the
Revolution 7.1, the Ultimate Edge resamples to either 48
kHz or 96 kHz. This resampling is determined by the HI-SR
(96 KHz) setting, which I will cover on more detail later.
Similarly to the
Audigy 2 and most other soundcards in the market, you
will still find your CDs and MP3s being resampled from 44.1
kHz to 48 kHz/96 kHz. Resampling is undesirable as it can
introduce artefacts and distortion into the audio source
Support for DVD-Audio
is not available, although that can also be said for any
soundcard that isn’t as an Audigy 2.
M-Audio previously stated they were “actively
working with developers of DVD-A player applications to try
to accelerate the development process”. It is not
yet clear whether it is possible to support all of the
required CPPM copy protection in software-only, but early
information does look promising.
Installation & Connectivity
The Ultimate Edge
features 3 Stereo Line Outputs, a Coaxial S/PDIF Output,
Line In and Mic In.
M-Audio Revolution 7.1 soundcard which is also based on
the Envy chipset, several internal inputs were available in
the Ultimate Edge although these are nowadays considered
legacy and not of much use for the most part. For the review
I connected the Ultimate Edge to a set of
Creative Inspire 6700
Unlike the Philips’
own Aurilium external soundcard which came in a more unique
packaging shape, the Ultimate Edge came in a standard retail
box. Beyond the essential contents, inside the box were a
Quick Start manual, a Warranty leaflet and the
Drivers/Application CD. Installation itself went just fine.
applications included Musicmatch Jukebox 8 and QSound Audio
Drivers & Sound Agent 2
As seen previously
with the Philips Aurilium, drivers support for the Ultimate
Edge only include Windows 2000 and XP. Philips uses Sound
Agent 2 HD which provides an excellent setup interface.
So what is Sound
Agent 2? Sound Agent 2 uses sophisticated
algorithms to analyse sound along 2 dimensions: the source
of the sound, which can be any source type, & the room or
headphones where the sound is going to be played.
Combining input & output with the sound
card itself results in high-quality total holistic sound
optimisation. Importantly, the end-user also has a means of
easily identifying & manipulating variables that affect
sound quality in context of their particular listening
experience. More info can be found at the
The Sound Agent 2
interface has not changed much from what I saw with the
Aurilium. This is by no means a bad thing.