Single page Print

A peek over the edge
Sound cards usually aren't much to look at, but let's have a peek anyway.

The Ultimate Edge looks like, well, a sound card. The card is quite a bit smaller than Creative's Audigy2, which will no doubt come in handy if you're planning on squeezing it into a small form factor system. Better that than something with a case window; the Ultimate Edge's dark brown board isn't exactly aesthetically pleasing.

There's no much to see on the Ultimate Edge's surface, but take note of the card's internal CD and auxiliary inputs. You won't get those on the M-Audio Revolution 7.1.

In addition to its internal inputs, the Ultimate Edge also has a wide array of external ports, including analog line and microphone inputs, and analog center/LFE, rear, and front outputs. The card also comes with a coaxial S/PDIF port for digital output.

Taking a closer look at the card reveals VIA's new Envy24GT audio controller. Targeted at high-end consumer sound cards and media center PCs, the GT is the only desktop-oriented Envy24 without eight-channel output capabilities. Six-channel audio should be more than adequate for the vast majority of users, though.

The Envy24GT supports 24-bit/96kHz audio across all six of its analog output channels, and also across four analog inputs. The chip's digital I/Os are also 24 bits wide, but they raise the sampling rate to 192kHz.

Philips taps Wolfson's WM8766 six-channel DAC and WM8776 codec to handle the Ultimate Edge's analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversions, giving the Ultimate Edge 24-bit audio from inputs to outputs. These Wolfson chips are capable of 24-bit/192kHz audio. However, since the Envy24GT's analog I/Os only support sampling rates up to 96kHz, the card can't take advantage of the higher sampling rates offered by the Wolfson components.