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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [07.15.04]
Manufactured by: Philips

MSRP: $69.99

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The Specs

So we know that the Ultimate Edge uses the Envy24GT, which is capable of 24 bit resolution, with 96 kHz sample rate. That's all we need to know, right? Wrong.

The audio controller itself is only part of the whole equation of a soundcard. We found out about that when Creative boasted 24 bit, 96 kHz capability with their Audigy, when it was only the DAC that supported that; everything before it was using old 20 bit components. So let's look at how the Ultimate Edge stacks up to its main competition, part by part. A soundcard is only as good as its weakest link!

  Components Precision (resolution / sample rate)
  Sound Controller Codec DAC Audio Chip ADC DAC
Ultimate Edge Envy24 GT Wolfson 8776 Wolfson 8766 24 bit / 96 kHz 24 bit / 192 kHz 24 bit / 192 kHz
Audigy 2 Audigy 2 SigmaTEL STAC9721 Cirrus Logic CS4382 24 bit / 192 kHz 24 bit / 96 kHz 24 bit / 192 kHz
Revolution 7.1 Envy24 HT   AKM AK4355 24 bit / 192 kHz 24 bit / 96 kHz 24 bit / 192 kHz
Intel HD* ICH6 Southbridge Realtek ALC880   24 bit / 192 kHz 20 bit / 96 kHz 24 bit / 192 kHz

As you can see, the Ultimate Edge's 'weakest link' is actually the sound controller itself. While they are using ADC's (analog to digital converter) and DAC's (digital to analog converter) capable of higher sample rates, the Envy24GT chip itself is limited to 96 kHz. Gladly, Philips markets the card as such, and on the box they clearly state the Ultimate Edge as supporting a 96 kHz sample rate. No 'creative' marketing here!

Let's look at each component more closely

The Chip

We already covered the Envy24 GT chip throughout this article, but to sum things up:

  • It's capable of 6 channels output, 4 channels of input
  • No 3d hardware support (requires software emulation for EAX, etc)
  • Supports 24 bit resolution with 96 kHz sample rate

The Codec

Philips decided to include a codec on the Ultimate Edge (this isn't always necessary, and depends on how many channels they want to support, or if they want to add more features, etc). They went with a high end audio component manufacturer from UK for this: Wolfson Micro.


Philips once again went with Wolfson Micro for the DAC. If you are using analog speakers, this component is very important to you. Luckily, this is a very high quality DAC, with support for 24 bit resolution, and 192 kHz sampling rate. In terms of audio quality on headphones, or analog speakers, this is the component that is going to give the Ultimate Edge any characteristics it might have over other soundcards.

Now let's check out the drivers, and see how we can take control of the Ultimate Edge.

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