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Review: Philips Acoustic Edge (Page 1/7)

Posted: August 15, 2001
Written by: Tuan "GTk2" Huynh


In May 1999, Royal Philips Electronics had made an announcement that under agreement it would acquire all of VLSI System’s shares. Under the agreement, VLSI would become part of Philips’s Semiconductor division. Earlier in 1999 VLSI had announced the Thunderbird 128 DSP for sound cards, but due to bad driver support, the chipset was only utilized by smaller soundcard companies such as Labway and Aztech.

Over a year later, Philips announced it would be producing 2, 4, and 6 channel sound cards. The 2 and 4 channel cards were to be based on VLSI’s Thunderbird 128 DSP with the 6 channel card using a brand new DSP developed by Philips and VLSI. The brand new DSP that was developed by Philips and VLSI was dubbed the “Thunderbird Avenger.” The Thunderbird Avenger was to be used on Philips’s flagship sound card the -- Acoustic Edge.

In November 2000, Philips released its flagship Acoustic Edge and made a name for itself in the PC audio industry. Today we’ll take a look at Philips flag ship award winning 6 channel sound card aimed towards both gamers and DVD enthusiasts.


“First PCI card capable of playing ALL games, music and movies in fully-accelerated true 5.1 surround sound.

Expands stereo sources into complex, distinct 5.1 surround channels, using patented QSound algorithm.

96 distinct 3D Voices, 256 distinct DirectSound Voices & 576 distinct synthesized Wavetable voices.

Radical hardware acceleration using the extreme Philips Thunderbird Avenger DSP.

Comprehensive music management with SIREN XPress MP3 software.”

Looking at the features, the Acoustic Edge shows that Philips has been listening to what users want. Featuring 96 distinct 3D voices, 256 distinct DirectSound voices and 575 distinct synthesized Wavetable voices, we see Philips is aiming the Acoustic Edge as a competitor to Creative’s own SB Live 5.1 series and now Hercules’ GameTheater XP.

Philips stated above that the Acoustic Edge is the first PCI card capable of playing everything in true 5.1 channels, but the problem is that only movie DVDs support 5.1 surround sound at the moment and virtually zero games do. How does Philips claim they made the first PCI sound card capable of playing everything in 5.1? The Acoustic Edge utilizes QSound algorithms allowing it to transform virtually any audio source into a 5.1 audio source. The QSound algorithms are able to transform any audio source into 5.1 by panning the front audio channels to create an emulated center, subwoofer, and surround channels.

For example you decide to watch cable TV with your TV tuner. The AE will take the stereo or Dolby Surround signal and pan it so it will be recreated on all 6 speakers providing you with a 5.1 experience. This sounds very impressive on paper and sounds even more so when you actually listen to it. There have been many sound expansion gimmicks tried before by other sound card manufacturers but none come close to what the Acoustic Edge can do.

Enough with the capabilities though, let’s take a look at the card….

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