True 5.1 Channel Output
Before we get into how the Acoustic Edge handles 5.1 speaker output, it is important to look at the two different types of 5.1 speaker systems available. First, there are 5.1 speaker systems with a crossover, which directs all low frequency sound below a certain cutoff value (usually 100-200hz) to a subwoofer. This is usually done with systems that use small satellite speakers which cannot reproduce the extremely low frequencies. The majority of computer multimedia speakers on the market today are designed with crossovers.
The other possible configuration is one typically used with larger speakers without a crossover. These speakers are designed so that all speakers can reproduce the complete range of audio. Unfortunately, there are also a few systems that have small satellites, but without the crossover.
Powered by Philips' Thunderbird Avenger DSP and QSound algorithms, the Acoustic Edge works with both types of 5.1 speaker systems, unlike some 5.1 sound cards that only work well with the large-class speaker systems.
By default, the bass is not mixed into the main channels, but the DVD QSurround Enhancement feature will mix the LFE channel into the front left/right channels. The card also works well with value 5.1 speaker systems that don't offer 5.1 decoding onboard, such as Videologic's DigiTheatre LC system. By going with the Acoustic Edge and the DigiTheatre LC, users can save a $100 over the price of a full DigiTheatre system with decoder.
In testing, the Acoustic Edge is a pleasure to use with a 5.1 speaker system. The QSound decoding algorithms work seamlessly and there is absolutely no hassle setting up the speakers nor any tiresome switching between 5.1 output for DVDs, and 4-speaker output for gaming. Furthermore, the Acoustic Edge automatically translates stereo output in Windows (MP3s, CDs, etc.) across 5.1 channels via its QMSS algorithm.
In DVD output, the Acoustic Edge shines with accurately decoded Dolby Digital sound. Of all the 5.1 channel sound cards I've tested, the Acoustic Edge is the top DVD performer in terms of 3D positioning, and the overall quality of the sound stage. In addition to great 5.1 channel output, the Acoustic Edge is equally strong in reproduction of virtual Dolby Digital sound with two speakers.
Virtual Ear Menu