Given the recent train of events concerning VIA’s 686B Southbridge and Creative’s SBLive!, we set out to test the Acoustic Edge across as many platforms as possible.
When paired with Intel chipsets, we encountered no difficulties whatsoever. The card performed absolutely flawlessly. No excess noise was audible, and sound flowed continuously, free of blips or other interruptions. All drivers and software functioned normally.
When paired with somewhat less resilient VIA chipsets (including the 686B on our Iwill KK266), we unfortunately observed some of the same problems seen with the SoundBlaster Live!. On one hand, the Acoustic Edge did not suffer from the same lockups as the SBLive! when transferring data between ATA100 drives, even without VIA’s 4-in-1 drivers installed. However, during periods of heavy disk activity in particular, blips and skipping can be heard in the sound (for example, an MP3 playing in the background). This is absolutely not a CPU loading issue, as our 1.4GHz Athlon is more than capable of playing an MP3 and loading a piece of software simultaneously.
At this point, it’s becoming increasingly clear to us that VIA’s PCI and IDE controller designs are in need of some work. Even moderate loading of the PCI or IDE bus can cause sound to skip or pause briefly. While this may be a bit off topic, we felt it worth mentioning nonetheless. If you’re hoping that ditching your SBLive! for another sound card will eliminate skipping or blips on a VIA platform; think again. The Philips Acoustic Edge did seem to cooperate slightly better with the VIA chipset than the SBLive!, but the situation is far from perfect. It’s also far from being Philips’ (or Creative Labs’) fault.
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