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Reviewed by: Ed Lau [09.25.03]
Edited by: Carl Nelson
Manufactured by: Philips


So you just bought a laptop and you're stoked.

Of course, you automatically think of all the stuff you can do on it. Movies! MP3s! Well, unless you're one of the people that bought one of those double-A powered Alienware laptops, you're unlikely to do too much gaming but...yeah, Games! Still excited? Good.

Laptops are totally capable of all that in all ways but one: sound. The speakers built into the unit usually sound worse than those paperweights you get when you buy a barebones system. Even when you plug some speakers into it, you can still recognize the thin, depthless sound.

And what happens when you plug in some headphones, maybe for those times when you're in a boring lecture or some kind of presentation or if you simply don't want to wake the sleeping baby
(formerly known as the crying baby) or the annoying salesman sitting to your left on your 10 hour flight? The good news? You're definetly not going to wake them. The bad news? It's because the laptop doesn't put out enough power to get a decent volume to your headphones AND they still sound terrible.

Enter the Philips Aurilium, a slick looking silver number with blue LED indicators that's sure to rotate a few necks. Basically a USB soundcard, the Aurilium is designed for laptops as well as people with desktops who simply don't want to open them up to put in a card. Don't get it confused though; the Aurilium matches the specs of many of today's best soundcards.

Like some other high-end solutions, the Aurilium boasts 24-bit DAC as well as a 10 band equalizer for you to fine tune your sound. Full EAX 1.0, EAX 2.0, A3D and DirectSound3D compatiblity ensure that audio acceleration works for all your games. You'll find all the regular outputs you'd expect: two digital outs (coax and TOSlink), front, rear, center and a line-in in the back...microphone and headphone jacks up front.

Fo' QSizzle!

Let's face have MP3s. While the RIAA may be doing more hunting of music lovers and 12-year old girls than R. Kelly, chances are, you still have MP3s somewhere on your hard drive. While Philips has tried to tailor the Aurilium to audiophiles (audiophiles on a budget but audiophiles nonetheless), they have not forgotten those who have digital music in their collection.

No modern sound card would be complete without ridiculous buzzwords like QSizzle and QRumble,
which are basically filters that "restore" the high, mid and low ends of your MP3s, respectively. While this idea looks great on paper, in practice with many of my MP3s, I felt that both algorithms created a very artificial and undesirable sound, especially at high volumes. Of course, this isn't too much of a problem as everything sounds just fine without QSizzle, fo shizzle.

While QSizzle and QRumble come up short, I found that the Qxpander technology, which supposedly
converts the stereo signal to "surround" sound, works great and adds depth to music. It's difficult to describe exactly what it does but I can say it adds a little bit of...echo that makes music sound like it was performed in a concert hall, especially when using headphones.

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