The Making of Edge – 5 Key Technologies
Edge is our best hi-fi system to date. Let’s delve deeper into how the series came to be and the design philosophy behind its intricate and slightly unconventional design and technologies.
If you’ve visited us or paid attention to our appearances at various hi-fi shows over the last year or so, you’ll have seen mysterious looking units that bare all their inner workings. These were initial designs and prototypes of Edge, and they’ve been in the works for quite some time. Here’s how Edge came to be.
50 Years of British Sound
In the build-up to our 50th anniversary, the engineering team were assigned a unique brief: if all time constraints were taken away and all hurdles were removed, what could we create? What could be achieved if we took our 50 years of audio expertise and started with a completely blank sheet of paper? The result is Edge. The pinnacle of our hi-fi heritage and embodiment of our signature British Sound.
The team had complete freedom to select components, materials and technologies based solely on their musical merits and how well they articulate our vision of natural, unadulterated sound. From this, five key technologies contribute to Edge’s phenomenal sound:
1. A unique approach to the PCB
With Edge, we set ourselves a goal to keep the signal path as short as possible to significantly reduce the chance of any colour or distortion being added to the audio, ensuring a pure and natural sound. To achieve this, the printed circuit board needed to be unlike any other.
We completely removed all the capacitors from the signal path and instead introduced a DC coupled topology to the board. We decided that capacitors needed to be removed from the signal path, simply because they can be responsible for adding more distortion and colour than many other components. This technology prevents the delivery of DC to your speakers by using dedicated servos to inject equal and opposite amounts of DC, therefore eliminating it completely. With this improvement though, the signal is incredibly clean and concise, vastly reducing colouration.
Additionally, we used a solid-state volume control, ensuring that channels were kept perfectly balanced, regardless of how loud Edge is played.
2. Opposing Symmetry Twin Toroidal Transformers
We pioneered the use of toroidal transformers in amplifiers right back at the launch of our first product, the P40, which lead to improved performance (and you can learn more here). With Edge, we took this a step further, introducing a second transformer and stacking it in opposing symmetry to cancel out magnetic interference and ensure the amplifier is capable of outstanding power. No matter how hard you push the amp, you’ll get this same clear result, so you can enjoy every detail and nuance of your music without any distractions.
3. The Class XA Power Amplifier
Class XA is our proprietary amplification system which combines the best of Class A and Class AB amplification, delivering the sound quality of a Class A amp while retaining the efficiency of a Class AB amp. Class XA differs by adding voltage to a traditional Class AB design, shifting the crossover point to a position where the audio distortion is not audible to the human ear.
If this all sounds slightly familiar, it’s because this technology is very similar to Class XD found in our 851 series amplifiers. However, Class XA is a more refined version giving an even better performance thanks to the technology in the Edge A and W amplifiers.
4. The Digital Input Board and Component Selection
Something at the forefront of our engineers’ minds when designing Edge was the compatibility with a wide range of sources, allowing for a greater level of flexibility than ever before. Whether you’re connecting via digital coaxial or even USB, you’re completely catered for. Whatever digital content you’re looking to play, Edge can handle anything up to 32bit/384kHz and DSD 256 over USB.
The team auditioned each component used in Edge by using the most important tool of all: their ears. The final components were blind tested in countless listening sessions. Cost and measured performance were disregarded in favour of sonic performance alone. If the music made our feet tap, it made the cut.
5. StreamMagic Streaming Module
Our custom built StreamMagic platform has picked up multiple industry accolades since its inception in 2011 with the NP30. Developing our own platform in-house gives us the flexibility to adapt and change as new technologies emerge. Our latest incarnation ‘Black Marlin’ brings a range of additions to the Edge range, including built in Chromecast for compatibility with audio apps including Tidal, Deezer and Qobuz, and the ability to support DSD256 high resolution formats. Other mainstays of StreamMagic including Spotify Connect, Airplay and Internet Radio are still there, so however you listen to your music you’re guaranteed complete control.
We’re immensely proud of the Edge series and firmly believe it’s the finest articulation of our signature British Sound yet. Head to our Edge product pages for full product breakdowns, then check out the behind the scenes YouTube video below.