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Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HIFI review

post #1 of 50
Thread Starter 
Hi,

This is my review of the new Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HIFI soundcard.
This card replaces both Prodigy 7.1 and Prodigy 7.1 LT.
http://www.audiotrak.co.uk/home_thea...gy71hifi.shtml

Introduction
I have a Sennheiser HD-595 headphone and my previous card was an Audigy 1.
Since the Audigy is consired crap and I was not happy with the thin sound and harsh highs, I decided to upgrade the source.
I wanted a musical card. It's very important for me that it sounds natural. If that means sacrificing a little bit of detail than that's ok.

I did some research. I quickly dismissed any Creative card because I want the best music reproduction. Stereo sound for games will do just fine.
I also dismissed the 0404 and 1212. I read some complaints about plasticky sound of the 0404. And very mixed opinions about 1212 being better of worse than 0404.
I narrowed it down to a Revo 5.1 or a Prodigy 7.1
The Revo seems more detailed but the Prodigy more natural.
I choose the Prodigy. I was about to buy a Prodigy 7.1 when I found out there was a brand-new beefed up version coming up.
Excellent. The old Prodigy (and Revo) are quite old so something new appeals to me more.

Purchase
I ordered the Prodigy 7.1 HIFI directly from www.audiotrak.co.uk. They first sent a package without any declaration sticker on it.
I life in Norway, which is not an EU-country. The package got stuck. It could not be cleared at customs.
I contacted Audiotrak.co.uk about this. We agreed I would refuse the package and then they would send it again.
This time according to my instructions. A week later I received my card.

Tests
I had high expectations. I started out with "Hotel California" from the "Hell freezes over" live album.
Oh yeah! At 0:32 the drums start. Very tight, natural and airy. A few guitars come in. Nice again.
At 1:17 the lead guitar kicks in. Now there's a problem. This is quite a high-frequency sound.
I'm not happy with it. It sounds shrill. Call it synthetic.
Let's move on. Listen to that low frequency guitar on the left channel which kicks in at 1:42. It's like the guitarplayer has creaped up on you and suddenly starts playing right next to you. Impressive!

The thing that immediately struck me is the cleanness of the sound and it's quite bright and airy.
This keeps coming back in later tests. This card seems to have exceptionally low distortion.
Maybe that shielded stuff actually works.
But like I said, I'm not happy with high frequency guitar sound. It just doesn't sound natural.
So far, these tests where done with the cans directly connected to the soundcard.
I decided to connect my amplifier from my home rig. It's a Kenwood KAF-3030R. This amplifier got very high scores considering its pricerange in a review by UK's Hifichoice 5 years ago. It cost 375 Euros new.

There were a few differences. A lot more bass and body. A bit narrower soundstage. Not as bright. Possibly just a little less clean sound. More pleasing sounding guitar. I can't tell whether the shrillness was covered up because of the sound being less bright.
I also tried my old Senn HD-457 directly connected. These cans have a ridiculously strong bass. They are not as bright and refined as the HD-595. That's no surprise. Same shrillness but less obvious.

What's next
The Prodigy has got five JRC 4580D opamps on sockets. There are (much) better ones out there.
I'm considering changing the opamps on this card to OPA2134PA ones. Provided they are compatible.

Also I'm considering buying a LD2+ tubeamp
This amp should really make my HD-595 shine, keep the soundstage wide and round the edges a little.

I hope this review was helpful. It would be interesting to hear more opinions on this card.
post #2 of 50
I have Prodigy 7.1 XT With Stock Op-amp OPA2134PA (Front Channel) and Grado SR80.
I buy From korea.
I don't like sound coming from opa2134PA.
I change OPA2134 PA with 2xAD825 + Browndog Adapter....
AD825 Give more soundstage & detail at mid & high, but not bright at mid & high.
AD825 need 200 hour burn-in.

What driver come with Prodigy 7.1 Hifi ?
It's Via Driver or Audiotrack Driver ?
post #3 of 50
Sounds like a nice card. Any ideas how to get one in the States?
post #4 of 50
Prodigy XT is equavilen Onkyo and Juli@ and the new version from UK should too .I don't know there are still much people buy X-fi for music ,Creative marketting seem very good .
post #5 of 50
Thread Starter 

UPDATE: installed 2107 opamps

Here's an update:

I changed the JRC opamps to Burr-Brown OPA2107 ones.
Significant improvement!
A lot more bass and fuller sound. The old config made me wonder, do I need an amp? That's no longer the case.
Most important for me, the unnatural harshness of high-pitched guitars is now gone. Guitars now sound like real guitars.

What about detail? Well, the old chips had a lot of delicate detail.
The new chips have the same amount of detail but it is more obvious and more accurate.
The soundstage was very wide. It seems it has extended even a little further.

Any negatives?
When minimizing a window or moving a slider, I hear some faint distortion. It doesn't bother me though.
And, maybe the sound is just a little bit less dynamic but I find it difficult to judge.

I'd say the stock Prodigy + HD-595 is bright. The modded Prodigy + HD-595 is neutral/slightly bright. Superb combination. Very musical. Highly recommended.

I also got a set of OPA2132 and OPA2227 which I will test. I don't expect those to be even better...
I wonder what opams the old Prodigy had. Anyone?
post #6 of 50
Thanks for your initial review and update. And I'm certainly looking forward to your further impressions with the other opamps, too...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini

P.S.: Iirc, they've also used 4580s on the initial Prodigy 7.1 as well as on the low-profile successor Prodigy 7.1 LT. Hmmm... let's see what Google Images yields for "Prodigy 7.1"... Yup, 4580s on both of these.

P.P.S.: Just noticed you're from Norway. Where exactly? I don't snakker Norsk, but I like your country. Just a pity that Tandberg doesn't produce anything hifi anymore...
post #7 of 50
Thread Starter 

UPDATE: OPA2132 and OPA2227 tested

OPA2132: I was not impressed. Certainly not as tight and accurate as the 2107. Not natural, slight synthetic guitar. Lacks depth.

OPA2227: Reasonably good highs (no harshness) but muddy bass. Good soundstage and depth. Much more natural and enjoyable than 2132.

Lastly I slipped in the 2107's again. The 2107 has a strong, really tight accurate bass. The precision of this chip throughout the frequency range is by far the best of all the chips tested. Also great soundstage and depth. Impressive!

PS to Manfred: I have only lived in Norway for half a year now. I'm originally from Holland. I life halfway at the Sognefjord.
post #8 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by AS1 View Post
OPA2132: I was not impressed. Certainly not as tight and accurate as the 2107. Not natural, slight synthetic guitar. Lacks depth.

OPA2227: Reasonably good highs (no harshness) but muddy bass. Good soundstage and depth. Much more natural and enjoyable than 2132.

Lastly I slipped in the 2107's again. The 2107 has a strong, really tight accurate bass. The precision of this chip throughout the frequency range is by far the best of all the chips tested. Also great soundstage and depth. Impressive!

PS to Manfred: I have only lived in Norway for half a year now. I'm originally from Holland. I life halfway at the Sognefjord.
you must wait 50-200 hour, before change with other op-amp to get real sound
op-amp need burn-in.
try with better op-amp like AD825, AD8610, AD8620 ,OPA627
post #9 of 50
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dytln_02 View Post
you must wait 50-200 hour, before change with other op-amp to get real sound
op-amp need burn-in.
try with better op-amp like AD825, AD8610, AD8620 ,OPA627
That's your opinion. I don't believe in burn-in for chips...
post #10 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by dytln_02 View Post
you must wait 50-200 hour, before change with other op-amp to get real sound
op-amp need burn-in.
try with better op-amp like AD825, AD8610, AD8620 ,OPA627
ditto on the opamp choice.

I also like the look of the LMH6622 or some other crazy power draw, low noise one from national and i guess any other AD or OPA type chip that is similar or better than the ones above.

As for burn in, are you sure it's not ear burn in until you can't tell what you dislike so much about a source or notice nothing new yourself rather than the sound being different?
post #11 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_ah1 View Post
As for burn in, are you sure it's not ear burn in until you can't tell what you dislike so much about a source or notice nothing new yourself rather than the sound being different?

No, first time I put AD825, sound muddy after 200 hour muddy sound is gone
post #12 of 50
Yes, I thought the same with my UM2 headphones. Now I can't hear the muddiness/murkiness so much....but others can when they first try them. Just a thought. perhaps solid state chips do need burn in to work more efficiently, I don't know.
post #13 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_ah1 View Post
ditto on the opamp choice.

I also like the look of the LMH6622 or some other crazy power draw, low noise one from national and i guess any other AD or OPA type chip that is similar or better than the ones above.
Any advice where I can find any UK or EU stockists of the various op-amps mentioned in this thread?

I have done a search on Google and have come up with nothing apart from a few at Maplin.

Cheers - Harryo
post #14 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harryo View Post
Any advice where I can find any UK or EU stockists of the various op-amps mentioned in this thread?

I have done a search on Google and have come up with nothing apart from a few at Maplin.

Cheers - Harryo
Everyone seems to suggest using digikey - I havent found out their shipping rates to the uk though....

do we have radioshack/tandy still in the UK?
post #15 of 50
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harryo View Post
Any advice where I can find any UK or EU stockists of the various op-amps mentioned in this thread?
Over here, I'd foremost check B├╝rklin (www.buerklin.de) and Schuricht (www.schuricht.de) - and maybe also Reichelt (www.reichelt.de), Conrad (www.conrad.de) and ELV (www.elv.de).

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
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