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X-Fi sound bugs? I think I have a solution.

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
In spring 2006 I finally get my hands on X-Fi Fatal1ty card. The reason for upgrade from my Audigy2zs was mostly the pause bug, BF2 support (I started play BF2 a lot) and the X-ram thing, that provide 64MB soundbuffer that should dramaticaly reduce PCI load - hence give me some speed-up Or so I thought. The first nasty surprise when I actually get the card in my hand was this:



Not only the unnecessary long legs, but mainly the capacitors type - Jamicons. Jamicon cap's are bad, they are known to fail - eg. over time lost most of their specs.
At first, everything work great, except some weird noises when BF2 is loading sounds. (maybe the card did not like OGM playback when there is going writing samples to the X-ram? Or my A9R480 Sapphire Grouper mobo is up to blame?) However after like 2 months are the pause bug back.

When I say pause bug, I mean this. Using any player, play a AC3 5.1 movie while using 5.1 speakers on analog connection. Decoding filter has to be AC3 filter and it has to use 24bit output to generate enough data to trigger the failure. Now randomly pause and unpause the playback. Sooner ot later the channels start play from wrong speakers and/or there is terrible noise from all speakers comming after the unpause. This is a pause bug. I had it on Audigy (1), Audigy2zs and after two months on X-Fi as well.

It was obvious that the X-Fi is need to be recapped and the Jamicons changed to good, preferably audio caps - but NOT for all positions. The catch is, that Creative did use one capacitor type for all positions - eg. for the voltage filtering as well, as for the audio output. That is nonsense at best. Audio and computers capacitors don't mix!
So, they simply put Jamicons everywhere. Not something that I would expect from 260$ pricetag (spring 2006, mind you) product :hitwall:





Now why I started this thread.

Well, to begin with, some weeks ago (to 14. 8. 2006) I started to play Mafia - a original Czech game of the 1930 NewYork organized crime. You simply work your way up in the organization at prohibition times, drive old cars, steal, murder and finally seek salvation from the hands of cops... During play it sometimes in these briefing talking scenes is seems to starting to lost some samples. I thought that the Czech programmers engine simply could have some quirks with 64MB of sample buffer on X-Fi Fatal1ty. After all, as the game release there was not such a thing as X-Fi, right? However the more I play and the closer to the end I was, the more often it happening. And it kinda suxx to go on mission and not know the briefing, right? However as I finished the game, the problems are gone, so...

So then I started play Prey And when shortly in game in one spot appears more sounds at once (your girl scream, mechanic move, buttons, alien...), the whole computer freeze. I remember the Jamicons and quickly pull the X-Fi out and replaced the big Jamicon (originaly a 220uF 16V) with Panny FM 470uF 16V as well, as two 100uF Jamicons with 120uF Panny FM ones.



The results.

I finished whole Prey in few days of hard gaming w/o crash or any problem. I went back to Mafia and - whoa, samples aren't lost anymore again. My apology, Czech programmers. I did not trusted in yours skils... In adition, the pause bug is - GONE!

Pause bug - long story:
Quote:
Pause bug
Long time ago I decided to upgrade my speakers. It was when Matrix Reloaded was released and I realized my own homemade apm + speakers are simply not enought. They can't handle the extremly low-frequency effects designed for subwoofers to "shake your world and body" combined with the music. The fight scene with many copy's of Agent Smith verzus Neo was shiny example of my speakers inequality - beside every friend visiting me was constantly asking where I bought them, because they play, well... very well :good:
So, to make some use of my SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 output I choosen a Genius SW-5.1 wooden speakers, because they sound damn good (with some modifications, better opamps, cables and stuff). Now the best AC3 decode was a AC3 filter. It sound damn good, however there also come the price. Every time I pause ANY movie using ANY player (Mplayer, Mplayer Classic, BSplay, SoubtitleWorkshop DS preview play, etc) and then quickly unpause it, it sometimes swap random channels. And believe me, hearing subwoofer efect from mid speaker and speaking of actors thru the subwoofer is not exactly exciting...
It was also (SB Live! 5.1) not capable of 24 bit output.

To fix this ughly pause bug and get 24bit, I go and bought Audigy soundcard. Later are revealed that the Audigy is not exactly 24bit at all and my ears kinda relalized it anyway. And futhermore, not only the quality of sound did not improve over SB Live! 5.1, but the pause bug become more frequent and it add a whole new trick. Most times the "channel swap" was not enought. Now it mostly push hi-volume noise into most or all channels...! Believe me, suddently hearing high volume noise from all the 6 channels will make you jump :angry:

To get true 24bit output AND get rid of the pause bug I bought later an Audigy 2 ZS card (after checking and realizing the simply Audigy 2 card witch friend has with same speakers, did not improve much of the sound), but the pause bug did not disappeared at all. That make me kinda furious and angry.

Yet about year and half back I invested again into Creative crap and bought a full-featured X-Fi Fatal1ty for enhancing my BF2 play experience and eventualy geting rid of the pause bug. That was likely the last time I bought anything from Creative. Not only I have to mod drivers to work/install on Win2k a bit, but they also suxx and the pausebug is still here.
I managed to get rid of it for some month or so, after I replace some major caps on the X-Fi, but as the other caps aging (and they are bad brand of caps also - something that is hard to believe in a $260 pricetag at the buy time product) I get the pause bug yet again.

So there you have proof, that Direct Show decoders seeking could be a problem, when using 5.1 output with 24bit AC3 filter settings and quickly do many random pause/unpause of a AC3/DTS movie.

It (the pause bug) travel with me on many different mainboards/CPUs and happen even in completelly new mobos - and even now, when I have mobo with all good caps and completely recapped PSU. I planing to get rid of it by complete X-Fi recapp + add enhanced and brutal PCI voltage filtering for the X-Fi + shielding the X-Fi.

Later.

So I added the frontpannel later (moth or so), but in like a week, problems and pausebug are there again. Frontpannel is full of Jamicons too, and it obviously accelerated the dying of Jamicons on card or so. I pulled it out, yet the pause bug is still there. No crashing, luckily.


I would like to hear from X-Fi and perhaps also Audigy2(zs) users about their experience and possibly about their sound bugs. There is so many people on Creative forum that claim to have similar issues as me, so... I wonder in how many cases this could be avoided just by using good caps and not Jamicon crap...



To completely recap X-Fi you need:

X-Fi Fata1ity
-------------
Remove and short 16x 22uF 16V Jamicon decoupling caps - C23, C50, C76, C77, C28, C55, C85, C83, C61, C32, C62, C26, C67, C36, C34 and C68. http://img120.imageshack.us/img120/1...gcapsgoan9.jpg

1x Samxon GC 1000uF 6.3V (d8) Big Pope
2x Samxon GD 470uF 6.3V (d6.3) Big Pope
17x Panny FM 150uF 6.3V (d5) P12917-ND Digi-key
1x Panny FM 100uF 10V (d5) P12919-ND Digi-key
2x Panny FM 68uF 16V (d5) P12921-ND Digi-key
4x Panny FM 47uF 25V (d5) P12923-ND Digi-key
6x Black Gate N 4.7uF 50V (d5) - d6.3 can fit Sonic craft
2x Black Gate C 4.7uF 50V (d5) - d6.3 can fit Sonic craft

(you can ship the Black Gates and only remove the original caps off the card, if you are not plan to use the 10pin Creative connector and the AUX-IN connector near it)


Audigy 2zs
----------
3x 100uF 16V d6.3 (Jamicon) - P12922-ND
5x 47uf 16V d5 (Teapo) - P11196-ND
35x 22uF 16V d4 (Jamicon) - P11213-ND
5x 10uF 16V d4 (Jamicon) - P11212-ND
11x 4.7uF 50V d4 (Jamicon) - P10315-ND
3x 1uF 50V d4 (Wincap) - P10312-ND

(digi-key.com product numbers used)
post #2 of 57
Thread Starter 
This is a picture of X-Fi Fatal1ty by user Raggingbone that continue to have crashes and stuff with the card:



No wonder when the Jamicon for main X-Fi chip is alredy leaking!


(X-Fi Fatal1ty Sanyo Os-con SEPC 820uF 2,5V for main chip voltage filtering used)

This attempt not helped me to get rid of the pause bug - eg. pausing and unpausing movie with any player, using AC3 filter 24bit output cause switched channels or terrible noise after unpause.
Damn.
Bridging the polymer with 10uF SMD ceramic helped a bit more, but it is still like 50/50 chance to get a pause bug there. Panny FM 470uF with 4,7uF ceramic helped me much more before, damn.

Next try - 1000uF Samxon GC bridged with 4.7uF CMD ceramic (Tayo Yuden).

Nah, next try - try to study how to voltage regulation for the main X-Fi chip is done in the first place

So, the volage regulation for the main X-Fi chip is made by TI PS54352 chip.
http://www.ti.com/lit/gpn/tps54352
The recommended use is this:



From this is quite obvious, that Creative design is very bellow specs one and for example - the imput filtering elyte capacity should be at least 100uF and as close to the chip a 10uF (at least) ceramics low-ESR cap. The Creative imput filtering elyte are 22uF Jamicon (!) and I did not yet measure the ceramic one, but I fear it is not "at least" 10uF as it should be.
Measured 15uF. I should desolder it, I think I measure something else with it also...

Same for the output. I see bulk capacity there, a 330uF elyt, 100uF another low esr cap and 0,1uF ceramics. Creative used a 220uF Jamicon witch is not low ESR cap in any way, shape or form...

So now it is clear, why I get the best results with mediocre 470uF Panny FM 16V cap (mediocre because using 16V cap on 1.25V a "bit" soften it's specs) with bridged 4,7uF ceramics are best and why the ultra-low-ESR polymer was not a great there.

My fault. Now I also going to replace the imput filtering "bulk" capacity - by Creative 22uF 16V Jamicon - by me a 150uF 6.3V Nichicon HE :dev: Yet the usage of 470uF Panny FM bridged with 0,1uF ceramic cap is not so great also. I still having the "pause bug"...


Considering what might cause the "pause bug" I do wonder, how well Creative followed up the DAC recommended connections:
http://www.cirrus.com/en/pubs/proDat.../CS4382_F1.pdf








PS. I just replaced the there output opamps from the old useless (they was used even in Audigy (1) !!!) MC4558C ( MC4558CD datasheet pdf datenblatt - STMicroelectronics - WIDE BANDWIDTH DUAL BIPOLAR OPERATIONAL AMPLIFIERS ::: ALLDATASHEET ::: ) to the praised LM4562 ( LM4562 datasheet pdf datenblatt - National Semiconductor - Dual High Performance, High Fidelity Audio Operational Amplifier ::: ALLDATASHEET ::: ) opamps. It was kinda easy, however the changes are minimal. You cannot hear any difference in mp3 bellow 320kBi, that is for sure. When we talking about DTS 768kBi, well, ten there finally is some difference But not so major. It is obvious that complete recap of the Jamicon crap caps has to be done as well, as the audiojacks has to be gold-plated for the subwoofer connection, the whole subwoofer has to be recapped and possibly modified also, so there is a notable difference.

Ask the Nartional Semiconductor for there sample pieces of the LM4562MA in the SOIC NARROW version for free there:
National Semiconductor Home - Energy-efficient PowerWise analog solutions: operational amplifiers, data converters, LED drivers, LVDS, Simple Switchers, switching regulators, LDO, temp sensor, webench, NSM, NSC, NS, NatSemi, National Semi
And you can replace the there 4558 "things" used for the output channels :dev: There is also another opamps for mic in, line in and some more down there... So maybe a 6 opamps is not a bad idea.


PS2. parts list for SB0460 - X-FI Fatal1ty:
RapidShare: Easy Filehosting
parts list for SB0550 - X-FI Elite Pro:
RapidShare: Easy Filehosting
...a good start

A few interesting (but not mine, Bichi's work) X-Fi mod pictures:
post #3 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by trodas View Post
Sooner ot later the channels start play from wrong speakers and/or there is terrible noise from all speakers comming after the unpause. This is a pause bug. I had it on Audigy (1), Audigy2zs and after two months on X-Fi as well.
Stop buying Creative sound cards then!! But seriously, well written and no, it should stay in the DIY section. and nice pictures by the way.
post #4 of 57
Unfortunately they pretty much have the corner on the gaming sound card market. No one else comes close in terms of hardware, even with the bugs.
post #5 of 57
I play CS with a ESI Juli@ and it works great. no bugs at all. CS has software sound engine, no makes no difference if your card has hardware sound acceleration or not.
post #6 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by trodas View Post
Jamicon cap's are bad, they are known to fail - eg. over time lost most of their specs.
While i wouldn't choose Jamicon, no matter how low my budget was, i don't think there's anything wrong with their capacitors overall. Do you have a reliable source for this?
Over time any electrolytic cap. will loose all of their original specs.

Quote:
Audio and computers capacitors don't mix!
So, they simply put Jamicons everywhere. Not something that I would expect from 260$ pricetag (spring 2006, mind you) product
I would. even if it was $2000. Unless there is any need for a capacitor with special features, such as low ESL and ESR, standard capacitors are chosen. There's no audio capacitors in that business, regardless of what you spend - because in the end Creative and others could have earned $100k more by not using special grade capacitors. There's also much snake oil going on. But i would be a little dissappointed with how they mounted the capacitor in the first pic, it snaps off too easily.

I thought the problem might be due to IRQ sharing, drivers, or a motherboard latency bug, considering you have had the same problem with other Creative cards. Did you try the cards out in a different PC?
post #7 of 57
Thread Starter 
Dave_M - I wish I can, I swear that X-Fi is the last Creative thing I bought, but... show me a good gaming alternative witch also have usable sound. I get too much used to the 5.1 positional audio, I can't live w/o it
Thanks for your comments anyway. My english is a bit rusty, tough. I'm not native spaker, nor I get any official english education.


RedLeader - exactly. So, the question is not how we can modify the cardie


Dave_M - one thing is CS and another is BF2. Ultra settings for audio witch help me a lot in gaming (I can hear almost anything that move in whole game, Oooooh! ) is awailable only for X-Fi. No other card come in speed even close. And 64MB buffer for samples to easy your old, slow PCI bus - what more one can want?
Oh, yes, at least Pannasonic caps on it


Daroid - well, once I used Jamicons to boost my Vcore regulator. The board died in 20min. I did not yet managed it to repair (!).
Another thing to consideration I already written - 2 months okay. And then pause bug. I'm sorry, but cap that can hold it's parameters for only 2 months are a BAD CAP. Period.
And yes, any electrolyte cap die. The problem is, that the lifetime is usualy more that 2 months. Usualy are from 2 000h to like 7 000h for Panny FM >d12.5. Now that is for full load and 105°C guaranted. Usualy they last longer, but that it another story. Now for each 10°C lower temp, their guaranted lifetime DOUBLE. So, you end up with this:

105°C - 2 000h
95°C - 4 000h
85°C - 8 000h
75°C - 16 000h
65°C - 32 000h
55°C - 64 000h
45°C - 128 000h

One year when you use the cap 10h of it is therefore 3 650h. So at 55°C it is guaranted the cap last you 17.5 years, at 45°C it is guaranted that it last you 35 years.
I bet that this is more time that you willing to use the component w/o replacing/recapping it

I would not expect that, but I'm perhaps a bit naive... Jamicons are, as we demonstrated up, bad caps. They should not be used at all. X-Fi is praised as "fantastic reality-like sound" and stuff, so I would expect some audio capacitors. Samxons made Audio caps, Nichicon made Audio caps - ot at least they should use the Panasonics.
Where capacitor with special features are need? Where more is low ESR cap need, that in the voltage filtering circuit that deliver the power to the chip! And yet, they stuff there Jamicon, 220uF 16V one. I'm going to replace that with 1000uF 6.3V Samxon GC witch is pretty low ESR cap. Just replacing that with 470uF 16V Panny FM fixed many important bugs with the card operation, so I would say that there IS need for that.

Ofcourse I see the revenue problem clearly - that is what capitalism is all about. Making as much money, as possible. However the quality then suffer badly and manking as whole can't move forward.
Nevermind my rambling... but the mount of the capacitor is indeed lame. There are some explaintions on Bad Caps about it ( http://www.badcaps.net/forum/showthread.php?t=1659 ) but neverless I consider is pretty bad also. My soldering is not that lame - you will see.

Quote:
I thought the problem might be due to IRQ sharing, drivers, or a motherboard latency bug, considering you have had the same problem with other Creative cards. Did you try the cards out in a different PC?
Yes. Different people observed it as well. You should know, that the bug is plaguing me from Epox 8RDA+ mobo, to DFI LP B, then shortly MSI KT6V and then another DFI LP B and then A9RX480 grouper. During the transition there soundcards was exchanged too... Countless of drivers, operating system versions and so on. And then, out of blue, one simple caps exchange fixed that for some time. Obviously complete recap of the card is in order
post #8 of 57
do you know if these are the same caps used on the Xtreme music?
post #9 of 57
Thread Starter 
No, not held that one directly in hand, but I would bet yes. As long as the layout, except for heatsink, is same, the probability is 99%.

To say it short, Creative is picking the worst caps ever produced and stuffing them into their products. Time for recap them with some nice caps - perhaps not the Pannyes but Elna RFS
post #10 of 57
Yes, X-Fi is needed for good quality in BF. I have experianced this. But it is not the fault of the software cards that it sounds bad, and it is not the X-Fi that sounds good. Rather, it is the BF software sound engine that is just rubbish. For example you can hear tanks and things from miles away, makes no difference to the sound if they are behind a building, no realism at all.

The X-Fi hardware is rather good, well designed, reasonably good sound quallity. But the bloatware that comes with it, and all the marketing rubbish that Creative comes out with puts me off. I decided not to buy any more Creative products. And I will never buy BF so long as the sound engine is rubbish. It is a cheap and effective solution
post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_M View Post
Yes, X-Fi is needed for good quality in BF. I have experianced this. But it is not the fault of the software cards that it sounds bad, and it is not the X-Fi that sounds good. Rather, it is the BF software sound engine that is just rubbish. For example you can hear tanks and things from miles away, makes no difference to the sound if they are behind a building, no realism at all.

The X-Fi hardware is rather good, well designed, reasonably good sound quallity. But the bloatware that comes with it, and all the marketing rubbish that Creative comes out with puts me off. I decided not to buy any more Creative products. And I will never buy BF so long as the sound engine is rubbish. It is a cheap and effective solution
I'm sick of people whining about the creative "bloatware" - do you not realize that you can select exactly which features you want installed? Some people might want everything because they do a lot of audio related stuff, some people want the bare minimum stripped down version, for improved gaming or listening performance. If it really bothers you that much, select the "custom" installation option and select only what you need.
post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by skudmunky View Post
Some people might want everything because they do a lot of audio related stuff, some people want the bare minimum stripped down version, for improved gaming or listening performance.
And some people want to use all the features of the product they payed for without having to put up with sub standard software. The x-Fi drivers take up at least a couple hundred MBs of disk space! That is definatly bloatware! I've got a creative card, so I know the kind of stuff that they try to install and what it is like. Creative sound cards are really let down by the software and support.

And what is "improved listening performance"? That sounds like somthing creative would come out with.
post #13 of 57
Thread Starter 
Dave_M - you are right, however that the situation is. Both X-Fi and BF2 is not worth spending any money at all, but... You know.
And you are right, the bloatware and crappy drivers is the end of Creative. I wish to see nothing more from them

skudmunky - did you installed X-Fi, just once? There is over 350MB of samples that end up in your ProgramFiles... Could be deleted, tough. But just the absolutely necessary volume pannel took 20MB... Nice. Just theme for "AudioCreation" mode is 9MB big.
That IS bloatware. And quess what - it get worser. First at all, w/o user agreement with it, there is installed and each time computer start run the creative registration stuff. The anim took like 6MB only, tough. (if this is not 40, not sure now, deleted anyway...)
Then there are TWO processes that are not only aren't need to run each time my machine run, but mainly they HAS TO BE DISABLED, if you ever want update WebUpdate2 your drivers...!!!

So, in short, Creative put a into my machine W/O ANY ASKING 3 questionable programs that start when my machine does start and two of them make even impossible update the drivers...

If this is not bloatware, then I don't know what it is!

And as least drop - even the drivers contain directory named W2k_XP they can't be, from Update3 and up installed on Windows 2000, and Creative just say that they did NOT support W2k.
First at all, this is not true (but it is true that not even the win drivers update from update 3 and up can't be installed on Win2k!) and second - I did not want Creative telling me that I have to use the XP crap! No way! What is next? Vista only? Creative can go to hell to all what I care
post #14 of 57

Creative Disappointment

My disappointing experience with Sound Blaster Live! is the main reason I don't use E-MU sound cards. I thought a 50MB sound driver was ridiculous and then I had to mod the hardware to get a decent headphone sound on my HD580s.

I tell myself that I am not the "average" consumer and try to understand that Creative is just trying to make an honest profit. But I find the corporate mentality objectionable.

Who was that male recording artist that said "Ya gotta cop teen coin"?
post #15 of 57
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