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Hotrodding the X-Fi: A Layman's Guide (No 56k) - Page 68

post #1006 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by dufflover View Post
I've done a lot of reading here and elsewhere, but after so long, time to get a final answer from the pros . Also will point out now I only plan to do the regulation op-amp and power cap mod.

A capacitor question.



Like many others, needed a Blackgate alternative, and researched Nichicon and Rubycon being mentioned in this thread with a good rep. Eventually ordered the 2200uF/16V caps thru Uni and recently received them; a Rubycon ZL, and 5x (minimum order size ) Nichicon HE.
But just today after following the X-Fi thread on my local forums, someone mentioned the Panasonic FM which I've looked at and it has better specs (longer life, lower impedance, higher ripple) and is also cheaper ... go figure . In hindsight I stupidly dismissed this cos I thought the Ruby's and/or Nich's were better, and the Panasonic being a more ... generic-type thing (like good "ideal" ratings but bad reliability/quality in real life).

So I am wondering if it is worth using (upgrading to?) the Panasonic instead?
Cost wise shouldn't matter, but I won't go through the hassle and delay (and the result of having 7 unused big caps), if it won't that much of a difference.

Links to the products and datasheets are here for those who are keen (many thanks ) and need more details:
- Rubycon ZL
- Nichicon HE
- Panasonic FM
Your missing the best part of the mod process it you don't direct couple the DAC to the output opamp as this is where the greatest difference is & makes all the other mods all that much more appearant. The coupling caps are what holds this card back the most & while you may hear small improvements without the direct coupling (D.C. coupling actually in this case), you will be able to hear any other improvements much better when D.C. coupled. You see the electrolytic capacitors should never be used as coupling capacitors as they absorb too much of the signal with their high dielectric absorbtion (minimum 5% dielectric absorbtion compared to for example metalized film .01% max dielectric absorbtion & 0% for D.C. coupling). With D.C. coupling power supply mods can be easily heard on evey song. I prefer to just bypass certain powersupply caps with large value mettalized films as this produces the lowest ESR accross all frequencies & is readilly audible (much more life to the music yet smoother more detailed treble to boot.
post #1007 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post
Your missing the best part of the mod process it you don't direct couple the DAC to the output opamp as this is where the greatest difference is & makes all the other mods all that much more appearant.
I'll go back through the thread to double-check this, but you're talking about shorting those smaller coupling caps right? (I'll add a link later if I can find it)

I thought the amps and cap were biggest difference. (just from reading around anyway). I definitely won't be going as far as that ERS paper and stuff though. I already think the X-Fi sounds pretty good (coming from onboard/X-530s then onboard/Z-5400s)

this thing?
Are you referring to this part of the mod? (in the OP) I know basic electronics from being an Eng student, but certainly not the nitty gritty of analog electronics (I hate it ), and coupling/decoupling is one of those things. The thing I've learnt on decoupling is to put it across the Vcc/GND supply pins of a digital IC to help isolate it from voltage variation in the DC supply rails

Quote:
"Short the 22uF caps near each opamp (there are 4 of them for each one). I definately recommend it as others beside myself also think that shorting improves the detail and realism, with no ill effects on the card. They seem to be decoupling caps, not coupling caps, and make the DAC more stable. Not needed though, it's perfectly stable without them.
this post too:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...72#post2801572
post #1008 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by dufflover View Post
I'll go back through the thread to double-check this, but you're talking about shorting those smaller coupling caps right? (I'll add a link later if I can find it)

I thought the amps and cap were biggest difference. (just from reading around anyway). I definitely won't be going as far as that ERS paper and stuff though. I already think the X-Fi sounds pretty good (coming from onboard/X-530s then onboard/Z-5400s)

this thing?
Are you referring to this part of the mod? (in the OP) I know basic electronics from being an Eng student, but certainly not the nitty gritty of analog electronics (I hate it ), and coupling/decoupling is one of those things. The thing I've learnt on decoupling is to put it across the Vcc/GND supply pins of a digital IC to help isolate it from voltage variation in the DC supply rails



this post too:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/showth...72#post2801572
Hi there Dufflover.

The caps I'm refering to are in fact coupling caps not decoupling. There are 2 long rows of caps near the output opamps then there are 4 caps that are slightly set back from the rest. These are the coupling caps for the front channels. You will notice that these are turned 90 degrees from the rest when you look at the bottom of the card. These are the ones you need to short for stereo output. You can short the others in that long row as well for multichannel sound.There are 4 caps for each opamp that need to be shorted. If you get a bad short through a bad solder joint though you will end up having huge D.C. offset that can damage the opamp & any device you send the signal to if they are direct coupled so care must be taken to make sure thatall solder joints are properly made. They don't have to look pretty, just make a good connection without storting anything else out with stray solder.

This info referes to all the original X-Fis with the true X-Fi chip except the Elite Pro version. Not sure if it will work with the Extreme audio or the smaller size gamer card. The Elite Pro uses diferent DACs & has a lot more capacitors near the opamps some of which are coupling & the others powersupply decoupling caps. I have no experience with that card but I do with the standard size true X-Fi cards.

Ron B.
hope this helps some.
post #1009 of 2194
ugh, I finally received my XtremeMusic and bought the soldering tools, but I'm not so confident in my modding skills just yet, especially on a task like this. You'd think they would be bigger, but when you put it all into perspective, like next to a dime or ruler...

post #1010 of 2194
I would not risk it especially if you are not confident enough. Get a few pcbs and practice for awhile
post #1011 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post
Your missing the best part of the mod process it you don't direct couple the DAC to the output opamp as this is where the greatest difference is & makes all the other mods all that much more appearant. The coupling caps are what holds this card back the most & while you may hear small improvements without the direct coupling (D.C. coupling actually in this case), you will be able to hear any other improvements much better when D.C. coupled. You see the electrolytic capacitors should never be used as coupling capacitors as they absorb too much of the signal with their high dielectric absorbtion (minimum 5% dielectric absorbtion compared to for example metalized film .01% max dielectric absorbtion & 0% for D.C. coupling). With D.C. coupling power supply mods can be easily heard on evey song. I prefer to just bypass certain powersupply caps with large value mettalized films as this produces the lowest ESR accross all frequencies & is readilly audible (much more life to the music yet smoother more detailed treble to boot.

Holy crap am I excited! I just ordered an X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty and I am going to mod the hell out of it.
post #1012 of 2194

some questions for modding elite pro....

I've elite pro card and I've orderred 5 LME49860 (upgrade to LM4562) and BG 16v2200uF caps. I have some questions, could someone answer these? Thanks in advance!!

1. The 2 columns of caps near the ops of elite pro is similar with the pics for standard x-fi, is someone successfully shorted the coupling caps for elite pro? Can someone post a picture?

2. besides the 4 caps for each 2channels, what's the functions for the other caps in the 2 columns? I want to further mod the card, can someone give me some advice on how to deal with them? Replace them with audio-grade caps? Which models do you suggest?

3. I'm doing recording, can someone tell me if I need to replace the line-in op? Which is the line-in op on elite pro? Can I replace it with LME49860?

4. Besides the 2200uf 16v BG and shield, is there other ways to improve the spdif output?

5. How about the remaining caps? Some are coupling ones and some are decoupling ones, can someone post a picture for the 2 kinds for elite pro? What replacements do you suggest for these 'other' caps?

Thanks in deed for your kind information, I know someone is interested in above questions either. I've read through all the posts, but never find answers to many of above my questions.

Also, I attached the RMAA results for my elite pro card below...






It seems x-fi elite pro already has good quality, if I got most of above questions answered, I'll start modding the card, and post the new result on this topic.

Waiting your answers. Best regards!

===========================================











post #1013 of 2194
Thread Starter 
Just replace all the output opamps with LM4562, and short all the coupling capacitors.
post #1014 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
Just replace all the output opamps with LM4562, and short all the coupling capacitors.
Hi cotdt, I'm using the LM4562, but without the coupling caps shorted, will there be a noticeable difference if i short the caps?

Thanks
post #1015 of 2194
Hmmm, just my thoughts, but i see quite alot of highly regarded brands on that X-Fi, what are the components which makes the sound bad, only the op-amps and the usage/type of caps?

Pretty dumb that the 'top model' isn't "pre-modded" already.

[edit]

Oh FFS, the Caps are jamicon's ... no wonder why the sound is 'crap'.
post #1016 of 2194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by djork View Post
Hi cotdt, I'm using the LM4562, but without the coupling caps shorted, will there be a noticeable difference if i short the caps?

Thanks
yeah, just try it! if you don't like it, it is easy to reverse.
post #1017 of 2194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Nobax View Post
Hmmm, just my thoughts, but i see quite alot of highly regarded brands on that X-Fi, what are the components which makes the sound bad, only the op-amps and the usage/type of caps?

Pretty dumb that the 'top model' isn't "pre-modded" already.

[edit]

Oh FFS, the Caps are jamicon's ... no wonder why the sound is 'crap'.
That, and also the opamps are crappy. The capacitors inside the opamps are even crappier than the Jamicons, and the opamp introduces a lot of time smear, which does not show up in simple RMAA measurements.
post #1018 of 2194
I've seen mixed opinions on which caps are the coupling caps on the Elite Pro
post #1019 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
yeah, just try it! if you don't like it, it is easy to reverse.
I'm still a bit confused as to which specific caps are the coupling ones to short? Maybe someone could just explicitly circle which ones in a pic?

I'm kinda sure on what capacitor "field" being referred to, but it's not that obvious which ones are the smaller ones, to me anyway
post #1020 of 2194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dufflover View Post
I'm still a bit confused as to which specific caps are the coupling ones to short? Maybe someone could just explicitly circle which ones in a pic?
it's the 4 that is closest to the opamp. they are 22uF jamicons.
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