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Hotrodding the X-Fi: A Layman's Guide (No 56k) - Page 34

post #496 of 2194
I just did the opamp mod and so far everything sounds good so far! I ran into a small problem while soldering FOR THE FIRST TIME! I basically connected two of the legs on my opamp X_X and had to desolder and clean it up.. it was tough but i managed to get it off with poor methods i don't want to discuss I was a bit scared since i only got 1 opamp and the whole time i was saying to myself, "I should have gotten 3 just in case!" Anyway, after the first trial and error i got the hang of it and smooth sailing from there.
post #497 of 2194
I recommend you hold off with the capacitor mods until theres more clarity as to the problems several people have reported.
I'm going to try putting in a 220uF one instead of the 1000uF in an attempt to find a cause or atleast exclude one (i'm thinking maybe the stored electricity leaks back into the soundcard and/or motherboard).
post #498 of 2194
Thread Starter 
strange problem, phalanger. perhaps try a different power capacitor. i didn't seem to have any problems with using polar Blackgates. You are using the 3rd headphone jack, right? and not the first one?
post #499 of 2194
The power cap mod is impossible to cause this kind of problems, provided you simply replace the cap with another cap as in a better and/or bigger one. I would advise people to keep using a polar cap, as that's what was used on the card originally.
post #500 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by LeonvB View Post
The power cap mod is impossible to cause this kind of problems, provided you simply replace the cap with another cap as in a better and/or bigger one. I would advise people to keep using a polar cap, as that's what was used on the card originally.
This is an assumption that you cannot rely on, and nonpolarity is not the problem. It has no electrical consequences, just means the cap doesnt care where the + goes. A bigger capacity does have electrical consequences.

I just came back from Groef audio after having discussed this problem (and the mod itself) with them for almost 2 hours. These people custom-modify amplifiers and audio components for a living, and are reputed throughout the netherlands, they are extremely knowledgable in this field. Firstly, they *dont* modify Creative cards because *it brings too much trouble*, the creative card are of particularly fragile design, the PCB has numerous coppercores and the schematics are too shady. I didn't understand everything they told me but there are a few points i'd like to mention at this point.

1) A too big power capacitor CAN give problems on a soundcard, not so much through backleaking as the cards power circuitry may not be able to handle it and isnt designed to handle it.

2) opamps and especially high frequency opamps cannot just be interchanged and assume the stability of the circuit isnt compromised, even if the pinout is the same. It might work in most amp-scenarios, but the XFi is much more fragile/instable.

3) The only Blackgates that are suitable for audio circuits are the Blackgate N-type (non-polar) - the polar ones they dont even consider for these positions as they are too crappy to expect a benefit.

4) with soundblaster cards moreso then most other products, you cannot rely on it to work outside of its exact specifications. The buggyness of the XFi as it comes stock only underlines that.

I will be trying various things in an efford to pinpoint this problem, however this is tricky to do and the reason why Groef doesnt modify Creative soundcards anymore.

Talking to the guys at Groef made me realize that Gore ]I[ probably has a point when he says none of us know enough about this stuff to warrant these mods.

They had a few addition ideas for modifications aswell but since they are much more complex I will save that for perhaps another post.
Be careful and be sure to post any peculiar behavior you might get after modding..
post #501 of 2194
Thread Starter 
phalanger, while the points you brought up are valid, there has been several dozen of us who have performed these mods without any problems. As I understand it, the laws of physics are constant. That leads me to beleive that the problem is not these mods, but something else. I've been modifying sound cards long before the X-Fi came out, never with any problems unless I messed up somewhere.

But I agree that Creative cards are buggy in general. I just don't think these mods are responsible for your problems, unless you did something wrong.

BTW, I used a 10,000uF capacitor and it was rock stable, so a 2200uF capacitor should be fine. That eliminates #1.

Before I started this thread I knew that there would be a percentage of people who would mess up their cards. I should post a warning.
post #502 of 2194
Done this mod over a month ago and have not had any problems.
post #503 of 2194
I can confirm that replacing the power capacitor makes wonders to the sound. Bass seems to be more clean and highs are sharper. I have no idea when I will get the remaining caps and op-amps but despite the problems some of you have here I'll go ahead and mod the card. If it blows up, then I have a good excuse to buy X-meridian or that new Auzentech X-fi -version.
post #504 of 2194
Ok...

I just register to these forums to say that I am using the same exactly nonpolar capacitor as phalanger, for more than 10 days, my computer runs 24 hours for the capacitor to burn in and I have not notice any problems. I am using windows vista 64 bit, with bit matched output. The sound is clearly more "sweet" than the stock capacitor, but not a HUGE difference. I am using my Sennheiser 650 with a Russ Andrews HP-1 (the modified stello HP 100) amplifier to test it. I haven't change yet the opamp, so probably the capacitor is not the source of the problems for Phalanger's PC.

Anyways, I dont think though that the difference with the new opamps will lead me to cancel the purchase of a Russ Andrews DAC-1 and as probably that is the source of the problems, I ll probably keep the original opamps.
post #505 of 2194
[edit: i forgot to mention something..]
Well it appears that the card is stable after replacing the 1000uF/16v NP by a 220uF/6.3v NP. I have since not been able to replicate the problem. [i know.. i'm not sure either if 6.3v is safe, but they dont have 16v220uF NPs and I think it's 5v only, but dont assume thats safe, it was more to try out the concept, as its most opposite to the huge beast i had there]

I will not pretend to know the exact cause - but it would appear the capacitor was involved (and even that I cant be fully sure of but I'll spare the details..). I would have to put the old one back up and re-test to be 100% sure, but I dont know if I'm much inclined for the moment maybe in the name of pseudoscience but not right now, enough excitement for one day.

About the constant nature of physics: yes in theory thats true, in reality some people have problems with their XFi while others don't (whether they are modified or not) - the instable nature of these cards makes it possible that some things cause problems on one system and not the next.
Also remember that until yesterday I only raved about this mod because I didn't realize something was seriously wrong until I started to swap cables.

According to the guys at groef (sorry if i seem to suck up to them but they are some of the most knowledgable people available on this subject) a too high capacity can overload the power supply circuit of the soundcard and over time cause damage, although they were more suspect of 1) the opamp swap and 2) the high faulty charge thats on our local tv/internet cabling here. I did route the tv/internet cabling through a belkin power cleaning thingy before i changed the cap, but it did not solve the problem, replacing the cap did.

So whats the conclusion of all this? None yet.. Except to be on the lookout for any problems and report them so we can establish the stability of this mod and if needed optimize it. Cotdt: there were a few others who reported problems aswell, if it was only me I wouldn't have put the cause at the modification, but since a few more reported after I posted a question about it, I decided to play open cards so people know what they get into
Not trying to question your knowledge on mods or this mod specifically, I still think its a great mod and the people from Groef were very interested aswell when I mentioned which opamp I had put on there. They also tried to explain the sonic relevance and disabling of the tiny 'tor' ic's, but it was above my head are you familiar with them?
post #506 of 2194
perhaps your card was faulty to start, didnt u say u modded it like 1 day after u got it... perhaps wait a little longer before modding it. Ive had my X-FI for 2 years, so i could give a **** if it dies from modding it, its either it gets better and im happier or it dies and i dont give much of a ****, i just buy a new one.

so yeah, im gonna be doing this mod REGARDLESS of what the guys at "groef" say. I could give less of a **** if they know what they are talking about, ill take the word of people who say that this mod sounds amazing
post #507 of 2194
well no need for all the **'s I agree this mod is great and have been saying so all along. I don't give many stars either about this card: i bought it specifically so that I could mod it (and possibly ruin it). It was well worth it. But resulting stability in short- and longterm is still worth discussing/consideration imo.
post #508 of 2194
Got my OP amps today... Practiced removing ICs on my old SBL 5.1 then pulled my x-fi out... wtf are all these little things around the op amp!!! I suck at soldering, no way I'll get that done. I need a desoldering wick for sure though, this bulb sucker thing I got doesn't work at all.

What a disappointment
post #509 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by afireinside View Post
Got my OP amps today... Practiced removing ICs on my old SBL 5.1 then pulled my x-fi out... wtf are all these little things around the op amp!!! I suck at soldering, no way I'll get that done. I need a desoldering wick for sure though, this bulb sucker thing I got doesn't work at all.

What a disappointment
They are resistors. Solder wick is indeed essential to have around for this. If the resistors get in the way, practice your accuracy some more on a crowded board (or find someone with a steadier hand ).
post #510 of 2194
Quote:
This is an assumption that you cannot rely on
It isn't an assumption. While it's true that a higher capacity will lead to higher ESR (more leakage), the blackgates have lower leakage than other caps. In fact, to stay in range, you'd have to replace it with about 10x the capacity when compared to the original. Surprise, surprise... this is the originally recommended value for the mod.
Quote:
opamps and especially high frequency opamps cannot just be interchanged and assume the stability of the circuit isnt compromised, even if the pinout is the same
Correct. You'll have to check all the specs of the opamp. Assuming it's ok just because it has the same pin out isn't smart. Some opamps need higher capacity coupling caps, so beware.
Quote:
The only Blackgates that are suitable for audio circuits are the Blackgate N-type
Lol. Any of the blackgate types beat the original cap. Plus your not in the audio circuit, your in the power supply section. About the only reason to use polar there would be to use 2, to eliminate noise (in a configuration as described on the blackgate pages). But given the environment (a PC), space restrictions etc. I see no need for that particular configuration.
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