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Hotrodding the X-Fi: A Layman's Guide (No 56k) - Page 5

post #61 of 2182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Soymilk View Post
kinda off topic, but what's a dedicated buffer?
Amps increase the voltage, but for headphones this is almost never needed. Portable sources already have enough voltage swing for almost any headphone, and sound cards usually have double that. What is needed is not amplification (more volume), but more current delivery(more oomph and dynamics). While many sound cards already have a built-in buffer, they are weak compared to the buffers in amps. A dedicated current buffer is what is needed. I don't know any companies that sell them, though. If they did, I would definately buy one.
post #62 of 2182
cotdt, how does running the modded X-Fi alone compare with your modded Zhaolu? Obviously putting the Zapfilter in the Zhaolu costs quite a bit of money so I'm curious about what you think.

Also, I ordered my Xtrememusic and all the parts for this mod so I look forward to trying it out in a week or so. However, could you possibly go into a little more detail about how you used the ERS paper because I have never used any before and I'm a little confused about how you have placed it on the soundcard. If I am understanding right you used part of a mousepad placed on the backside of the soundcard and then put ERS (adhesive?) paper on top of it. In a regular case setup this might work but for me my motherboard is upside down in my case and so unless you are adhering the mousepad to the sound card in some way this won't work for me. Also some clarification on how it is on top of the card would be helpful too. Sorry, I'm sure it's really simple but I'm just not getting it fully.
post #63 of 2182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryGuy View Post
cotdt, how does running the modded X-Fi alone compare with your modded Zhaolu? Obviously putting the Zapfilter in the Zhaolu costs quite a bit of money so I'm curious about what you think.

Also, I ordered my Xtrememusic and all the parts for this mod so I look forward to trying it out in a week or so. However, could you possibly go into a little more detail about how you used the ERS paper because I have never used any before and I'm a little confused about how you have placed it on the soundcard. If I am understanding right you used part of a mousepad placed on the backside of the soundcard and then put ERS (adhesive?) paper on top of it. In a regular case setup this might work but for me my motherboard is upside down in my case and so unless you are adhering the mousepad to the sound card in some way this won't work for me. Also some clarification on how it is on top of the card would be helpful too. Sorry, I'm sure it's really simple but I'm just not getting it fully.

I'm adhering the mousepad onto the back of the X-Fi using 3M spray glue, but used tape while I was still testing the mods. Basically you want the shielding to be between any potential sources of EMI/RFI and your sound card. The brute force way to do this is to shield both the front and the backside of the card. It's strange because I used to be able to hear this radio station from my amplifier, but I applied a bunch of ERS paper and it was gone. This made me a beleiver, even though a lot of the ERS paper stuff sounded like voodoo before I started using it.

As far as the Zapfiltered Zhaolu, nothing I've heard has beaten it. It's hard to compare it to the hotrodded X-Fi, because the sound is completely different. The main difference is that the Zapfilter has more weight to the tones, and it is more dynamic than any opamp-based DAC. It also has a wider soundstage than any other DAC by quite a margin, and very detailed lows, mids, highs. It has no weaknesses at all, but this is also what people said about the Benchmark when it first came out. Maybe one day an even better DAC would come along and show weaknesses, but it's hard for me to imagine right now. One DAC that people rave about is the EMM Labs, and I've never heard it but it's a candidate for the ultimate DAC since it has propietary processing. I would love to hear that one and compare it against my modded Zhaolu.

I like the modded X-Fi because it sounds really good already, making external DACs unneccesary. Even getting a high-end DAC would merely be something different tonally but not better. And besides, the X-Fi has 7.1 surround sound and can do recording.
post #64 of 2182
cotdt , can you supply us a small details about hotrodding the breakbox of X-Fi Elite Pro since the breakbox has 1/4 headphones-jack . .
post #65 of 2182
Man its killing me that I have to wait another month and a half to do this mod, since the house I am in right now cant handle the power of a soldering iron. Damn... I really wanna do this.
post #66 of 2182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GameBlaster View Post
cotdt , can you supply us a small details about hotrodding the breakbox of X-Fi Elite Pro since the breakbox has 1/4 headphones-jack . .
I think there is a preamp/headphone amp in there. Personally I wouldn't use it because a dedicated preamp would be better. I looked at the volume pots and they are so tiny. There looks to be just too many components that need modding, and even then a dedicated component would still be better. The Elite Pro is an amazing sound card and I wish they would sell it as a standalone without the breakout box, for a cheaper price.

But if you still want to mod it, replace all the opamps in there with LM4562.
post #67 of 2182
hmm... how much of a difference is there between the cs4382 DAC in the xtrememusic etc vs the cs4398 in the elite pro? and is there any difference between the xtrememusic etc that would matter?

also, for the option of getting different caps and replacing all of the caps on the soundcard, am i interpreting this wrong or do you mean replace all 20+ capacitors on the soundcard? (unless i'm stupid and am thinking of the wrong thing as capacitors)
post #68 of 2182
Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
I'm adhering the mousepad onto the back of the X-Fi using 3M spray glue, but used tape while I was still testing the mods. Basically you want the shielding to be between any potential sources of EMI/RFI and your sound card. The brute force way to do this is to shield both the front and the backside of the card. It's strange because I used to be able to hear this radio station from my amplifier, but I applied a bunch of ERS paper and it was gone. This made me a beleiver, even though a lot of the ERS paper stuff sounded like voodoo before I started using it.
I just have one more question for you about the ERS paper, and that is about how you placed it on the top of the card (on the DAC/opamp). I noticed in the picture of the Blackgate (which isn't loading for me right now) that it looks like just the ERS paper and I can't spot any insulation that you used, or at least none as big as a piece of a mouse pad. Did you use any on that side of the card? I also notice that you glued the Blackgate to the ERS.

Thanks for my answering questions and for the tutorial, I'm really looking forward to it
post #69 of 2182
Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
I think there is a preamp/headphone amp in there. Personally I wouldn't use it because a dedicated preamp would be better. I looked at the volume pots and they are so tiny. There looks to be just too many components that need modding, and even then a dedicated component would still be better. The Elite Pro is an amazing sound card and I wish they would sell it as a standalone without the breakout box, for a cheaper price.

But if you still want to mod it, replace all the opamps in there with LM4562.
The DAC in the breakbox is CS4392 and it is not amplified despite of this dedicated DAC for 1/4 Jack and I think the used opamp for it is worse
if I replace the opamp do I need a remove or insert any capacitor like what is done in moding the card, What should I take care of when moding the breakbox?
post #70 of 2182
Would it be possible to change the dac chip to a CS4398 on the extreme or is this not possible somehow?

EDIT:had a look at data sheet and it is not possible as pin layout is different.

Is there a better dac chip with same pin layout?
post #71 of 2182
the elite pro already has the cs4398. unless you're talking about an upgrade for the xtrememusic that doesnt cost as much.
post #72 of 2182
Does this fix the snap/crackle/pop issue
post #73 of 2182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GameBlaster View Post
The DAC in the breakbox is CS4392 and it is not amplified despite of this dedicated DAC for 1/4 Jack and I think the used opamp for it is worse
if I replace the opamp do I need a remove or insert any capacitor like what is done in moding the card, What should I take care of when moding the breakbox?
really? so i guess the breakout box is much different from the 5.25" I/O bay version. Can you take pictures of the internals?
post #74 of 2182
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryGuy View Post
I just have one more question for you about the ERS paper, and that is about how you placed it on the top of the card (on the DAC/opamp). I noticed in the picture of the Blackgate (which isn't loading for me right now) that it looks like just the ERS paper and I can't spot any insulation that you used, or at least none as big as a piece of a mouse pad. Did you use any on that side of the card? I also notice that you glued the Blackgate to the ERS.
I didn't use any insulation because the DAC chip is not conductive. Ditto for the DSP, although on the newer version the DSP has a heatsink on it. You can do it whatever way you like, I don't really think it matters.
post #75 of 2182
Thats one nice looking mod you done there!

The capacitor shorting method, could you not remove them and short the connectors with wire or solder? ive never left a component in then soldered the connections up, made it a right arse to take it out :P

And the thing that Germanium said about the DC upflow is not to be concerned about right? I am looking for an amp eventually, but for now, running the HD595 straight into the back of the card with this mod is not gonna blow my ears out or damage the cans with this DC flow problem is it?

And! I take it this mod is as good or better than an external DAC via USB? or is it still behind that in SQ?

Cheers!
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