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Hotrodding the X-Fi: A Layman's Guide (No 56k) - Page 52

post #766 of 2194
Thread Starter 
very nice, phalanger. which opamp works better unamped?
post #767 of 2194
Quote:
Also I cleaned the mods up a bit and reshorted the coupling caps (the nice way this time ).
Did shorting the caps make a noticeable difference? I havent done that to my x-Fi yet...
post #768 of 2194
cotdt: I cant really say, I tend to plug the headphones into a 7.1 amp, but I have had it plugged directly aswell with the 4562, ill try with the 8599 soonish and let you know if it seems clearly better or worse for feeding phones directly. 4562 did so-so on my 595's. I won't try right now yet cause as you mightve spotted i put in a different power cap which might give a bit unreliable basses while it settles in a bit. Atleast its a regular polarized one so Ill give it a try tomorrow orso, no serious settling problems so far like with the red ones

Even though its impossible to be objective about this sort of thing I'll say I'm not unhappy I put in the 8599 despite it not solving the RMAA problem, I would say it sounds atleast as nice as the 4562, anything else I'd say would be highly subjective so I'll keep it short. I like them both a lot, but would tend to choose the 8599 if I had to choose again. It seems the 8599 is a bit more open/transparant and lively, but I cant really flaw the 4562 on those areas either. The transparancy seems especially apparant on high-quality voice-only or single instrument recordings (used Chesky's demonstration cd for first impressions)

Tomorrow another 8599 is going in the line-in position, Im curious if that will give as significant an improvement to the input as replacing the output opamps did for the output.

Awake77: Yeah shorting the caps makes a difference. As coupling caps are redundant in most systems its just unneeded capacitors in the signal path, which degrades the sound. Before I shorted them I had nonpolar blackgates in there which have good audio properties. Still it sounds noticably more opened up without any caps at all. Its very easy to just short them without removing them to see if you like it and if you want take some measurements of the voltage on the outputs. If you plug in your headphones directly into the soundcard you might want to keep the caps, when it connects to an amp there should be no need for them.
post #769 of 2194
Thread Starter 
great, phalanger! i really like reading your posts. now i think it is time for you to build your own DAC, using discrete outputs
post #770 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by cotdt View Post
great, phalanger! i really like reading your posts. now i think it is time for you to build your own DAC, using discrete outputs
hehe and make these mods redundant is building a 24bit DAC a feasible DIY? I remember my first DIY project some 15 years ago, an 8 bit DAC made up from a handful of resistors

btw my multimeter shows ~0.1v DC over the front channel outputs now (not entirely surprising I guess as its what the coupling caps are there for). Is this an issue at all when using an amp or will the coupling just happen within the amp now instead of the soundcard? (the DC is gone on the output-end of the amp)
post #771 of 2194
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanger View Post
hehe and make these mods redundant is building a 24bit DAC a feasible DIY? I remember my first DIY project some 15 years ago, an 8 bit DAC made up from a handful of resistors

btw my multimeter shows ~0.1v DC over the front channel outputs now (not entirely surprising I guess as its what the coupling caps are there for). Is this an issue at all when using an amp or will the coupling just happen within the amp now instead of the soundcard?
the amp has its own input coupling caps, so you're fine.

yes making your own DACs is very easy. the easy way would be to get an evaluation board for the DAC chip, a power supply (make or buy), and the analog output stage such as a Zapfilter. put into chassis and there is your DAC. i like the AD and AKM DAC chips. you can get the AD1852 DAC board for like $40 from diykits.hk.
post #772 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanger View Post
I put a AD8599 in place of the 4562 today with good results (mostly for diagnostic reasons but also curiosity). The resulting sound is very good. Hard to say which is better but since a few have mentioned wondering about it i'd like to report it does work fine and sounds very nice. The reason I wasn't too sure is that on the AD site its rated for a higher voltage range than 5v (9-36v), but googling some more found me a info sheet that did mention 5v as being adequate.. either way yeah it works just fine

It scored a bit better in RMAA i think then 4562 but ive not been able to do optimal tests on either opamp due to the same RMAA complaining about the signal being either too soft or clipped, which is why i tried the different opamp, but unfortunately that problem still exists even though when i do run RMAA the test results are still fairly good so it doesnt seem to be a serious issue. How is this for others, any problems getting RMAA to give the 'green light' without having to resort to increasing the recording level to >0dB?
Since I started modding this card right away I don't know if its any different with stock parts. I thought it was just me having this problem but since someone else mentioned the exact same, Im curious how RMAA goes for others.
My cousin first installed the lm4562 in his xtrememusic card, so i decided to try out the ad8599 after hearing good things about it, it completely lacked low end and mid bass punch compared to the lm4562. Mid bass punch is a must have for me, didn't have the snap of the lm4562 in my opinion. So i swapped it out for the lm4562 and it sounds great, way better bottom end then the ad8599 imo. Have any of you noticed the same thing with the ad8599? or do you think i might have had a bad ad8599 and i should try out a different one, i have about 4 of them just sitting in a small package.

I also added the 1000uf blackgate cap and shorted the coupling caps, sounds great. my 5.1 logitech x-530's also came in so i should probably change out the other opamps to lm4562's also, or should i do a mix with the ad8599 on the surround opamps? I wonder if the x-530's will sound better than my current altec lansing ATP3's.

thanks for this thread cotdt and everyone else who has contributed, great info and made getting the xtrememusic an easy choice, especially since i only had to pay for the cap thanks to my school email.
post #773 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by zbomb56 View Post
My cousin first installed the lm4562 in his xtrememusic card, so i decided to try out the ad8599 after hearing good things about it, it completely lacked low end and mid bass punch compared to the lm4562. Mid bass punch is a must have for me, didn't have the snap of the lm4562 in my opinion. So i swapped it out for the lm4562 and it sounds great, way better bottom end then the ad8599 imo. Have any of you noticed the same thing with the ad8599?
I can't say I noticed a lack of bass, though I wouldnt be surprised if the 8599 has more emphasis on the mids and highs compared to the 4562. On Chesky's reference CD i noticed things the AD8599 does particularly well but most of that doesnt happen in the bass-end . Since you asked, I put on some bass-heavy music and it does seem a bit less bassy. I suppose preference would be atleast partly based on the kind of music played. The AD8066 reportedly has a very nice bass response if thats what youre looking for. I may or may not be bothered to try one of those on that position aswell, since I do have a few of them around. For hooking headphones straight into the soundcard the AD8066 just might be better then both the 4562 and the 8599, but thats speculation until I tried it.

Quote:
I also added the 1000uf blackgate cap and shorted the coupling caps, sounds great. my 5.1 logitech x-530's also came in so i should probably change out the other opamps to lm4562's also, or should i do a mix with the ad8599 on the surround opamps? I wonder if the x-530's will sound better than my current altec lansing ATP3's.
The speaker sets you mentioned are low budget computerspeakers, they're not going to benefit too much from the high specs of these opamps. If that's what you listen to music with then I wonder why soundcard modding came to mind.. or do you spend most listening time with headphones instead? For mixing opamps the real reason I do that is cause I dont have 4 of the same opamps.. It might be interesting for the tonal picture too though, but I'd keep with atleast driving both rears with the same opamps to retain some sort of logic coherency.

BTW your old altec lansing might just outperform your new Logitech. I guess you're about to find out It's your first post i just noticed, dare i say it? 'welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet'. If you stick around, a bout of upgradititis is bound to strike you sooner rather than later
post #774 of 2194
Reporting my success with the mod. Spent a good 30 mins with it - i'd say the opamp part was the easiest. i didn't destroy the original op amp by cutting the legs though.

As expected, the power cap part was a pain in the arse. i gave up trying to make a hole through it, but soldered it at the back instead

I lack the vocab to describe the improvements, but it was definitely noticeable, the mids felt so much better than the old amp! incredible, only if creative has made the right op-amp choice in the first place!

The soundstage is somewhat wider, and the instruments seems "brighter"...! aww! Thanks to the threadstarter, you made my day!
post #775 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by djork View Post
Reporting my success with the mod. Spent a good 30 mins with it - i'd say the opamp part was the easiest. i didn't destroy the original op amp by cutting the legs though.

As expected, the power cap part was a pain in the arse. i gave up trying to make a hole through it, but soldered it at the back instead
Welcome to team hotrodded-xfi Why won't the hole of the capacitor clear? Are you unable to melt the tin or is there a stuck piece of leg? Capacitors should not dangle on a PCB hanging from only some tin, but go through the via hole thingy for proper connection and reliability, especially for caps this large. If you have a dremel and a drill bit of 1mm or less then this is easy to fix.
post #776 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanger View Post
Welcome to team hotrodded-xfi Why won't the hole of the capacitor clear? Are you unable to melt the tin or is there a stuck piece of leg? Capacitors should not dangle on a PCB hanging from only some tin, but go through the via hole thingy for proper connection and reliability, especially for caps this large. If you have a dremel and a drill bit of 1mm or less then this is easy to fix.
I'd like to fix it too. but i don't have a dremel... the tin was almost impossible to melt, even with the desoldering wick it was such a difficult task. Is a 40W iron insufficient? but the op amps were easy to desolder though. hmm...
post #777 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanger View Post
I can't say I noticed a lack of bass, though I wouldnt be surprised if the 8599 has more emphasis on the mids and highs compared to the 4562. On Chesky's reference CD i noticed things the AD8599 does particularly well but most of that doesnt happen in the bass-end . Since you asked, I put on some bass-heavy music and it does seem a bit less bassy. I suppose preference would be atleast partly based on the kind of music played. The AD8066 reportedly has a very nice bass response if thats what youre looking for. I may or may not be bothered to try one of those on that position aswell, since I do have a few of them around. For hooking headphones straight into the soundcard the AD8066 just might be better then both the 4562 and the 8599, but thats speculation until I tried it.

The speaker sets you mentioned are low budget computerspeakers, they're not going to benefit too much from the high specs of these opamps. If that's what you listen to music with then I wonder why soundcard modding came to mind.. or do you spend most listening time with headphones instead? For mixing opamps the real reason I do that is cause I dont have 4 of the same opamps.. It might be interesting for the tonal picture too though, but I'd keep with atleast driving both rears with the same opamps to retain some sort of logic coherency.

BTW your old altec lansing might just outperform your new Logitech. I guess you're about to find out It's your first post i just noticed, dare i say it? 'welcome to head-fi, sorry about your wallet'. If you stick around, a bout of upgradititis is bound to strike you sooner rather than later
thanks phalanger, i actually compared both opamps with a pretty nice set of sennheiser headphones, jut wanted to test the sounds of instruments and so on, wasn't too much worried about soundstage right away. At first i was thinking the ad8599 might be better, thought it sounded cleaner. Then I noticed the lm4562 had more snap to certain things, which made me prefer it over the ad8599. You can definitely notice the punch/snap that the ad8599's lack with certain songs that have some very rapid drum beats. I didn't worry too much about the sound stage, but i have some audio reference cd's since i use to compete in sq comps for car audio, even have a few friends that won world champs iasca this last year in missouri. I am pretty familiar with sound stage scoring and tonality, etc.

The x-530 is just a temp setup since i wanted to try a 5.1 set to just play with, i will be upgrading to a high end 5.1 or even 7.1 setup over the summer. I go all out in my final decisions of what i want, when my car was broken into and my sound system stolen, i got back $7k+, and most of the stuff was brands people haven't heard of, very high end stuff (zapco, horns, pioneer d9, not sure if you are familiar with those). Either way, the mods to the xtrememusic made a huge difference even on my altec lansing 2.1 set, so a difference is a difference, and i notice it so i am happy. I can't wait to get a nice surround sound setup, then i know i will get the best performance out of this sound card.

I definitely know about the wallet hurting, it always hurts and i never give it time to recover. I have one of those mind sets where i don't want to get something and wish i had gotten something slightly better, so i usually try to set it up the best i can the first time around which means spending more money. You should have seen me a few years ago when i was setting up a sound system for my car, went through about 7 different setups before i started my last one that was stolen, i really thought that was going to be the one, but then i switched over to car performance (been out of the audio scene for a while), and then i saw this thread and decided to do this since i built a computer a few months ago, still need a video card and waiting on dx10.
post #778 of 2194
Quote:
thanks phalanger, i actually compared both opamps with a pretty nice set of sennheiser headphones, jut wanted to test the sounds of instruments and so on, wasn't too much worried about soundstage right away. At first i was thinking the ad8599 might be better, thought it sounded cleaner. Then I noticed the lm4562 had more snap to certain things, which made me prefer it over the ad8599. You can definitely notice the punch/snap that the ad8599's lack with certain songs that have some very rapid drum beats. I didn't worry too much about the sound stage, but i have some audio reference cd's since i use to compete in sq comps for car audio, even have a few friends that won world champs iasca this last year in missouri. I am pretty familiar with sound stage scoring and tonality, etc.
Which sennheisers? And directly into the XFi or through your amp? Im asking cause when plugged in directly the perceived difference could have to do with the impedance of the headphone aswell, some opamps drive headphones better then others, without being better opamps perse.
That said, our experience seems to be similar for the most part - the AD8599 sounding somewhat 'cleaner'/'more transparant' and the 4562 seeming to have a bit more impact on the basses.

Quote:
Either way, the mods to the xtrememusic made a huge difference even on my altec lansing 2.1 set, so a difference is a difference, and i notice it so i am happy. I can't wait to get a nice surround sound setup, then i know i will get the best performance out of this sound card.
Indeed, you just created yourself a really nice source component with a lot of potential, now the hunt for amps, speakers, headphones, etc, can begin

Welcome again, lots of audiophile knowledge to be found here.
post #779 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by djork View Post
I'd like to fix it too. but i don't have a dremel... the tin was almost impossible to melt, even with the desoldering wick it was such a difficult task. Is a 40W iron insufficient? but the op amps were easy to desolder though. hmm...
Yeah they use really annoying solder tin at the creative factories and the board sucks away the heat. Wattage doesn't say so much about what temperature they get, and adjustable heat is a nice thing to have cause as you noticed, the SOICs dont require or desire anything near the amount of heat (though its still fine with a hot iron, just work quick). Me and others have given some suggestions for trying to poke free clogged holes with a cap-leg pressed with hot iron, etc, you're not the only one who had that problem.

If that doesnt work then, well, you know you always wanted a dremel tool! Here's your excuse to get one

You can get very decent Dremel clones for not much money. Just look for adjustable speed and if its of decent build quality, replacable brushes etc. And get proper drills/bits as the cheap ones come with crap. But then it's still not a big investment, and dremel tools are great to have around.
post #780 of 2194
Quote:
Originally Posted by phalanger View Post
Which sennheisers? And directly into the XFi or through your amp? Im asking cause when plugged in directly the perceived difference could have to do with the impedance of the headphone aswell, some opamps drive headphones better then others, without being better opamps perse.
That said, our experience seems to be similar for the most part - the AD8599 sounding somewhat 'cleaner'/'more transparant' and the 4562 seeming to have a bit more impact on the basses.
They were sennheiser HD580's plugged in through an amp. But i found the midbass/bass to lack with the altec ATP3's also. And you were right, the x-530 sound is horrible for my tastes, selling them on craigslist at the moment. I would rather just play with the 2.1 until i really dish out some money for a nice 5.1 system.

I think i will just stick with the lm4562's for now, i am pretty happy with them and it seems like there are pros/cons to both opamps, so it is pretty much a toss up as to what you like.
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