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Almi's X-Fi Mod (Hotrodding Sound Blaster X-Fi models) - Page 3

post #31 of 146
Thread Starter 

The X-FI Titanium Fatal1ty Pro card do not have the capacitor you looking for. It is a difference between the PCI and PCI Express X-Fi cards.

post #32 of 146

Ahh, ok.  Thank you for the prompt reply!  Another question, if I increase the value of the decoupling capacitors from 22uf to 47uf, will it be a good change? or might it change for the worse?

Edited by toleen - 2/25/13 at 12:05pm
post #33 of 146
Thread Starter 

The benefit is arguable. Moving towards higher capacitance in that position result a little bit deeper sound to a point, and taking its toll on the high-range first.


Building up the same capacitance from multiple High-end capacitors is a much better option from sound point of view. To do that nice and easy usually a complicated, because not much space available.

Edited by ramachandra - 2/27/13 at 10:54am
post #34 of 146

For those of you that are told that the X-Fi Xtreme Audio is not worth the mod; um no. The processor may not be the greatest, but it's all on the digital side, not the magically (and it truly seems that way) diverse analog section. If you are a purist, it really becomes a matter of nuthead-scratching to determine which is better, because all ADA (Analog-Digital-Analog) is really is about, is chopping up the sound in to itty bitty pieces, messing with 'em for a while, and then reassembling them (kinda' like when you broke your moms favorite vase and glued it back together, hoping she wouldn't notice the difference). Some DA (Digital to Analog) chips are better at reassembling the pieces, but a purist will glare at you and send you to your room without dinner!


The most important part is the output OP (Operational Amplifier) amp, a good one is prohibitively expensive for competitive mass production. Some "nice" companies now put a $0.008 socket on their cards so you can use a different OP amp (sooo generous of them).


The stock OP amp is usually a 455x series OP amp. It was an amazing OP amp back in the late 70's, much better than the ancient 741! They are only made still because they are dirt cheap.


An inexpensive alternative is the TLE2072 (dual), it's much better than a TL072 (which is superior to the 4558) and it costs around $2.50. If you have a really good ear (I was a musician when I was a young man, so I do), an OPA228 (around $10) is very nice indeed!


Another good idea is the RF shield. Especially if the card is within 4"/10cm of another noisy card. It doesn't need to be fancy, just a well cut out piece of aluminum attached to the bottom of the card separated with aluminum spacers and mounted with screws. All the holes are grounded and feed-though so it is (almost) fool proof.


Capacitors: Well, a touchy subject. Yes they make a difference. In the case of this card though, make sure your computer has a high quality power supply (like an Antec: 'an dona' be tight with the coins). Try to route the wires away from any other devices and you should be fine. If you want to replace capacitors, all you can do is replace power filtering capacitors (like I said, a good PC power supply will take care of most woes), I suggest "Elna Silmic II" series capacitors, they are reasonably priced, reliable, and have good sound characteristics.


Filtering capacitors are not a big deal. Series capacitors are! the DC blocking capacitors (on all SB models of cards) are surface mount devices, and they are tiny little fuc... er frogs, they have a case size of 805 to 603 usually. Unless you are a master at soldering, forget about trying, and finding good replacements is a bitch. If you have the skill, "Wima" makes some very decent SMD capacitors!


I am a new member, so I assume that's why I can't post pictures of my wonderful mods?

post #35 of 146

Come on people mod this little old beast :)

I'm gonna show you the mods I've made on my 8 years old X-Fi.



Somewhere in 2008 I had changed op-amp, DAC caps and Filter cap.


-op-amp was the classic LM4562: Crystal sound but a little bit grey-cold without soul.(you know what I mean)

-DAC caps ELNA 16v 100uF: I think this mod caused some stability issues. Totaly wrong choice for DAC cap.

-Filter cap a big BlackGate 16v 2200uf: Damn this was a huge upgrade... Sound transformed completely. Became deep and flexible while keeping the high fidelity of LM4562.


Year 2013, time for a soundlifting. TCXO (0.3p nutsAudio) upgrade...




I removed these two useless pins to fit the TCXO as close to PCB.






ELNA Silcic II upgrade.

A note here: Decoupling capacitors had a blurry effect so I removed them immediately and shorted them again giving back the crystal sound I used to have.



MKS4 0.1uf 100v



Sockets, TONEREX II 100uf 50v, and of course...opa627AU.(singles)



Everything soldered and ready to rock.



Socket installed, Tonerex installed what are we waiting ?







I'm gonna say 3 words : Just Do It !

Opa 627AU+TCXO is absolutely an amazing upgrade from LM4562+Stock Crystal. Everything is alive,colorful and warm with this op-amp without losing LM's clarity. Bass is set when needed thanks to TXCO's extreme accuracy and all instruments are well separated, giving you this feeling of liveliness, a sound with soul.



Happy holidays everyone. (and happy solderings :) )

post #36 of 146

Kudos for this post ramachandra!


How does this look as a TCXO replacement?




Also, I'll hit this thread with a second question while I'm at it... If I'm using my XtremeMusic solely as a DSP w/ digital SPDIF coaxial out, is the TCXO the only worthwhile upgrade?

Edited by Acclaim - 1/24/14 at 9:28pm
post #37 of 146
Thread Starter 

The TCXO you found is correct. I have not experienced benefit to using them with external DACs. The S/pdif sending the audio and clock data together and depend on the device you connected how it handle.

post #38 of 146

Hi, thought I'd take a moment and thank the OP for this thread, though there are many on this topic I found this one to be most informative.


My X-Fi so far has a new opamp (LM 4562) & Silmic II 1500uf 16v Main Cap and more upgrades coming...


I would call myself an amateur audiophile when it comes headphones, most of my experience is with cars so this is all practically new to me although I've had a keen ear for sound I have not devoted any real budget towards audiophile equipment in this category.


I suppose I've chosen to savor the moment with every upgrade on this card, I'd read many times over how much of a drastic improvement this card sees after being treated to all the upgrades but as I have always done with my other audio ventures I always strictly judge from personal experience only. I seem to often go against the grain when it comes to the general opinion on sound, for example everyone says the Highs are harsh on HD681's but I find them to sound perfect for my preference, also everyone feels that MB Quart cans lack too much in lows but I find my 55X very "bass heavy" anyway before I ramble on any longer what I'm saying is I am trying each upgrade independently; opamp - 2 weeks burn-in/listening then Main cap burn-in/listening, 2 more weeks then I'm getting dac caps or opamp cap and so on. Later down the line I may choose to change some of these parts based on how it sounds to me. I'm loving this approach because I perform the upgrade then have a listen right away, I then put my headphones down leave the music playing & walk away, come back later play a track or two & walk away leaving the music on. This makes for an interesting daily experience, I suppose I enjoy the progression of the sound during the burn-in stage, in this respect the cap is what shows the most "progress" where as the opamp was more of an instantaneous improvement.


I encourage any X-Fi owner to do this, it only gets better when following this guide.


So from a noob, thank you so very much for such an awesome thread.

post #39 of 146

Does anyone know how to install Audio GD JZ-1 on Titanium HD, before i had it installed  on Asus Essence St but i couldnt find anyone doing it on any creative sound cards.



post #40 of 146

I was trying to make simmilar mod to my XFI XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro. I bought some elnas and nichicons. After recaping main power cap for xifi chip (c177) I've noticed there's some short circuit on it. I removed cap, cleaned pcb but I still got "beep" sound on my measurer even on pcb's empty holes. But it shows some value on it. So i cut of power section from diode. No more beeping on c177. There was beep on diode. I removed diode, but there's short circuit on PCB and it shows some little value. I have checked all other caps on card and there are absolutely fine, no beeping.

Question is can it be some sort of short circuit by default in this section? I haven't plugged card into PC since then.


Can someone check is there short circuit on their XFI on c177 please?

I add example picture. I'm not expert electician :c


post #41 of 146
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately i do not have this card here to check. What do you read on the instrument with the diode tester? If the numbers are not too low the card is fine, because the main X-Fi chip drawing energy. One short beep is fine because the capacitor(s) need some time to be fully charged, more capacitance mean you get longer beep.

post #42 of 146

Diode itself showed around 400 or 600 i don't remember exactly, i mesured it while it was no longer on pcb. The multimeter beeps and shows 010 in place where diode was, it showed same value on main power cap, but now cap is out off board and power section is cut off from x-fi chip. It looks like short is comming from the chip, i'm confused now. Maybe it suppose to be like that?

Btw it beeps all the time i discharged caps by shorting their legs for a sec.

post #43 of 146
Thread Starter 

I have an XtremeMusic here, the two card more less the same, and I have two different multimeter. Using the probes on the pins of the 1500uF cap it displays around 400-550 the other 600-1200 depend on the polarity so 10 with a constant beep is not looking good. The only thing you can do if the card worked for you before is to precisely examine all the spots you have touched because solder can make really small bridges thick as a hair, or looking for drops of solder on the PCB shortening pins of the chips, or can be a fragments of solder also. I often see that when i push trough the legs of the capacitor on the holes the sharp edge cutting off long fragment and remain under the capacitor or end up making a bridge somewhere else.

The worst situation is if the multilayer PCB suffered damage somehow and the short circuit is between two layers or the too much heat ruined a ceramic capacitor and died in short circuit. Near the holes of the main cap there is a small 0.1uF SMD. Maybe worth to check it out.

If you want you can wash the whole card to get rid of possible fragment (with white spirit, alcohol or stain remover to get rid of the paste or resin first) using a soft paintbrush and warm water + washing up liquid and gentle constant brushing. You need to be very sure no water left on the board especially under the the main chip, so use a hair dryer on medium temperature and give enough time.


I just giving this ideas because this is all i can do, i will not encourage you to try out the card in your PC and hope no smoke.

Edited by ramachandra - 10/9/14 at 4:34pm
post #44 of 146

Thank you for respond and hints, I'm going to look at that card one more time in free time. Now I'm waiting for arrival new (used) x-fi xtreme gamer sb0730. Got it for 15 USD which I think was a great bargain. Still very simmilar to sb0460 only slimmer, less memory and less outputs. I will probably replace caps with elnas and nichicons, maybe this time I will succeed:atsmile:

post #45 of 146

I modded my x-fi extreme music with panasonic capictors, polymers for the bypass, 2uf ceramics on the power caps, and an AD8620 opamp. I find the 8620 makes it very detailed. They can be modded into very decent cards.

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