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Onboard Sound Vs. Add in Sound Card

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by ROBSCIX, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. meimeiriver

    meimeiriver Member

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    Yeah, ordered the card today as well. It will indeed be good to listen to it first for a while, so I will actually be able to tell the difference later.

    As for my proficiency with a soldering iron, it's my experience (from building my own amp, back in my teens, LOL) that if you apply even a tiny bit too much solder, you'll introduce unwanted resistences and/or noise. I could probably do it, if I really, really wanted to, but I think those four will be fine to start with.
     
  2. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    I have had my ZXR for a couple years now. Right after I got the sound card, I first took out the stock JRC2114D opamps in the I/V Stage. I put two LME49860NA opamps in as replacements. At that point, I had still left the stock LME49710NA opamps in the Buffer Stage. The difference was easily noticeable. With the JRC2114D opamps, the bass is bloated and boomy on the card. It does not sound defined or articulate at all. With the LME49860NA opamps, the bass became much tighter, quicker, and far more accurate. That nasty treble grain and fatigue with the stock JRC2114D opamps also disappeared. The instrument separation and soundstaging noticeably improved. As it is with any audiophile, I was still not completely satisfied and wanted more. I then ended up putting two LME49710HA Metal Can opamps on adapters in the buffer stage to replace the stock LME49710NA chips. Oh my, what a great upgrade. The bass became tighter, faster, and even more defined. The soundstaging opened right up. Instrument separation, detail retrieval, and location were greatly improved. The mids became a tad more forward, and vocals were very well presented. The treble extension was far better. Things were more articulate, clear, and defined in the upper registers. Everything was nice and neutral sounding with great details across the frequency range. I stayed with that for quite a while, and then later I took out the LME49860NA opamps in the I/V Stage, and replaced those also with 2 x LME49710HA metal cans on each adapter. The sound once again improved even further.

    I will say though, that by going with the metal cans in the buffer stage, and the LME49860 opamps in the I/V Stage, you are already going to be very satisfied. I was very impressed with that until I finally went all metal cans. What are you using for speakers, amp, and headphones ?
     
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  3. meimeiriver

    meimeiriver Member

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    Currently, my PC speaker situation isn't all that stellar, tbh. I have a Logitech Z906 system, with a beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO headphone, and a Schiit Magni/Modi combo. I may well upgrade these too. Thing is, I have a far superior Atmos home theatre system in my living room, but don't necessarily feel like filling my entire desk with a huge amp.
     
  4. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Too much solder wont cause an issue you can hear unless the solder strays to another component.
    The things to consider are:
    Make sure the hole and what you will put in it are clean of oxidation and dirt.
    Make sure the soldering iron is hot enough for the solder but if its a solder station dont go too hot unless you are very quick/good.
    Try to minimise the time the component is heated, dont stress over it, just remember to work quickly.
    When finished make sure both the socket and component are soldered, the solder should flow over them, there should not be a solder bump/ball or gap.

    If you are worried about leaving too much solder on a joint get some solder wick.
    This is a thin mesh of metal that you put on the offending solder joint and then heat it with the soldering iron by pushing the iron on the wick over the joint.
    Once it has heated up enough it melts the solder and soaks it up.
    Everyone will think you are a solder god lol.

    ps
    you will need a solder sucker to remove the solder from each pin of the op-amp you want to remove.
    Heat the joint with the loaded solder sucker pushing on the solder as well.
    As soon as the solder melts press the button on the sucker to hoover it out.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2019
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  5. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    So been thinking about swapping out the JRC2114D from the ZxR myself, apart from the LME49860NA what do you guys think of the OPA2134PA? Reason I ask is I can get it locally and it's quite cheap as well, anyone have any experience with them?

    I noticed there is also a LME49720NA which is supposed to be the same/similar to the LME49860NA is that true? Thanks
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
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  6. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    I have a few of the LME49720NA and LME49860NA opamps. These two are similar, but are not exactly the same. Since they are in the same family, they offer a similar sound signature. The LME49860NA is capable of handling a wider voltage range. The mids on the LME49860NA are slightly warmer, and a little more engaging. Bass extension on the LME49860NA is also tad better. Both of these LME opamps are neutral in their sound signature. The OPA2134PA is inferior to the LME49720NA and LME49860NA. You can get genuine LME49860NA opamps on EBAY. If you take out the trash JRC2114D opamps, and replace them with these, you will experience a very noticeable improvement in sound quality. This seller offers 2 of them in an auction.

    https://www.ebay.ca/itm/2x-LME49860...186298?hash=item2317dc90ba:g:d5AAAOxyY3ZR0O-L
     
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  7. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    I should mention too that until about 6 months ago, I was running all LME49710HA metal can opamps in my ZXR card. At that point, over on head-fi, I was offered some Burson Audio V6 Vivid opamps in exchange for my honest review and impressions with using the opamps in the sound card. With these Burson Audio opamps in this sound card, I have yet to hear another internal sound card that offers better performance.
     
  8. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    Thanks @DW75 I think I'll give the 49860 a crack!

    Oh also any recommendations for tools or clamp or something that help take out the opamps easier?
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
  9. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    If you want to replace the LME49710NA opamps in the Buffer Stage, I recommend stepping up to the metal can LME49710HA opamps. These are the top opamps in the family. This will also give you a noticeable improvement in soundstage, imaging, bass articulation and tightness, detail retrieval, and treble extension. This one at the link is one of the very few sellers left who still sells authentic ones. You would need to buy two of these. One to replace each LME49710NA. Putting two of these in your card, along with the two LME49860NA opamps in the I/V Stage will give you great sonic improvements on your ZXR.

    https://www.ebay.ca/itm/1PCS-LME497...832199?hash=item33dc2656c7:g:GZ8AAOSwmBhaB~Ei
     
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  10. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    You can get a pair of IC chip pliers. The seller at the link is in China though, so will take longer for you to get it. You can go to an electronics store and buy IC pliers if you want. Another choice is you can use a small laptop or glasses screwdriver that is small enough to fit under the opamp. You then just use the screwdriver to push the opamp up on each side. Just be careful when extracting. Also, be aware that the opamps can only be installed one way. You will find that your LME49860NA has a little dot on the top on the one side. The JRC2114D also has a dot on one side. Just pay attention to this, as putting the opamps in backwards can damage the card or the opamps.

    https://www.ebay.ca/itm/U-Type-Flat...465408?hash=item1cad5a5fc0:g:uCQAAOSwax5Y05xl
     
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  11. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    Thanks for the tip man!
     
  12. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    No problem, be sure to put up your impressions after you change out the opamps.
     
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  13. bballfreak6

    bballfreak6 Ancient Guru

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    Definitely. I was a bit curious reading your earlier post about swapping out the JRC2114D for the LME49860NA will make the top end smoother/help remove the grainy-ness. My headphones a pair of Alessandro MS-Pro(e) and I particularly notice the grain when I listen to say Norah Jones' voice in a track like "Lonestar" will be curious to see how much difference it'll make.

    Using JBL 305II's for speakers (which has a pretty nice bottom end even without sub) so will be good to see (hear) how it affects it there too.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  14. meimeiriver

    meimeiriver Member

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    FYI, the ebay store, hifiic, who I bought 2PCS LME49710HA from, seems to have received a review (in the last 6 months) for selling FAKE opamps. :( And delivery may take as long as July 5, it says. Let's hope I'll receive it soon, and that it won't be fake.
     
  15. meimeiriver

    meimeiriver Member

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    So, should I just forget about those LME49710HA's then, and get the Burson ones? If so, what are they called exactly?
     

  16. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    Hey meimeiriver, the ones I have in my ZXR are the Burson Audio V6 VIvid. Burson Audio currently offers the V6 Vivid and V6 Classic. The Classic is a warmer sounding opamp with slightly rolled off highs, and the Vivid is a neutral opamp with incredible extension at both ends. Both of these are very expensive opamps though. Granted, sound quality with them is the best you will ever hear in an internal sound card. I have not heard the Classic. When I was in the test group months ago, I was offered the Vivid or Classic as samples in exhange for my review on headfi. On the Vivid, soundstage is deep and wide. Bass is very deep, tight, punchy, and defined. Treble is well extended and very detailed. Be aware though that these opamps are unique because they have a long break in period. They take at least 100 hours to reach their final sound.

    https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/supreme-sound-opamp-v6/

    You can see my comments in headfi in the Burson Audio V6 thread at the link. My review is about 1/3 of the way down the page.

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/bur...-opamps-discussion-and-reviews.854912/page-11

    Regarding hifiic, many people from headfi have bought opamps from him, even though he is in China. He has been known for one of the few in China to sell authentic opamps. The other seller in the US, nooelec, that you bought the LME49860NA opamps from, are guaranteed authentic. I have 4 of them that I bought from that seller, and they are all genuine. Two of them were the ones I used in my ZXR card previously. How are you finding the LME49860NA opamps ? You should be noticing a great improvement.
     
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  17. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    One thing I will mention, is I have changed some equipment since that review as well. I use my ZXR card for my home audio system using the analog outs. For my headphones, I use an SMSL M8A DAC. Mine is the newest M8A version with the ES9038Q2M Sabre DAC chip. My headphone amp that is connected to that is the Audio-GD C-2 (2017 Edition) headphone amp.

    https://www.amazon.com/SMSL-ES9028Q2M-Optical-Coaxial-Decoder/dp/B06XW8WS1R

    http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/C22015/C22015EN.htm

    I will say too, that anyone looking for a powerful headphone amp with a completely neutral sound signature, should take a look at this puppy. The power output it offers can handle any headphone, and the sound quality is way above its 450 US price point. Take a look at the power output.

    25 ohm: 9900MW
    40 ohm: 8000MW
    100 ohm: 3500MW
    300 ohm: 1200MW
    600 ohm: 600MW
     
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  18. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    With the ZXR sound card, the most bang for the buck though is getting the LME49860NA opamps to replace the trash JRC2114D ones in the I/V Stage, and replacing the LME49710NA stock opamps in the Buffer Stage with the LME49710HA Metal Can opamps. In terms of sound quality, it is miles ahead of the stock card with those upgrades.
     
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  19. meimeiriver

    meimeiriver Member

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    Thanks again for your massively helpful and detailed replies. :) I haven't installed the LME49860NA's (I did order one of those IC extractors with them, though), because I wanted to wait until both sets of opamps are in.

    Those Burson Audio V6's, indeed, aren't cheap. I may yet go for them eventually. But if that Chinese dealer comes thru, I want to see how the LME49710HA's are working out first. Besides, I still got my whole speaker situation to sort out too (thanks for the tips on those too, btw).
     
  20. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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    No problem, happy to help. Be sure to put up your thoughts after you put all the opamp upgrades in the card.
     

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