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Bought a Elfidelity PCI-E sound card out of curiosity

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mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Ok, I've been out of computer tech for a while now spending most of my time researching and perfecting my stereo systems around the house. I've been curious about the Elfidelity PCI-E cards for a while. My favourite DAC in my main system is a Gieseler Gross DAC which is by far and away the best I've heard, and so it should be for over $2k. It's based around a AKM4497EQ chip using Jensen transformers on the outputs.

Now the Elfidelity had potential to be quite good using an AK4396 DAC chip, 2x clocks to reduce jitter and two DIP8 OPAMPS for amplification and VIA Envy24DT for the PCI-E interface so I ordered one. It's relatively inexpensive on eBay anyway. I also at the same time ordered 2x Burson V5i-D OPAMPS.

Now these both arrived on Thursday night so I immediately swapped out the OPAMPS for the Bursons, and popped it in my desktop computer. I'm using Litz silver plated copper RCA leads to a S.M.S.L. SA-50 amp and Western Electric 11GA tinned copper wire to Polk Tsi100 bookshelves + Wharfedale SW150 sub. After installing drivers I sat down for a bit of a listen.

So how does it sound? Absolutely gobsmackingly good. A wide, deep and natural sound stage. Far better integrated bass than I was previously getting. Seems to be the marriage of the lovely tonality and musicality of of old school DAC's like the Philips TDA1543 and the detail of modern chips like the ESS Sabre or Cirrus Logic chips. It also brings a real immediacy and transparency, as though you're there in the studio. Just spectacular. Sounds incredible for music though equally importantly brings unmatched realism in games (DOOM, Battlefield 1, Titanfall etc).

Now I've no idea whether most modern sound cards are at this level though at the time I started using home audio DAC's in place of Asus and Creative cards they didn't even approach this level. Colour me impressed.

Anyway, just thought I'd share my impressions of this card as when I Googled it there was literally no information to be found on it anywhere online. This was a gamble borne out of curiosity. The cart had the right ingredients to be good and I'm glad I did so. This is right up there with the very best external DAC's I've ever heard.

So if anyone's looking for amazing, end game audio on a budget, grab one of these + a pair of Burson V5i-D OPAMPS.

Cheers

Matt

- - - Updated - - -

Sorry, PCI-E, not PCI-X. Brain fart
 
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Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
Have you tried it with the original op amps? Just curious how much of the audio goodness is Burson and how much is the card's contribution. I got my mobo for the replaceable op amps because I can't stand that flat, thin, lifeless dreck that Realtek calls "audio". Using an LM4562 (TI) now, but it's still computer audio. I love Marantz's implementation of the Cirrus Logic CS4397 in my SACD player, but have never gotten a computer based source close to that.
 
OP
mjw21a

mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
I suspect a goodly portion is the AKM chip as all the best sounding DAC's I've hear were based on either AKM, Cirrus Logic or NOS Phillips R2R DAC chips.... I tossed the original OPAMPS so I can't check that though I expect the difference isn't subtle. I wouldn't have changed them in the first place otherwise.
 

NiHaoMike

dBa Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Those opamps don't seem to specify the noise figure. Almost like they're trying to hide something. Anyways, my top pick for a quality audio opamp (for I/V conversion) is the OPA1612 and my top pick for an opamp optimized for driving headphones is the TPA6120A2.
 
OP
mjw21a

mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
All I can verify is that the Burson V5i-D sounds spectacular in this card. A mate has installed them in his Xiang Sheng DAC-01A and had similar results. a Massive upgrade from stock.
 
OP
mjw21a

mjw21a

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2004
Well, have since moved on to a USB only 4x Philips TDA1387 R2R DAC which just destroys it. Can't beat the $30 price point either.