Bought a Elfidelity PCI-E sound card out of curiosity

Discussion in 'DACs' started by mjw21a, May 25, 2018.

  1. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    2,926
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    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.
    The Gross DAC is 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
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2018
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  2. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Ok, during playback today I got a loud pop and the right channel went out. Some investigation showed that one of my Burson V5i-D OPAMPS had failed, which a quick Google seems to indicate isn't unheard of. Thankfully I have two other here I have for future projects (upgrade for my Quad 405) so I popped one of those in and it's sounding as great as ever. I've left the cover off the card as it seems the Burson OPAMPS get quite hot when in operation so the added airflow will probably be necessary when I have these in there.

    Here's some pics Google finds for the card in its stock form (was too slack to take my own)

    54377-1.jpg

    $_10.JPG
     
  3. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Addicted Member

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    Location:
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    I have never had an op-amp chip fail as you describe--I've had them fail (get noisy or just go dead), but never in a "blaze of glory" due to overheating. I would compare voltage requirements of the old vs the new op-amps for compatibility before burning up another chip.
     
  4. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

    Messages:
    2,926
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    When replacing it I noticed a fair amount of glue had managed to melt and get into one of the socket holes and was likely stopping full current flow. With the replacement OPAMP in there after clean up I've put quite a few additional hours on it without incident
     

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