Soundblaster x-fi elite pro, worth the money? - diyAudio
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Old 12th September 2015, 08:20 AM   #1
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Default Soundblaster x-fi elite pro, worth the money?

Hi And thanks for reading this post.



I noticed a massive thread on the net concerning hotrodding the x-fi soundcard that involves swopping the caps and opamps for " better " ones so dropped my soundcard off at the local pc shop to see if a pro could do the work.



I told the shop the card is a 10 year old soundblaster x-fi ellite pro (250)



1. to which they replied a 10 year old card would probably be so outdated a modern 50 card would be just as good



would not be worth spending money to pay for new caps, op amps and service charges.



2. Also the chips would probably be coming toward the end of their lives as soundcards are only designed to last 7 years.



Could you advise me is 1 and 2 are true, i always thought the elite pro sounded good but have not compared it against anything modern or top end.



Many thanks in advance. John.
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Old 12th September 2015, 08:24 AM   #2
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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x-fi ellite pro (250)

So expensive there?

Quote:
1. to which they replied a 10 year old card would probably be so outdated a modern 50 card would be just as good
would not be worth spending money to pay for new caps, op amps and service charges.
2. Also the chips would probably be coming toward the end of their lives as soundcards are only designed to last 7 years.
X-Fi was good because of hardware-accelerated EAX sound effects. But that became obsolete once Vista made it difficult to implement and game companies switched to more modern sound engines. The technology has since been abandoned by Creative.

On the audio side of things, the Elite Pro is pretty good, but a Xonar DX can hit the same level at less money. Indeed around 50 if I got the conversion rates right.

Audio analogue hardware technology has not moved much over the years, and it still costs money to implement it good. I doubt the chips are reaching end of operation life; audiophiles own equipment way older than that.

But frankly it isn't worth the workmanship to upgrade. I feel this way in a country with China workers and no minimum wage, it should only be worse in yours.

Last edited by wwenze; 12th September 2015 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 29th September 2015, 02:38 AM   #3
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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I'd suggest using S/PDIF to an outboard DAC or AVR, unless you really need multichannel analog outputs.
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Old 29th September 2015, 03:22 AM   #4
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I wasn't aware that chips wore out. Caps, especially the narrow can versions often found on soundcards do have a limited life so you might be able to kill two birds with one stone - extend the life and improve its sound.
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Old 4th October 2015, 09:19 PM   #5
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Initial X-Fis did in fact have some reliability issues, later ones shipped with a heatsink on the CA20K1 to counteract these. BGA solder joint fractures, I presume, pretty common at the time.

The Elite Pro actually uses higher-end converter chips than the Xonar D1/DX (4x CS4398 vs. 1x CS4398 + 1x CS4362 on the DAC front, and AK5394 vs. CS5361 in terms of ADCs), though it doesn't turn that advantage into actually better measurements, stock. Besides, it was more feature-rich at the time - don't forget it shipped with this external I/O / control box thingy and a remote. It should also do a better job driving headphones directly (output impedance is a tad high on the D1/D2/DS Xonars, which are essentially line-level-only). And there was the onboard X-RAM (and Xilinx FPGA), of course. Not all of this you can actually hear, but it did cost 'em money.

The Philips NE5532As on there (pic of review sample SB0550) must have been a few years old at the time already (9xxxx = 1999?). Didn't the factory making these suffer fire damage in like 2003? Then again, stocks of these still seem to have been plenty in 2005, even though they were discontinued in early '04.
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