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Audio Equipment--Troubleshooting and Repair Guide
Guide to Troubleshooting Consumer Electronics Audio Circuits
Guide to Troubleshooting / Repairing Electronics Without a Schematic
General guide to Audio Electronics
If you want better PC sound, start with a good audio card, such as the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 Audio Card. The stock card may be further improved via modification. Let's do two of these mods -- we'll start with a very simple/basic one...
Below: a basic "toolkit" of products and components used in this mod.
Below: Clean the contact strip with 99% isopropyl, first; then use the CAIG Audio Survival Kit to further clean, enhance and protect all contact-mating metal surfaces.
Below: Cover the clock (oscillator) -- however many are found on your audio card -- with adhesive putty/tack or rope caulk.
End of PC audio card contact-enhancing and clock-damping mod.
Below: In a future mod, I'll begin replacing non-SMD components on the circuit board with ones of higher quality. For example, op-amps (green arrows) and capacitors (red arrows). Sorry -- there should be a green arrow (not red) pointing to the two-channel audio op-amp (center left).
Below: (2006-12-16). I followed through on part of the promise, made above, and tweaked the 2-channel (Left and Right) analog outputs. Specifically, I replaced the stock NJR JRC 5532 op-amp (green arrow) with a Texas Instruments OPA2604 model. I also replaced the stock capacitors (red arrows) with higher-quality (but same value) units made by Nichicon. I added the op-amp first, did a listening test, then added the new caps, and did another listening test. Both yielded subtle -- read: not huge -- improvements in audio fidelity.