M-Audio 2496 PC audio card: Modifying for improved fidelity

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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.

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.

The Caig kit contains: DeoxIT fast-acting deoxidizing solution that cleans, preserves, lubricates, and improves conductivity on metal connectors and contacts in 2 forms D5MS-15 mini-spray 5% solution, 200 ml, and D100L-2C squeeze tube 100% solution, 2 ml.; ProGold preservative and lubricant for plated metal electrical connections in 2 forms G5MS-15 mini spray 5% solution, 20 ml, and G100L-2C squeeze tube 100% solution, 2 ml; CaiLube precision lubricant specifically formulated to improve conductivity and lubricate conductive plastic and carbon compound faders, switches and other similar components in 2 forms MCL5MS-H15 mini spray 5% solution, 25 ml, and MCL100L-H2C squeeze tube 100% solution, 2 ml; plus lint-free swabs, brushes, and cloths.

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).

In a future mod, I'll begin replacing components on the circuit board with ones of higher quality. For example, op-amps (green arrows0 and capacitors (red arrows).

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.

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