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Adrian Tache originally shared:
 
Last night I had some fun, changed the op amps on my moderately expensive sound card, the Asus Xonar Essence STX, from the stock JRC2114D to the more advanced LME49720HA. I chose the TO-99 package for the LME49720 because I understand there's a definite improvement over the board's form factor of DIP8.

It took me a bit to get them to fit, the trouble is that trying to bend the pins in a row is pretty hard because they have different angles to the chip so they tend to spin or bend whenever you push on them. I used a spare DIP8 header I had lying around to give them the rough shape I wanted then fit them securely onto the board. I'd like to get a TO-99 to DIP8 converter but until then this solution is okay.

One problem I had however was that the new parts are way too tall for the EMI shield so I had to cut down the legs a bit. Surprisingly though they were really tough and my initial idea of just flattening them and then using my heavy duty wire cutter did nothing more than bend the ends... So I took to cutting each pin which was tricky because they were made from a very strong metal and I had to cut them at an angle which eventually meant I partially clipped a pin too short when I was cutting the one next to it. All in all I did still leave them way too tall but I didn't want to risk making it to short to work with. And the EMI shield still sort of fits so we're okay. One thing I just realized however is that I didn't shield the can from the EMI shield (which is metal) but I don't think the can itself is connected to the circuit. Or else I'd have a nice huge spark :D

All in all that was loads of fun and the sound is definitely improved, with much much clearer voice and instruments and a wider soundstage, the only loss to the stock amps being the loss of some boomy bass which was expected.

Conclusions:

* wider soundstage
* clearer voices and instruments
* nicer midtones and highs
* weaker bass (which is a bit of an issue since my cans are closed so they don't have much bass anyway), especially the boomy kind, but it's not a problem.
* even Avril Lavigne sounds nicer who, let's be honest, has the musical talents of a raped cat.
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