Jez Ford from AVHUB is the sort of guy his industry colleagues would point to when they think of an audiophile who can really put sound equipment to the test. That is exactly how I got ahold of Jez by asking a few guys in the industry. It was somewhat of an honour to meet Jez last year and put a PC together for him to test GIGABYTE’s Sniper 5 motherboard’s sound card and OP-AMP technology for that reason. I must say when you deal with someone who is so particular about what he does, it can be a little intimidating and does get the nerves rattled considering you are entering unmarked waters so to speak. Jez turned out to be a nice guy you could have a beer or ten at the local pub and was really intrigued by all the technology that motherboard manufacturers such as GIGABYTE develop these days.
Audiophiles are very particular about their hardware. You can see what I mean when you read the first two paragraphs of the article
'Killer Gaming Motherboard’ screams the packaging for the G1 Sniper5 from Gigabyte, Taiwan-based manufacturer of computer hardware.
Well that’s nice, but why come to an audio magazine with such computerware; why would we be interested?
I put together a rig with some spare parts I had in the lab which included the CoolerMaster HAF XB case and Seidon 240 water cooler running on GIGABYTE Sniper 5, Intel 4770K, Corsair Dominators and ForceGT SSD. The optional OP-AMP kit was also supplied which GIGABYTE sell separately so he can test various sound outputs and basically left it and asked for an honest review, no questions asked (as I always do). I got a call a few weeks later that the PC is ready to be picked up, the testing was done and review submitted to print, exciting! The print version of the article was to come out the following month and I eagerly waited for the mag to see what the man had to say about GIGABYTE’s sound tech. Jez thought it was impressive despite the reservations that linger from audio purists and integrated circuitries. Here are a couple of quotes
But it’s certainly worth connecting the stereo output to your hi-fi direct, so you can hear what the Gigabyte card can do with music. It proved rather impressive.
Our first listening notes show surprise at how little noise could be discerned from the output; it required absolute cranking to dangerously high levels before slight noise was audible, and even that might have been down to the lower-quality-than-usual cable and connectors we used to accommodate the minijack output rather than RCAs
What about this swapping out of different op amps? Hi-fi fans certainly love tweaking, but messing with the circuit boards? Scary! But in we went with the supplied plastic tweezers (see right), swapping out the original (Ti OPA2134PA) for the one extra op amp that comes with the board, an LM4562…………Three more were supplied in a Premium Upgrade Kit — a Burr-Brown OPA2111KP, Linear Technology’s LT1358CN8 and Analog Devices AD827 JNZ. We liked the Analog Devices chip’s slightly brighter more engaging sound too
Jump over to AVHUB for the full review and see what Jez Ford has to say in detail!