About technologies for your digital home

For beginners and tinkerers

Modding sound card on VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723 – part 1

August 21st, 2016

I have bought this VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723 based PCI-e card around half year ago and since then it (after modding) is used in one of my audio setups connected to Marantz 6020 SE with external FET buffer.

About card hardware

The original card looks like this:

Modding VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723

The components on the card:

  • Voltage regulator AMS1117 5.0 (5V);
  • Voltage regulator AMS1117 1.2 (1.2V);
  • PCI Express-to-PCI bridge ASMEDIA ASM1083;
  • Audio Controller VIA Tremor VIA1723 (supports 24-bit I2S 44.1kHz, 48kHz, 88.2kHz, 96kHz, 176.4kHz, 192kHz, 1 synchronous I²S / AC-link inoput/output data stream pairs, Integrated S/PDIF transmitter with IEC958 line driver);
  • Audio DAC VIA VT1618(supports 20-bit input/output at Input Max. Sampling Rate of 48 kHz and output Max. Sampling Rate of 96 kHz with Input SNR 86 dB and output SNR 83 dB. But according to VIA, SNR exceeds 95dB.

It is the incarnation of famous  VIA VIA1723 chipset. Similar VIA chipset (but not exactly the same) was used in a soundcard M-Audio Audiophile 192. There is also used a chip ASMEDIA ASM1083 as PCI-PCI Express bridge on the board which helped to resurrect VIA chipset back to life. The audio DAC is also from VIA VT1618 (supports 20-bit input/output at Input Max. Sampling Rate of 48 kHz and output Max. Sampling Rate of 96 kHz with Input SNR 86 dB and output SNR 83 dB). 83 dB is a bit too low value as for audio DAC but let’s see if it may sound reasonable well after some modding.

As far as I know, the decoding of different audio codecs is performed at driver level by using the CPU power.

Windows 10 compatibility

The driver disk which came with the card was unreadable; however Windows 10 detected the card and installed all drivers without the disk. After that, it appeared as Envy24 audio card Device manager.

Sound of this card (without any tweaks)

The sound is some-kind average, a bit dull, well nothing special. But I think this card has high value/price ratio for the tweaker as audio kit.
It looked for me that the electrolytic capacitors of this card were the weakest chain of this audio card (both in power section and audio path).

Modding audio card

1st part

So, initially I desoldered the capacitors (of unknown brand) in the power supplies sections. On my card, they were marked as C9, C12, CB2, CB5, CB4 and CB6. One of the easiest ways to do this – just to form a bigger ball of the solder on other side of the board where the capacitors pins are located and that should do a trick. Opposite, search for soldering tips on Youtube.

By using my ESR meter they showed nF range instead of uF – very funny! I upgraded them to low ESR capacitors which were de-soldered from old motherboards. I did not populate all six capacitors. Instead, I put only three of them – 270uF as C9, CB5 and 100uF as CB6.

Modding VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723

2nd part

Two electrolytic capacitors are used at the output of this card and they are marked CE7 and CE8 for stereo output. As far as I remember they were 220uF capacitance each. I have not seen so high values on any output stage … I end up by replacing these capacitors with 22uF new-old-stock (NOS) ELNA silk capacitors.

Modding VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723_3_630px

Final results&sound

I performed testing after each upgrade and honestly, I was positively surprised. The sound improved after each of them, bringing more details to sound stage and it is not comparable anymore to the original sound.

Other possibilities of modding

It looks that it is possible to use this card as I2S transport. I found couple posts on similar VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723 based sound cards here and here. However, you will need to replace the firmware and perform full ‘surgery’ of this card e.g. connect another audio DAC by using I2S bus.

I might do this because I still have currently unused ES9023 DAC, which I used with my Raspberry Pi and I am curious to hear this upgrade impact on the sound 😉

Buy VIA Envy24 Tremor VT1723 based sound card on eBay.