Just wanted to share how much I am enjoying this machine. It seems to have a higher quality headphone output than "most laptops on the market". I have disabled beats and the primary sound driver, that mangle the sound horrendously, and use Foobar > Wasapi push 24 bit. Like this it sounds really nice and I feel no need for an outboard dac or amp, even though I am using Q701 cans which this thing drives easily.
"Since establishing its partnership with Beats Audio, HP has greatly improved the quality of its internal audio chipsets. However, the audio components could be managed more effectively. The headphones jack still delivers a higher power output than most laptops on the market, but harmonic distortion is way too high (well above 1%)—that basically means the sound coming through your headphones will be loud but not very pleasant. Limiting this even just a little would make all the difference. In fact, most of our test results showed that it wouldn't take much technical modification to make a huge difference to audio quality.
The speakers make up for things, however, with a decent (if not amazing) volume level and very little saturation. Activating the Beats Audio function makes things even better too. It's just a shame that when you switch off the Beats Audio mode the bass systematically switches back to -12 and the treble to +6 , no matter what they were previously set to. This gives users the impression that sound is sub-standard without the Beats Audio mode—a cunning tick. In actual fact, with these values set to 0, the improvement brought by Beats Audio suddenly seems much less impressive. It's about time manufacturers stopped trying to pull the wool over their users' eyes!"
They clearly do have very good internal audio chips. You just have to know what to do to take advantage of them. The harmonic distortion they are talking about is clear if you use a player like winamp and the primary sound driver. It will then sound like a cheap transistor radio. There is however no way that there is more than 1% distortion they way I am using this. Regarding the speakers on this machine I would like to note that I disagree with digitalversus. They are rubbish.
Edited by Hooster - 11/3/12 at 3:11am