Originally Posted by jensy
Have you compared it to using an external DAC (through USB)?
Yes, I've got soundblaster x-fi usb, and it definitely sounds much better, even though it has its own glitches.
I made a few tests with RMAA with beats hardware, and with external usb. Problem is i could only record with my older laptop that doesnt have any "sound enhansers", i couldnt record with soundblaster since it's mic input was too sensitive, i had to reduce recording level to close-to-zero, and i was getting unrealistic numbers in terms of dynamic range after that.
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Here are results I've got. Those probably arent precise due to hardware used, but quite enough to compare.
Overall RMAA results table:
So, I did 6 measurements, all were recorded on internal soundcard of old samsung laptop with same record level and other settings on recording laptop.
First four measurements are for my same hp laptop equipped with beats audio, same internal soundcard.
"hp+beats, beats on": i set up beats driver, every setting is default, and "beats on" is set by default.
"hp+beats, beats off": i unchecked "beats" checkbox, without changing anything else. You can see how it reduces the bass output.
"hp+beats, beats off + eq zeroed": when beats driver is set up, windows sound properties has "tone settings" tab with "highs" and "lows" control. beats on/off checkbox changes the state of those. i went in, set those into zero position, and then took this measurement.
"hp+beats, generic driver": this is response graph when i went into hardware management, and removed driver at all, and then windows generic driver was automatically installed instead. Beats control panel has gone, "tone settings" has gone too. You can see how this resulted in freq response and other metrics. Freq response is the most straight, though still worse than other old non-"super-sound" laptop.
"selftest" refers to playback with same old samsung laptop without any enhansements.
"soundblaster x-fi" is my external usb. In RMAA results table, it has weird results in "swept sine" test, that seems to be some bug with it, maybe just disregard that field. "Noise" results on it are probably limited with recording hardware.
At the end, i use my hp+beats laptop with beats drivers + beats on. The reason is, it provides really good results with laptop's internal speaker. This laptop has an internal "subwoofer" which is only employed with beats drivers. And, my typical scenario for using it is watching movie in the train or at the street cafe, and it really sounds much better than other laptops i've heard. While for use with headphones, i just use my external dac. Actually, my main reason to buy external dac was to be able to use laptop sound without switching drivers all the time. So, i never plug headphones into beats output, but for internal speakers + noisy environment, it is just the best (again, compared to no-beats laptop internal speaker, not to anything better).