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How to get best sound out of laptop?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone. I have a laptop which I use my fairly old Cambridge THX Soundworks system with but it works great.

I would like to know if there is any software or hardware which I could get which would make my audio sound better? I play everything in FLAC with Foobar but I just wonder am I always limited by the jack and components in my laptop

 

Thanks for your help.

post #2 of 14

You should definitely get an external DAC. The DAC that your laptop comes with is cheap, most likely worth a few dollars, and produces very poor sound quality compared to an external DAC. There are tons of high performing affordable USB DACs on the market nowadays. Some of the cheapest ones are the HiFimeDIY Sabre DACs. If you don't have any music files that have higher than 16 bit than I suggest going for their $30 Sabre Tiny USB DAC. If you have music at higher bit rates, I recommend their Sabre U2 Asynchronous USB DAC for $57. If you have a higher budget, there's the Schiit stacks (Modi + Magni/Vali) which will cost you around $200-220, however they are only for desktop use and aren't portable. I personally recommend getting LH Labs' Geek Out, which ranges from $200-$300 depending on which model you need. They all sound absolutely killer for the price. Just pick the model according to what headphones/speakers you plan on driving with them. I have a Geek Out 450 hooked up to a Project Ember amp for my desktop and a Geek Out 100 (not officially released yet) for on the go with my IEMs. There's also the Geek Out 720 and 1000 models if you need more power output.

 

Hope this helped!

post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 

Wow thanks!

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

I'm based in the UK, this product seems cheap, is it any good?

 

Behringer UCA202 U-Control Ultra low-latency 2 In/2 Out USB/Audio Interface

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behringer-UCA202-U-Control-low-latency-Interface/dp/B000KW2YEI/ref=sr_1_2?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1400443970&sr=1-2&keywords=dac

post #5 of 14

Hmm I not sure since I'm not familiar with that product at all. It seems like the reviews for it on amazon are good but I don't know how experienced the people submitting reviews are in terms of audiophile gear. What exactly is your budget? And do you need RCA outputs to use with speakers?

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

I just have a 3.5 regular jack for my system. Well it's really not that much. I just want to try and see if I can get better sound at a minimal price (don't we all?). Thought of trying something entry level to see if i get even a difference from that. Maybe 50$?

post #7 of 14

Okay so for you I would definitely suggest getting either of the HiFimeDIY Sabre DACs. It makes a huge difference, especially if you're using higher quality headphones or IEMs. Even for budget gear, it will make a noticeable difference.

 

Btw, those Sabre DACs use the ES9023 Sabre DAC chip that is highly regarded and is used in much more expensive DACs. You're really getting amazing performance for minimal price with these.


Edited by akarise - 5/18/14 at 1:47pm
post #8 of 14
You have 5.1 sound system. If you go with a 2 channel DAC, you can only use it with a couple of speakers. Don't you have separate inputs on the back of your sub for each speaker and the sub?
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 

Yeah I only use 2 speakers with my system. Dont have the space and I think 1 or 2 speakers are broken.

 

I just had my big sub woofer, all the speakers plug into that then I have a regular 3.5 jack cable coming from there into my laptop. There are 2 other jack leads, black n yellow coming off the 3.5 green jack cable but never figured out what that actually did.

 

Found those Ssabre DACs on ebay. Mini is 36 dollars and the U2 is 53 dollars. Have get these from China


Edited by greenkomodo1 - 5/19/14 at 12:11am
post #10 of 14

I bought a  HiFimeDIY Sabre DAC last week and the volume output is about half of that through the built in headphone socket of my laptop through sennheier HD485's. Avoid!!

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenkomodo1 View Post
 

Hey everyone. I have a laptop which I use my fairly old Cambridge THX Soundworks system with but it works great.
I would like to know if there is any software or hardware which I could get which would make my audio sound better? I play everything in FLAC with Foobar but I just wonder am I always limited by the jack and components in my laptop

Thanks for your help.

 

EL ELE-02 USB/DAC/Amp, $18.90 each, I like to buy them in pairs, just in case one stops working.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/230963476750?ssPageName=STRK:MEWNX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1497.l2649

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Cotter View Post
 

I bought a  HiFimeDIY Sabre DAC last week and the volume output is about half of that through the built in headphone socket of my laptop through sennheier HD485's. Avoid!!

That's because you need to use an amp with a DAC, honey. DACs give out line level output, you need to amplify and attenuate that signal with an amp. Your laptop has a built in DAC and amp, through the hifimediy DAC you only have a DAC, no amp.

post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by penmarker View Post
 

That's because you need to use an amp with a DAC, honey. DACs give out line level output, you need to amplify and attenuate that signal with an amp. Your laptop has a built in DAC and amp, through the hifimediy DAC you only have a DAC, no amp.

Hi Sweetcheeks

 

Doesn't say that on their website! I wanted a cheaper alternative to say a HRT, Dragonfly or Meridian Explorer.

 

Regards

 

Darren

post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Cotter View Post
 

Hi Sweetcheeks

 

Doesn't say that on their website! I wanted a cheaper alternative to say a HRT, Dragonfly or Meridian Explorer.

 

Regards

 

Darren

My love,

 

You still need to use an amp with it.

 

Truly yours,

Penmarker

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