Laptop Sound Card vs DAP: Which Provides More Power and Better SQ to Drive IEMs?
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BassInMyFace

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I've always been curious to know which piece of hardware is statistically able to produce more power and better SQ through its headphone out (unamped) to drive average IEMs (16 ohm - 32 ohm): a standard laptop sound card (using a HQ audio player like foobar2000) or a HQ DAP, such as a Cowon/Sansa DAP.  (By "standard laptop sound card," I'm referring to one like my own: a factory specification Lenovo X200 laptop with the original Conexant 20561 SmartAudio HD sound card in it and not an upgrated Creative Sound Blaster sound card.)
 
Anyone have an idea?
 
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soundstige

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Stock soundcards are almost always going to be outperformed in power and quality by even the cheapest dedicated amps.
 
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BassInMyFace

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What about compared to a DAP though - also unamped?
 
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B[van]

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My DT1350 sounds fuller on my notebook as compared to pairing it with the iPhone/ Clip +
 
iPhone & Clip+ < Notebook < iPhone + Stepdance
 
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kiteki

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Good thread.
 
On my Sony Vaio laptop (no idea what the sound-card is), the only DAP that surpasses it is the Teclast T51, in both volume and sound quality.
 
I recently acquired a $240 Dac/Amp, and while delivering much higher volume than my laptop, the sound-quality is equal, or even less, in other words a significant disappointment so I'm returning the Dac/Amp.
 
 
 
 
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nfinite

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in my experience, I'll say that my laptop (using foobar2000 with WASAPI) definitely packs more power than my iphone, but not necessarily better SQ... both is unamped..
 
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BassInMyFace

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Interesting.
 
Does anyone have any power or impedance specifications for your average soundcard?
 
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nizarp

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With my Lenovo Edge series laptop, I am getting much more power and almost equal sound clarity compared to clip+. I use Visonic GR07.
 
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kiteki

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Sorry guys, I jumped the gun here.
 
I knew I had to be missing something in my Dac/Amp, it turns out it just sucks at amplifying lower impedance 'phones.
 
I think a lot of Dac/Amps are tuned for high-end gear that want a lot of juice, and the manufacturer doesn't even consider lower impedance headphones and IEM's, this is definitely something to keep in mind. Some of us only have a single headphone and can't compare with other headphones, not everyone has an arsenal of HP's, c'mon!........

 
Quote:
Good thread.
 
On my Sony Vaio laptop (no idea what the sound-card is), the only DAP that surpasses it is the Teclast T51, in both volume and sound quality.
 
I recently acquired a $240 Dac/Amp, and while delivering much higher volume than my laptop, the sound-quality is equal, or even less, in other words a significant disappointment so I'm returning the Dac/Amp.
 
 
 


 
 
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Quote:
Sorry guys, I jumped the gun here.
 
I knew I had to be missing something in my Dac/Amp, it turns out it just sucks at amplifying lower impedance 'phones.
 
I think a lot of Dac/Amps are tuned for high-end gear that want a lot of juice, and the manufacturer doesn't even consider lower impedance headphones and IEM's, this is definitely something to keep in mind. Some of us only have a single headphone and can't compare with other headphones, not everyone has an arsenal of HP's, c'mon!........


 
Output impedance.
 
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ZARIM

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I think it's depend on the soundcards use in laptops and DAPs like HM-801, HM-602, iMod iPod, S:Flo 2, Sony X1061 can sound supperior than many laptops HP out.
 
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My laptop has a Realtek inside and its more than enough for earbuds/IEMs or headphones that need 32ohms or less. Even with the setting on headphones (Windows always asks what I plugged in) it has more than enough power. It seems to self adjust so headphones aren't overdriven, and in case, would sound worse. I've not had a single instance of onboard not being able to power whatever I put into it. Most modern laptops (meaning within the past couple of years) are set up to have better audio than laptops of old.
 
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Quote:
My laptop has a Realtek inside and its more than enough for earbuds/IEMs or headphones that need 32ohms or less. Even with the setting on headphones (Windows always asks what I plugged in) it has more than enough power. It seems to self adjust so headphones aren't overdriven, and in case, would sound worse. I've not had a single instance of onboard not being able to power whatever I put into it. Most modern laptops (meaning within the past couple of years) are set up to have better audio than laptops of old.


 
I've had two 2011 portable computers that sounded far worse than a 2007 VAIO.
 
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BassInMyFace

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Anyone know where to find sound card specifications?  I don't need to know any particular one but am more curious to compare the two with objective data.
 
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