Want to get an amp... Help please
Jun 23, 2009 at 7:52 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7


100+ Head-Fier
Jan 28, 2008
I want to get an amp to hook up to my laptop as the main music source. I want to be able to hook up two speakers and in addition to be able to use it to drive my headphones as well. What amp do I need?

I would like to hook the amp to my notebook, a Dell 1420. It has two plugs in the front which is a bit confusing. On the specs on Dell's website, it says that they are headphone / line out, what does that mean?? It seems like they both are line in's for headphones.

If my goal is to hook the amp to my notebook, how will I do this? I believe I seen awhile ago that mac's have line outs? Please correct me if I am wrong.

Thanks for the info,
Jun 23, 2009 at 8:18 AM Post #3 of 7
Firstly we'll need a little more information to help.
1) Budget?
2) What speakers?
3) How sensitive are they?
4) How a big is the room?
5) What sort of music?
6) How loud do you need it?
7) What headphones?
8) Tube or solid state?
9) Would you like to explore the idea of a DAC/AMP combo?
Jun 23, 2009 at 8:33 AM Post #5 of 7
I'm not exactly sure what amp I need but nothing tooo pricey around 500? I mean I am willing to put down more money for the amp and music source.

Speakers I have no idea what I will be using as of now. Probably basic two speakers around 300 bucks each.

Headphones I am using some cheaper audiotechnicas but am in the market for grados and/or unltraones.

The I like listen to all music but mainly R&B and house/deep tech music. In reality I listen to everything... hip hop, rock, country, EVERYTHING

Small room..

I understand that notebooks aren't the best sources but what are my other choices??

Oh by the way, the reason why I want to use my notebook is that all my music is all on my notebook, I dont use cd's that much anymore.

Jun 23, 2009 at 8:45 AM Post #6 of 7
Take a look at the Headroom site they have a range of amps that might suit. The problem with your source is, it has a crap dac/soundcard most computers do. You may be able to get a dac/amp combo, which would be much more preferable.
Jun 23, 2009 at 10:20 AM Post #7 of 7
From my experience, laptops have pretty mediocre audio circuitry(probably because laptop speakers don't benefit from a good signal).
(also, having cables connected to the front of your laptop is very annoying)
It would be best if you can get an external dac, and start with a clean usb signal.
When you say you want to hook up two speakers, do you need a amp that can power both your (passive)speakers and headphones, or do you need an amp that just has an extra loop-out connection for your (active) speakers.

Now, in the first scenerio, you can get a pretty decent receiver(I think you might need a usb-spdif converter) or something like the glow amplifier that usually has a capable dac. It won't be the end-all solution to either, but for a all-in-one solution, it will drive both your speakers and headphones much better than your laptop's audio-out.

In the second scenerio, there are a lot of options here.
I'm not too excited about any of the dac's in the $100-300 range. For $100, the γ1 is very capable, and you got a couple really good options starting $300 and up.
Don't let the amount of connections on the dac/amp limit your choices. If you need two set of connections, one going to your headphone amp, and one to your speaker/speaker amp, you can just use a splitter(or you can get someone from the DIY forums to make you a inexpensive switchbox).

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