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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    A Laptop For An Audiophile - Suggestions Please!

    A friend of mine has asked me to help her find a laptop for her every day needs, the problem is that she is a serious audiophile (the take several sets of speakers home on approval for a week kind) and would like something with halfway decent sound, and/or audio in and out. Does anyone have any suggestions as what to look for in a laptop as far as sound is concerned? Thanks.

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    I play in the street. nobrainer440's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    A friend of mine has asked me to help her find a laptop for her every day needs, the problem is that she is a serious audiophile (the take several sets of speakers home on approval for a week kind) and would like something with halfway decent sound, and/or audio in and out. Does anyone have any suggestions as what to look for in a laptop as far as sound is concerned? Thanks.
    I could be wrong, but you probably won't find one. As far as I know, pretty much all laptops have sound integrated into the motherboard, which means it is noisy as heck. Those gaming-specific laptops might have better sound, but I have not investigated this.

    Get any laptop and buy an external firewire audio interface (I have a presonus firebox for recording, but you can probably find a simpler, cheaper one with less inputs and outputs). This will blow any regular computer audio card away.

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    On my TARDIScycle! KingTermite's Avatar
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    I agree with nobrainer440.....it's doubtful you'll find one.
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Thanks for the ideas.

    I think she has reasonable expectations as to sound quality, I just have no idea what sound card/speakers offer at least decent quality.

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    proud of his bunny Zinn-X's Avatar
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    there are a lot of external studio-quality audio interfaces of the usb and more recently firewire variety. if you're into seriously high quality sound, it's doubtful that you'll find any laptop with such hardware built in (i'm not even sure it's possible), but if your friend doesn't mind lugging an extra brick around, there are plenty of external options. prices range anywhere from $50 to $800 for things of the portable variety.

    something like this would be nice:
    http://www.nanosys1.com/snd-m-fw-solo.html
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    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    If she's primarily going to be using headphones, you might look into the HeadRoom Total BitHead. As I understand it, HeadRoom makes some of the best headphone amps out there.

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbcb View Post
    If she's primarily going to be using headphones, you might look into the HeadRoom Total BitHead. As I understand it, HeadRoom makes some of the best headphone amps out there.
    I think what she'll most likely do is hook it up to her amp for playing flac and other lossless files. She'll also use it to watch films, and to listen to music while on the road via speakers.

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    J3L 2404 gbcb's Avatar
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    Via portable speakers, or through the laptop speakers? I don't know of any laptop that has anything close to decent sound -- even ones with built-in "subwoofers". If she's serious about audio, a pair of AKG K 701s and a Total BitHead will provide much better sound than anything speakers are likely to produce. Or, if she wants more portability, something like the Etymotic ER-4S.

    About all the links to HeadRoom -- standard disclaimer: no personal links to it, just a satisfied customer (I bought Grado SR60s from them a few years back... great headphones for not too much money).

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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbcb View Post
    Via portable speakers, or through the laptop speakers? I don't know of any laptop that has anything close to decent sound -- even ones with built-in "subwoofers". If she's serious about audio, a pair of AKG K 701s and a Total BitHead will provide much better sound than anything speakers are likely to produce. Or, if she wants more portability, something like the Etymotic ER-4S.

    About all the links to HeadRoom -- standard disclaimer: no personal links to it, just a satisfied customer (I bought Grado SR60s from them a few years back... great headphones for not too much money).
    She's a bike commuter, so I think she'll just use built in speakers when she's away from home as she doesn't want to lug too much around.

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    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Not much chance of finding a dedicated hi-fi laptop. Best bet is to focus on a big drive or extra drive, and rip uncompressed music files, and get a big iPod or something. If she doesn't have too much music. Shure headphones are a treat.
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    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies. Any suggestion on which sound card to look at which has an audio out?

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    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    Her current lappy is fine, just get some external audio gear. The concept of onboard audio being crap is pretty much true and that horse has been thoroughly tenderized with many sticks.

    Ok for sound, get an external card like a soundblaster extigy, or preferably an M-Audio unit or similar.


    Speakers and portable....for somewhat portable, Klipsch promedia 2.0 (deep bass, very clear mids and highs) For very portable, It's not oging to happen without HUGE compromises (the JBL onTour is a good compromise unit, but it may just piss her off as it uses lots of psychoacoustic trickery).

    For headphones, Sennheiser HD580, Grado SR225, or Allessandro MS2. Pick a headphone amp of choice....Grado amps are basically a better Cmoy design, headroom makes fine portable gear, and for desktop use I am a Creek fan.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic View Post
    Her current lappy is fine, just get some external audio gear. The concept of onboard audio being crap is pretty much true and that horse has been thoroughly tenderized with many sticks.

    Ok for sound, get an external card like a soundblaster extigy, or preferably an M-Audio unit or similar.


    Speakers and portable....for somewhat portable, Klipsch promedia 2.0 (deep bass, very clear mids and highs) For very portable, It's not oging to happen without HUGE compromises (the JBL onTour is a good compromise unit, but it may just piss her off as it uses lots of psychoacoustic trickery).

    For headphones, Sennheiser HD580, Grado SR225, or Allessandro MS2. Pick a headphone amp of choice....Grado amps are basically a better Cmoy design, headroom makes fine portable gear, and for desktop use I am a Creek fan.
    She doesn't currently have a lap top.....

  14. #14
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    ah my bad, then just get one that suits her needs, audio aside.

    Laptops are designed around the average user, and audiophiles are hardly average nor a large enough group to vertically market (like they do with gaming laptops).
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    Senior Member late's Avatar
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  16. #16
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic View Post
    ah my bad, then just get one that suits her needs, audio aside.

    Laptops are designed around the average user, and audiophiles are hardly average nor a large enough group to vertically market (like they do with gaming laptops).
    Thanks. Do you know if standard laptops have an audio out?

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    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    yes they do, but it's a hybrid headphone/audio out (like most soundcards do, and the signal path from onboard sound on laptops is less than great)

    For acutal RCA outs, or a true line out w/ shard ground (stereo phone plug style) you will need an upgraded sound card.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catatonic View Post
    yes they do, but it's a hybrid headphone/audio out (like most soundcards do, and the signal path from onboard sound on laptops is less than great)

    For acutal RCA outs, or a true line out w/ shard ground (stereo phone plug style) you will need an upgraded sound card.
    Thanks. Do you know of any internal sound cards which have RCA outs? We're limited in selection and I'd like to be able to look things up by spec.

  19. #19
    proud of his bunny Zinn-X's Avatar
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    for laptops? zilch. oh unless you cound pcmcia cards... hold on... no i've really not heard of that. unless you count external boxes.
    "I'll probably stomp you into the ground. I'm 6'4", 250, work out everyday, and have an extremely bad attitude." -ovrrdrive (aka. Captain Carnage)

  20. #20
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    You will never find RCA outs on a laptop....you will need an external sound card. PCMCIA sound cards still use phone plugs for outputs.

    Here is one example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829121001
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  21. #21
    Chairman of the Bored catatonic's Avatar
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    by the way, you WILL need a headphone amp or amplified speakers to use with that sound card...the RCA outs are line-level.
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  22. #22
    proud of his bunny Zinn-X's Avatar
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    so to summarize, for true audiophile quality sound on a laptop, you would need an external sound box plus a headphone amp. it's that age old duality between audiophilia and practicality!
    "I'll probably stomp you into the ground. I'm 6'4", 250, work out everyday, and have an extremely bad attitude." -ovrrdrive (aka. Captain Carnage)

  23. #23
    I found a road bike.
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    My friends has a old toshiba that has a harmon kardon integrated into it.

    My macbook has optical for the mic/headphones.

  24. #24
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    I'd go for a PCMCIA card. That is your best (and pretty much only) high end audio solution you will find. USB is OK, but again, it is not really engineered for audio, so it does add latency.

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