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steve
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« on: December 16, 2016, 09:14:29 PM »

A friend would like to purchase a new lab top, but one with the best internal audio circuitry, and what is the best card to add for sound quality if desired? Either Apple or Microsoft.

Thanks

Steve
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Steve Sammet
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richidoo
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2016, 08:59:20 AM »

Audio circuitry inside laptops is all the same, optimized for low cost and small footprint. The demand for cellphone performance has made small excellent quality audio ICs available, so they're all decent now. My Lenovo headphone jack sounds pretty darn good by my admittedly low standards, but there's not enough power to drive my hungry AKGs as loud as I'd like. But if you have better ears than me and want a portable DAC to travel with your laptop, I would recommend the iFi micro iDSD. For a smaller budget, the Audioquest Dragonfly is very well respected.

As for Apple vs Windows?
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steve
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2016, 09:17:13 AM »

Thanks Rich. I did not know if some brands might use better parts.

Dan is currently using a 5 year old lab top as one of his sources, often YouTube analog output, to feed one of his stereo systems. He thought that some might be better than others. My limited experience does not allow me to know what might be out there.

With that said, if I understand you correctly Rich, pretty much all lab tops will produce descent sound quality, or similar sound quality? Would that be an accurate statement?

If that is the case, are there any sound cards that use better quality parts etc, that would improve the sound even more?

Cheers and thanks.

Steve
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Steve Sammet
SAS Audio Labs
http://www.sasaudiolabs.com/pream11a.htm
sasaudio@omnilec.com
Ph: 309-263-0736
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richidoo
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2016, 02:13:10 PM »

If he's only using it to play yootoobs, then the old laptop he's using now actually is more than adequate to fully express the highly compressed audio stream from yootoob. He's not missing anything.

Audio quality of Youtube stream

If he wants high end audio quality to play full resolution tracks from his own stored digital library or for streaming high resolution audio from Tidal or internet radio, then he could connect a good quality USB DAC to his current laptop to hear all the available goodness.

As for various laptops' integrated audio SQ, I'm sure you can find reviews saying laptop A's headphone jack sounds better than laptop B's. Some laptops are marketed for multimedia prowess, while others focus on business use with audio as afterthought. Horses for courses. Apple invented the iPod, and founder Steve Jobs was badly afflicted with audiophilism, so I assume headphone jack on $2800 Macbook Pro will be very good, but still not as good as an external USB DAC from our world.
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steve
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2016, 03:44:21 PM »

If he's only using it to play yootoobs, then the old laptop he's using now actually is more than adequate to fully express the highly compressed audio stream from yootoob. He's not missing anything.

Audio quality of Youtube stream

If he wants high end audio quality to play full resolution tracks from his own stored digital library or for streaming high resolution audio from Tidal or internet radio, then he could connect a good quality USB DAC to his current laptop to hear all the available goodness.

As for various laptops' integrated audio SQ, I'm sure you can find reviews saying laptop A's headphone jack sounds better than laptop B's. Some laptops are marketed for multimedia prowess, while others focus on business use with audio as afterthought. Horses for courses. Apple invented the iPod, and founder Steve Jobs was badly afflicted with audiophilism, so I assume headphone jack on $2800 Macbook Pro will be very good, but still not as good as an external USB DAC from our world.

Thanks Rich. I am sending him an email with this link so he can read it first hand and go forward, hopefully with your suggestions.

Thanks again Rich, much appreciated.

Steve
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Pre/Amp/ICs are the only components that can be tested for accuracy/naturalness.

Steve Sammet
SAS Audio Labs
http://www.sasaudiolabs.com/pream11a.htm
sasaudio@omnilec.com
Ph: 309-263-0736
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steve
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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2016, 09:07:34 PM »

One other question Rich, or others who might want to chime in.

Is USB superior to HDMI? I get that impression from responses.

Cheers and thanks.

Steve
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Pre/Amp/ICs are the only components that can be tested for accuracy/naturalness.

Steve Sammet
SAS Audio Labs
http://www.sasaudiolabs.com/pream11a.htm
sasaudio@omnilec.com
Ph: 309-263-0736
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Vincent Kars
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2016, 02:53:06 AM »

The information I have is a bit dated but at that time HDMI was pretty por in the jitter department.
Asynchronous USB doesn't have that problem.

http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/HDMI.htm

A practical one is that there are very few DACs with a HDMI input
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richidoo
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2016, 08:38:17 AM »

HDMI has always used content protection (HDCP) for uncompressed data, which stymies the smaller, high-end audio companies from developing it for our use.

USB is a pure data transfer protocol that is wide open and ubiquitous on desktops, laptops and cellphones. It has taken over the high end audio world, so that's where you want to go for best value.
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steve
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2016, 08:59:57 AM »

Thank you so much gentlemen. Your information and time is most appreciated.

Cheers
Steve
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Pre/Amp/ICs are the only components that can be tested for accuracy/naturalness.

Steve Sammet
SAS Audio Labs
http://www.sasaudiolabs.com/pream11a.htm
sasaudio@omnilec.com
Ph: 309-263-0736
Retired.
BobM
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2017, 09:08:33 AM »

Adding anything external to a laptop, to make a small desktop sound system, kind of takes away the portability aspect of the whole thing. That being said, I assume he wants his sound integrated, otherwise I agree with Rich, get a small DAC (like one of these http://hifimediy.com/DACs) and tiny digital amp (like this one https://www.amazon.com/SMSL-SA-36A-TPA3118D2-Amplifier-Black/dp/B017W13OR0) and some 12" desktop speakers and you will crush anything coming out of a laptop speaker.

Otherwise, laptops are about the same sound wise.

Enjoy,
Bob
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