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Laptop quality.


Starre

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I am using a rather slow laptop with a Celeron duo core CPU and 6 Gig memory and a 250 Gig SSD with Windows 7 Home.

If I want to upgrade to a better laptop what should I think of for best sound quality?

 

Got $1599?

 

Apple MacBook Pro, 13"

2.9GHz Dual-core Intel Core i7, Turbo Boost to 3.6GHz

8GB RAM

128GB SSD

8X SuperDrive (DVD/CD)

USB 3.0/2.0, FireWire 800, ThunderBolt, SDXC card slot, optical audio out

Screen shot 2014-07-27 at 7.43.19 AM.png

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Hi Starre,

 

While I prefer W7 for general purpose, either of them will do fine, provided that you are not too much repelled by some functionnalities with W8 that demands some learning curve.

 

As for laptops, something with an i5 (or better, i7), with at least 8GB or ram, should be fine. Asus is a brand I like, but it is not necessary to pay more for something in the "Ultrabook" line (this is mostly cosmetic to my eyes, unless you want a "featherlight" laptop). HP and Toshiba, Lenovo, even Dell :) And beware of those laptops where the battery cannot be easily removed. We got some Lenovo laptops at the company and we saw too late that the battery seems to require some technical intervention to be replaced (like a "tablet").

 

Hope this helps :)

 

Edit: The hard drive is often offered with 500GB or more capacity, but there are SSDs too and they put the price higher. As for the HDD (if this is the case), maybe you could check if they are 5400 or 7200RPM. Of course, the 7200RPM is more power hungry, but it is faster.

Alain

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Ok thanks, I think I will buy with a traditional HD and then replace it with the Samsung 250 GB SSD I have which is excellent, and I only need a 13 inch screen really, I like HP and Asus and want at least one USB 2.0 port for my dac (some say it works better than 3.0 but I have not tested what is best for my dac). I7 would be nice if it fits my budget, but I think a i5 is enough for playing music, maybe i7 will give better sound?

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I am not sure that it is possible to hear SQ differences between these 2 chips, but I guess that it depends on what one would like to do. If something requires a lot of power consistently, maybe an i7 would do it easier, with less potential noise... But I never went that far...

 

I find your idea about the HDD and the SSD interesting. In fact, I thought about that because SSD seems more expensive when already in a laptop, as opposed to when you buy it separately :)

 

I think you are aiming in the right direction :) Remember though that a lot of components in many laptops comes from the same manufacturers (not all of course). If you can extent your warranty to 3 years, it could also be of help, but all depends on the price...

 

:)

Alain

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Starre, a few more clarifications before I would feel comfortable with any type of recommendation that would yield better sound quality. What music player are you using? What file type are your rips (mostly)? Do you have anything else running on your laptop when you are using it to serve music files to your DAC? I assume you are connecting to the DAC via a USB 2.0? I assume your music library is on your SSD drive? The only recommendation that I would make without knowing this and the rest of your system is to stick with the SSD drive. Improves performance. Are you experiencing long load times, dropouts from playback? Before spending $1K on upgrading your PC, let's see what others think based on your answers.

Ralph

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I have two laptops I use for music. One is a Dell Inspiron 15R 5521 that I bought new. The other one is a Dell Inspiron 1545 that I bought used for next to nothing. Installed LinuxMint on both of them. Put a 250 gig SSD in the 5521 and moved the 750 GB hard drive from it to the 1545.

 

I operate both of them with USB DAC's to tube amps. Software I use is a toss up between Spotify, Pathos (Pandora wrapper), Clementine, DeaDBeef, and LogitechMediaServer, whichever one suits me at the time. I find the sound quality way, way better than acceptable however I give lots of credit to the DAC and tube amps.

 

I did notice that one of them sounded like crap plugged into the charger and got another charger for it. Old leaky capacitors equals distortion and static.

 

In my personal opinion any old laptop with Linux on it will provide an excellent platform for a music server if you put an external USB DAC off of it. Ditto for an old Mac Laptop. Not a windows fan. I buy a laptop and Linux is going on it.

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I use JRiver and play Wav 16 to 24 bit and also DSD to some extent. I have no trouble with my laptop, just wondering if a better one will improve sound. I use the laptop 99% for music playing and have optimized it for that. Usb 2.0 to dac. Music played from SSD, it works well. No dropouts or long loading times.

 

Starre, a few more clarifications before I would feel comfortable with any type of recommendation that would yield better sound quality. What music player are you using? What file type are your rips (mostly)? Do you have anything else running on your laptop when you are using it to serve music files to your DAC? I assume you are connecting to the DAC via a USB 2.0? I assume your music library is on your SSD drive? The only recommendation that I would make without knowing this and the rest of your system is to stick with the SSD drive. Improves performance. Are you experiencing long load times, dropouts from playback? Before spending $1K on upgrading your PC, let's see what others think based on your answers.
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I use JRiver and play Wav 16 to 24 bit and also DSD to some extent. I have no trouble with my laptop, just wondering if a better one will improve sound. I use the laptop 99% for music playing and have optimized it for that. Usb 2.0 to dac. Music played from SSD, it works well. No dropouts or long loading times.

Thanks. IMHO, I don't think upgrading your laptop will make an appreciable difference in sound given the additional information you have provided. Enjoy.

Ralph

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One reason for a new laptop is this: it is getting harder and harder to get a good laptop with USB 2.0 ports since most only have 3.0 (mac for instance). I have read somewhere that usb 3.0 can sound worse than 2.0 (but I have no real evidence of it) and also not work 100% with a usb 2.0 dac (all dacs use 2.0). So I am wondering if I should buy a laptop now with usb 2.0 to be sure since they are soon gone and not available? I have a ma 1 Meitner dac.

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Like others, I use a Dell laptop - it really doesn't matter which one but try to get one with Windows 7.

 

It shouldn't cost you more than a couple of hundred dollars. Check local sales ads and pawn shops.

 

Music playback doesn't need a lot of processing power - as long as you're not trying to do other things a very basic computer will do.

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