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Can laptop sound as good a PC tower through a good dac?


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I would describe the sound I'm getting from new new dell Inspiron as somewhat muddy in the mid lower frequencies with the vocals sounding distant and confusion of depth. Running through eastern electric minimal dac. Before my My old gateway tower died it sounded great as good my high end Cdplayer.

 

Now I have a $1000 dell Inspiron with all the bells and whistles but can't get the clear sound as I did through the tower. Using jr river with aif files all cords and equipment the same. Settings in jrr appropriate. Could it be that laptop sound cards just can't cut it like a good higher end soun card in a tower? Should I have the same expectations for an expensive laptop as I do with a decent tower? What am I doing wrong? Should I look at getting better sound card for the laptop?

 

I'm pissed because I expected an expensive laptop to stand in for my tower. Was I wrong?

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I would describe the sound I'm getting from new new dell Inspiron as somewhat muddy in the mid lower frequencies with the vocals sounding distant and confusion of depth. Running through eastern electric minimal dac. Before my My old gateway tower died it sounded great as good my high end Cdplayer.

 

Now I have a $1000 dell Inspiron with all the bells and whistles but can't get the clear sound as I did through the tower. Using jr river with aif files all cords and equipment the same. Settings in jrr appropriate. Could it be that laptop sound cards just can't cut it like a good higher end soun card in a tower? Should I have the same expectations for an expensive laptop as I do with a decent tower? What am I doing wrong? Should I look at getting better sound card for the laptop?

 

I'm pissed because I expected an expensive laptop to stand in for my tower. Was I wrong?

 

What seems to matter in computer audio is the following:

- Cache memory of the CPU

- Noise and ripple in the PSU

- HDD spinning

- How active the PC is (less is more)

 

On at least two counts a laptop will always perform worse than a PC, namely on CPU cache (mobile CPUs have less cache than their full-sized cousins) and noise and ripple (most power supplies in PCs are overspeced (ripple and noise tend to exacerbate when running at full throttle) and have a better build quality than the transformer supplies for laptops).

 

Now, more specifically you mention "sound card", which implies you use an S/PDIF connection rather than USB. If you used a dedicated soundcard in your PC, then that almost certainly outperformed any on-board chipset from Realtek and the likes. If you use USB, then the soundcard plays no role. Your music signal never gets there.

 

That said, if you use USB, there is also more tweaking you can do to insulate your DAC better from the crap your laptop bundles in with the music signal it sends out. Try looking at products like Uptone Audio Regen, Audioquest Jitterbug or SOtM USB hub. These products all help to clean up the signal coming out of USB so your DAC is not overworked in doing this.

 

Another, more general fix, is to minimize the services and programmes running while you're listening to music. In the taskmanager, shut down services you don't need and stop programmes (such as auto updaters) running in the background. You can even script this and run it at startup or just prior to starting your listening session.

Synology DS214+ with MinimServer --> Ethernet --> Sonore mRendu / SOtM SMS-200 --> Chord Hugo --> Chord interconnects --> Naim NAP 200--> Chord speaker cable --> Focal Aria 948

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What seems to matter in computer audio is the following:

- Cache memory of the CPU

- Noise and ripple in the PSU

- HDD spinning

- How active the PC is (less is more)

 

On at least two counts a laptop will always perform worse than a PC, namely on CPU cache (mobile CPUs have less cache than their full-sized cousins) and noise and ripple (most power supplies in PCs are overspeced (ripple and noise tend to exacerbate when running at full throttle) and have a better build quality than the transformer supplies for laptops).

 

Now, more specifically you mention "sound card", which implies you use an S/PDIF connection rather than USB. If you used a dedicated soundcard in your PC, then that almost certainly outperformed any on-board chipset from Realtek and the likes. If you use USB, then the soundcard plays no role. Your music signal never gets there.

 

That said, if you use USB, there is also more tweaking you can do to insulate your DAC better from the crap your laptop bundles in with the music signal it sends out. Try looking at products like Uptone Audio Regen, Audioquest Jitterbug or SOtM USB hub. These products all help to clean up the signal coming out of USB so your DAC is not overworked in doing this.

 

Another, more general fix, is to minimize the services and programmes running while you're listening to music. In the taskmanager, shut down services you don't need and stop programmes (such as auto updaters) running in the background. You can even script this and run it at startup or just prior to starting your listening session.

 

Well said !

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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Are you using some form of DAC or just connecting to the standard 3.5mm jack on the laptop (and the Tower before that)?

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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