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Thinkpad T60 good - X31 bad ?!? (with introduction)

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Hi everybody,


I'm new to this forum and also new to computer based music at all.


I'm listening to vinyl (Garrard 301) and CD (RA Opus 21) but thinking about doing it more consequent - vinyls for the haptics (and the better sound...) and all digital ripped (FLAC) on a 1TB HDD.


First I used my main laptop (Thinkpad T60 / 1,8 GHz / 1GB RAM) with a HagTech USB - S/PDIF converter to feed the Opus 21 with really encouraged results.

Next step was an EMU 0404 for 24/96 files and also a Audiosector USB-DAC for 16/44.

Result wasn't as engaging as with the Resolution Audio with CD but even close.


So I decided to buy an older Thinkpad X31 (1,3 GHz / 512 RAM) as an audioserver.


All parameters are the same - XP SP3 / JRiver14 / ASIO / USB>EMU0404 but the X31 sounds really crap in comparison to the T61.

There are no clicks or glitches but the sound is more compressed and less involving.


How could this be ?

Faster CPU and larger RAM is always a good idea but does it really matter for audio playback ?

Any idea will be loved because I'm really frustrated at this point...


Cheers from Berlin,





Dell Mini 10 / JRiver16 > Ayre QB-9 24/196 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5[br]Technics SP-10 > EAR 834 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5

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Hi Martin,

good to read a post from Berlin. Where did you get the Shahinians from and where the Ayre? Hifi im Hinterhof?

About your Thinkpad: I now have a mac based system, so I might not be up to date. But even with Mac I found out that everything matters.

First of all. Did you do a fresh install of XP? I strongly recommend doing that. Especially when buying a used laptop.

Then RAM is very important for audio. With 512 MB it just might be, that Windows has to use virtual memory which definitely is not a good thing. So upgrading RAM might help a lot.

Even with a clean install you might have to optimize your system to get the sound right. The graphic card might use a lot of CPU (you can change that "background services" which might free some power.

Also USB does matter. Have you tried using different usb ports? You will probably have two, just use the other one and listen for differences. You can also check the usb port in the device manager. Maybe your usb shares with other devices (keyboard, modem etc.). This might help as well.

Try to disable wlan, bluetooth etc.

Do you defrag regularly.

Well these are all the tips I can think of right now. But there should be a lot of people here on the forum who really are in Windows PCs who could offer somer more help.

Greetings from Berlin



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Hi Claudius,


thanks for your comments.

The XP is fresh installed, I have tested the USB (ok), HDD is connected via FW, disabled all unnecessary services.

RAM is an issue and I will rise it to 2GB in the near future.


But isn't this an issue of working/working not ?


I'm really confused about this. I thought that in computer audio I didn't have to cultivate my 'audiophile-nerviness' any more but I'm obvious wrong....







Dell Mini 10 / JRiver16 > Ayre QB-9 24/196 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5[br]Technics SP-10 > EAR 834 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5

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Well, it is an often talked about phenomenon on this forum, that different computers sound different. E.G. optimizing processes with my mac definitely improved sound. I wish it was like you said, that it is a matter of working or not. Not really.

Welcome to computer audio, where audionervosa starts again!

I hope the 2 gigs will work for you



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Hi Marin!


It is hard to talk general guidelines to optimize "PC" performance, but as You use a EMU 0404USB, I would strongly recommend a more beafy system ... - or you might try another (USB-) audiointerface.


The 0404USB is a resource hog.

I´ve tested the 0404USB on my PC (and on my notebook), and have recognized that it eats up to 20% cpu usage (2,6 AMD Athlon64 Singlecore and 2,2 Intel Celeron Singlecore respectively). If I use my RME Hammerfall9636 (on the AMD system), it runs between 0% (!) and 4% cpu usage. The same thing happens if I use the onboard sound (Realtek) on the laptop.


The 0404USB doesn't sound that bad - especially for its pricetag, but this "might" be the culrpit with your performance probs.


Maybe you could lend you an Ayre QB-9 USB DAC from your dealer to nail it down ... ;)


Greetings from bavaria



Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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Thanks for the replay !


what you said make sense because the CPU at my X31 went to about 50% using the EMU-0404. But I also use the non oversampling DAC around the TDA 1543 (design from Peter Daniel and a real pleasure to listen). In this case the CPU with the X31 is quite down but the sound is still bad. So I'm curious about that further more.

I've ordered today 2GB RAM for the X31 to bring the notebook up to date and will see if things gonna better. I'll keep informed (if you want...)









Dell Mini 10 / JRiver16 > Ayre QB-9 24/196 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5[br]Technics SP-10 > EAR 834 > Ayre AX-7e > Harbeth SHL5

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