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Notebook Sound System Upgrade

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So as of now, I have a Creative x-fi that I am using for my laptop with some

. I also have a Klipsch Promedia 2.1. My laptop is a (not exact one but you get the idea). I am looking at spending some cash to get better audio stuff. Here is what I need help on:

My time is split between gaming and music pretty even (maybe a little more gaming). For gaming, I play FPS and RTS. For music pretty much everything out there.

Here are my options:
1. Keep the headphones and get a new sound card.
2. Keep the soundcard and get new headphones.
3. Get new of both.
4. Keep both.

I have kinda been reading and apparently there are better things than the type of sound card I have. Obviously there are better headphones out there being that I have had mine for well roughly 8 years. No real limits on spending as long as they give benefits that are noticeable.

Restrictions:
Headphones must be headphones, not earphones. They must enclose the entire ear and maybe noise cancelling (not sure what this is like today, worth it? or are there better options?) They must have a jack that works with my iPod and all that stuff with the same jack.

The soundcard or whatever is recommended can be pretty much anything, with the exception of having to do any inside the laptop changes. I have seen different converters and even external things and have no real idea what is the best out there. I always remove the soundcard when I go mobile. I would like something with THX if that would help. My soundcard now has it, and I think my promedia works with it. I am guessing it would help.

All help is gratefully appreciated.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 13

a better external usb sound card, however you would lose EAX for games, if thats something that you value. This sound card would be better for music, with high quality headphones.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829102032


Most people here will suggest one of three headphones, so ill suggest all three and let you decide which ones suit you best. Two are all closed over the ear headphones, they are not noise cancelling, but you wouldnt notice that they werent if I didnt tell you , the third is an open designed headphone.

1st : ATH M-50

2nd: ATH-A700


3rd: Open headphones with great sound quality, you will lose a bit of the noise isolation your looking for.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Looks awesome. Thanks for the info!

I don't even use EAX because I never liked the way my music sounded with it. Might even look into games with it now.

As for that sound card, how much better would it perform? How much would those headphones perform compared to the ones I have now?

Thanks for the quick reply.

+rep
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post #4 of 13
That sound card is more closely related in design to an audiophile headphone amp. Clearly its not the same caliber as some of the high quality headphone amps, but it will offer better sound reproduction, at higher volumes with less distortion than your current sound card. The better the headphones, and the better the source content, the better results you will achieve.

As for the headphones, im not familiar with your headphones, although they do look as if they are decent. They are a closed designed DJ headphone, some im assuming that they have a noticeable amount of bass. Dependent on what type of music you listen to, you may notice differences between what you have and what I have listed, then again, you may find that you like what you have now better.

Your headphones are most likely nicely broken in after 8 years of use, an upgrade may not be necessary, however if you went with the HD555 you would be getting a completely different experience than what you are used to. The HD595's are supposedly even better, but at a price increase.

Personally what I would do, is go to a store that sells audiophile quality headphones, and demo them until you find something that fits your comfort and needs.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks again for the help! I will probably check out those headphones and see what I like. I will also change to this soundcard if things go as planned.

I will be using the soundcard with a Klipsch Promedia 2.1 (THX certified). Would I be able to use all the normal THX tweaks that can be done on the normal sound cards with the one you recommended?
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post #6 of 13
As far as what your current card has for THX im unsure of, although the one I linked is certified to work with THX, so I imagine that functionality should remain intact, although you may want to look into that.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
The one I have doesn't have THX at all

THanks for the help though!
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post #8 of 13
What kind of Creative X-Fi is that? Is that the Creative X-Fi HD USB DAC? I think that's already pretty high end for an average laptop. To improve upon that you would have to get headphone amps/dacs that cost hundreds of dollars.

You haven't stated your goals, so it's not clear what it is exactly that you want to accomplish here. In general, you can improve upon two things. First is the DAC. It converts digital to analog signal. The cleaner the signal the better is the DAC. Next is the amplifier. A lot of high end head phones need a good signal amplifier to be driven to their full potential. Now.. if you don't have high impedance headphones you don't really need a better amplifier. On the other hand with truly high end headphones, like Sennheiser HD650 you would need an expensive amplifier. I personally would recommend to pick a good set of headphones, break them in, and then decide if you like what you hear. If these are truly good and you still don't like what you hear (perhaps you can hear sound card/driver/operating system distortions) then buy a USB DAC like NuForce UDAC-2 or Creative X-FI HD. In my case, I settled on running Sennheiser HD555 headphones off my laptops onboard Realtek HD AL269. They work just fine, so why buy a DAC? (Actually, the sound sucked until I found out that I have to downgrade the drivers to pre-Windows 7 version).
post #9 of 13
I recommend the M50 as well. It blocks outside noise and the SQ is great, even with unamped sources like your iPod. However, I suggest you buy the Fiio E7 and replace your soundcard. The E7 is a dedicated DAC/Amp combo, and it is excellent for the price. Can be found for $75.
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the recommendation! At the moment, I have the crappy Creative x-fi card that I plug in. I can't really notice a difference when I use that and onboard, but it is nothing like my brothers audio that is coming out of the same laptop with an external sound card (it is one of creative's USB ones). So I am really looking into an upgrade, but not sure on what one.

Is the Fiio E7 essentially the same thing as the Creative x-fi HD? Would one be better than the other?
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