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3.5mm Jack Limit Audio Quality?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Very well may be a dumb question, but willing to throw it out there anyways.

I've sold my desktop and sound card, and am now using a Dell Precision M4400 and a docking station. I am wondering if the 3.5 mm jack on the docking station (or on the laptop itself) will be a limiting factor for the audio quality if I am using an external amp? I know it would be limited by output if using typical computer speakers, but with powered reference monitors or perhaps a stereo receiver which then pushes some bookshelves...would I have any limited quality as a result then?

I hate to go overboard on speakers if I'm still going to be limited by the audio out jack on the notebook/docking station.
post #2 of 5
The jack won't limit anything but the onboard sound chip certainly will.
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Cataclysm
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post #3 of 5
generally onboard + good amp + good receiver if needed + good speakers == very good sound

EDIT: you can get a external soundcard
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrtn400;12500124 
The jack won't limit anything but the onboard sound chip certainly will.

I don't necessarily follow this line of reasoning? Discrete cards serve the purpose to either add new features, or to take the load of processing audio off of the CPU I thought. Thus as long as I'm not maxing out the CPU, I wouldn't think it would matter. As for the [lack of] power from the onboard sound chip, I thought that could be averted by using an external receiver/amp.


Adding an external sound card will not do anything but reduce work for the CPU right?
post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gizmo;12500404 
I don't necessarily follow this line of reasoning? Discrete cards serve the purpose to either add new features, or to take the load of processing audio off of the CPU I thought. Thus as long as I'm not maxing out the CPU, I wouldn't think it would matter. As for the [lack of] power from the onboard sound chip, I thought that could be averted by using an external receiver/amp.


Adding an external sound card will not do anything but reduce work for the CPU right?

Sound cards use higher quality parts than onboard sound which means that they'll sound much better. There is a term used a lot in audio "Garbage in, garbage out". If you have a poor quality source then you could have thousands of dollars worth of amps and speakers but the sound quality will always be limited by the worst component in the chain (onboard in your case). It's a common misconception that better quality audio gear (whether it's speakers or amps) add sound quality but such a thing is impossible. More expensive equipment uses higher quality components and has less negative effect on the signal than cheaper equipment.

The reason that the source is the limiting factor is because an amp will amplify everything in the signal that it receives. If the source is poor quality then that signal is likely to have errors/distortion which will be amplified along with the rest of the signal, a better source will output a cleaner (or more accurate) signal.
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