Quality of laptop for use with Dac.

Good evening all.

I was just reading a review of a Belconte DAC ( im not actually after a new dac but was reading it simply out of interest) and the reviewer made comments about a possibilty of higher sound quality with a better driver, than the native windows driver, and higher quality laptop as the one he used to review the equipment was old.

Im quite a novice to Pc audio, having recently acquired an AMR processor which is a cd player with USB input. Ive been using the USB with an old, but extremely reliable HP laptop. The DAC inside the CD77 sounds really pleasing, using J River. Owing to the age of my laptop I cannot use some of the recommended output options, one being ASIO.

Is there any sense of what he is saying? I thought is was digital signals that are going to the DAC? I always take what reviewers write with a pinch of salt ( though interesting to read) as almost every component that they review performs well beyond its price.

Anyone have any knowlege that might give novices like me some pointers.

Thanks. Regards. James.
i believe a transport is a transport (1's and 0's)
the quality of the music is in the analog signal
James, I too am a novice but I would suggest you research jitter. From what I've learned, some transports output more jitter than others. Less is better.

I echo your comments about reviewers. I find it ironic how everything performs at the same level as items 3x the price.
Thanks for the replies. Ill look into jitter, thanks for the pointer.

Perhaps I could mention something I found to be a positive. I installed Windows 8 into my ageing laptop and certainly found some improvement. Also doing away with the externally powered IDE hard drive and replacing with a Sata one that is powered by the USB port did something positive too. Minor improvements but most certainly wothwhile.

Thanks again.
Have you poked around Computer Audio? There's an enormous amount of info to wade though but well worth it.

James, have you gotten new speakers? What did you buy and how do they sound?
Unfortunately, even with Async USB interfaces, there is still a lot of interaction with the computer. In theory this should not happen, but it does. Some of it is due to CODECs that dont run well real-time, audio stack issues and even power system issues in the computer.

There are some things that you can do to improve SQ:

1) ripping with dbpoweramp on PC or XLD on Mac to .wav files

2) add a common-mode filter to the USB cable (only if the USB interface does not require the +5V in the cable), such as the Short-Block

3) stop all unneeded apps running on the computer

4) power the computer with a better PS or batteries

5) add JPLAY to your Jriver playback app

6) Use a better quality USB cable

7) Power the DAC and the computer from the SAME AC outlet

BTW, better than this can be achieved with Oct. 2009 Mac Mini running PM or Amarra IME.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Hi Steve.

Was the list you posted writen in order of impact on SQ, in your view?

Have you tested a Computer Audiophile CAPS v3 vs. A 2009 Mac Mini? The CAPS approach kind of makes sense to me, but then I keep reading about the 2009 mini...

Thanks much!
Lewinski - no particular order. They are all important and make noticable difference. Probably the least effective is powering the computer from another supply IME.

Have not heard a CAPs yet.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
I wonder whether something like http://industrialcomponent.com/opticis/opm210003.html would be good to yield galvanic separation between an async USB DAC and the computer.
Did anyone try something like this?
None of the OTS devices work with Async USB. Galvanic isolation must be built-in.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
Tomcy6. Sorry, not been on for a while. Ive still got my Zingalis. I enquired about ART speakers and where I could audition a £14k set. They didnt even bother to answer! So ART speakers are not on my list anymore. I made two enquiries about Zingali speakers, before I got mine, and on both ocassions there was a reply within an hour. Bit wary about companys that sell expensive kit, invite enquiries in there site, then can be bothered to even reply. Ive been reading up on others. Wislon Puppy, Usher and others but its almost imposible to comapare as no one dealer has two of three different ones Im interested in. Im still hesitant to make a purchase blindly as they would have to do something very special to better the Zingalis I have. There is alot of hype out there, aided by greedy dealers! Any you could recommend i read into? Kind regards.
Hi James, I'm sure there are a lot of great speakers out there, unfortunately, like you, I haven't been able to listen to them. If your Zingalis sound good to you I'd keep them until you get to hear something that sound a good deal better. No sense in making a sideways change.