Will a headphone Amp solve this (crackling)

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by adversus, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #1
    I am forced, begrudgingly, to use a Dell laptop as my work computer. It travels with me most places during the week, so I leave my MacBook at home (carrying two laptops is the suck).

    In my docking station at work, the audio out from the docking station suffers from crackling. It's not audio clipping, it occurs at all volume ranges. I use a pair of Sennheiser headphones which do not exhibit the problem using my iPhone or Macs at home.

    Do ya'll think a headphone amp would negate this problem? Or would that simply re-produce the audio anomalies as they pass from the output jack in my docking station?
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    #2
    What you need is a DAC to bypass the built in DAC of the Dell laptop. An amplifier will just do what it says it will do which is amplify the signal (with the crackling).
     
  3. thread starter macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    That's kinda what I figured.

    So in theory an external USB DAC should bypass the crappy audio processing this docking station does and pipe the raw audio source from whatever app is playing through Windows?

    I've never owned an external DAC, but I assume Windows will see it as a new sound playback device and you just set it as your default output method.
     
  4. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #4
    Have you tried using the laptop in a different location (like home) to see if the crackling is still there? It might be some kind of electrical interference from equipment in the office instead of a "problem" with the computer.
     
  5. macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #5
    I thing you need an external USB audio interface. Most are made for recording and so yo get features you don't need. The better boxes have good headphone amps built in. Something like this would work
    http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/AudioBoxUSB/
    (Be sure and watch the first video all the way to the end.)
     
  6. thread starter macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #6
    It doesn't occur with the on-board audio out on the laptop itself... only the one in the docking station. From what I can tell the docking station drivers over-ride the audio settings and pipes audio through that while connected.

    Thanks for the link, I think this is probably the route I'll go. I'm tired of crackling in my tunes!
     
  7. macrumors 65816

    Destroysall

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Location:
    United States
    #7
    Yup, and double amplifying is a no no..

    I'm assuming you are using the line-out from the headphone port of the laptop to the docking station. Depending if the dock has a built-in amp or not (most likely does), that would be an example of double amplifying. What you need is a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). This should solve your problem.

    Depending on which Sennheiser headphone you own, I'd recommend the FiiO E10. It's a great little device that has a built-in amp that can power up to 600ohm impedance headphones and can also support external amplifiers. Plus, it is a DAC, and a hell of a good one for its small appearance and value.

    Hope that helps!:D
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    bwhli

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    #8
    Not sure if you've purchased a DAC to solve your problem already, but I recommend the NuForce u-DAC2. At $120, it's a very good deal for the sound quality you get!
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #9
  10. macrumors 65816

    Destroysall

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Location:
    United States
    #10
  11. thread starter macrumors regular

    adversus

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #11
    If this one works well I may upgrade to a higher-end model later. We're in the process of buying a house, and my wife is frowning upon extra purchases until that's over with ;)
     
  12. macrumors 65816

    Destroysall

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2012
    Location:
    United States
    #12
    I hear ya. Congrats on the new home and purchase then! Regardless, the E9 should be a decent sound upgrade. Enjoy! :)
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2012
    #13
    Are you able to go into the audio settings on the computer and reset to the onboard output while it's on the dock?
    i would guess it's seeing the dock as an audio interface of somesort and normally your can select what output device you want to use.
     

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