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adversus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 11, 2009
164
18
Portland, OR
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?
 

lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
874
256
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).
 
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adversus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 11, 2009
164
18
Portland, OR
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.
 
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Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
5,478
2,585
New Jersey Pine Barrens
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.
 
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ChrisA

macrumors G4
Jan 5, 2006
11,809
592
Redondo Beach, California
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?

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.)
 
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adversus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 11, 2009
164
18
Portland, OR
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!
 
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Destroysall

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2012
1,290
77
United States
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).

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
 
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bwhli

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2012
557
210
Boston, MA
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?

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!
 
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adversus

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 11, 2009
164
18
Portland, OR
Nice grab. You should've looked at the E17 instead, but I think you'll enjoy the E9. :)

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 ;)
 
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Destroysall

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2012
1,290
77
United States
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 ;)

I hear ya. Congrats on the new home and purchase then! Regardless, the E9 should be a decent sound upgrade. Enjoy! :)
 
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gannonsamuel

macrumors member
Aug 3, 2012
62
0
From what I can tell the docking station drivers over-ride the audio settings and pipes audio through that while connected.

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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