Using laptop for playing music through an amp for dummies - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone,

I am new to this audio stuff and I have a couple of question I hope you can help me with. My computer is Lenovo Thinkpad X200 and I would like to connect it to my amplifier (Onkyo 508). However, it seems for me that my laptop does not have an optical output and neither does the ultrabase docking station. I heard that some computers have it integrated to 3.5mm headphone jack. How can I find whether this is the case with X200?

I guess that I can buy an external sound card and then use its optical output jack. If I do it this way, does it mean that my computer works only as a network hard drive and all the "musical work" is done by the DAC in the amplifier? So does it really matter what kind of (or how cheap a) external sound card I purchase, if in any case, it is just an "digital output provider"?

So basically, what kind of things should I consider in connecting my laptop to the amp?

Originally, the computer was connected analogically through the 3.5mm jack, but the problem was that there appeared some kind of noise. I guess it should disappear if I use digital output (and an optical cable). I noticed, though, that the noise disappears when I disconnect my external display (which is connected to the laptop by VGA), but that is not really an option, since I need it.
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post #2 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 09:02 AM
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Doesnt it have a headphones jack? thats a 3.5mm connector. Its not digital but if you use a 3.5mm to RCA splitter its like a Y cable that will connect to RCA ports on the receiver. I do it with my laptop when we have a party. Its not perfect audio of course but it sounds fine. I doubt many laptops come with fancy external sound. Most are just used for presentations such as hooking up to a projector. its not normally needed to have such fancy sound.

As far as another solution I dont know but I bet its expensive.
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post #3 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 09:30 AM
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Conecting via S/PDIF or HDMI means that the digital/analog conversion is done by the Receiver, not the integrated DACs in the soundcard, which are ofc c*ap unless you have a high end soundcard like the Asus Xonar series. So yes, via S/PDIF you get top quality sound depending only on the capabilites of your receiver.
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post #4 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 10:14 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogormask View Post

Doesnt it have a headphones jack? thats a 3.5mm connector. Its not digital but if you use a 3.5mm to RCA splitter its like a Y cable that will connect to RCA ports on the receiver. I do it with my laptop when we have a party. Its not perfect audio of course but it sounds fine. I doubt many laptops come with fancy external sound. Most are just used for presentations such as hooking up to a projector. its not normally needed to have such fancy sound.

As far as another solution I dont know but I bet its expensive.

Yeah, I have 3.5mm connector, but when I use it I get extra noise, which disappears, though, if I disconnect my external display, but that is not really a solution.
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post #5 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 10:17 AM
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Weird. Sorry I didnt know what you meant. Mine works good with no noise but I dont have a very modern stereo either.
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post #6 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 10:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenEyez View Post

Conecting via S/PDIF or HDMI means that the digital/analog conversion is done by the Receiver, not the integrated DACs in the soundcard, which are ofc c*ap unless you have a high end soundcard like the Asus Xonar series. So yes, via S/PDIF you get top quality sound depending only on the capabilites of your receiver.

Ok, sounds good.

Some of the sound cards are for 5.1 (or 7.1 etc.) audio and some only for two channels, so does this matter at all? Since the signal is going unprocessed to the receiver, I guess it shouldn't matter what are the specs of the sound card if you use the digital output?
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post #7 of 7 Old 05-05-2010, 01:12 PM
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Watch out for virtual "surround" 5.1/7.1 vs. actual, if you want multi-channel. Most of the current affordable solutions are virtual.
(I just checked the Turtle Beach Micro II, which I thought was real 5.1 (dd/dts pass-through), on Newegg, and it says virtual, but I still think this refers to converted stereo, and it can actually do pass-through).
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