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Hi all,


This fall I'm heading off to college, and it looks like I'm going to be using a notebook (probably Dell Inspiron 8200) as the source for all my audio needs. The problem is I'm not sure if the integrated sound card that comes with it is going to be good enough. At first the only option I knew of was an external sound card, and the only one of these I had heard of was the Extigy, but after a very little amount of research I decided that this was not a good solution at all. After more research I was told that a USB based DAC would probably be my best bet, so now all I need to do is find out which one to get.


The most important things to me are price and sound quality. I really just want to be able to listen to music and have it be good quality. Who knows, maybe the integrated sound card will do a good enough job and I won't need to upgrade, but I won't know that until I actually own the notebook. I don't have an unlimited amount of money, but I'm willing to pay a decent amount if I have to.


I'm mainly going to be listening to cds and mp3s and the like. At this time I think I'm going to use high quality headphones to listen, so surround sound capabilities aren't important, although they would be nice in that they would future-proof my investment somewhat.


I've done a little bit of looking at some USB DACs, but I haven't found too much. Right now the best I have seen is the Stereo Link 1200, which costs around $150 and has a built-in headphone amp.


Thanks in advance,


-Will
 

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If I remember correctly, the 8200 has SPDIF out. You could get a receiver with SPDIF in, which would probably give you better sound than any Extigy/Cavit-type thing. The only thing you'd be missing (vs. an Extigy-style solution) would be 3D sound for games.
 
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