Computers aren’t dedicated audio devices out of the box. They can play and store music, but that’s just about it. However, did you know that you can transform your computer into a versatile and powerful audiophile-grade device?
Yes, you can get high-quality audiophile sound from your computer and in this article, we will show you how to do just that.
Below, we provide several ways to get audiophile sound from your computer.
1. Get A Good External Speaker (With a Subwoofer)
An excellent first step in getting audiophile sound from your computer is to get a good set of computer speakers with a subwoofer.
Take for example the Mac Mini, which is a small computer with weak speakers. Check out our list of the best speakers for the Mac Mini.
Yes, you may need to think about getting an audio system that comes with a high-quality sub for excellent sound.
Some audiophiles connect their computer to their surround sound systems but the best way to do that is to use an AVR. For example, you can connect your laptop to your 5.1 surround-sound system using HDMI and your AVR. On the other hand, you can connect an external subwoofer to your computer.
You may worry about the space your speaker system may take and trip over speaker cables might also concern you. A good option is to go for wireless speakers and connect them through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
External computer speakers that are independently powered with proper bass provide a great way to get an extra boost in volume and audio performance from your system.
External speakers are always superior to the inbuilt speakers that you will find in your computer.
2. Get A Quality External Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC)
Computers store music in digital formats like MP3 and FLAC. If you are using external speakers with your computer, a DAC is essential because it converts digital sound files into analog signals for the external speakers.
External speakers powered by DACs are superior as compared to your computer speakers and therefore play more accurate and detailed sound from the computer.
External DACs bypass the internal DAC and provide better digital to analog conversion. You can get small DACs that are easily portable for your laptops. You can use them with your speakers or headphones. A great choice is the FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black).
3. Optimize Your DAC’s Latency
Buying a high-quality external DAC and adjusting its latency are two different things. Ignoring any of these can hinder you from getting audiophile sound from your computer.
Latency settings are typically indicated on the DAC’s control panel as:
The values are in milliseconds.
Check if the DAC has these settings. If it does, reset to 1 millisecond or Minimal, and you will likely start enjoying better sound immediately. Proper latency settings will create a much smoother, more detailed, and dynamic sound.
On the other hand, you could also get an ultra-low latency DAC. However, these DACs don’t use USB and so you may not have a good way to connect your computer unless you are using a desktop computer. Most of these DACs use Firewire or PCI.
Some DAC drivers do not allow you to adjust latency settings, so consider whether it is suitable for your needs before deciding to use one.
4. Use High-Quality Headphones
Many people just plug any random set of headphones into their computers to get music from them.
However, most people don’t optimize their headphone listening and fail to get high-fidelity music.
So, you need to get good, high-performance headphones that are very responsive and offer more in-depth sound detail. Good options that come to mind are the Jabra Elite, Beyerdynamic Amiron, Plantronics Backbeat, and Bose headphones. However, these are rather expensive, professional-grade devices.
There are many cheap, good-quality Bluetooth headphones on the market. You can also use headphone amplifiers to increase the natural volume of your headphone.
Your computer uses an in-built digital-to-analog converter (DAC) to convert your audio files into analog signals for your speakers. However, these DACs are often low quality and cannot give you the sound quality you seek.
So, you can improve your experience by following these steps:
- Purchase an external DAC. They are designed specifically with the needs of audiophiles in mind. You can find a portable DAC for your laptop.
- Plug the device into your computer
- Plug the headphone into your DAC
That’s all you need to get exceptional sound quality from your computer when using headphones.
Whichever headphone you use, be sure it should be:
- Offering exceptional sound detail
- Having advanced sound-canceling features. They protect you from background noise.
5. High-Quality Cables
This may seem a no-brainer since we all know that audio system cables are essential for transmitting unaltered audio.
Nevertheless, the unfortunate reality is that many people don’t think that quality cables matter. The fact is, cables are an essential audio component just like any other.
In other words, if you are like many people who use generic cables and expect to get audiophile sound from their computers, it won’t work well. Ensure your audio system uses high-quality cables. For example, instead of using generic RCA cables, you may go for shielded subwoofer cables instead.
6. Separate Your Operating System from Music Library
Having a dedicated drive for your music, separate from the OS can significantly enhance your computer’s operation.
It ensures Windows stops competing for bandwidth when listening to your music and watching your favorite videos.
Other than maximum OS responsiveness, this grants you better data security, especially in case the computer system crashes.
7. Improve your Wi-Fi or use Ethernet
If you intend to stream your music, ensure you secure a reliable and robust internet connection. Using an ethernet connection is often the best option, but there are times it might not be flexible enough.
So, if you want to get the best streaming service, make sure your internet speed is at least 25Mbps.
Some people go for as low as 3Mbps, which can only work, but you will get low-quality content. Other than the speed, the connection should be stable, not experiencing fluctuations.
Check your streaming settings as well to ensure you are getting HD content.
8. Download Music in Hi-Res
Streaming is a great option due to the convenience that it offers. Nonetheless, you may have valid reasons for downloading your files rather than streaming. Download music files and store them on an external drive.
For the best quality, ensure that the proper format is in high- resolution before downloading. There are many high-resolution music download sites out there. Since high-resolution music files are large, you may need to get an external hard drive.
This way, you will be able to use the space on your computer for other things. Moreover, this will enable your computer to operate at the optimum level.
You will need to upgrade your router or use Ethernet to download high-resolution music files in most cases. This is a wonderful solution for those who don’t want the system to keep slowing down.
9. Play Lossless Audio Files
Lossless audio refers to a type of compression that does not reduce the quality of your audio. The only drawback is that you don’t get an optimized filesize.
Playing lossy audio is a great way to get all the datils from the original recording. while most people use lossless audio formats o store music, you can use them to play music to get audiophile-grade sound. Good examples of lossless audio formats include FLAC and AIFF.
Just ensure you have enough space to store these files. An external hard drive is a great choice. In fact, get an SSD drive and not one of the slower, old mechanical ones.
10. Adjust Speaker Positioning
Corners and walls are bass’ worst enemies unless you know what you are doing. When it comes to speaker positioning, you should:
- Place the speakers in the middle of the walls. As you do this, bear in mind that you can create the best stereo image when you position your two main speakers to form an equilateral triangle with your head.
- Ensure that your tweeters are close to ear-level. Remember, these types of speakers produce higher-end sounds, which direction often affects most.
- Move you your chairs and other dense furniture to the corners. This helps to deflect sound and improve the sound you get.
11. Use a Multi-room Audio system
The home systems often use steaming services to play music or connect to your computer to play audiophiles.
The benefit of these systems is that they offer immersive surround sound and can be controlled from your smartphone or tablet.
12. Reduce or Eliminate Vibrations
Unwanted vibrations are a major enemy to sound quality. To reduce vibrations, ensure that whatever is playing the music, whether the computer or speakers are mounted on an anti-vibration platform and place isolation footers or pads under them. In fact, please isolation pads under any mechanical hard drives that you are using as well.
Further, to eliminate vibrations:
- Mount the speakers and sound system on anti-vibration platforms
- Put stable isolation footers under your hard drives.
13. Adjust Your Audio Software Settings
There are many audio software out there and they often have multiple settings. It is very important that you fine-tune your audio software settings. These settings are very important because they will greatly alter the audio output from your system.
Additionally, you should limit the number of apps that you are running while playing music room your computer. Running too many applications simultaneous will put stress on your computer’s internal processor and may cause jitters in your audio output.
To get high-fidelity music from your computer, you need to use highly efficient devices and cables. Your music format should also be high resolution. Finally, you also need to consider positioning your speakers properly in your listening room.