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Author Topic: Laptop audio output  (Read 12300 times)

Albert Thomas

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Laptop audio output
« on: May 01, 2011, 04:34:44 pm »

Is there a better way then just having every different DJ plugging his laptop audio out into the board?
The problem I'm having is some DJ's laptop analog audio out is awful sounding and there's not much I can do to improve that. Is there a D/A converter out there that would at least give you a uniform quality analog signal?
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2011, 04:42:14 pm »

Is there a better way then just having every different DJ plugging his laptop audio out into the board?
The problem I'm having is some DJ's laptop analog audio out is awful sounding and there's not much I can do to improve that. Is there a D/A converter out there that would at least give you a uniform quality analog signal?

This has been discussed recently.

http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,1735.msg9152.html#msg9152

A driverless USB output device should work with any laptop, and will provide better audio than the headphone out.

Mac
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Tracy Garner

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2011, 05:50:17 pm »

Is there a better way then just having every different DJ plugging his laptop audio out into the board?
The problem I'm having is some DJ's laptop analog audio out is awful sounding and there's not much I can do to improve that. Is there a D/A converter out there that would at least give you a uniform quality analog signal?

A DJ huh? Sounds more like someone playing background music. Usually it isn't the actual laptop output. The more likely culprit is the quality of the actual song files the background music player has acquired.

There are a few plug/play USB solutions but the end result will likely be the same because of the source material.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2011, 05:58:22 pm »

A DJ huh? Sounds more like someone playing background music. Usually it isn't the actual laptop output. The more likely culprit is the quality of the actual song files the background music player has acquired.

There are a few plug/play USB solutions but the end result will likely be the same because of the source material.

In my experience any of the USB devices I have used sounded significantly better than the headphone output through a PCDI. My Macbook Pro has a pretty good headphone out, but not as good as the USB adapters.

Mac
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Albert Thomas

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2011, 06:18:47 pm »

This has been discussed recently.

http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,1735.msg9152.html#msg9152

A driverless USB output device should work with any laptop, and will provide better audio than the headphone out.

Mac

Thanks Mac, that's exactly what I was looking for.
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Albert Thomas

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2011, 06:55:54 pm »

A DJ huh? Sounds more like someone playing background music. Usually it isn't the actual laptop output. The more likely culprit is the quality of the actual song files the background music player has acquired.

There are a few plug/play USB solutions but the end result will likely be the same because of the source material.

Dub Step and Electronica DJ's use Ableton controllers, along with digital turntables, and keyboards connected to the laptop running different software packages for sequencing virtual synths, sampling, looping, and mixing to create their sets. It's far from background music. I'm old school, VERY old school, so I was skeptical about the whole laptop thing myself until I got to sit in and see what it takes to create an original set. It can be quite complex and time consuming and requires musical skills in composition, performance, and recording to create an original good sounding live set. 

And yes, some less experienced DJ's  can have bad source material that no interface can improve.
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Tracy Garner

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2011, 03:11:21 pm »

Dub Step and Electronica DJ's use Ableton controllers, along with digital turntables, and keyboards connected to the laptop running different software packages for sequencing virtual synths, sampling, looping, and mixing to create their sets. It's far from background music. I'm old school, VERY old school, so I was skeptical about the whole laptop thing myself until I got to sit in and see what it takes to create an original set. It can be quite complex and time consuming and requires musical skills in composition, performance, and recording to create an original good sounding live set. 

And yes, some less experienced DJ's  can have bad source material that no interface can improve.

Don't get me wrong, I started playing vinyl in 1979 and now use CDJ/Serato/2TB hard drive... definitely not background music.


My recommendation for the OP is to offer the "DJ" a DJ setup. Package it along with the rest of your PA service. The most rider-friendly one is Serato ScratchLive by Rane. Most "DJ" types that might have a different preference like the gentleman above will bring his own "DJ Setup" and only require 1 or 2 (Stereo) XLR connections in order to use your PA rig.


If a DJ insists on using his laptop output, I would provide the user with a DI box and not a USB interface. Why not? You will now be responsible for anything soundcard driver related to that laptop for the life of that laptop...lol...If anything ever goes wrong with that laptop ever - he will likely blame that OP with the newfangled USB interface he hooked up 5 years ago.
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2011, 06:04:09 pm »

If a DJ insists on using his laptop output, I would provide the user with a DI box and not a USB interface. Why not? You will now be responsible for anything soundcard driver related to that laptop for the life of that laptop...lol...If anything ever goes wrong with that laptop ever - he will likely blame that OP with the newfangled USB interface he hooked up 5 years ago.

A simple stereo out USB interface does not necessarily need to have a driver. AFAIK the Peavey mentioned earlier does not, and the Duck's Echo does not. I would choose better audio quality and more robust electrical connections.

Mac
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Tracy Garner

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2011, 10:27:19 am »

A simple stereo out USB interface does not necessarily need to have a driver. AFAIK the Peavey mentioned earlier does not, and the Duck's Echo does not. I would choose better audio quality and more robust electrical connections.

Mac


I agree with you Mac about the quality and everything. On a PC, you will likely have to go into sound settings and change the output - no big deal.

I'm struggling to see the value-add since the MP3 or WMA is likely to be the larger factor in sound quality. Also, you still have the potential ground hum associated with the laptop. The DI box would still be my choice.

I would be more likely to use the USB interface for my own laptop though. My preference in that case is the M-Audio since it works natively with ProTools.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2011, 10:30:00 am by Tracy Garner »
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Mac Kerr

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Re: Laptop audio output
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2011, 12:54:41 pm »

I'm struggling to see the value-add since the MP3 or WMA is likely to be the larger factor in sound quality. Also, you still have the potential ground hum associated with the laptop. The DI box would still be my choice.

Almost all of the music I play from my laptop is mp3 or AAC files. The output device make a much bigger difference in the sound quality than the file type, as long as you are not using crappy 128mp3 files. How do you get a ground hum from a USB device that does not have a pin 1 connection (the Peavey)?

The USB interface can also be a fraction of the cost of a decent DI, even though it will perform better.

Mac
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