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cw: i put your question to my older son, who has the same notebook as yours (he is, BTW, a second generation audiophile, as well). his first concern with your proposed setup is power consumption. unless your notebook is running on an ac adapter, you'll drain your batteries quite quickly. he listens to mp3's and watches dvd's when traveling, using $100.00 sony headphones. not as good, of course, as top-of-the-line grado's but a helluva lot better than you'll get watching movies on any model boeing or airbus. it's another question entirely if you're looking at getting high-quality sound from your desk-based pc, but that's not the subject of your thread. in any event, i've asked my son to do some further research, which i'll post if and when i learn the results. happy computin' -kelly
One thing you can do is get one of the USB Audio devices for your laptop, it plugs in to the USB port and produces reasonable line-level audio, which will work fine as the input to your amp. Whether it is compatible with your DVD codes is something I do not know, but it will work fine with MP3 playback and DIVX encoded movies, in short, with anything that will play back through the windows sound system. You can find these little gadgets at compusa and such, for $99 or so. I don't remember off the top of the head who makes them.
A suggestion for making your battery last: Turn of everything you don't absolutely need, like IR port, printer port, serial port, firewire, you name it. Turn your screen brightness down, and if you're playing from media other than HD, set the sleep timer on your harddisk very short. If only listening, have your screen turned off.
On my 505G with extended battery, running the machine on 25% CPU, screen off, all ports off, harddisk not spinning and using just the PCMCIA slot and CPU, the batteries last nearly 7 hours, as opposed to two with everything on. On my 505LS, the battery lasts 55 minutes with the machine going full speed, but almost 3 hours with screen and HD off, and CPU running at 25% speed.
BTW, you do get some really funny looks when juggling two seemingly identical laptops on an airplane... Good thing noone has yet figured out what wireless ethernet is, I am sure if they knew, I wouldn't be allowed to use it.
Battery consumption is definitely an issue. Sound quality should be very good with the headroom amps. They have a very high incoming impedance--so those lousy op amps aren't really doing anything--sure they do degrade a little bit, but let's face it the CD transport is not exactly high end either. I wouldn't worry about the sound degredation from going through the board amps.
I do quite a bit of travelling, and music while travelling (good quality) is very important to me. I use the Etomatic ER-4S headphones, the Airhead amplifier (the special edition) and recently purchased a PJB-100, which is an MP-3 jukebox with 6.4 gigs of hard disk storage. Headroom recommended this MP-3 player--and they weren't even selling it. I've gotten good advice from them before so I bought it. I love it. The sound is better than most portable CD players and I can store about 70 CDs and a high bit rate that preserves good sound quality. Also, I can't say enough about the ER-4S headphones. They reduce noise by 22-25 dB. On a plane--that is great. Well happy listening--hope it makes the travel go easier.
I've been kind of disappointed that this forum hasn't generated more interest as well. I think there's quite a bit of sentiment that "good sound" and "PC" don't go together, quite possibly for good reason
I did, however, come across a cool looking product that merges computers and good sound. Made by Lansonic, it basically is a file server / decoder with "audiophile-quality" A/V interfaces. It connects to an NT-based network using ethernet, and supports a browser-based control program. It has a hard drive, but can access any drive on the network. You can have multiple copies on the network. All of which adds up to having your music library in one place, listenable on any system in your house and controllable from any computer on the network. Full juke-box-like functionality.
Of course, it's still basically version 1.0 and it's still pretty expensive ($700-$2000 depending on HD size), and HD sizes still pretty much prohibit exact copies of what's on the CD if you have much of a music collection. It's still going to be a stretch to get audiophiles to buy into this concept. But the idea is something I've been waiting to see arrive for a couple years now, and in a couple more it should be everywhere. -Kirk
If what you want to do is listen to MP3s or CDs with a laptop computer on trips, consider this alternative before you spend a lot of money on a headphone amp and audiophile headphones. Buy yourself a pair of Sennheiser m@h80 headphones online from J&R Music World or a similar vendor, for $40 to $50. Sennheiser designed these specifically to be used with laptops or desktop PCs, as opposed to high-end sound systems. While more substantial and offering much better sound quality than Walkman-type headphones, they are lighter, much more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods, and more portable than audiophile-quality headphones. Maybe not the ultimate headphone, but great for the price, eminently practical as something to take on trips, and relatively inexpensive so you won't worry too much about the risk of loss or damage while traveling. I
bought my son a pair of them to go with his laptop computer when he went off to college, and he is very happy with them. He even took them off long enough to let me listen to them, briefly. They sounded great, and they were very comfortable. If you buy them and don't agree, you're not out a lot of money, and you can try something else without feeling investment-bound to stick with your first purchase.