Laptop mini-jack audio quality, is it really that bad?

[EDIT: audio issues are now fixed after reboot and/or system updates, not clear what the issue was]

So, I was just listening to the recording of a live gig I did recently. I knew my mixing wasn’t accurate because of not being used to playing on stage monitors in a live room, on a big PA. I was very unpleasantly surprised as my mix sounded completely muffled and lacking all the sparkle I get when playing at home. But I had done only minor EQ’íng in the soundcheck. Inaccurate mixing of levels surely couldn’t have caused such a sound quality shift?

So I turned elsewhere for a cause and here was my suspect: I was listening via de mini-jack out of my brand new Lenovo X1 Extreme laptop, going into my Mackie mixer and then Genelec monitors. Sure enough, playing the same recording through my MOTU interface sounded a lot more like I was expecting it.

I A/B’ed for a while, also on headphones, and there’s no doubt: the audio quality of the mini-jack output is completely crap. Muffling highs, cutting lows, bad detailing. I have all sound “enhancement” software features turned off. It can’t be caused by such thing.

Last time I had such experience was in 2010 or so when Future Sound of London just didn’t sound right. Turned out I was playing through my Macbook Pro’s mini-jack instead of my audio interface. But this Lenovo laptop has even lower audio quality than that old Apple. Disappointing for what’s supposed to be the top end of Lenovo’s laptop range.

It’s not that I’m audiophile-nit-picking here. It’s not a little difference compared to a quality interface. It’s a night and day difference. Completely unusable. Not that I was planning on using it for anything serious but it’s still nice to have fairly usable output when you don’t have extra gear around.

Anyone else have experiences like that?

Oh I know interfaces are here for a reason :slight_smile:

It’s just that my previous MSI laptop had decent audio quality. I guess I’m just astonished by the absolute rubish quality of this Lenovo. I’m starting to think it might be a hardware fault I should have it checked for.

I had a really shitty laptop about 15 years ago, absolute trailer of a thing. It sounded great listening through the audio output.
Every laptop I’ve had since has sounded awful.
We live in a world where people listen to music on mobile phone speakers. I doubt manufacturers give a steaming shite about the quality of their audio outputs.
I just see it as another different “listening environment” (like the car or my hifi speakers) to try out when mastering tracks.

is it really that bad?

yes, it is.

laptop built-in DAC is not targeted for music at all.
it is for using voice messengers and watching generic videos (designed years ago with 128–192k sound bitrate in mind, that was most common at that time).

p.s. smartphone audio DAC is about the same. :nerd_face:

A high end Lenovo would still be on the lower end of the laptop spectrum. Lenovo is ultimately a budget company.

I still wonder what to think about the experience of the new mbp internal speakers.

If I play a note, theres a low volume shh that lasts for a second. Not hearable on headphone
What is this?
Why noone is irritated by that?
You have this on lenovo speakers too?
What do 2018 mbp owners think about that?

The speaker of a 2007 mbp were more muffled but to me more pleasant
I have some days left to switch to a lenovo, hp,
( glitchy new t2 chip on mbp…, crackling, Was thinking at least the keys on a lenovo dont get hot like mbp for a quick jam with internal speakers or through jack…)
Dont know what audio issues on what system are more stressful

Also just trying the new iphone, listening on bluetooth seems quite a noise floor, dont know if its headphones or its more details or its worse quality…
Cant try jack plus dongle because i dont have a dongle jet…:neutral_face:
Happy new year elektro enthusiatsts

mixpre6 minijack > scarlett 6i6 > macbook pro minijack

But, then again, Four Tet joked about how everyone kept telling him to get a better interface, etc. and he just recorded shit from the audio jack on a lot of his early albums.


Perhaps. What do you regard as a high(er) end manufacturer?

But glitchy rawness was part of his style then :wink:

Don’t know about current mbp’s. I do know that I expect zero quality from laptop speakers. That said, my previous MSI GS63VR had absolutely crap speakers, my current Lenovo is not that bad, but still laptop speakers. I still wouldn’t use it for anything else than a quick youtube video.

Yes what I rememeber I read that everyone praises the new mbp speakers in the reviews ( I absolutely dont like the caracter, prefer the less aggressive caracter on the less loud mbp 2007), and read they should be better than lenovo. ( i think they mean just louder)

I m quite annoied by that ssh sound if i play a note,
but also dont understand what it is ( its not hearable in headphones, the fan, also not on old hp, mbp, iphone speakers)

Sorry i just cant find someone to tell me what that is technically, and still dont know if I should accept that i would have to attach a thunderbolt 3 interface plus a 20 bucks logitech keyboard
( mbp keyboard feels too hot, and my feeling is the famous new dust protection plastic under the keys melt if i press down longer than a second)
for a quick dirty techno or renoise: ) jam
And if that is more or less stressful than windows 10,
Hp bloatware, lenovo quality lottery… only god knows it seems

Ha! I don’t know if it was the reboot or 1 of the system updates that was available for my laptop that fixed it, but the terrible line out audio quality is now fixed. I now can’t tell much difference playing back audio via the mini-jack or MOTU interface. I’m relieved there was indeed something wrong other than just plain bad hardware.

And yes, before you ask, I had updated the system when I received it. The new updates have come out since, though none mentioned anything about audio.


An onboard computer DAC is going to be no match for a dedicated audio interface.
The problem is you will need to use it’s crappy generic drivers which are useless for daw work