Tuesday, 13 January 2015

PC Speakers

Having recently discussed some alternatives for getting better sound out of your flat TV panel, here’s a bit of a diversion into the matter of achieving quality sound out of one’s PC.
Inner Fidelity, generally one of my favourite references when it comes to headphones, recently reviewed three PC speakers with some audiophile aspirations/credentials. As far as I am concerned, they are all on the too expensive side of PC speakers; I also doubt their quality can compete with a USB DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) coupled to high quality headphones. However, the review does indicate at a couple of interesting trends:
  1. It does seem like 5.1 speaker options for the PC are on the decline while high quality stereo is turning into a market lucrative enough to get some big names in.
  2. All three models reviewed here have their built in USB DAC. This means they can, at least on paper, re-clock the digital signal so as to reduce jitter.
    Jitter is a term referring to hearing the right sound signal at the wrong time. Empirical evidence suggests the human ear is quite sensitive to such distortions, thus turning jitter into the bane of digital sound. I do wonder, though, whether PC speakers are capable of the fidelity it takes in order to be able to pick up on the effects of jitter. Regardless, it is an interesting development.
The existence of PC speakers utilising USB DACs made me wonder. I realised what I would really like to see in this area are headphones that can reduce jitter by re-clocking the digital signal from my smartphone (as opposed to a PC's USB output). That would pretty much mean we can all enjoy Class A audiophile sound wherever we are.
To the likes of Meridian and Sennheiser I will say this: You can do it!

Image by Jason Grey, Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0) licence


wile.e.coyote said...

Strange not to see Sound Blaster in the list, they used to be the only option in the past.

I suspect that when it comes to headphones that come build it with mic (for WoW), quality is not a big factor.

Anyway when it come to PC headphones, the duration of their life is about 1 month until Wave breaks them watching Fireman Sam

Moshe Reuveni said...

You're making too many assumptions. For example, many audiophile grade headphones come with microphones nowadays, aimed as they are to be driven by smartphones. Check this one out as an example:

Samuel said...

"I suspect that when it comes to headphones that come build it with mic (for WoW), quality is not a big factor."

This is exactly why I've always been hesitant to buy a headset (headphones + mic). I figure just getting quality headphones with a standalone mic would be better, but I don't know.