In our quest to help readers find the perfect laptop for their needs, we often receive questions from readers looking for the fastest, lightest or most budget-friendly laptop on the market. Until now, however, we'd never received a question about the best audio.
Val from V-Moda writes:
I'm not a fan of Beats Audio, but I am a DJ. I'm looking for a Windows machine that's fully tricked out with top-of-the-line specs that will be good working as a DJ. What would you recommend?
Clearly, sound quality is a top consideration for Val, but a DJ needs more than just excellent speakers. Does any laptop offer the perfect combination of excellent audio and robust sound controls? We go sleuthing to find the ultimate DJ-friendly notebook.
Although Val already said up front that she's no fan of Beats Audio, we feel obligated to at least mention the HP Envy series. We gave both the 15-inch HP Envy 15 and 17-inch Envy 17 4 stars and Editor's Choice awards, citing - among other features - their excellent audio and dedicated volume button as reasons for the laptops' high marks. The fluid motion of the volume control dial gave our reviewer the impression of being a "DJ for a party of one", and the Beats Audio control panel allowed her to adjust the audio quality to her liking.
But Val isn't interested in Beats Audio, so let's take a look at other high-end laptops that are perfect for audiophiles! The Dell XPS 15, as we said in its review, boasts best-in-class audio. The notebook features JBL Speakers and a bottom-mounted subwoofer good enough to serve as a home stereo. Even at maximum volume (which blows other laptops away with its ability to fill a room), the XPS 15 delivers clear and true sound. Individual instruments on tracks such as "Thus Spake Zarathustra" can be easily discerned.
Moreover, the 15-inch XPS 15 features Wave MaxxAudio sound enhancement software, which allows you to make fine adjustments to each audio setting or set the audio presets for music, movies, gaming, or voice conferencing. Our reviewer's favorite feature was the "leveler," which automatically adjusts the speakers to deliver the highest fidelity sound at maximum volume.
The 17-inch Dell XPS 17 sports the same high-quality JBL Speakers and subwoofer as its smaller cousin, as well as the excellent MaxxAudio control panel. The XPS 17 adds support for 5.1 surround sound via HDMI output to the mix as well, making it an ideal choice for a DJ looking to hook their laptop up to a full set of speakers. The XPS 17 also features SoundBlaster X-Fi software, which boosts the sound of effects and music in games.
If the XPS series isn't to your liking, the ASUS N43SL Jay Chou Special Edition might scratch your audio itch. The N43SL, designed in collaboration with Taiwanese pop superstar Jay Chou, features a top-facing speaker - powered by Bang and Olufsen ICEpower and ASUS's own SonicMaster technology - that easily filled our test room with sound. When we listened to Radiohead's "Reckoner," the sound quality was almost as good as if we were playing the track through a home stereo system.
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