Support me when shopping by clicking here first!
Working holiday - Nirvana or Nightmare? Gordon Laing, 2012
 
 

The best sound quality from your laptop: Etymotic HF3 and Arcam rPAC review

When you're away from home for any period of time you'll inevitably miss some of your creature comforts. It's different for every person: it could be your wardrobe of clothes, your cooking equipment, your own car, or simply your own bed, but for me the thing I tend to miss the most when I'm away for any length of time is my music.

I'm not talking about simply playing my favourite songs as it's easy to pack your devices with weeks worth of music or stream it through services like Spotify. No, what I really miss is enjoying that music with decent sound quality - proper Hifi reproduction. I can usually manage a few days with a basic set of earphones plugged into my laptop or phone, but for longer periods I really begin to miss the fidelity and depth of my system at home.

I'd resigned myself to putting up with average sound quality on the move, but when I lost my earphones at the start of a long trip and started looking into replacements, I decided to see if it was in fact possible to achieve genuine Hifi quality in a portable environment. What I discovered shocked and delighted me: with the right parts and software you can transform your laptop (or desktop) computer into a proper high-end Hifi system, and do so without compromising your portability. In the video below I'll reveal all with a four-part plan which may start with a decent pair of earphones, but includes additional steps you may never have considered before. And for those who come here for photography, I've also included a slideshow of photos from my trip around the UK so far with shooting information.

 
Video report: how to achieve hifi sound quality on the move with your laptop
 
 
Product information

The two main hardware devices in my video above were the Etymotic HF3 earphones and the Arcam rPAC USB digital to analogue converter. See below for pricing.

Etymotic HF3 earphones   Arcam rPAC USB DAC
     
 
     
     

Many thanks to Rob Follis for his support and valuable advice, especially on the Mac software side of things. Thanks also to Kirsty Walker, Ranieri Communications and Etymotic. To learn more about my trip, please check out my main Working Holiday page!

If you enjoyed this article, please support me by shopping below!
   
         
Creative Landscape Photography
By Mike Langford & Jackie Ranken
Price: $9.97 USD (PDF download)
More details!

Discover the techniques behind great landscape photography in this 86 page eBook guide by award-winning photographers Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken. In Creative Landscape Photography, Mike and Jackie use the stunning surroundings of Queenstown, New Zealand, to demonstrate both classic and contemporary approaches to capturing natural landscape images.

  Photographing the 4th Dimension: time
By Jim M Goldstein
Price: $20 USD (PDF download)
More details!

A great-looking and highly informative eBook for anyone interested in long exposure photography. Whether you're into painting with light, capturing star-trails or creating timelapse video, author Jim M Goldstein has the answers. One of my favourite eBooks to date and one you'll want in your collection even if it's just to browse the great images.
  The Art of Photographing Wildlife
By Mike Kiss
Price: $9.97 USD (PDF download)
More details!

In the first eBook published by Cameralabs, discover the techniques behind great wildlife photos. Mike Kiss is a respected wildlife photographer based in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada, and in his eBook explains how to approach and photograph different types of animals, birds and marine life while always respecting them and the environment.

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

/ How we test / Best Cameras / Advertising / Camera reviews / Supporting Camera Labs