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!

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