July 25, 2024

IntecStudio

Buzz The Music

How to upgrade your office audio

How to upgrade your office audio

It makes for depressing reading, but the average office worker will spend roughly 53,000 hours sitting behind a desk before they retire. It’s a long time to be stuck in one place, and while I endorse regular breaks and a decent chair, I’d also urge you to upgrade your office audio equipment. Though some are lucky enough to have large offices with space to indulge their Hi-Fi obsessions, most of us make do with a desk, chair and laptop. But even the oldest Wi-Fi streaming computer can be transformed into a high-quality music player.

As with modern TVs, laptop speakers offer subpar sound quality, and a dedicated pair of stereo desktop speakers will greatly improve the audio. Not to be confused with explosion-enhancing gaming speakers, these audio upgrades can either be connected via the 3.5mm headphone jack and USB port or wirelessly using Bluetooth.

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How to improve your laptop audio quality

Invest in some desktop speakers

  • Ruark’s MR1 Mk2 offer gorgeous looks and size-defying sound quality
  • Q Acoustics M20 are equally enjoyable if your desk is big enough.
  • For modern-day streaming there are countless smartphone-controlled wireless speakers that will enhance any office – you won’t go wrong with the Sonos Era 100, Apple HomePod or Kef’s latest and glorious LS50 Meta (£1,199; kef.com).

Use headphones rather than playing audio through your laptop speaker

While headphones with wireless active noise cancellation help to muffle the din of the office, these hi-tech extras are less important when working from home – in which case I’d highly recommend a pair of wired over-ear headphones.

  • The Audio Technica ATH-WP900 are excellent, but you don’t need to spend £600 to further your enjoyment. Austrian Audio’s Hi-X15 is a bargain and the Philips Fidelio X3 is also a steal.

Add a DAC headphone amplifier to your laptop

Though all computers have DAC (digital-to-analogue converter) chips, adding a DAC headphone amplifier vastly improves sound quality. You don’t need to spend big either: the portable iFi Go Link costs is great value, as is the award-winning Chord Mojo 2.

The average office worker will spend roughly 53,000 hours sitting behind a desk before they retire

Stream music from high-quality platforms

For the best experience, you’ll also need high-quality audio recordings. Compressed MP3s might sound OK in the background, but they miss so much detail. Thankfully, sites such as Qobuz, Tidal, Apple Music, Amazon Music and classical music streaming platform Idagio all offer hi-res CD-quality streaming.

For more suggestions, check out our guide on how to get the best sound from your computer.

Best office audio equipment to enhance your desktop listening

FiiO R9 Desktop Music Streamer

This small but mighty Android-powered music streamer has a large touchscreen, dual high-performance DACs, multiple inputs including HDMI, USB, optical, coaxial, SD card and Bluetooth, and is only too happy to play the highest resolution audio tracks.

FiiO R9 Desktop Music Streamer
FiiO R9 Desktop Music Streamer

Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M

A perfect bridge between your laptop and headphones, this compact headphone amplifier and DAC lives for hi-res recordings, has optical and coaxial inputs plus USB, as well as Bluetooth aptX for receiving wireless signals from your smart devices and ¼” headphone, XLR and RCA connectors.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M
Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M

Røde NTH-100

Though better known for their studio recording equipment, Røde’s first headphones are an absolute treat. Designed for recording and mixing, they feel durable, and have a terrific level of detail. Yes, they lack bells and whistles, but as affordable wired headphones they’re superb.

Røde NTH-100
Røde NTH-100