Author Topic: Soundbar for Laptop  (Read 1522 times)

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Online jpanhaltTopic starter

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Soundbar for Laptop
« on: May 12, 2024, 11:40:07 am »
As my hearing ages, I have difficulty with female voices and poor enunciation.  JBL earbuds were fine with Zoom testing and YT videos, but in a real Zoom situation, female and some male voices were unintelligible.  Volume was fine.

I am looking for a short-length soundbar that will allow tone control.  My Lenovo laptop w/ Windows 11 does not seem to allow that.  Inexpensive soundbars being considered are: Edifier MF200, Nylavee SK100 (NylavesDirect, Amazon, $60), Crutchfield Polk Audio ($79), and Yamaha SR-C20A w/ "clear voice."  The Yamaha length of 23" is a disadvantage.

Any comments on the above or other options, preferably less than $200?  My wireless Panasonic home phone extension has voice clarification, and that works fine for me.

Thank you, John
 

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2024, 05:11:52 am »
Never heard of soundbar, maybe you want to search for audio equalizer (or Audio EQ).  Should be plenty of free audio equalizers to download and use for free, even for Windows, but I don't know for sure because I didn't use Windows since many years ago.

Since you are using headphones, a headphone amplifier with a tone equalizer + physical potentiometers for tone corrections might be an interesting option, such that the same headphones amplifier + tone EQ device would work on any computer without heaving to install anything.

Aside from the above 2 options, an external USB soundcard based on Creative chips might be interesting, since these used to have loudness correction, tone correction, voice emphasizing, voice Crystalizer, voice whisperer and other DSP corrections/enhancements included in their drivers.  The effects panel I remember from windows was something similar with the one in the attachment.  Don't know the US price, but I expect second hand USB Creative Soundcards should be cheap (because previous models went out of fashion), yet still perfectly working.

Offline aeberbach

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2024, 08:53:11 am »
Recently bought Creative Stage Air V2 - it's 40.5cm wide. One of the main reasons I picked this one because it has the old-fashioned stereo jack _and_ bluetooth and USB connectivity. Sounds fine and is cheap - might be worth picking up, return if you decide not clear?
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Offline Halcyon

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2024, 09:01:17 pm »
This might be an extreme solution, however have you considered a new laptop with better audio? I'm a recent Mac convert and the current Apple Macbooks (even the Macbook Air) has outstanding audio for a laptop.
 

Online jpanhaltTopic starter

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2024, 10:50:18 pm »
I am a Windows user, but do not like the newer versions.  Laptop was bought last August specifically for those sites and Zoom meetings that need Windows 11.  Windows 11 deleted the equalizer function that was apparently in Windows 10. I am considering getting an addon for that functionality.  It turns out that in Windows 11, the "sound enhancement" opton augments bass, which is the opposite of what I need.
 

Offline Infraviolet

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2024, 10:32:12 pm »
"those sites and Zoom meetings that need Windows 11"
Isn't it the case that virtually everything online thesedays is standardised to work with Chrome, and usually most things work with firefox and with non-google chromium browsers too, and Chrome will run on Windows (all versions including older), Linux and Mac?

Zoom has clients for every major OS.

"but in a real Zoom situation, female and some male voices were unintelligible"
Remember, this could as easily be due to the quality of the microphones at their end or distortion in transmit from lossy compression. And if you were the only one unable to hear them properly, it could still be due to the microphone on their end, just that everyone else in the call had less aged hearing so could pick out the voice from poor quality audio a bit more easily.

I always find zoom and similar webchats much harder to listen to than audio from local files or online video websites, I can listen to locally played audio all day, or youtube documentaries... all day without issue, but I get headaches after about an hour of video conferencing chat.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2024, 10:38:59 pm »
if you were the only one unable to hear them properly, it could still be due to the microphone on their end, just that everyone else in the call had less aged hearing so could pick out the voice from poor quality audio a bit more easily.
Trying to adapt every source to suit the listener? Fix the listener with hearing aids.
 

Online jpanhaltTopic starter

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2024, 11:32:21 pm »
Yes, a woman's voice can be harder to understand.  I tested my earbuds with one of my daughters in a test Zoom meeting.  She is a teacher and speaks very clearly.  Then a week or so later, I was in a Zoom meeting with 3 or 4 women.  They were in a large room and were completely unintelligible.  All I head was a buzz.  That is not an exaggeration.  Captions saved me.  With my TV, I can adjust an audio mixer and virtually turn off everything below 300 Hz and increase higher frequencies.  That helps a lot.  There is also a "clear voice" setting that helps.  You can't have both at the same time. 

I didn't mean zoom was specific for Windows 11 or any version.  My desktop does not and will never have video.  I got a laptop with video specifically for Zoom, and it is Windows 11.  I really dislike that OS.
 

Online jpanhaltTopic starter

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2024, 11:36:10 pm »
Trying to adapt every source to suit the listener? Fix the listener with hearing aids.

Expensive hearing aids, not just in-ear amplifiers, effectively provide an equalizer/clear voice function.  In the situation I described, volume was fine.  It was purely a matter of clarity.  Someday, I will probably get a real hearing aid, but not today.
 

Offline shabaz

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2024, 12:47:44 am »
Sorry that you're having this difficulty. It's a difficult problem, a family member has problems with listening to speech broadcasts. There's a weird (for Sony!) product that helped with listening to TV, it is SRS-LSR200 which has analog 3.5 mm and optical inputs to a charging dock, and the speaker is battery-powered so it can be placed close to the listener, and has a "voice zoom" button. It's not bad, I think it is using a very basic DSP though. Nothing configurable. Perhaps that's a possible option. It doesn't have the usual Sony "feel". To me it seems it feels like a cheaply made product, but I didn't find anything else suitable at the time, and it's still in use after 4 years.

By coincidence I have a Yamaha sound bar for my TV, that has the "Clear Voice" button you refer to. To me the sound difference is a subtle change (EDIT: and possibly is volume dependent, the difference seems more prominent if the volume is louder), I can't know for sure if it will help or not, but certainly I do sometimes use it on some TV content that has a lot of annoying music on top of important speech. I've not checked what audio connections it has (I use the optical connection in it I think) but it also has Bluetooth receiver capability built-in.

I could ask a movie sound guy if there's anything he knows about. Different field of course, but maybe there's something real-time to suit this need.

EDIT: If you like, I can record (using a little battery-powered sound recorder) the difference between normal audio and with Clear Voice on the Yamaha device, in case it's the same Clear Voice algorithm as the one on the Yamaha device you're considering. If you have an example recording suggestion, e.g. some song you're very familiar with, then I can play that off Youtube or whatever, through the sound bar, with Clear Voice on and off.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2024, 01:16:36 am by shabaz »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2024, 01:01:20 am »
What is the specific laptop you have and has the the audio software been installed? (realtek/hp/dell, not windows built in).
In the very unusual case that it doesn't have some audio software available, there are also free EQ tools: https://sourceforge.net/projects/peace-equalizer-apo-extension/ though not sure how easy they are to work with..
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Offline Someone

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2024, 05:12:38 am »
Trying to adapt every source to suit the listener? Fix the listener with hearing aids.
Expensive hearing aids, not just in-ear amplifiers, effectively provide an equalizer/clear voice function.  In the situation I described, volume was fine.  It was purely a matter of clarity.  Someday, I will probably get a real hearing aid, but not today.
You think you are ok for volume but are likely running way above what other people consider sensible. That EQ can fix your problem is exactly what hearing aids are for, to adjust your perception (frequency dependent) back to something closer to the rest of the population. Getting them earlier will make it easier to adapt and adjust, rather than as a last resort.

This is classic denial and justification to avoid that so many people go through, glasses, false teeth, hearing aids. They improve life for you and the people around you.
 

Online jpanhaltTopic starter

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2024, 09:37:22 am »
This is classic denial and justification to avoid that so many people go through, glasses, false teeth, hearing aids. They improve life for you and the people around you.

Thank you, curbside shrink, for the psychiatric advice.  Now, try to address the original question or move on.
 

Offline Coordonnée_chromatique

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Re: Soundbar for Laptop
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2024, 09:48:20 am »
As my hearing ages I have difficulty with female voices and poor enunciation.

You should go to an andiologist or make a good hearing test by yourself in order to detrmine you HTRF before any EQ, you can damage dramatically your earing with a bad equalization... it can be painless.
 
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