What’s in HP’s Beats Audio, marketing aside?

If you are like me you may be wondering what is actually in Beats Audio technology, which comes from HP in partnership with Beats by Dr Dre.

The technical information is not that easy to find; but a comment to this blog directed me to this video:

http://www.precentral.net/what-beats-audio

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According to this, it comes down to four things:

1. Redesigned headphone jack with better insulation, hence less ground noise.

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2. Discrete headphone amp to reduce crosstalk. This is also said to be “more powerful”, but since we do not know what it is more powerful than, I am not going to count that as technical information.

3. Isolated audio circuitry.

4. Software audio profiles which I think means some sort of equalizer.

These seem to me sensible features, though what I would really like to see is specifications showing the benefits versus other laptops of a comparable price.

There may be a bit more to Beats audio in certain models. For example, the Envy 14 laptop described here has a “triple bass reflex subwoofer”.

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though this user was not greatly impressed:

I ran some audio tone test sites and found out the built in laptop speakers do not generate any sound below 200 Hz. In the IDT audio drivers speaker config there is only configuration for 2 speaker stereo system, no 2.1 speaker system (which includes subwoofer). I’m miffed, because on HP advertising copy claims “HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer amplifiers put out 12W total while supporting a full range of treble and bass frequencies.” Clearly I am not getting “full range” frequencies.

Still, what do you expect from a subwoofer built into a laptop?

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57 thoughts on “What’s in HP’s Beats Audio, marketing aside?

  1. Pingback: Would you buy a HP Touchpad for $99? « The Ayson Chronicles: A Life Online

  2. John

    I just got an hp laptop with beats audio. Absolutely garbage, feels like the music is coming out of an aluminium can..

    1. whatever

      you never owned hp laptop, else you wont post this you idiot.

      actually beats audio is pretty good to garbage this guy owns which must be some pathetic acer or toshiba or sony

      1. A soon to be ASUS user.

        I am typing from a dv7 with “beats”, and I agree with John. The sound from the speakers is TERRIBLE! My old pentium 333 compaq with jbl speakers blows this junk out of the water.

        1. themanwithnoname

          beats has nothing to do with the speakers. The speakers are still standard laptop garage. Where is shines is when using high quality headphones. The main advantages are a better equalizer, better headphone jack and a better headphone amp none of which has to do with the speakers.

      2. shanil

        what i have to say is …
        beats,altec lancing,jbl etc each have thier own specific function…
        may b beats function u wont like bcse ..
        beats:
        ::less sound but gives excellent quality
        ::not much even though enough bass bcse that only can give u excellent quality
        i hope u disliked beats bcse of less sound
        ALTEC LANCING:
        ::more sound but doesnt have enough quality
        ::only have more sound bass…but doesnt have quality..
        u might like this bcse people who wont focus in bass thourougly usually like this
        JBL:
        ::more sound and have excellent quallity
        ::more sound bass>>>but doesnt have bass quality..
        this is also xcellent one….i agree in tis

    2. KG

      I agree completly. Worst lap top sound I have ever heard. Great with quality headphones or quality speakers but horrible on its own. Very disapointed in HP.

      1. 12345790-

        I’m no audiophile, but because many people including yourself clearly don’t understand what is being discussed here, and because I’m bored, let me try to describe it in laymans terms. Beats Audio is a program, one designed to increase the quality of sound produced by your computer and sent to your speakers. High quality speakers can reproduce high quality sound signals. Shitty quality speakers cannot reproduce high quality sound, only shitty sound. Competent people do not buy laptops for their speakers. Plug some decent external speakers (including headphones) into the jack, and you’ll find a noticeable difference in sound quality simply by using them. Turn on Beats and you’ll find the sound is even further improved.

        1. Jim565

          You really haven’t a clue have you? Yet you are full of yourself. IDIOT the subject is simple…Beat audio don’t not produce better sound than any other standard laptop. If you don’t understand that then you shouldn’t touch computers.

          1. jarred

            It’s amusing to me how you think he’s full of himself and an idiot when you are wrong. The hp I own comes with beats audio speakers and they are speakers with enhanced sound quality therefore they sound better than other laptop’s I’ve previously owned. Please do not breed.

  3. sandy keelow

    I doubt there is a sub in those laptops, there is not enough room in there anyway, and low frequency vibrations from a 12 Watts RMS subwoofer would destroy a laptop pretty quickly so i would not even want one…

    1. Audiophile Dude 0405

      you should have done some research because the high range HP laptops with Beats Audio do have a subwoofer located at the bottom of them facing downwards!

      1. Sissoman

        I just recieved a Pavilion Dv6, and i am very disapointed, it does have a subwoofer, but when i play songs with any bass at all, it sounds like it’s already blown, alteast that was my first thought, very poor quality of sound and very misleading advertisment….

        1. jarred

          Maybe there was something wrong with this particular laptop and gone and returned it. I also have a Hp dv6 and the quality from the speakers is very nice :) and i listen to alot of songs with good bass.

    2. flythistube

      why dont you pay attention. there is a subwoofer on it. im even using it right now to listen to music. its about 1 and a half inches big, and it says: “hp triple bass reflex subwoofer”. it has a “b” on it. so next time, look before you say something.

  4. Juan

    I’ve got the Envy17 and Beatsaudio definitely make a difference, sound is clear and does not sound like laptop sound, volume goes quite high and the subwoofer area is on the bottom of the laptop, surround is good- when tested, clearly hear the diff. between left and right. A good buy! With a core i7 processor and 8GB of RAM and Blu-Ray drive, one wouldnt expect anything less than beatsaudio to handle the sound.

  5. andrew

    Dr Dre is a rapper and producer… not the person I’d go to for accurate sound. How about a manufacturer who actually has a history of building quality audio speakers like a Harmon industries product…hm?

    1. bob

      Lol – if you want anyone to sort out the audio of a laptop, it would be a top quality music producer; someone who has made an absolute fortune, is in huge demand to produce music across the board, and knows what he’s on about when it comes to making music sound good!

      1. David Pierre-Paul

        Amen!! Dr Dre is EXACTLY the person that you would go to for input on sound, since he has made mega-millions in the RECORDING INDUSTRY!! That encompasses SOUND, last I checked!!

        1. A Person

          And he still want more money. and dr.dre’s a rapper, what does he know about other genres of music with less bass.

        2. Lewis

          He’s not an audio engineer though, and still relies on other people’s research and technology to produce music. He didn’t design the speakers, interfaces, sound cards, etc in his studio, he just uses them.

          That said I very much doubt Dr Dre has much input into the Beats technology anyway.

          1. john

            Agreed, Dr. Dre has about as much to do with it as Michael Jordan does with Hanes underwear. If you’re really into music and have a great pair of headphones pick up the Xonar Essence STX. I LOVE mine, and it has a quality amp specifically for your headphones (with the specs included, not vague statements like this beats one does).

            Of course, you get what you pay for, and it ain’t cheap! Also you’re only as good as your weakest link. As others have said, if your headphones/speakers stink then you can’t blame your soundcard…

  6. K

    My headphone amp does pick up a hiss from this ‘redesigned headphone jack’ and ‘dedicated audio island’. There is a lot of noise in the audio output. Even my 5 year old acer travelmate gives me less noise.
    All the beats audio software does is change the sound profile to give heavier bass at the expense of other details, which in some cases is more enjoyable to listen to.
    I’d say its just marketing and dr dre just gets paid to have his name over all these beats products.

  7. Audiophile Dude 0405

    Beats Audio does work, though its best to leave the “BEATS AUDIO” function off and go to the windows sound configuration and make sure all the settings are on “normal” or “off”. The “Beats Audio” feature only works well for Rap, Pop, R&B and Electronic. The desecrate amps for each headphone jack is a good extra as you can have headphones using different independencies and the volume remains the same on both headphones as there are independent amps (DUHHHHH). The headphone jack design works well compared to Dell, Acer and Asus headphone jacks (I have tested this. The speakers on the Pavillion range are actually made by Alcec Lansing (like all previous HP’s) and are not designed for bass at all, the main focus was treb and mids. The subwoofer is just a standard subwoofer with the label “triple bass”. The subwoofer does work well for its size and position on the DV7 but it wont create all the bass like a normal subwoofer would (again obvious reasons) and it wont play frequencies bellow 200hz it it is to loud, this is to protect the subwoofer and electrical components around it.

    Bang & Olufsen are now joining the laptop Audio revolution (or what ever you wish to label it) but they to don’t actually make the speakers they place in the laptops. They only supply the design for amps and other audio technology placed in the laptops.

  8. Emma

    I’ve just bought a HP Touchsmart 610 which features a beats audio speaker… the sound quality is AMAZING. It doesn’t compare to my old HP dv3 laptop (with Altec Lansing speakers). I’m definitely impressed with it, it’s a shame that the laptops don’t come equipped with high quality speakers to match…

  9. HP Beats Tech

    Ok folks, there seems to be some confusion. All the Beats Audio software does is change the sound profile. Look up SRS Wow Premium Sound, it’s the same thing with a few tweaked preset EQ settings tailored for the sound frequencies of different headphones and music types. The HP laptops, use Altec Lansing Speakers and IDT digital-to-analog audio processors. Some of the HP DV6T’s use a “quad speaker” set up, which is basically two sets of stereo speakers, two (L/R) up top, above the keyboard, and two (L/R) more in the front edge. It’s clever marketing hype and exceptionally expensive branding. While Dre Beats headphones are manufactured by Monster, they have nothing to do with laptop speakers. Seriously, it’s 90% marketing and 10% software (aka SRS Wow technology simply rebranded as “Beats Audio”), but you’ll pay that premium. Look it up and educate yourselves! Knowledge is power!

    1. Adam

      “HP Beats Tech” is 100% correct about the marketing hype. The codec in my Dv6-6135DX is just a standard IDT Audio controller, with a Beats Audio-branded skin, and some garbage EQ “enhancements”. In other words- muddy, overemphasized bass and harsh treble with little mid-range or general clarity. Very reminiscent indeed of SRS WOW on my old iRiver and SRS WOW HD on my Alienware CE-IV, as well as BBE on my former car headunit. Also interesting- as soon as Beats Audio is disabled, the controls in Windows’ audio control panel (under “tone controls”) are set to -14 bass and +4 treble, compared to +4/+4 when Beats effects are enabled. This creates the illusion that the sound system seems more dynamic with Beats on, but in reality they’re both poor. Resetting the levels back to 0 with Beats effects OFF makes for pretty solid sound via the supposedly amped headphone jacks through my ATH-M50s (REAL headphones, not marketing hype). Oh, and another thing, the Beats Audio Control Panel (the rebranded IDT one) contains a typo on the EQ.. it has 1kHz labeled twice, when one is clearly 10kHz. Just an idea of the quality or lack thereof..

      1. Adam

        That said, audio via the headphone jacks WITH ALL EFFECTS OFF honestly sounds better than the integrated audio on my previous laptops. There is a slight amount of background hiss, but again it’s still better than the audio output of my former machines. There may be some truth to the mentions of modified hardware, like the supposed discrete amp and “audio island”, it’s just the software, the main selling point, is generally bogus.

    2. Paulie

      Music is mostly style. Beats Audio is stylin and sounds good in my opinion, coming from a music production background. Its an EQ people… and it looks freakin cool!

      I guess it depends on whether u think you should spend $5G on Focal monitors to plug ur laptop into.

      Branding is so crucial these days…you couldnt seriously tell the difference on a laptop but from what i hear, it sounds great and I am enjoying my HP Beats Audio cos im cool and ur not!

  10. Curious

    I am having a difficult time finding information on why this laptop has dual headphone jacks. Will they always output the same signal, or can one be used to preview the next track (for example)??

    1. confusion clearer

      one is for microphones. Like for a headset with dual jacks, green and orange.

  11. solomon brown

    at this moment im on my dv7 with beats audio and i dont know what some people are talking about the sound quality is amazing. compared to some of my friends macbook’s and they dont even compare so for those of you who havent experienced more than one type of laptop please dont comment with a biased opinion.

  12. AmIWrong?

    Let’s also keep in mind that if your music library is stored at 128 kbps it won’t matter what kind of software, circuitry or headphones you’ve got…so if you care enough to get the most out of your music experience make sure you rip/download at the highest bit rate you can. It’s worth the extra space!

    Thanks for taking an objective look at Beats Audio, I was curious as to what all the hype was about. Call me old fashioned but I’m still a Winamp fan!

  13. Music Lover

    In my opinion, Beats Audio doesn’t sound good at all if you use the laptop’s built-in speakers, but it’s awesome with high-quality earbuds or headphones.

    And I believe Beats Audio is not just software. I’ve tried updating the IDT audio driver with newer versions but it seems that only one version of driver works, so the conventional wisdom/rule of updating drivers does not seem to hold with Beats Audio. Also, as I’m quite familiar with various software solutions for audio (re)production, I highly doubt if the impressive levels of detail, stereo quality and bass response I get from Beats Audio are based on software alone (on top of the standard IDT audio hardware).

    I guess another important thing here is that knowing how to correctly adjust a dozen or so parameters in Windows and the Beats Audio control panel itself (to suit your headphone, etc.) makes all the difference between having crappy sound and really amazing sound.

    Just my two cents.

  14. Acoustic Engineer

    These are still laptop speakers in a vastly undersized enclosure – bad sound

    This is still an integrated headphone amp sharing the same power supply as a very large number of electrical parts operating at a large variance of voltages with little to no electrical shielding in place – bad aural artifacts

    You are still using digital reproductions of compressed analog signals – not high fidelity

    A subwoofer with less than .5CF of air space? Don’t even get me started laughing…

  15. studio engineer (yes, really)

    although dr dre is maybe a succesfull producer, his headphones are generally crap… the bass is overstated, there is no balance and the term crossfilter does not appear to have the correct translation for mr Dre. so how would the laptop be, i wondered… well, there are two forms of sound experience, the laptop speakers and the jack for the headphones. lets start with the speakers;

    they’re not the best possible if you consider the possibilities of their environment… but still respectable level vut very crappy sound.. but its a laptop, and well, lets be honest, most people experience loud as quality feature of sound. in my opninion sound should be balanced, the bass should blend in, and endorse, the rest of the sound, pushing the middle and the middle must do the same with the treble… this can be achieved with such small speakers, but not for this price :-) overall experience 6.5, where i expected a 8

    now the jack headphone experience… the difference of the better jack is there, but barely… there is a major inbalance in the sound, too much bass…….way toooooo much… can be eq out and than its still up to the headphones how it sounds.. i used “shur in ear monitors” and well, lets just say i dont like the amping… but it is loud and so its marketable :p

    overall: dont pay for the beats, just buy a good asus or mac

  16. Dave T

    Just got my HP envy 17 3270nr today.

    The laptop speaker sound is reasonable for a laptop, possibly even the best I’ve heard. However, compared with even a budget standalone stereo system, the sound is tinny and awful. I’m not saying it’s bad, I’m just saying that if you want good sound, don’t listen to your audio on laptop speakers.

    It’s all very well having these low noise measures (note – screening on the headphone jack makes very little difference to an amplified signal!), but ultimately your laptop fan is probably going to spoil your audible signal to noise ratio, so it’s wasted effort. I think it is mainly HP marketing, I’ve had previous machines that were Altec Lansing, Harmon Kardon, now ‘Beats’. Not the reason I bought the laptop.

  17. Sykohtic

    From what I’ve heard, compared to most laptops, these things actually have quite good sound quality. Now, I do think that optimal quality is achieved through headphones. Also, remember to make sure you aren’t charging your computer at the same time your listening to your music trying to judge sound quality. Charging creates a HUGE amount of ground noise/hiss in ALL laptops. Also, I’ve seen these with not only AMD Quad-Core processors and Intel i7s, and I think i may have seen one with a dual core intel, not sure though, might have misread, but also with up to 60 Gig built in hard drives. Yes I said 60. Yes I know that sounds outrageous. I think it is too. lol also, the sub is like 3 in in diameter, IF you get the sub package. It doesn’t even need more than “.5 CF” of porting. Honestly, haven’t you ever seen shallow mount powered subs? They’re big in classic cars and such now because you can hide them under a seat because they’re so thin. Many of those systems get decent ratings for what they are, and several have NO porting at all other than the amp’s inter-cooler and such. Also I’ve worked with audio equipment practically since i could walk and understand it.

    In closing, guys, you can’t expect a laptop to have professional auditorium quality sound (especially if you aren’t using good recordings) and that’s just because it IS STILL a laptop. And its got everything a Macbook Pro has for nearly half the price. You won’t see me complaining lol

  18. konstantinos

    hey people calm down, do not disagree and fight for silly reasons… we all must agree to the fact laptop’s speakers sucks and for sure nobody should use it… buy some headphones or connect it to some active speakers… what is the matter with you… never a laptop will satisfy us with HiFi sound… and for sure I do not suggest you to buy Dr Dre headphones…this brand name is only for design victims… are not good value for your money and I wonder why a quite reliable company such us HP cooperate with Dr Dre and not (for example) with beyerdynamic… I was except this cooperation from apple… apple users are design victims and they like Dr. Dre as well

  19. Tuberocity

    I own a HP DV6-6b47dx which is a budget gamers laptop due to the AMD 3510mx quad core proccessor and it’s accompanying 6620g graphics which are superior to even the newest 3rd gen Intel 4000 series graphics. The laptop also includes Beats Audio which IMO is superior to all laptops that have existed up until this point in time with the exception of some Toshiba laptops that have the Harmon Kardon speakers which to my ears, do sound better than HP’s built in speakers, sub or not. Mine has no sub, but headphones work great. Beats audio, and the attendant speakers do sound very good compared to the majority of laptops out there for two reasons. In my version of Beats, 4 speakers in all, Two up top, and two down on the front edge. Beats also includes 2 watts of amplification per side when the majority of laptops include one watt per side. Also, I may be wrong, but am fairly certain Beats sound manipulation program (Special 5 Band EQ) which is part of the package is hardware based, not software. This is a more expensive solution, and offers yet another option to tune the music to your liking.
    That being said, no laptop is going to match the sound quality an audiophile desires, of which I am one. I could have bought a new auto with the money I spent on 2 speakers, an amp, turntable & cartridge, and a tube preamp. Sadly, the economy forced the sale of said equipment, so Beats will have to do for the moment. lol Laughable, as Beats Audio doesn’t come close, and in fact is miles away from my audiophile setup. We’re speaking of laptops here folks, and for the purpose of enjoying music, money no object, one doesn’t rely on a laptop! However, if on a budget, Beats Audio offers a decent sound experience through a good set of headphones, and speaker-wise is one of the better laptops out there. Sykohtic above stated basically the same opinion, and I agree. For a laptop, Beats is awsome, but don’t expect a $10k audio setup.

  20. Mike

    The grounding noise reduction is a lie. I’m using the Beats ENVY 15, and grounding noise is one of the worst things about the sound. There’s a constant screetching sound and it modulates when programs open or I scroll my mouse. To add salt to the wound, the beats laptop is the only laptop I’ve ever used that had a grounding noise problem. No other laptop that I’ve used that even bothered to advertise anything about sound even had an issue with this.

  21. tom

    To all the comments I just read and so many personal opinions pertaining to the sounds for the audiobeats, I wish we could research on things that would really change the sounds of things that would really make things much better than you could ever imagine. When we put the source of technology in its proper place so we can move forward in the future to have the best sound that we could ever imagine when it comes to vibrating with sound itself.

    How to find this sound, you would have to do great research on where sound comes from. To find where it comes from, research rvbeypublications.com, if you want to change the sound of things. It is time to know what sound is.

    Have a great time researching to all your tech-savvy and personal opinions about sounds. Have fun finding out what sound really is, if you can handle the reality.

  22. MIDO

    if you had an acer with tuba subwoofer before then you will know what the subwoofer in a laptop means

    ps : i have hp dv6-7080 now

  23. Dylan

    It changes the directionality of the sound a lot. The music sounds like it is coming from your head instead of the laptop. It projects the sound to your ears.

  24. dAN

    I want to hire their Marketing Group – they have done an awesome job out of Nothing! They say there is a sucker born every minute and the responses prove it… Wonder how many of you guys also purchase the “upside down tomato grower” or Bell and Howell items from TV or perhaps the “new” Iphone 5 as long as there are impulse and “gimmick buyers” the marketing world will continue to flourish

  25. Tuberocity

    I own an HP DV6 W/Beats Audio, and compared to your avergae laptop, the sound is great! Compared to some Toshiba models which used Harmon Kardon speakers The HP fell behind slightly. I have not heard the Beats W/subwoofer, but would expect it to sound like the Toshiba did. Now these are high line Toshibas, and in the $700 starting range, or they were a year ago. You miliage may vary. However, plug headphones in! AS MANY HAVE STATED! and the beats comes into it’s own. The amp in Beats is 2 watts a side where most lappys are 1 watt a side. Im an audiophile that has owned a very expensive, carefully picked out, stereo system, no surround for audiophiles, surround is for watching movies. Beats Audio certainly does not come close to reproducing music like my 10k stereo did, but then those of you who think spending anything more than a few hundred on a stereo is insane, would not understand. If I had it, I would have spent 100k easyily and most likely triple that if I had it. My point, I have heard the best, the stuff of dreams, the equipment that sends chills down your spine when listening it’s so real! As if the artist is there in the room performing. This is the ideal of an audiophile. Beats will not give you this, nor will headphones, even the $600 and above phones, but, beats is better than most lappys, but I would not say all, and it’s fairly inexpensive in a lappy when buyin one with an AMD proccessor. Unforunately, my beats portion stopped working right after HP assumed my warranty was up, but I have news for them, it is not up, and I am sending it back should tech support not be able to repair this over the phone. I thought, by the way the 5 band Beats EQ sounds to my educated ears, (Not the profiles, those are junk) it was hardware based, not software! It does things to the music no other EQ I have used ( I’ve used quite a few over the years) does.

  26. MIDO

    i had an acer with tuba subwoofer then i got the hp dv6 with beats audio and it also has a subwoofer but compared to the acer it is very disappointing but i can live with that
    the thing is in most of songs the sound gos up and down by it self and that is the very very annoying part i tried every thing to avoid this problem but nothing worked

    1. Mitch

      Update the audio driver from the hp website. I was going nuts over this too! It’s a known driver issue and was patched months ago.

  27. Mitch

    Guys and gals. If you’re experiencing hiss /noise through the headphone jack then make sure you mute your mic/line in under audio settings because that’s where it’s coming from. I figured it out within my first 15minutes of using my laptop. I have great sound on my dv6 laptop. I agree about the rebranded eq but it’s functional and serves it’s purpose and doesn’t interfere with hdmi audio, and I think the speakers/sub are fantastic for gaming and video there’s a definite improvement in the bottom and mid ranges, music sounds great too- for a laptop. I’ve compared my sound to a current generation non-beats hp G6 laptop and also a Dell. The beats audio wins hands down.

  28. D.Persad

    I agree and disagree; I purchased an HP Pavilion dv7-4171us w/ Beats Audio and the HP Triple Bass Reflex Subwoofer back in 2010. Physical hardware aside, this audio system does produce much better sound than just you average run-of-the-mill stuff like that garbage that’s in my polycarbonate MacBook. It’s no where near perfect, barely even good, but it’s a working system that can somewhat deliver on bass, however, it’s way to high on the treble and sometimes on the mids with the standard speakers. That sort of thing usually drowns out any sort of bass. I think it would’ve actually been better had HP removed those tiny and tinny little speakers on the front, taken those “Subwoofers”, removed the numeric pad on the keyboard and mounted two of those subwoofers on each side of the keyboard. For reference, just look at the placement of the speakers on the 15″ or 17″ MacBook Pro.

    1. Kent

      Does anyone know what sound card is used in the HP Envy series? HP seems to not think it’s important to provide any specs on the soundcards included in their Beats Audio branded laptops. My current DV7 has an IDT card that will support 24/192k for 7 channels (all 7 only usable via HDMI). The card seems to work quite well with Asynchrounous USB drivers to an external headphone amp. That’s what’s important to me rather than the speakers or internal headphone amp.

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