9 easy ways to improve your laptop's sound

Just say no to lousy laptop audio. With a few inexpensive upgrades, your notebook can sound like a million bucks.

Audio, the USB way: M-Audio Transit USB sound card

M-Audio Transit USB sound card

We usually think of USB as a way to attach keyboards, mice and printers to a laptop, but it can also be used to upgrade the laptop's audio ecosystem. M-Audio's Transit card plugs into a USB port and replaces the notebook's audio chip and amplifier, creating a 24-bit sound superstar that leaves CD-quality sound in the dust.

The device comes with a slew of high-end software that takes about 10 minutes to install. It works with Macs and PCs, although not Vista systems, and includes a one-year warranty. Once it's set up, Transit takes over your notebook's audio, delivering clearer, more accurate and lively sound.

You can connect an MP3 player or other external audio source, headphones or speakers to the Transit via standard audio jacks or high-quality SPDIF digital optical cables; with the latter you've got the best sound this side of a desktop PC.

The downside is that the device is a bit clunky for a small notebook, but it's worth it if you're a digital audiophile on the go.

Price: $80
Available from: M-Audio

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