Speakers sound quality

Other than images showing nicely labelled little speaker modules flanking the main board, audio is one of the few aspects I haven’t seen covered yet.

I guess they are downwards firing, but could they be a step up in power and fidelity from the generally awful standard of most Windows laptops, following in the steps of the webcam?

I wonder if there would be any market for slotting in higher quality speakers if desired

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Audio

Stereo 2W speakers with 5cc of backvolume generate loud and clear audio. The dual MEMS microphones are connected to a hardware privacy switch, giving you full control.

From:

On the same page, in the animation under Expansion Cards there are downwards facing holes which I assume are for the speakers.

As for upgrading the audio, I wouldn’t be surprised if the quality is mostly limited by the space in the laptop. Looking online, it seems like laptops with good audio quality also have way bigger speakers than are in the Framework laptop. Maybe a future larger model laptop would have room for expansion in this area.

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Cheers, sounds good enough! Weirdly I can’t find that ‘Audio’ section when I go to the DIY link - thanks for pasting it

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I’m really curious on how good the speakers are. As I’m really tired of the crappy speakers on nearly 99% of all window laptops. Or if there will be ways we can upgrade the speakers. Any info directly from framework would be great.

We maximized the physical size of the speakers in the space available, with 5cc of backvolume and large transducers. We feel good about the both the quality and loudness.

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That sounds promising. Thank you for the answer!

Macbook quality speaker perhaps? That would be amazing

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tl;dr framework laptop speakers are relatively good (top 20%), but not as good as mbp15 (top 1%) and not as good as x1c9 (top 7%). I am hoping for a speaker module that will make the speakers even better, the biggest con of the framework laptop speakers is the lack of bass and downward firing speakers.

Personally, I am not happy with the speakers. Notebookcheck did a review on the speakers, and they found the following:

Framework Laptop 13.5 audio analysis
(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (78.2 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 13.9% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (10.1%)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (6%)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 5.2% higher than median
(+) | highs are linear (6.1%)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (15.6%)
Compared to same class
» 16% of all tested devices in this class were better, 5% similar, 79% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 21%, worst was 51%
Compared to all devices tested
» 20% of all tested devices were better, 4% similar, 76% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

vs macbook pro 15" 2018:

Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X) audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (85 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(+) | good bass - only 4.7% away from median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (8.7%)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 1.8% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (3.7%)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.6% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (5.9%)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (6%)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 18%, worst was 41%
Compared to all devices tested
» 0% of all tested devices were better, 0% similar, 100% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

x1 carbon gen 9:

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G9-20XWCTO1WW audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (80.36 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 14% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (13.5%)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4.2% away from median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (7%)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.1% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (3.9%)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (11.8%)
Compared to same class
» 9% of all tested devices in this class were better, 5% similar, 86% worse
» The best had a delta of 7%, average was 19%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 7% of all tested devices were better, 2% similar, 92% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 65%

Basically, the macbook pro is the gold standard currently for laptop speakers. It has good loudness, good bass, good mids, good highs. The framework laptop speakers have good (but not as good as mbp) loudness, average bass, good mids, good highs.

I was looking for a media consumption laptop but did not want to go the macbook pro route. I am hoping for (and am willing to pay) for a speaker module that has better bass, has upwards firing speakers, and is even better (say, top 5 percentile speakers).

I’m a weirdo though, I like listening to music on my laptop when I’m on the go and I don’t like wearing headphones unless I have to because my ears get tired.

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Just had my first Zoom call with the Framework, and audio was quieter and a bit muffled sounding compared to my Thinkpad Yoga where the speakers are upward facing near the hinge. A bit disappointing, since I’m on a few hours of Zoom calls a day. Had to turn the volume up all almost all the way to be able to hear clearly. I expect I’m going to want to use with a headset most of the time, unless this was an anomaly or I can figure out a better way to position it so that I can hear better. I don’t think I’ve had any other laptop with downward facing speakers, so maybe it just takes some getting used to.

Overall, I’m very pleased with the notebook. It’s so much faster than my Thinkpad, lighter, and I even like the keyboard better. But, count me in as someone who hopes the next incarnation can figure out a little better speaker placement/angling.

@Mlaps Had a similar issue with Zoom, found that adjusting the audio setting in the Zoom app settings from where it was set by default (near the middle on the Ubuntu version of the client) to about 80% was much better (with system volume also about 80% all was clear) - perhaps check there to see if that helps?

@A_L Thanks for the tip, on Windows at least, it looks like that is just a pass through to the system volume, Moving one adjusts the other. I’ll continue playing around with it though.

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I suspect with downward firing speakers the surface the laptop is resting on also matters a lot. A large desk-size mouse pad will attenuate the sound a lot more than a glass tabletop.

Yeah, I’ll play around with the environment a little more and see if the desk surface helps. I might have had it so that the speakers were kind of floating in air and had nothing to bounce off of.

Environment always matters for sound. That goes double for a laptop with speakers that face downward. Upward-facing speakers are less sensitive to environment, but they have their own drawbacks including acting as an intake for dust and dirt.

If you have your Framework on a hard surface, the audio is crisp and clean but lacks bass. Maximum volume is limited; it’s loud enough for desktop use but isn’t up to the task of filling a room. You will want a separate speaker for that. Good overall; a subwoofer would make it better but there is no room for one in a thin and light laptop.

Sound will be more muffled if you put it on a soft surface such as a chair or mousepad. You should be careful about using the Framework on such a surface in any case because it will limit air circulation; the system takes in air from a vent on the bottom. It will be fine for casual use, but if you plan to run anything that will push the system hard you should make sure that the airflow is unblocked.

Floating in air, the sound will seem less loud than on a suitable surface. The surface reflects some of the sound from the downward-facing speakers to the user. In my tests it also seemed a tad less crisp, though not as much as on the soft surface.

I’ve played around with this a bit more and had some surprising results. Floating in air the sound has actually been louder than while sitting at my wood desk. Could just be that was in a small room where sound was echoing off of things more. I’m not noticing any difference when the laptop is sitting fully on my desk vs. when I put it so that the speakers hang off the edge. Voices still come out quiet and a little muffled when on Zoom. I have the speakers turned up to a significantly higher level than on my older Thinkpad and I’m still straining a little to hear. It is completely workable but wearing a headset is now preferred for most calls.

Chiming in here – I find the audio quality to be relatively good (for a laptop), and was surprised initially especially by the clean bass, though there’s a lack of separation. But this is in Linux (Fedora). I just compared with Windows when typing this up, which seems considerably worse, in my opinion. In comparison, treble is overemphasized to the point it sounds shrill, and that clean bass is no longer there.

Probably can be fixed with an equalizer/drivers/etc., or maybe my Windows audio is off, unsure. But seems like the speakers are capable of decent sound quality from using it in Fedora.

Brad’s Hacks improves the Matebook’s sound quality using Equalizer APO here (look under the “Frequency Response Correction” tab), and he recently received the Framework laptop, so maybe he’ll do something similar. I don’t daily drive Windows now, but if anyone wants to look into improving Windows sound quality, that’s a ticket.

Recent daily driven reference points:

  • XPS 15 9550
  • Huawei Matebook X Pro (2018)
  • listen to music regularly on JBL LSR305 Reference monitors
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The Framework’s speakers are possibly the only aspect of this laptop where I find myself wanting for more. Even at 100% volume, there are times when I’d like to get more output (e.g. trying to play music with other environment background noise).

This seems like low-hanging fruit in terms of swap-in components. Would love to see Framework prioritize easy wins like this for owners.

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compared to the dell 55xx line i’ve used for work (precision i think), an older 13" MBPro and the older lenovo laptops i’ve been using, the speakers on the frame.work are really good. I haven’t compared to some more audiophile setups, but I was impressed with how well they sounded. this was youtube and some local files on linux (kali live usb and Slackware) that I was listening on. To amp the volume, i’m used to a mixer that lets you set volume to more than 100% or vlc. I was impressed that the speakers sounded good even when not on a hard surface, as most downward facing have to bounce off something to sound good. Not really any sort of test, but general observatoin is, they are better than i expected. Though, some sweet upgrades would be nice. I’d be curious what the output limitations would be, wiring in a module from a usb-c port vs only upgrading the speakers. I mean, have a module that is a DAC/Amp that exposes speaker connectors inside the laptop, so its a semi-permanent module, that would allow an upgraded audio source. More powwah and stuff.

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Give Equalizer APO a try. Increase the gain…but not so much that it clips.

The speakers themselves I found to be quite good, but the laptop case seems to have created a kinda wide band of resonance between 350 to 500 Hz, at least when measured using the laptop’s own microphone (not the best testing setup, I’ll admit). I used the following youtube video + Audacity to record the resulting sound: 20 - 20,000 Hz Audio Sweep | Range of Human Hearing - YouTube

You can see the resulting “frequency response” below, and the two large peaks on the left are around 350 to 500 Hz.

For me this resonance was really painful as it made listening to speech difficult. These frequencies amplify the fundamental frequencies of the human voice, making it harder to pick out consonant and vowel sounds created by the higher pitched overtones.

For benefit of doubt, the resonance might also be exacerbated by my room, which is really echoey to begin with. Either way, I wanted to remove this resonance.

I remedied this issue on Arch Linux using Pipewire (a drop in replacement for JACK, PulseAudio, and ALSA, so you should be able to use it right away) and EasyEffects (a plugin for Pipewire)

See this wiki for more details: PipeWire - ArchWiki

Using EasyEffects I added an EQ on the output with the following settings:

4 Bands, IIR (on the right hand side)

360Hz: Q4.00, -7.72 dB
420Hz: Q4.00, -5.15 dB
450Hz: Q4.00, -4.53 dB
480Hz: Q4.00, -8.75 dB

I set this up really roughly without proper measurements. I’m sure with a better microphone and room I’d be able to get a more accurate frequency response, but this rough EQ was enough to give me a listenable setup and I’m finding podcasts / educational videos much more enjoyable to listen to again.

Has anyone else found a similar issue regarding the resonance of the laptop case? If no one else has this issue, I suppose it’s just caused by my room.

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