Best Laptop for Music Listening & Music Streaming [2023 Reviewed]

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All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

ThumbnailLaptops for Music Listening & StreamingProRec ScorePrice
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5

9.2
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Microsoft Surface Pro 8

Microsoft Surface Pro 8

8.6
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Apple MacBook Air M2

Apple MacBook Air M2

8.5
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Introduction

Music streaming is a very common use case for laptops these days. Fortunately, it doesn’t require a lot of processing power, saving you the hassle of comparing benchmarks to get the best performance possible. Although, you shouldn’t completely disregard the processor either, since no one wants a machine that stutters with daily use.

When looking for a laptop for listening to music, a very important factor is the quality of the headphone jack and sound card. Most users neglect this aspect of a laptop, but it can completely make or break your experience. If you’ve ever heard a background hiss sound when using headphones, then that’s likely because of a poor-quality headphone jack.

A good headphone jack also means you won’t have to get an external DAC just to listen to music. Although it should be noted that if you studio grade headphones and want to make sure the audio you’re listening to is as faithful to the original as possible, then an external DAC is necessary. If you’re into music production, then an Audio Interface would get the job done as well (since those include DACs).

However, not all headphones use a traditional headphone jack, so it’s also important to consider the Bluetooth quality of your laptop. Some laptops have poor Bluetooth connection because of which your headphones might disconnect unexpectedly. If you ever feel that the built-in Bluetooth of your laptop isn’t good enough, then you can always get a USB Bluetooth adapter.

While on the topic of connectivity, it’s also important to mention that your laptop should either have a good Wi-Fi card or an Ethernet jack. If you are streaming music, you wouldn’t want it to constantly buffer as that will ruin the experience.

A lot of people also like to listen to music on their laptop’s speakers. You need to make sure that they sound good at all volumes, as poor-quality speakers can sound distorted at loud volumes. Additionally, your laptop should also have spatial or 3-dimensional audio as it adds depth to songs and improves your listening experience. Having the ability to adjust equalization from the settings is also a plus point.

Lastly, you should also look for a laptop with a high-capacity RAM kit. Usually, a lot of people like to do work or some other tasks on their computer while listening to music. Therefore, it is important that your laptop doesn’t stutter or crash during this since music streaming platforms like Spotify or even YouTube can take up a lot of memory. We recommend going for at least 8 GB, but 12 GB or more should be ideal.

Best Laptop for Music Listening & Music Streaming Reviews

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Apple MacBook Air M2
8.5/10Our Score
8.5Average Score
MacBook Air M2
Price to Performance
9
Processor
10
RAM
8
Storage
7
Connectivity
8
Additional Features
9

Apple’s MacBook Air is one of the most popular laptops since 2020 when Apple switched to ARM architecture. The latest model with the M2 chip provides a meaningful upgrade over its predecessor as it has 18 percent better CPU performance, 35 percent better GPU performance, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine. This means that not only will you be able to handle daily tasks well, but also some advanced tasks without any issues.

The ARM-based MacBook Airs are as silent as it gets. They don’t have any fans so they produce virtually no sound. The Air M2 does have some throttling, as we found it to perform at about 80 percent of its maximum performance when pushing the machine by running multiple benchmarks. However, it stabilized after that and there were no further issues.

This problem didn’t exist with the M1 MacBook Air, but even after throttling its performance, the M2 managed to perform better than most other laptops in its price range including the M1. The machine didn’t overheat at all, even without an active cooling system. When it comes to music streaming/listening you won’t even notice this, but it’s worth a mention.

You get 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD with the MacBook Air M2. Having Apple’s excellent memory management means that you don’t run into any issues while multitasking. We tested the MacBook with Spotify and YouTube in the background simultaneously, while also running a memory-intensive benchmark. The MacBook barely even stuttered which just goes to show how good Apple’s RAM management is.

256 GB is also enough storage even if you store music files locally on your laptop. You will even be able to download a few programs along with your OS without an issue. However, we recommend that if you aren’t streaming, then you should upload all your audio files to the cloud or an external storage device so you have access to them whenever you want. That way, your entire 256 GB SSD can be dedicated to storing other applications and programs.

The display on the MacBook Air is excellent. It is a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina 1080p panel. It supports HDR 10 with Dolby Vision and ProRes which means you get excellent color accuracy and a great viewing experience. With 500 nits of brightness and a high-quality panel, you will never have any trouble using this laptop even under direct sunlight.

The port selection on the MacBook includes 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports, 1 MagSafe charging port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Sadly, you don’t get a USB-A, HDMI, or Ethernet port, but this is standard for most MacBook models released in the past few years.

The inclusion of the MagSafe charging is well regarded by fans and critics alike as it ensures your laptop isn’t damaged if you trip over the charger. Many of the previous models of the MacBook Air didn’t have MagSafe so it was a pleasant surprise when Apple reintroduced it.

The MacBook has one of the best headphone jacks out of all laptops in the market. In fact, even a lot of music producers skip on getting an external DAC just because the built-in headphone jack is good enough. If you have a couple of hundred dollars saved up for getting a DAC, we recommend using that to get a solid pair of headphones such as the Airpods.

If you don’t want to use headphones, you’ll find the quad-speaker setup of the MacBook to be excellent. It provides excellent spatial audio, which is tuned so well that we didn’t even adjust the EQ, despite having the option to do so.

We found the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections to be excellent. Both of them had great range and we never had a dropped connection. We were pleased to find that there weren’t any wireless connectivity issues that were present on the MacBook Pro.

Some additional features of the MacBook Air included a pretty nice backlit keyboard, inclusion of both a fingerprint scanner and facial recognition, and a high-quality 1080p webcam.

The dimensions of the MacBook Air are 11.97 x 8.46 x 0.44 inches and it only weighs 2.7 pounds which is very similar to its predecessor. You do get an updated design with different colors which is a welcome upgrade, especially considering the design on the M1 model was a bit boring and outdated.

You get a best-in-class battery life with the MacBook Air as it lasts us about 18 hours which is right about what we got from its predecessor as well. We were easily able to use this laptop for 2 days straight on a single charge.

Overall, the MacBook Air with the M2 chip is a powerful and feature-filled device. It is an enticing offer, especially for music listening, because of having an excellent audio output setup. Not to mention, it’s just a great general-purpose laptop due to the amazing battery life and excellent among other great features.

MacBook Air Benefits

Excellent performance for the price with the M2 processor, despite not having any fans for cooling.

You get a high-quality headphone jack, as well as an excellent Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection.

You get best-in-class battery life which easily lasts you around 2 days and that too in a very portable package.

MacBook Air Drawbacks

Due to the absence of fans and a powerful processor, the MacBook Air does show some minor thermal throttling which wasn’t present in its predecessor.

The MacBook Air skips on many ports such as HDMI and USB-A, something that is prevalent on other MacBooks as well.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5
9.2/10Our Score
9.2Average Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5
Price to Performance
10
Processor
9
RAM
9
Storage
9
Connectivity
10
Additional Features
8

The Lenovo IdeaPad series is famous for providing great features at an affordable price. The IdeaPad Flex 5 comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U which is an 8 core 16 thread processor with a maximum turbo boost frequency of 4.3 GHz. You get a 5 percent performance boost compared to the Ryzen 7 4700U on its predecessor. It even beats out the i7-1165G7 found on the Intel variant of the Ideapad. During our testing, the IdeaPad performed about 30 percent slower than the MacBook Air, despite coming in at a much more affordable price point.

The cooling system on the Ideapad was also pretty decent. We only heard the fans turn on when the laptop was booting up, otherwise, the machine remained pretty quiet. It did produce a bit of heat, but not to the point of overheating. When running benchmarks, we barely encountered any thermal throttling and the IdeaPad performed smoothly. There is an exhaust located on the hinge of the laptop that further helps in heat dissipation.

You get 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 1 TB SSD with the IdeaPad. You won’t encounter any problems when it comes to multitasking or memory management. When compared to the MacBook you get slightly better memory management because of having double the RAM. You can store all your music files locally with 1 TB of storage and still have space left over to store other programs.

The 15.6″ FHD 1080p glossy IPS display of this laptop is a great quality panel. It produces rich colors and has great contrast. The only slight problem we had was that the display only had a brightness of 250 nits and a glossy surface because of which it struggled under direct sunlight. Otherwise, you won’t have any problems using it in other environments.

The highlight of this laptop is that it is a 2-in-1 machine. You can use it in 4 different orientations such as in tablet mode. There is also a stylus included with the laptop, which along with the touch screen makes navigating through the UI a breeze. It is also a much more convenient form factor for listening to music.

Lenovo laptops have always had great port selection and the IdeaPad is no different. You get 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1 USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 which can be used to charge and connect an external monitor, 1 HDMI 1.4b, 1 smart card reader, a headphone jack, and a charging port. You get all the ports required to connect any kind of accessory.

The included headphone jack was also right about what we expected. There was no background static when listening to audio via headphones. You will definitely not require an external DAC for casually listening to music.

You get an upward-facing speaker unit which makes sure that the audio isn’t muffled when you place the laptop down on any surface. We recommend switching up the default EQ settings to make the music sound a bit fuller, although the default settings aren’t bad either.

You get both WiFi-6 and Bluetooth 5.0 which means that the wireless capability of this laptop is excellent. During our testing, the Bluetooth connection didn’t cut off even once. The range and speed of the WiFi card was also as expected from a laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 has many features that make it stand apart from the competition. Some of these include access to both a fingerprint scanner and facial unlock, a full-sized backlit keyboard and a full copy of Windows 11 included out of the box.

The Lenovo IdeaPad was fairly portable for a 2-in-1 device coming in at 14.1 x 9.4 x 0.82 inches and weighing 3.97 pounds. We didn’t have any problem carrying it around in our backpack or even in our hands.

We found the Lenovo IdeaPad to last around 6 hours on a single charge which wasn’t enough to get us through the entire day of usage. It was still decent considering that this is a 2-in-1 device and you should easily get through more than half the day on a single charge.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 offers one of the best values that we have seen. It has great performance for the price and doesn’t skip out on any essential features either. The 2-in-1 form factor is great for listening to music, especially when you have the laptop in tablet mode. The included stylus just seals the deal for us.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Benefits

You get excellent performance, especially considering the price range with the Ryzen 7 5700U which even rivals much more expensive laptops.

Having a 2-in-1 device means that you can navigate through the UI much more easily, especially using table mode while listening to music.

The IdeaPad has an excellent port selection with a high-quality headphone jack and all the other necessary ports to connect different kinds of accessories.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Drawbacks

The glossy display didn’t get bright enough to properly be used under direct sunlight.

You only get 6 hours of battery life which wasn’t quite enough to get us through an entire day of usage.

All text and image links lead to Amazon unless stated otherwise. All product scores are based on ProRec’s in-house scoring model

Microsoft Surface Pro 8
8.6/10Our Score
8.6Average Score
Surface Pro 8
Price to Performance
8
Processor
9.5
RAM
9
Storage
8
Connectivity
8
Additional Features
9

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is another 2-in-1 device that can be a great option for listening to music. It comes with an Intel Evo Platform Core i7, which is a very similar processor when compared to the 11th generation i7 on the IdeaPad. The main difference is that the Evo Platform CPUs are specifically tuned by Intel to ensure that you get stable performance, while also being fairly efficient. As a result, you get a machine that performs smoother and cooler. You also get a 12 percent performance boost compared to the 10th generation i7 found on the Surface’s predecessor.

The main difference between the Surface Pro and X series is the inclusion of a full-fledged laptop processor versus an ARM processor. The reason Microsoft can pull this off is that the Pro series has a great cooling system. You get a set of fans that ensure there is enough ventilation to avoid overheating. This works perfectly, as the machine never thermal throttled in our testing. We also didn’t hear the fans turn up once, which is a great upgrade over its predecessor which had loud fans. The combination of Intel’s excellent tuning and the great cooling system means that the machine will barely ever heat up.

You get 16 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 512 GB SSD with the Surface Pro. The high RAM capacity, along with great processor optimization meant that the laptop was able to keep multiple programs open in the background. We tested this machine with a music streaming program running in the background, along with a bunch of Chrome tabs opened, and the Surface Pro didn’t struggle at all. 512 GB of storage will also be enough if you wish to download and store some music files locally, along with a couple of other programs.

The 13-inch display of the Surface Pro is definitely its highlight. Being a 2-in-1 device, it does support touch along with stylus support. Unfortunately, the Stylus and keyboard are sold separately and can be very costly. However, if you can get those, then you will truly have a unique user experience.

Even without the additional accessories, you get a lot with the included display which is very sharp and color accurate. Moreover, it has a 120 Hz refresh rate, which makes the laptop feel much smoother when compared to the other two devices. The only downside of this is that it consumes a lot of battery, but you can switch to the regular 60 Hz if you value that more.

The port selection on this laptop is about standard for this form factor with 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, a headphone jack, and a magnetic Surface connector for charging, which is similar to Apple’s Magsafe.

The headphone jack rivals the MacBook’s when it comes to sound quality. You will definitely not require an external DAC with this device either. The speakers on the Surface pro sound excellent, but are a bit quiet for our liking. Personally, we never had to use them above 80 percent loudness, but the maximum volume was a bit less when compared to some other laptop speakers. The stock EQ settings were perfect and you won’t have to adjust them. The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth also worked perfectly, and we had no complaints in this regard.

The Surface 8 Pro has many other features that make it stand apart from the competition such as a best-in-class webcam and a full copy of Windows 11 Home and Microsoft 365 included out of the box.

Being a Windows tablet, the Microsoft Surface is fairly portable. Its dimensions are ‎9.06 x 12.22 x 1.97 inches and it only weighs 1.96 pounds. It is way lighter than any other laptop we have tested, although once you factor in the keyboard, then the laptop becomes a bit heavier. But even then it’s still as light as many other ultrabooks on the market such as the MacBook Air.

The battery life of the Surface Pro is a bit weaker than we expected. It lasts 8 hours on a single charge at 60 Hz. This is great as it easily gets us through an entire day without needing to plug it in. However, once you switch to 120 Hz you only get 6 hours of battery life which is a bit disappointing. However, considering that you have the option to switch to either of these refresh rates, we think that isn’t much of an issue. Most users won’t be using their devices away from a wall outlet for more than 6 hours, and even if they do, they can always switch to 60 Hz to get as much battery life as possible. You can also top up your battery with the included fast charger if you are ever in a pinch.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 is one of the best premium devices for listening to music. It offers a unique tablet and laptop hybrid form factor that is excellent for content consumption. Not to mention, it offers you a lot of processing power in a portable package which makes it a great fit on our list.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Benefits

You get an excellent 2-in-1 form factor, which is not only more convenient for listening to music but is also very portable.

The 120 Hz refresh rate makes your laptop feel a lot more smooth when compared to the competition.

You get an excellent quality headphone jack and speakers which are tuned perfectly to make sure your music listening experience is excellent.

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 Drawbacks

You don’t get the keyboard or stylus included in the box. If you choose to purchase these separately then it will significantly drive up the cost of the device.

The battery life of the laptop drops significantly once you switch from the regular 60 Hz to 120 Hz.

Verdict

music listening and music streaming laptop quantitative analysis comparison scores

Based on our scoring model, you can see the highest variance in the Price to Performance, Storage, and Connectivity categories. The Lenovo IdeaPad is the most affordable device from the bunch, yet performs really well, helping it get a perfect score in Price to Performance. The Surface Pro 8 on the other hand charges a premium for the truly unique Windows tablet experience so it only scores an 8 in the category.

The IdeaPad has 4 times the storage of the MacBook Pro helping it score a 9 in the category compared to a 7. It also provides all the ports that you need because of which it scores a 10 in the Connectivity category, whereas the MacBook and Surface only have Thunderbolt 4 so they score an 8.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 remains stable in all categories and never scores below an 8. It has a perfect score of 10 in both the Price to Performance and Connectivity categories which we have discussed earlier. It has the lowest score of an 8 in the Additional Features categories. Since this is an affordable laptop, it can’t pack as many features as some of the most expensive devices. Despite that, the other two laptops only lead this category by a variance of 1 point.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 provides a similar 2-in-1 laptop experience when compared to the IdeaPad as it has an average score variance of 0.6 points. Both machines are similar in terms of performance in the RAM category, scoring a 9. The Surface even manages to beat the IdeaPad in Processor and Additional Features categories by 0.5 and 1 point respectively. Where it falls behind in is the Price to Performance and Connectivity categories, scoring an 8 compared to the IdeaPad scoring a perfect 10.

According to our testing and scoring model, the best laptop for listening to music is the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 with a total average score of 9.2. The 2-in-1 form factor is truly the best when it comes to music listening. Using your device as a tablet, while also having the functionality of a full fledged laptop is very convenient. Not to mention, the IdeaPad also backs that up by having excellent performance, port selection, memory and storage. It also achieves all this while not breaking the bank. You will truly not be disappointed with the IdeaPad if you go for it as your laptop for listening to music.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most important aspect of choosing a Music Streaming/Listening Laptop?

The most important aspect of a laptop for listening and streaming music is the quality of the headphone jack and sound card. It is very important that you can listen back to your music at the highest quality. A good quality headphone jack also ensures that there is no background “hiss” during audio play back. It will also allow you to use high quality headphones at their maximum audio quality.

How much should I spend on a Music Steaming/Listening Laptop?

You don’t need to spend a fortune on a good laptop for listening to music. You can get a great computer for around 750 dollars. However, if you are looking for additional features, such as a 2-in-1 design, then you should be prepared to spend a bit more.

Does a new Laptop come with YouTube Premium or Spotify subscriptions?

Almost all new laptops in the market do not come with a YouTube Premium or Spotify subscription. You will have to purchase it separately from their respective websites.

Will my Laptop be compatible with Wireless/Bluetooth Speakers/Headphones for Music?

Most laptops will have support for BlueTooth right out of the box. You can confirm this by checking under the “Connectivity” section of a laptop’s product page. The devices that we have recommended do have this functionality built-in. However, if you find out that your laptop doesn’t have support for BlueTooth or that it isn’t working properly, you can always buy a BlueTooth adapter that can plug into your device via USB-A.