With the multimedia craze sweeping the world, users are quickly adding sound boards to their PCs. In the past, very few programs could take advantage of a sound board. Today, however, that situation is changing quickly. Newer programs use sound effects, audio and video and video instructions.
Although sound cards differ in price and quality, most sound cards provide the following capabilities:
- Recording via an external microphone
- Recording via a line-in source
- Audio playback
There are several ways sound cards differ from one another. Some points to consider when you look for a sound card include:
- If possible, listen to play back on computers with each card.
- There are 16-bit and 32-bit sound cards. The 32-bit sound cards, which are slightly more expensive, use more data to describe the notes and, thus, the sound is better. If you can, buy a 32-bit card.
- Some sound cards come bundled with powered speakers (with a small amplifier built into each speaker), which sometimes saves some money over a separately purchased card and speakers. With others, you must buy the speakers separately, which could be am advantage if you are plugging right into a stereo that has its own speakers.
- Most sound cards today provide a SCSI-compatible interface you can use to attach optical drives to the card.
- Sound cards purchased for general use should be “Sound Blaster compatible".”
- Better sound quality comes from boards using “wave-table synthesis” than comes from those using “FM synthesis.”
- Sound boards with a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) move processing from the CPU to the DSP on the sound board, freeing up your CPU to perform other tasks.
A sound board is simply a card you install into one of the PC’s expansion slots.
Installing A Sound Card
The steps you must perform to install a sound card are very similar to those you perform for other cards. To begin, power off and unplug your PC system unit. Next, remove the system unit cover, and discharge any static from your body. Locate an unused expansion slot and remove the slot’s metal cover. Gently insert the sound card into the slot, securing the card in place with the screw you just removed from the slot cover.
Replace and secure the system unit cover. Next, connect your external speakers to the sound card’s speaker port. The, if you are using an external microphone, connect the microphone to your sound card’s microphone port. Plug in and power your PC and the external speakers. When your system starts, you will need to install device-driver software and run other programs in order to use the card.
If your sound card does not work or another card stops working when you use your sound card, your PC has a hardware conflict. The most common conflict is selecting a sound-card interrupt-request (IRQ) that is already in use by a different card. In addition, most sound cards require an I/O address as well as DMA channel. To change a sound card’s settings, you may have to change jumpers or DIP switches that reside on the card or use software to change the card settings.
As interest in multimedia explodes around the PC world, a sound card has become a must-have item for PC users.
- A sound card is a hardware board that lets your PC record and play back sounds. The sound card can play back sounds using eternal speakers or headphones. In addition, you can connect the audio-out line to a stereo amplifier or other device with line-level inputs.
- With a sound card, you can record sounds using an external microphone or an audio-in source. Using the audio-in source, you can record music from a stereo or other device with line-level outputs.
- When you install a soundcard, you can experience three types of conflicts: an IRQ, I/O address, or DMA channel conflict.