Let’s close our eyes for a moment and imagine that our personal computers, laptops and other gadgets would work completely silently … This means we would have to give up listening to music, watching movies, games and much more. It’s good that this is not so, and in this article we will consider in detail why a sound card is needed in a computer.
Sound card definition
A sound card is a computer module designed for input / output of an audio signal.
Principle Sound card operation
Typically, audio cards use a digital-to-analog converter to convert audio signals from digital to analog. They are output to any acoustic and sound reproducing devices, be it speakers, headphones, etc. Modern advanced units include not one sound chip, but several, which is done to ensure the highest possible data speed and perform several functions simultaneously.
Types of sound cards
There are two types of audio cards – integrated and discrete. External connect via FileWire or USB. Internal when assembling a computer by attaching expansion slots inside the system unit. The main drawback of built-in devices is the huge risk with poor-quality PC power, that is, power surges and when the power supply fails. External ones are more practical, which is explained by external volume controls. Moreover, this type of unit can work with a laptop computer, as well as with a laptop or netbook.
In the case of an integrated card, its functions are performed by a processor that processes signals and converts sound. A discrete card has a personal sound processor, and some models even have their own memory.
So why do you need an external sound card, if there is a built-in? It’s simple, with its help you can achieve the highest quality and cleanest sound, as well as gain access to a number of important settings.
PCI sound card
A PCI sound card is an integrated sound card — a device installed inside a computer. It is a type of integrated sound card, along with ISA and PCIe sound cards.
External Sound Card
An external sound card is a sound card designed for a mobile recording studio or performances , the only way out is to purchase a laptop and an external sound card. Sound cards for laptops are equipped with USB or FireWire interfaces ( aka IEEE 1394 ) .
Where is sound card installed?
Often, an audio device is included in the expansion slot, connected via an external port, or integrated into the motherboard. As for the latter option, this makes assembly much cheaper and faster than an expansion board with an imperceptible loss of sound reproduction quality for the user. Some devices are needed only for audio professionals or for use in the event of an integrated failure.
The unit is installed on a modern motherboard in PCI and PCIe slots. A standard computer card has an interface, access to it is possible on the rear panel, where there are various input and output ports, as well as on the sides and in the upper part of the case, which depends on the individual structure of the PC.
For computers whose improvements are at the level of replacing the hard drive or increasing RAM, you can use a discrete audio device that connects via a standard USB port.
What is an external sound card?
So, for easy and high-quality sound recording you need a sound card. The sound card is equipped with an analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converter (ADC / DAC), which instantly “translates” the recorded sound into the computer language and vice versa. The inverse transform is necessary to listen to the signal processed by the computer, and so that you hear all the sounds without noticeable delay.
When converting an analog signal to digital, part of the information is lost. A good external sound card can convert sound with minimal loss, and this quality is evidenced by characteristics such as, for example, the sampling frequency, which we will discuss later.
3.5mm analog connectors
Almost all audio cards have a number of ports for connecting microphones, headphones, speakers and other auxiliary devices to them. But there are devices that include a larger number of ports for output and input, designed for advanced users and their tasks.
Among the most common audio connectors are:
- Pink – audio output for microphone.
- Blue is linear.
- Green – output for headphones or speakers.
- Orange – for a subwoofer or center channel.
- Black – for surround sound.
- Gray is for side speakers.
Also worth mentioning is the MIDI game port, which is a 15-pin connector designed to connect additional devices.
Sound Card Tips
If you plan to make such a purchase soon , then you should definitely take into account several relevant tips in this vector (which one to choose).
If you are a gamer, then you should pay attention first of all to cards that allow you to verify in practice the existence of the so-called “presence effect”. The most popular products in this direction are EAX brand products.
For home use, most often experienced people recommend purchasing the Creative SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro model, users agree that it is optimal for good sound quality, as they say, in everyday life.
It is difficult for musicians to give competent advice, since the choice is huge. Everything will depend on the range of connected tools.
We carefully examined this topic and now you know exactly what the sound card is for and what advantages it gives us, and we, in turn, can say with confidence that the capabilities and functions of the speakers, sound card, and the entire system as a whole, are directly affect the quality of sound reproduction.
Most motherboards are equipped with built-in audio boards, they have special chips, and the ports are displayed in absolutely any place, it depends entirely on the wishes of the user, design and technical capabilities of the device. However, you can use third-party sound cards, and external audio devices, buy and put them separately.
Just keep in mind that the potential of integrated devices is sufficient for users who are not fans of strong and powerful audio playback. Therefore, whether you need an external sound card is up to you, based on your own needs and wishes.