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Sound card for computer

Sound card is an integral attribute of a multimedia computer. Previously, when PCs were ancient and terribly slow, you had to buy a sound card for a computer separately, select the necessary type of connector, install it, and then carefully configure it in the right program. Who remembers what DOS applications are, he will understand me 🙂

Now – everything is much simpler! Sound cards for computers are divided into several categories:

made in the form of a separate printed circuit board, installed inside the system unit (discrete)
integrated (on board), which are an integral part of the motherboard
external (for example – USB) solutions
I suggest, as always, “walking” through all these categories and reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of these structures.

Let’s start with the built-in (onboard) sound cards of the computer. The photo below is a typical example of such a solution:

Integrated sound card in the motherboard Integrated sound card in the motherboard

This is a microchip soldered on the motherboard itself. Very often these are budget sound chips from Realtek (RTL AC97). There are solutions and more impressive (more expensive), with six-channel sound, hardware support for a variety of codecs, etc. The general rule here is this: the more expensive the motherboard, the more high-quality sound chip soldered to it.

The standard set of computer sound card connectors on the back of the system unit is as follows:

In general, their purpose is as follows:

pink input – for connecting a microphone (mic)
green output (line out) – for connecting passive or active speakers (with its own power source). Simply put – columns.
blue input (line in) – for recording sound from an external source (music center, home theater, etc.)
Sometimes the colors of the connectors on the built-in sound cards may vary. There is no standard in this sense.

One of the problems with built-in sound cards is that by themselves (at the manufacturer’s test bench) they can show very good results, but after soldering them to the motherboard, the situation can change radically. The fact is that during operation, the computer system unit “emits” electrical “noises” (interference), which very much affect the final sampling result produced by the built-in sound card.

The coding of the signal here is done by the central processor, which additionally loads it (not so much, but still). If the CPU is heavily loaded, then the sound may begin to “stutter” 🙂 Also for such solutions, the playback of the bass musical component may be a problem, since the built-in sound cards of the computer cannot (for the most part) adequately reproduce low frequencies and we have a “booming” or “Choking” sound on the “bottom”.

Although, for the needs of the average user, this is still quite enough, but if you want to hear a really high-quality and “clear” sound, then you need something else.

For example, a discrete sound card, which is inserted into the PCI slot as a separate expansion card (as, for example, a network adapter). I remember I had one (sold, sorry!) – “Creative-Sound-Blaster-Audigy 5.1”.

External sound cardExternal sound card

Such cards have their own specialized sound processor and I really, immediately felt the difference. The sound is clear (24 bits), no audible interference (double echo, etc.) is observed when recording from the microphone, you can connect the 5.1 home theater sound system with a subwoofer (low-frequency amplifier), everything is as it should.

Historically, the company Creative is considered the undisputed authority on the market of acoustic systems and sound cards for computers. This is not an advertisement, but at least keep this fact in mind when going to the store 🙂

I must say right away that you need to buy good speakers (preferably in a wooden case) or high-quality headphones for such external sound cards. The latter are at my place from the Koss company, the Koss Ur / 29 model.

Headphones for PC Headphones for PC

They even distinguish low frequencies that simply “cut off” when listening to music through low-quality products. This is not a new model, but I paid 40 dollars for them at the time.

I would also like to note that the headphones are very comfortable to sit on the head. This is not as unimportant as it might seem at first glance! Previously, I was fond of listening to audio books and I had the usual computer headphones for $ 10 (in appearance – very good, by the way). And after several hours spent on their heads, their ears simply “fell off”, and my present Koss are not felt at all, like something extraneous and oppressive!

I emphasize again that with a poor (cheap) playback device, even with the highest quality computer sound card, you will not be satisfied with the result.


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