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Encyclopedia > Sound card
Sound Card

A Sound Blaster Live! Value card, a typical present-day PCI sound card
Connects to:
  • Motherboard via one of
  • Speakers or line-out via one of
    • 3.5mm stereo jacks
    • RCA S/PDIF connector or Optical I/O connectors
  • microphone or line-in via 3.5mm stereo jacks
Common Manufacturers:

A sound card (also known as an audio card) is a computer expansion card that can input and output sound under control of computer programs. Typical uses of sound cards include providing the audio component for multimedia applications such as music composition, editing video or audio, presentation/education, and entertainment (games). Many computers have sound capabilities built in, while others require these expansion cards if audio capability is desired. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1006x900, 324 KB) Summary Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Value. ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... 64-bit PCI expansion slots inside a Power Macintosh G4 The Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI Standard (in practice almost always shortened to PCI) specifies a computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a computer motherboard. ... 64-bit PCI expansion slots inside a Power Macintosh G4 The Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI Standard (in practice almost always shortened to PCI) specifies a computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a computer motherboard. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices. ... The 6-pin and 4-pin FireWire Connectors FireWire is Apple Inc. ... Categories: Stub | Computer buses | IEEE standards ... The Advanced Communications Riser, or ACR, is a form factor and technical specification for PC motherboard expansion slots. ... PCI Express (formerly known as 3GIO for 3rd Generation I/O, not to be mistaken with PCI-X) is an implementation of the PCI computer bus that uses existing PCI programming concepts and communications standards, but bases it on a much faster serial communications system. ... Creative Technology Ltd. ... Realtek Semiconductor Corp. ... The NASA Columbia Supercomputer. ... Fitting an expansion card into a motherboard An expansion card in computing is a printed circuit board that can be inserted into an expansion slot of a computer motherboard to add additional functionality to a computer system. ... Sound is a disturbance of mechanical energy that propagates through matter as a wave. ...

Contents

General characteristics

Close-up of a sound card PCB, showing electrolytic capacitors (most likely for AC coupling), SMT capacitors and resistors, and a YAC512 two-channel 16-bit DAC.
Close-up of a sound card PCB, showing electrolytic capacitors (most likely for AC coupling), SMT capacitors and resistors, and a YAC512 two-channel 16-bit DAC.

A typical sound card includes a sound chip, usually featuring a digital-to-analog converter, that converts recorded or generated digital waveforms of sound into an analog format. This signal is led to a (typically 1/8-inch earphone-type) connector where an amplifier, headphones, or similar sound destination can be plugged in. More advanced designs usually include more than one sound chip to separate duties between digital sound production and synthesized sounds (usually for real-time generation of music and sound effects utilizing little data and CPU time). Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 302 KB) Close-up of a computer sound card Downloaded from : [1] Credits : PD Photo. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1024x768, 302 KB) Close-up of a computer sound card Downloaded from : [1] Credits : PD Photo. ... Part of a 1983 Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer board. ... Electrolytic capacitors An electrolytic capacitor is a type of capacitor with a larger capacitance per unit volume than other types, making them valuable in relatively high-current and low-frequency electrical circuits. ... City lights viewed in a motion blurred exposure. ... Surface-mount components on a keydrives circuit board Surface mount technology (SMT) is a method for constructing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). ... Capacitors: SMD ceramic at top left; SMD tantalum at bottom left; through-hole tantalum at top right; through-hole electrolytic at bottom right. ... Resistor symbols (non-European) Resistor symbols (Europe, IEC) Axial-lead resistors on tape. ... In computer science, 16-bit is an adjective used to describe integers that are at most two bytes wide, or to describe CPU architectures based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. ... In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device for converting a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage or electric charge). ... A sound chip is an integrated circuit (i. ... In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device for converting a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage or electric charge). ... This article is being considered for deletion in accordance with Wikipedias deletion policy. ... An analog or analogue signal is any continuously variable signal. ... In-ear headphones Headphones (also known as earphones, stereophones, headsets, or the slang term cans) is a transducer that receives an electrical signal from a media player or receiver and uses speakers placed in close proximity to the ears (hence the name earphone) to convert the signal into audible sound... Synthesizer as used in music, is a term derived from a Greek word syntithetai < synthesis (συντίθεται < σύνθεσις) and is used to describe a device capable of generating and/or manipulating electronic signals for use in music creation, recording and performance. ...


Digital sound reproduction is usually achieved by multi-channel DACs, able to play multiple digital samples at different pitches and volumes, optionally applying real-time effects like filtering or distortion. Multi-channel digital sound playback can also be used for music synthesis if used with a digitized instrument bank of some sort, typically a small amount of ROM or Flash memory containing samples corresponding to the standard MIDI instruments. (A contrasting way to synthesize sound on a PC uses "audio codecs", which rely heavily on software for music synthesis, MIDI compliance and even multiple-channel emulation. This approach has become common as manufacturers seek to simplify the design and the cost of the sound card itself). In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device for converting a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage or electric charge). ... Wavetable synthesis is used in digital musical instruments (synthesizers) to produce natural tone-like sounds. ... Read-only memory (usually known by its acronym, ROM) is a class of storage media used in computers and other electronic devices. ... A USB flash drive. ... MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is an industry-standard electronic communications protocol that enables electronic musical instruments, computers and other equipment to communicate, control and synchronize with each other in real time. ... An audio codec is a computer program that compresses/decompresses digital audio data according to a given audio file format or streaming audio format. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Computer program. ...


Most sound cards have a line in connector where the sound signal from a cassette tape recorder or similar sound source can be input. The sound card can digitize this signal and store it (controlled by the corresponding computer software) on the computer's hard disk for editing or further reproduction. Another typical external connector is the microphone connector, for connecting to a microphone or other input device that generates a relatively lower voltage than the line in connector. Input through a microphone jack is typically used by speech recognition software or Voice over IP applications. In information theory, a signal is the sequence of states of a communications channel that encodes a message. ... Typical 60-minute Compact Cassette. ... Typical hard drives of the mid-1990s. ... A microphone, sometimes referred to as a mike or mic (both IPA pronunciation: ), is an acoustic to electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. ... Speech recognition (in many contexts also known as automatic speech recognition, computer speech recognition or erroneously as Voice Recognition) is the process of converting a speech signal to a sequence of words, by means of an algorithm implemented as a computer program. ... An overview of how VoIP works A typical analog telephone adapter for connecting an ordinary phone to a VoIP network Ciscos implementation of VoIP - IP Phone Voice over Internet Protocol, also called VoIP, IP Telephony, Internet telephony, Broadband telephony, Broadband Phone and Voice over Broadband is the routing of...


Connections

Most sound cards since 1999 conform to Microsoft's PC 99 standard for color coding the external connectors as follows: PC 99 was a specification for PCs jointly developed by Microsoft and Intel in 1998. ...

Color Function
   Pink Analog microphone input.
  Light blue Analog line level input.
  Lime green Analog line level output for the main stereo signal (front speakers or headphones).
  Black Analog line level output for rear speakers.
  Silver Analog line level output for side speakers.
  Orange S/PDIF digital output (also used as an analog line output for a center speaker and subwoofer on 5.1 or higher setups)

See also Jack (connector). An analog or analogue signal is an allergy continuous in both time and amplitude. ... A microphone, sometimes referred to as a mike or mic (both IPA pronunciation: ), is an acoustic to electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. ... Input is the term denoting either an entrance or changes which are inserted into a system and which activate/modify a process. ... Line level is the strength of an audio signal used to transmit analog sound information between audio components such as CD and DVD players, TVs, amplifiers, and mixing consoles. ... // Information processing In information processing, output is the process of transmitting information by an object (verb usage). ... In-ear headphones Headphones (also known as earphones, stereophones, headsets, or the slang term cans) is a transducer that receives an electrical signal from a media player or receiver and uses speakers placed in close proximity to the ears (hence the name earphone) to convert the signal into audible sound... Surround sound is the name for a variety of techniques for expanding and enriching the sound of audio playback by recording additional sound channels that can be reproduced on additional speakers. ... Surround sound is the name for a variety of techniques for expanding and enriching the sound of audio playback by recording additional sound channels that can be reproduced on additional speakers. ... S/PDIF or S/P-DIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format, also IEC 958 type II, part of IEC-60958. ... A digital system is one that uses discrete values (often electrical voltages), especially those representable as binary numbers, or non-numeric symbols such as letters or icons, for input, processing, transmission, storage, or display, rather than a continuous spectrum of values (ie, as in an analog system). ... In electronics, a jack is a socket. ...


Sound channels and polyphony

8-channel digital-to-analog converter Cirrus Logic CS4382 placed on Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty
8-channel digital-to-analog converter Cirrus Logic CS4382 placed on Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty

Another important characteristic of any sound card is its polyphony, which is the number of distinct voices or sounds that can be played back simultaneously and independently and the number of channels (intended as the number of distinct electrical audio outputs, which correspond to a speaker configuration such as 2.0 (stereo), 2.1 (stereo and sub woofer), 5.1 etc.). Sometimes, the terms "voices" and "channels" are both used interchangeably to indicate the degree of polyphony, not the output speaker configuration. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 794 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (853 × 644 pixel, file size: 124 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Sound card Digital-to-analog converter... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 794 × 599 pixelsFull resolution (853 × 644 pixel, file size: 124 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg) File links The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed): Sound card Digital-to-analog converter... In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device for converting a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage or electric charge). ... Cirrus Logic NASDAQ: CRUS is a fabless semiconductor supplier specializing in analog, mixed-signal, and DSP chips. ... Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro 8-channel digital-to-analog converter Cirrus Logic CS4382 placed on Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty 4-channel stereo multiplexed analog-to-digital converter Wolfson Microelectronics WM8775SEDS placed on X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro 64 MB sound memory of Fatal1ty Pro brought by two... Polyphony is a musical texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony). ...


For example, many older sound chips had a polyphony of three voices, but only one audio channel (a single mono output) where all the voices were mixed into, while the AdLib sound card had a 9 voice polyphony and 1 mono channel as a combined output. A sound chip is an integrated circuit (i. ... AdLib, Inc. ...


For a number of years, most PC sound cards had multiple FM synthesis voices (typically 9 or 18) which were mostly used for MIDI music, but only one (mono) or two(stereo) voice(s) and channel(s) dedicated to playing back digital sound samples, and playing back more than one digital sound sample required performing a software downmix at a fixed sampling rate. Modern low-cost integrated soundcards such as audio codecs like the AC'97 and even some budget soundcards still work that way: although they may provide more than than two sound output channels (typically 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound), they have no actual hardware polyphony for either sound effects or MIDI reproduction, this task being performed entirely in software (similar, in a way, to the way softmodems perform modem tasks in software rather than in hardware). This article is about the spacecraft and the mission. ... Downmixing is a term used for manipulating audio. ... An audio codec is a computer program that compresses/decompresses digital audio data according to a given audio file format or streaming audio format. ... AC97 (short for Audio Codec 97) is Intel Corporations Audio Codec standard developed by the Intel Architecture Labs in 1997, and used mainly in on-motherboards, modems, and sound cards. ... Multichannel audio is the name for a variety of techniques for expanding and enriching the sound of audio playback by recording additional sound channels that can be reproduced on additional speakers. ... A PCI Winmodem/Softmodem (on the left) next to a traditional ISA modem (on the right). ...


Today, a sound card providing actual hardware polyphony, regardless of the number of output channels, is typically referred to as a "hardware audio accelerator", although actual voice polyphony is not the sole (or even a necessary) requisite, with other aspects such as hardware acceleration of 3D sound, positional audio and real-time DSP effects being more important.


Since digital sound playback has gained importance over synthesis, modern soundcards having hardware polyphony don't actually use DACs with as many channels as voices, but rather perform voice mixing and effects processing in hardware (eventually performing digital filtering and conversions to and from the frequency domain for applying certain effects) inside a dedicated DSP, while the final playback stage is performed by an external (compared to the DSP) DAC with significantly less channels than voices (e.g., 8 channels for 7.1 audio, which can be divided among 32, 64 or even 128 voices).


History of sound cards for the IBM PC architecture

The AdLib Music Synthesizer Card, was one of the first sound cards circa 1987
The AdLib Music Synthesizer Card, was one of the first sound cards circa 1987
A sound card based on VIA Envy chip
Echo Digital Audio Corporation's Indigo IO — PCMCIA card 24-bit 96 kHz stereo in/out sound card
Echo Digital Audio Corporation's Indigo IO — PCMCIA card 24-bit 96 kHz stereo in/out sound card

Sound cards for computers based on the IBM PC were uncommon until 1988, leaving the internal PC speaker as the only way early PC software could produce sound and music. The speaker was limited to square wave production, leading to the common nickname of "beeper" and the resulting sound described as "beeps and boops". Several companies, most notably Access Software, developed techniques for digital sound reproduction over the PC speaker; the resulting audio, while functional, suffered from distorted output and low volume, and usually required all other processing to halt while sounds were played. Other home computer models of the 1980s included hardware support for digital sound playback or music synthesis (or both), leaving the IBM PC at a disadvantage when it came to multimedia applications such as music composition or gaming. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (900x725, 190 KB) Summary AdLib sound card, version of 1990 with small headphone jack. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (900x725, 190 KB) Summary AdLib sound card, version of 1990 with small headphone jack. ... AdLib, Inc. ... Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 1172 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Sound card User:Berkut VIA Envy Categories: GFDL images ... Download high resolution version (2272x1704, 1172 KB) File links The following pages link to this file: Sound card User:Berkut VIA Envy Categories: GFDL images ... A sound card based on VIA Envy24 HT-S chip The VIA Envy24 audio chipset series delivers some of the best sound quality available for personal computers. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1662x1028, 324 KB) Echo Digital Audio Corporations Indigo IO — PC card 24-bit 96 kHz stereo in/out sound card. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1662x1028, 324 KB) Echo Digital Audio Corporations Indigo IO — PC card 24-bit 96 kHz stereo in/out sound card. ... The PCMCIA is the Personal Computer Memory Card International Association, an industry trade association that creates standards for notebook computer peripheral devices. ... In computer architecture, 24-bit is an adjective used to describe integers, memory addresses or other data units that are at most 24 bits (3 octets) wide, or to describe CPU and ALU architectures based on registers, address buses, or data buses of that size. ... IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... The PC speaker is the most primitive sound system used in IBM compatible PCs, and in fact used to be the only one in use in PC games before more technologically advanced sound cards such as AdLib or the Sound Blaster were introduced as ISA plug-in cards in the... Access Software is a company who produces computer games. ...


It is important to note that the initial design and marketing focuses of sound cards for the IBM PC platform were not based on gaming, but rather on specific audio applications such as music composition (AdLib Personal Music System, Creative Music System, IBM Music Feature Card) or on speech synthesis (Digispeech DS201, Covox Speech Thing, Street Electronics Echo). It took the involvement of Sierra and other game companies in 1988 to switch the focus toward gaming. AdLib, Inc. ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... The Covox Speech Thing (also known as Covox plug) was a piece of computer periphery used to output digital sound. ...


Hardware manufacturers

One of the first manufacturers of sound cards for the IBM PC was AdLib, who produced a card based on the Yamaha YM3812 sound chip, aka the OPL2. The AdLib had two modes: A 9-voice mode where each voice could be fully programmed, and a lesser-used "percussion" mode that used 3 regular voices to produce 5 independent percussion-only voices for a total of 11. (The percussion mode was considered inflexible by most developers, so it was used mostly by AdLib's own composition software.) IBM PC (IBM 5150) with keyboard and green screen monochrome monitor (IBM 5151), running MS-DOS 5. ... AdLib, Inc. ... Yamaha YM3812 The Yamaha YM3812 also known as the OPL2 (OPL is an acronym for FM Operator Type-L) is a sound chip (i. ...


Creative Labs also marketed a sound card at the same time called the Creative Music System. Although the C/MS had twelve voices to AdLib's nine, and was a stereo card while the AdLib was mono, the basic technology behind it was based on the Philips SAA 1099 which was essentially a square-wave generator. Sounding not unlike twelve simultaneous PC speakers, it never caught on the way the AdLib did, even after Creative marketed it a year later through Radio Shack as the Game Blaster. The Game Blaster retailed for under $100 and included the hit game title Silpheed. Creative Technology Ltd. ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... The Philips SAA 1099 sound generator was a 6-voice sound chip used by some 1980s devices, notably: The SAM Coupé British-made computer The Creative Music System (C/MS) and Game Blaster cards by Creative Labs, which were apparently the same hardware. ... This article is about Silpheed Silpheed: The Lost Planet Silpheed is a video game series developed by Game Arts. ...


Probably the most significant historical change in the history of sound cards came when Creative Labs produced the Sound Blaster card. The Sound Blaster cloned the AdLib, and also added a sound coprocessor to record and play back digital audio (presumably an Intel microcontroller, which Creative incorrectly called a "DSP" to suggest it was a digital signal processor), a game port for adding a joystick, and the ability to interface to MIDI equipment (using the game port and a special cable). With more features at nearly the same price point, and compatibility with existing AdLib titles, most first-time buyers chose the Sound Blaster. The Sound Blaster eventually outsold the AdLib and set the stage for dominating the market. Creative Technology Ltd. ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... A digital signal processor (DSP) is a specialized microprocessor designed specifically for digital signal processing, generally in real-time. ... A PCI based soundcard with a DA-15 connector The game port is the traditional connection for video game input devices on an x86-based PCs. ... Joystick elements: 1. ...


The Sound Blaster line of cards, in tandem with the first cheap CD-ROM drives and evolving video technology, ushered in a new era of multimedia computer applications that could play back CD audio, add recorded dialogue to computer games, or even reproduce motion video (albeit at much lower resolutions and quality). The widespread adoption of Sound Blaster support in multimedia and entertainment titles meant that future sound cards such as Media Vision's Pro Audio Spectrum and the Gravis Ultrasound needed to address Sound Blaster compatibility if they were to compete against it. Until the early 2000s (in which AC'97 audio became more widespread and eventually usurped the SoundBlaster as a standard due to its low cost and the fact that it is usually integrated into the motherboard), Sound Blaster compatibility is a standard that many other sound cards support to maintain compatibility with many games and applications released. The CD-ROM (an abbreviation for Compact Disc Read-Only Memory (ROM)) is a non-volatile optical data storage medium using the same physical format as audio compact discs, readable by a computer with a CD-ROM drive. ... ... A computer game is a game composed of a computer-controlled virtual universe that players interact with in order to achieve a defined goal or set of goals. ... Media Vision was an American electronics manufacturer of primarily computer sound cards and CD-ROM kits, operating from 1990 to approximately 1995 in Fremont, California. ... Pro AudioSpectrum 16 with SCSI CD-ROM interface The Media Vision Pro AudioSpectrum (commonly referred to as PAS) family of personal computer sound cards included the original 8-bit Pro AudioSpectrum (1991), the 8-bit Pro AudioSpectrum Plus, 16-bit Pro AudioSpectrum 16 and 16-bit Pro Audio Studio. ... The GF1 chip Gravis Ultrasound or GUS is a sound card for the IBM PC compatible system platform, made by Canadian-based Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd. ... The term compatibility has the following meanings: In telecommunication, the capability of two or more items or components of equipment or material to exist or function in the same system or environment without mutual interference. ...


Industry adoption

When game company Sierra On-Line opted to support add-on music hardware (instead of built-in hardware such as the PC speaker and built-in sound capabilities of the IBM PCjr and Tandy 1000), the concept of what sound and music could be on the IBM PC changed dramatically. Two of the companies Sierra partnered with were Roland and Adlib, opting to produce in-game music for King's Quest 4 that supported the Roland MT-32 and Adlib Music Synthesizer. The MT-32 had superior output quality, due in part to its method of sound synthesis as well as built-in reverb. Being the most sophisticated synthesizer they supported, Sierra chose to use most of the MT-32's custom features and unconventional instrument patches to produce background sound effects (birds chirping, horses clopping, etc.) before the Sound Blaster brought playing real audio clips to the PC entertainment world. Many game companies would write for the MT-32, but support the Adlib as an alternative due to the latter's higher market base. The adoption of the MT-32 led the way for the creation of the MPU-401/Roland Sound Canvas and General MIDI standards as the most common means of playing in-game music until the mid-1990s. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The PC speaker is the most primitive sound system used in IBM compatible PCs, and in fact used to be the only one in use in PC games before more technologically advanced sound cards such as AdLib or the Sound Blaster were introduced as ISA plug-in cards in the... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The Tandy 1000 was a line of more or less IBM PC compatible home computer systems produced by the Tandy Corporation for sale in its Radio Shack chain of stores. ... Roland Corporation TYO: 7944 is a Japanese manufacturer of electronic musical instruments, electronic equipment and software. ... AdLib, Inc. ... Kings Quest IV screenshot Kings Quest is an adventure game series made by the American computer game company Sierra On-Line (currently known as Sierra Entertainment). ... The Roland MT-32 is a MIDI synthesizer module first released in 1987 by the Roland Corporation. ... AdLib, Inc. ... The MPU-401, where MPU stands for MIDI Processing Unit, is an important but now obsolescent standard for MIDI interfaces on the PC platform. ... Roland SC-55 Sound Canvas The Roland SC-55 Sound Canvas is a MIDI synthesizer module released in 1991 by Roland Corporation. ... General MIDI or GM is a specification for synthesizers which imposes several requirements beyond the more abstract MIDI standard. ... For the band, see 1990s (band). ...


Feature evolution

Most ISA bus soundcards are half-duplex, meaning they could not record and play digitized sound simultaneously, mostly due to inferior card DSPs. Later ISA cards like the SoundBlaster AWE series and Plug-and-play Soundblaster clones eventually became full-duplex and supported simultaneous recording and playback, but at the expense of using up two IRQ and DMA channels instead of just one, in effect making them no different from having two half-duplex sound cards. Many PCI bus cards do not have these limitations and are mostly full-duplex. This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... 64-bit PCI expansion slots inside a Power Macintosh G4 The Peripheral Component Interconnect, or PCI Standard (in practice almost always shortened to PCI) specifies a computer bus for attaching peripheral devices to a computer motherboard. ...


For years, soundcards had only one or two channels of digital sound (most notably the Sound Blaster series and their compatibles) with the notable exception of the Gravis Ultrasound family, which had hardware support for up to 32 independent channels of digital audio. Early games and MOD-players needing more channels than the card could support had to resort to mixing multiple channels in software. Even today, the tendency is still mixing multiple sound streams in software, except in products specifically marketed for gamers or professional musicians, with a sensible difference in price from "software based" products. The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before PC audio became commoditized, and backward-compatibility became less of a feature. ... The GF1 chip Gravis Ultrasound or GUS is a sound card for the IBM PC compatible system platform, made by Canadian-based Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd. ... For other uses, see Mod. ...


Professional soundcards (audio interfaces)

Professional soundcards are special soundcards optimized for low latency multichannel sound recording and playback, including studio-grade fidelity. Their drivers usually follow the ASIO protocol for usage with professional sound engineering and music software, although ASIO drivers are also available for a range of consumer-grade soundcards. ASIO (Audio Stream Input Output) is a protocol for low-latency digital audio specified by Steinberg. ...


Professional soundcards are usually described as "audio interfaces", and sometimes have the form of external rack-mountable units using USB 2.0, Firewire or optical connectors to offer sufficient data rates. The emphasis on such products is in general on offering a large number of input and output connectors, hardware support for multiple input and output sound channels, as well as higher sampling rates and fidelity compared to a consumer soundcard. In that respect, their role and intended purpose is more similar to a specialized multi-channel data recorder and real-time audio mixer and processor, roles which are possible only to a very to a limited degree with typical consumer soundcards. The 6-pin and 4-pin FireWire Connectors FireWire is Apple Inc. ...


On the other hand, certain features of consumer soundcards such as support for EAX, optimization for hardware acceleration in video games or real-time ambience effects are secondary, inexistent or even undesirable on professional soundcards, and as such audio interfaces are not recommended for the typical home user. EAX may refer to: Environmental audio extensions, a number of digital signal processing presets for audio, found in Sound Blaster sound cards EAX mode, a mode of operation for cryptographic block ciphers a processor register on the IA-32 microprocessor architecture ‹ The template below has been proposed for deletion. ... Namcos Pac-Man was a hit, and became a universal phenomenon. ...


The typical "consumer-grade" soundcard is intended for generic home, office and entertainment purposes with emphasis on playback and casual use, rather than to cater the needs of audio professionals. In response to this Steinberg (the creators of audio recording and sequencing software, Cubase and Nuendo) created a protocol that specified the handling of multiple audio inputs and outputs. Steinberg is a German musical equipment and software company. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Nuendo is Steinbergs media production suite with audio and MIDI capabilities. ...


In general, consumer grade soundcards place a number of restrictions and inconvenieces that would be unacceptable for an audio professional. One of a modern soundcard's purposes is to provide an AD/DA converter (Analog to Digital/Digital to Analog). However, in professional applications there is usually a need for enhanced recording or Analog to Digital conversion capabilities.


One of the limitations of consumer soundcards is their comparatively great sampling latency, which is the time it takes for the AD Converter to complete the conversion of a sound sample and transfer it to the computer's main memory through the various internal interfaces and buses.


Consumer soundcards are also limited regarding the effective sampling rates and bit depths (compare Analog sound vs. digital sound for more information) and a restricted number and usability of input channels: professional studio recording usage typically requires more than the two usual stereo channels which consumer soundcards provide, and more accessible connectors for different input sources, unlike the variable mixture of internal -and sometimes virtual- and external connectors found in consumer-grade soundcards. The tone or style of this article or section may not be appropriate for Wikipedia. ...


Sound devices other than expansion cards

Integrated sound on the PC

In 1984, the IBM PCjr debuted with a rudimentary 3-voice sound synthesis chip, the SN76489, capable of generating three square-wave tones with variable amplitude, and a pseudo white noise channel that could generate primitive percussion sounds. The Tandy 1000, initially being a clone of the PCjr, duplicated this functionality, with the Tandy TL/SL/RL line adding digital sound recording/playback capabilities. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The SN76489 is a TTL compatible, 4 channel Programmable Sound Generator (PSG) IC from Texas Instruments. ... Amplitude is a nonnegative scalar measure of a waves magnitude of oscillation, that is, magnitude of the maximum disturbance in the medium during one wave cycle. ... Calculated spectrum of a generated approximation of white noise White noise is a random signal (or process) with a flat power spectral density. ... The Tandy 1000 was a line of more or less IBM PC compatible home computer systems produced by the Tandy Corporation for sale in its Radio Shack chain of stores. ...


In the late 1990s, many computer manufacturers began to replace plug-in soundcards with a "codec" (actually a combined audio AD/DA-converter) integrated into the motherboard. Many of these used Intel's AC97 specification. Others used cheap ACR slots. A codec is a device or program capable of performing encoding and decoding on a digital data stream or signal. ... 4-channel stereo multiplexed analog-to-digital converter WM8775SEDS made by Wolfson Microelectronics placed on X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro sound card An analog-to-digital converter (abbreviated ADC, A/D or A to D) is an electronic integrated circuit (i/c) that converts continuous signals to discrete digital numbers. ... In electronics, a digital-to-analog converter (DAC or D-to-A) is a device for converting a digital (usually binary) code to an analog signal (current, voltage or electric charge). ... A motherboard is the central or primary circuit board making up a complex electronic system, such as a modern computer. ... Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC, SEHK: 4335), founded in 1968 as Integrated Electronics Corporation, is an American multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... AC97 (short for Audio Codec 97) is Intel Corporations Audio Codec standard developed by the Intel Architecture Labs in 1997, and used mainly in motherboards (also known as on-board or integrated), modems, and sound cards. ... The Advanced Communications Riser, or ACR, is a form factor and technical specification for PC motherboard expansion slots. ...


As of 2005, these "codecs" usually lack the hardware for direct music synthesis or even multi-channel sound, with special drivers and software making up for these lacks, at the expense of CPU speed (for example, MIDI reproduction takes away 10-15% CPU time on an Athlon XP 1600+ CPU). Athlon is the brand name applied to a series of different x86 processors designed and manufactured by AMD. The original Athlon, or Athlon Classic, was the first seventh-generation x86 processor and, in a first, retained the initial performance lead it had over Intels competing processors for a significant... Die of an Intel 80486DX2 microprocessor (actual size: 12×6. ...


Nevertheless, some manufacturers offered (and offer, as of 2006) motherboards with integrated "real" (non-codec) soundcards usually in the form of a custom chipset providing e.g. full ISA or PCI Soundblaster compatibility, thus saving an expansion slot while providing the user with a (relatively) high quality soundcard. For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ... The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was for many years the de facto standard for audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, before audio has been commoditized. ...


Integrated sound on other platforms

Various computers which do not use the IBM PC architecture, such as early home computers, the Commodore C64 and Amiga or Apple's Macintosh, and workstations from manufacturers like Sun have had their own motherboard integrated sound devices. In some cases, most notably in those of the Commodore Amiga and C64, they provide very advanced capabilities (for the time of manufacture), in others they are minimal systems. Some of these platforms have also had sound cards designed for their bus architectures which of course cannot be used in a standard PC. Children playing on a Amstrad CPC 464 in the 1980s. ... Commodore has several meanings: Commodore International is a computer company Commodore 64 and Amiga were home computers Commodore (rank) is a naval rank Commodore (yacht club) is the senior officer of a yacht club The Holden Commodore is a type of car The Opel Commodore is a type of car... Close_up of C64 Commodore 64 (C64, CBM 64) was a popular home computer of the 1980s. ... The original Amiga 1000 (1985) with various peripherals The Amiga is a family of personal computers originally developed by Amiga Corporation. ... Apple Inc. ... The first Macintosh computer, introduced in 1984, upgraded to a 512K Fat Mac. The Macintosh or Mac, is a line of personal computers designed, developed, manufactured, and marketed by Apple Computer. ... SGI O2 Workstation To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... Commodore has several meanings: Commodore International is a computer company Commodore 64 and Amiga were home computers Commodore (rank) is a naval rank Commodore (yacht club) is the senior officer of a yacht club The Holden Commodore is a type of car The Opel Commodore is a type of car... The original Amiga 1000 (1985) with various peripherals The Amiga is a family of personal computers originally developed by Amiga Corporation. ... Close_up of C64 Commodore 64 (C64, CBM 64) was a popular home computer of the 1980s. ... In computer architecture, a bus is a subsystem that transfers data or power between computer components inside a computer or between computers and typically is controlled by device driver software. ...


Sound cards on other platforms

While many of Apple's machines come with on-board sound capabilities, their bestselling Apple II also suffered from the lack of sound devices, also utilizing a beeper like the PC. To get around the problem, a company called Sweet Micro Systems developed the Mockingboard (a name-play on mockingbird), which is essentially a sound card for the Apple II. Early Mockingboard models ranged from 3 voices and mono where as some later ones were 6 voices and stereo. Some software supported the use of two Mockingboard cards which allowed 12 voice music and sound. A 12 voice, single card clone of the Mockingboard called the Phasor was also made by Applied Engineering. More recently a company called GSE-Reactive.com produced a 6 voice clone called the Mockingboard v1 and also has plans to clone the Phasor. The Mockingboard was a sound card for the Apple II family of microcomputers built by Sweet Micro Systems. ... Genera Melanotis Mimus Nesomimus Mockingbirds are a group of New World passerine birds from the Mimidae family. ... In physics a Phasor describes the phase of a particle in a simple harmonic motion or a wave motion. ... GSE-Reactive. ...


USB sound cards

While not literally sound cards (since they don't plug into slots inside of a computer, and usually are not card-shaped (rectangular), there are devices called USB sound cards. These attach to a computer via USB cables. The USB specification defines a standard interface, the USB audio device class, allowing a single driver to work with the various USB sound devices on the market. Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices. ...


Other outboard sound devices

USB Sound Cards are far from the first external devices allowing a computer to record or synthesize sound. For example, devices such as the Covox Speech Thing were attached to the parallel port of an IBM PC and fed 6- or 8-bit PCM sample data to produce audio. Also, many forms of professional soundcards (audio interfaces) have the form of an external Firewire or USB unit, usually for convenience and improved fidelity. The Covox Speech Thing (also known as Covox plug) was a piece of computer periphery used to output digital sound. ...


Also, soundcards utilizing the PCMCIA cardbus factor are popular in the early days of portable computing where laptops and notebooks do not have onboard sound. Even today, while rare, these cardbus audio solutions are still used in certain setups where the onboard sound solution of the notebook or laptop is not up to par with the owners' expectations or requirements, and are particularly targeted at mobile DJs, with units providing separated outputs allowing both playback and monitoring from one system. DJ or dj may stand for Disc jockey, dinner jacket The DeadJournal website, or Djibouti. ...


Driver architecture

To use a sound card, the operating system typically requires a specific device driver. Some operating systems include the drivers for some or all cards available, in other cases the drivers are supplied with the card itself, or are available for download. // An operating system (OS) is a set of computer programs that manage the hardware and software resources of a computer. ... Windows XP loading drivers during a Safe Mode bootup A device driver, or a software driver is a specific type of computer software, typically developed to allow interaction with hardware devices. ...

  • DOS programs for the IBM PC often had to use universal middleware driver libraries (such as the HMI Sound Operating System, the Miles Audio Interface Libraries (AIL), the Miles Sound System etc.) which had drivers for most common sound cards, since DOS itself had no real concept of a sound card. Some card manufacturers provided (sometimes inefficient) middleware TSR-based drivers for their products, and some programs simply had driver/middleware source code incorporated into the program itself for the sound cards that were supported.
  • Microsoft Windows uses proprietary drivers generally written by the sound card manufacturers. Many makers supply the drivers to Microsoft for inclusion on Windows distributions. Sometimes drivers are also supplied by the individual vendors for download and installation. Bug fixes and other improvements are likely to be available faster via downloading, since Windows CDs cannot be updated as frequently as a web or FTP site. Vista uses UAA.
  • A number of versions of UNIX make use of the portable Open Sound System. Drivers are seldom produced by the card manufacturer.
    • Most present day Linux-based distributions make use of the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA). Up until Linux kernel 2.4, OSS was the standard sound architecture for Linux, although ALSA can be downloaded, compiled and installed separately for kernels 2.2 or higher). But from kernel 2.5 onwards, ALSA was integrated into the kernel and the OSS native drivers were deprecated. Backwards compatibility with OSS-based software is maintained, however, by the use of the ALSA-OSS compatibility API and the OSS-emulation kernel modules.
  • Mockingboard support on the Apple II is usually incorporated into the programs itself as many programs for the Apple II boots directly from disk.

Instructions on how to use the directory command. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Miles Sound System is a two-dimensional sound software system primarily for computer games and used mostly as an alternative for low-end audio chipsets. ... Terminate and Stay Resident (TSR) is a system call in DOS operating systems that returned control to the system as if the program had quit, but kept the program in memory. ... Microsoft Windows is the name of several families of proprietary software operating systems by Microsoft. ... Proprietary software is software with restrictions on using, copying and modifying as enforced by the proprietor. ... Universal Audio Architecture (UAA) is an initiative unveiled in 2002 by Microsoft to standarize the class driver architecture for audio devices in modern Microsoft Windows operating systems. ... Filiation of Unix and Unix-like systems Unix (officially trademarked as UNIX®) is a computer operating system originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s by a group of AT&T employees at Bell Labs including Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Douglas McIlroy. ... The Open Sound System (OSS) is a standard interface for making and capturing sound in Unix operating systems. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section can be improved by converting lengthy lists to text. ... A screenshot of alsamixer ALSA (an acronym for Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) is a Linux kernel component intended to replace the original Open Sound System (OSS) for providing drivers for sound cards. ...

See also

Electronics Portal

Image File history File links Nuvola_apps_ksim. ... Computer hardware is the physical part of a computer, including the digital circuitry, as distinguished from the computer software that executes within the hardware. ... A3D (Aureal 3-Dimensional) is a technology developed by Aureal that delivers sound with a three-dimensional effect through headphones, two or even four speakers. ... A PCI based soundcard with a DA-15 connector The game port is the traditional connection for video game input devices on an x86-based PCs. ... In electronics, a jack is a socket. ... MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is an industry-standard electronic communications protocol that enables electronic musical instruments, computers and other equipment to communicate, control and synchronize with each other in real time. ... AdLib, Inc. ... There are very few or no other articles that link to this one. ... Creative Technology Ltd. ... Realtek Semiconductor Corp. ... Sensaura, a division of Creative Technology, provides sophisticated 3D audio technology for the interactive entertainment industry. ... Turtle Beach is both a sound card and headphone manufacture and direct competitor with Creative Labs branded Sound Blaster. ... Note: USB may also mean upper sideband in radio. ... A sound card based on VIA Envy24 HT-S chip The VIA Envy24 audio chipset series delivers some of the best sound quality available for personal computers. ...

References

This article was originally based on material from the Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, which is licensed under the GFDL. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Bold text // “GFDL” redirects here. ...


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  Results from FactBites:
 
Computer Sound Card Help (775 words)
Sound cards have several uses and has become a standard option which comes with computers today.
Generally, most computer sound cards will have a MIDI port which allows for several musical instrument devices to be connected to the computer such as a MIDI keyboard or a synthesizer.
However, for cards that do include this as a feature, this allows for the volume to be turned up and down on a non amplified output such as a set of headphones.
What is sound card? - A Word Definition From the Webopedia Computer Dictionary (272 words)
Sound cards are necessary for nearly all CD-ROMs and have become commonplace on modern personal computers.
Sound cards enable the computer to output sound through speakers connected to the board, to record sound input from a microphone connected to the computer, and manipulate sound stored on a disk.
In addition, most sound cards are Sound Blaster-compatible, which means that they can process commands written for a Sound Blaster card, the de facto standard for PC sound.
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