Any software that uses sound needs a sound card. Listening to MP3 songs, playing computer games, watching movies from vcd, listening to songs from audio cds etc, requires a sound card. In a sound card the following components and features are usually found.
Components of a sound card
- Digital signal processor (DSP) this is an essential chip in the sound card
- Digtal to Analog Converter (DAC) This converter converts the digital music from cds etc to analog form, which the speakers can understand
- Analog to Ditial (ADC). This converter converts the analog signals from a microphone to a digital format that can be stored or transmitted by the computer.
- Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) This is a connecter used to connect the sound card to external MIDI devices such as a synthesizer, musical instruments.
- Game Port. This game port is integrated in the sound card to connect games related external devices such as Gamepad or Joystick.
- Line In or Line Out. These are used to connect devices such as speakers, head sets, microphones etc.
In todays computers, the sound cards are not external. Most of them are integrated within the motherboard. These are called Integrated motherboards. An external sound card ususally can be fitted to a PCI slot. They are Full Duplex type. Which means the sound card is capable of sending and receiving audio simultaneously. Therefore if you are buying external sound cards, do not buy the half duplex sound cards. These half duplex cards can only send or receive audio at a time. Many computer games requires DirectSound 3d. Therefore ask your dealer whether your sound card supports these before buying. Instead of buying 16 bit sound cards buy 24 bit or higher bit sound cards.