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sound card manufacturer Creative Labs, Turtle Beach, Montego

computer speaker manufacturer Altec Lansing and Logitech

When buying speakers look at watts the ratio 4:1 means 4 speakers and 1 sub woofer

An expansion board that enables a computer to manipulate and output sounds. 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.
Nearly all-sound cards support MIDI, a standard for representing music electronically. 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.

Sound cards use two basic methods to translate digital data into analog sounds:

FM Synthesis mimics different musical instruments according to built-in formulas.
Wavetable Synthesis relies on recordings of actual instruments to produce sound. Wavetable synthesis produces more accurate sound, but is also more expensive.

A sound card has several uses and has become a standard option, which comes with computers today. The following is a listing of some of the various functions of the sound card:

Audio CDs.
Audio conferencing.
Business presentations.
Creating and playing Midi.
Educational software.
Record dictations.
Voice recognition
Watch movies.

MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface developed in the 1980s allows various musical instruments to communicate or play harmoniously. MIDI is a limited method of playing sounds, as it will only be capable of playing the instruments available to your sound card. This is why MIDI files may sound better or worse on different computers.
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. Before connecting any of these devices to the computer you will need to purchase a separate cable which takes the MIDI/Game port connection into the standard 5-pin DIN midi connector.

MP3 is a new technology using MPEG compression shrinking down that data by a factor of 12 and still gain CD-like quality. Factors of up to 24 and more still allow for a quality significantly better than just reducing linearly the sampling frequency and the number of bits. This is realized by "perceptual coding" techniques taking into account the limited resolution of the human ear. Maybe you already heard about MP3. As interest in audio over the Internet increased, MPEG Layer-3 files, music files that are capable of storing long audio tracks with CD quality sound in a fraction of the space, appeared. With this ease of piracy, it's a shock to the entire music industry. Additional Information about MP3 can be found on our MP3 page.

The following is an example of what a generic sound card may look like from the back of your computer.

Generally there will be a total of four connections:
MIDI / Game port is a port which is most commonly used for the game port which will allow you to connect a game paddle and or Joystick to the computer. This port will also allow you to connect a device such as a MIDI keyboard to the computer, additional information on this can be found in the Midi section.

Line In connector allows you to connect a Cassette Tape, CD or record player to the computer.

Line Out connector is the location which the speakers or headphones will be connected to get sound out of the sound card.

Volume control is generally no longer found on sound cards. 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.

Microphone allows you to connect a microphone to the computer and record your own sound files.
Today you will find several manufacturers whom are beginning to identify each of the above ports by symbols on the back of the sound card. Below you will find examples of what these symbols mean.

You may also find that these ports are color-coded. Which means the ports on the back will be the same color as the wire that you are connecting to them.



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