Choosing Internal Sound Cards for a PC

From ordinary bleeping and start-up sounds to quality surround entertainment, the audio PC audio systems play an integral role in modern computing. There is a piece of hardware that helps the computer to play these sounds. Computers work in digital format, while sound comes in analog form. A sound card converts the digital data stored in your PC to a series of waves that reach your ears.

When should I get a sound card for my PC?

Two things might prompt you to start looking for a sound card.

  • You are not satisfied with the sound quality coming from your PC. An audio card with advanced features will improve your gaming and entertainment experience.
  • You have a broken sound card and replacing it is the only option.

Both of these cases suggest that you should place careful attention on finding the right card to meet your needs.

What can I look for when buying a sound card?

  • Device - The sound card used on a desktop computer is different from that of the laptop. Many laptops and some desktops have a soundcard built into the motherboard. You may disconnect the inbuilt card when upgrading to a newer one.
  • Connecting interface - Many computers use a PCI interface, which is a bus system port found on the motherboard. Make sure that you distinguish between the PCI and PCI Express (PCI-E) slots. A PCIe sound card will not go into a PCI slot.
  • Connection ports - Find a sound card that has all the ports you need to link up with your peripheral devices. At the basic level, you will need a speaker connection, keyboard/game port, and a microphone port. A USB sound card offers a connection to your USB devices. You might need an adapter where there is no USB slot.
  • Channels - A channel represents the stream of output from an audio device. A mono (single) channel system sends signals to one speaker. A stereo system serves two speakers (left and right speakers). A 2.1 stereo system supports two speakers and a subwoofer. 5.1- and 7.1-channel systems make up surround audio systems. Finding the right channel depends on how many speakers you want to pair up. Surround channels work better where your set up involves room-filling audio sounds.
  • Full-duplex - A full-duplex connection can send data in both directions at the same time. For the sound card, it means that you can play and record sounds at the same time. This feature is essential especially if you will use the PC for video chatting and recording audio.
  • Voices - It refers to the number of audio sources supported by the sound card, beyond just playing music. The feature allows your PC to have different notes for various applications, like when it gives a swoosh when you send mail