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It is an expansion card which enables the computer to produce sound and it also transfers this sound to an external sound device. These cards are generally used as plugged-in cards, but they can also be integrated into the motherboard. But the cards which are attached externally to motherboard, are more reliable as compared to integrated ones, because we can change them when needed. The external sound cards are capable of creating high quality sound as compared to integrated cards.
Before the invention of sound cards, computers were not capable of producing any kind of sound except "beep". Beep was a sound which was used to represent the warning or completion of an operation. In years prior to 1980's, the computer manufacturers created sound for games by using beeps of different types. In 1980 several manufacturers introduced the sound cards which can create sound. Thus, with the invention of these cards, the computer's sound producing capability increased enormously. Since then, tremendous work has been done in the field of sound, hence, the sound cards of present age are much more capable of producing high quality sound. These cards gave several functionalities to a computer regarding sound, now, a computer can also capture and record sound from an external source.
Structure And Working:
There is difference between the computer data and sounds. The data in computers is in the form of bits i.e. digital information, while the sounds are analogue information. Thus, a sound card basically converts the digital information from computer into the analogue sounds. Sound card is a printed circuit board with several components on it, but it uses the following two components to interchange the digital and analogue information:
Analogue to digital converter (ADC):
This is the component which converts the incoming analogue signal into the digital signal which is fed into computer. When a sound wave enters into the sound card through a microphone, the ADC converts this analogue information into digital information by taking precise measurements of sound wave. Then it is stored in computer hard disk.
Digital to analogue converter (DAC):
This component converts the outgoing digital signal into the analogue signal which is then processed by any sound device. The sound clip which is stored in hard disk, when intended to be played, DAC converts this digital information into the analogue information. This analogue information is then passed on to any sound playing device like speaker or headphone, which plays it.
There are also some other components of sound card. Which are following:
ISA or PCI interface:
This interface is used to connect the card to the motherboard.
Input and output connections:
Following are some input and output ports, each of them is represented by its specific color:
- Digit Out: It is of white color, it used to connect the surround sound devices and loudspeakers.
- Sound In: It is of blue color. It is used to connect external audio sources like CD player and record player.
- Microphone: It is of pink color. It is used to connect microphone.
- Sound Out: It is of green color. It is used to connect the
speakers and headphone.
Digital Video Processor:
It is sound card's own processor which is specialized in performing the calculations for digital and analogue conversions.
Sound card has its own memory which is used for storing the information about the current operations. Thus, it can provide faster data processing.
Following are some major uses of a sound card:
- It is used for playing games sound.
- It is used for play sound from movies.
- It can be used for audio conferencing.
- It can be used to assist the business presentations.
- It can be used in sound recognition.
- It is used for recording sound.
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