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Expand the audio capabilities of your computer with internal and external sound cards. Internal options connect to the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) or PCIe on the motherboard and provide ports for speakers, microphones, gaming controllers and CD players. External models plug into a USB port on the machine and provide 3.5mm input and output and coaxial and optical Sony®/Phillips® digital interface (S/PDIF) connections. Both internal and external audio cards convert the computer language into audible sounds. For those who want to hear the nuances of their movies, videos and games, these cards provide additional capabilities and include the ability to record sound and use external speakers and audio systems.
Adding a Sound Blaster® or similar expansion card helps boost your existing computer or audio system setup. TV cards send signals from set-top boxes to speaker systems for enhanced sound when watching shows and movies. Gaming cards help improve background and in-game noises so players hear more of what is going on around them. Look for cards that include ports for microphones and other input devices and add or remove sounds during video editing sessions. Add a simple sound card to existing computer setups and improve system and general music and video audio.
Sound cards come with different specs and features that enhance audio for production and other professional recordings. Pair models with 7.1 channels with compatible speaker systems for full audio that maximizes the extra channels. Options with higher signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) help ensure that the sound produced is higher than the background noise from hardware. Card SNRs range from 80 to 130dB, with higher decibels providing sharper sound. Look for audio cards with low total harmonic distortion (THD) ratings for clear sound that has less noticeable clipping and intermodulation. Cards with higher sample rates send more data over time, resulting in increased audio quality. Add compatible decoders, controllers and other sound card accessories for additional audio modulation and manipulation. Pair Sound Blaster and similar models with add-on cards that boost graphics and system performance for enhanced video quality.
External USB sound cards connect to your existing computer and provide additional ports and jacks for adding speakers and other components. Models with 3.5mm output jacks let you connect headphones and simple speakers for solo listening. A 3.5mm input jack provides space for microphones when creating voice overs and presentations. Some USB sound cards include noise reduction chips that help send clearer sound to external speaker and surround-sound systems. Look for devices that let you control treble and bass for personalized sound. Control knobs for microphone and music volumes assist with balanced recordings. External cards with monitor and echo volume controls let users control the sound coming through the speakers and headphones. Many USB cards help reduce popping, static and crackling from original recordings for high-quality sound through the speakers.