Buying a Sound Card

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Buying a Sound Card

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-The Sound Card comes in many flavors for those who want quality sound or recording. Most of us just want a good Full Duplex sound card that can play music CD's or the common MIDI file over the internet. When looking for a sound card you can buy a 10.00 16 bit ISA card and have no problem playing most files. But when you do this you will also run low on features and be more dependent on the software rather than the hardware of the sound card. The sound card is by no means required when building or upgrading a computer but the multimedia experience cant be overlooked.

-Buy no less than a 16 bit card, and look for one in PCI format if possible. The sound card isn't real expensive but there is no problem paying 200.00 for the surround sound cards with all the toys.

(What To Look For)

-Some key components to look for in a new sound card should be at least:

  • Enhanced Wave Audio

  • Enhanced MIDI, 32 Voice Polyphony

  • 3D Capabilities for games and other multimedia

  • Full Duplex operation for Video Conferencing and Telephony

  • Possibly studio functions for recording


-The most common brand of sound card out there is the Sound Blaster. This has been the PC format card for the longest time. Most Sound Boards are modeled after the Sound Blaster. Here are some Cards that are the most recommended:

-Creative Labs, offers the best in sound and a good price. Both cards are great and would recommend the Live Value if your funds are low.

  • High End - Sound Blaster Live
  • Mid Range- Sound Blaster Live Value!

-Yamaha, offers great sound in PCI format and fairly cheap.

  • Mid Range- PCI Sound Card



-So now you have a Sound Card you need speakers. There are a ga-zillion of them out there. I personally have a pair of $15.00 cheap multimedia speakers. They do not offer the best sound in the world but do the job. If you want to have a more meaningful experience with your Sound Card investment you might want to look into surround sound speakers and a subwoofer. This is really nice when playing 3D games such as Quake II.

  • Mid Range-Creative Labs 2 Speaker System
  • High End- Pc Works Surround Sound,Sub Woofer



-If you want a nice way to record your voice you need a decent microphone to go along with the Sound Card. This is usually a very cheap item and can be found easily at Wal-Mart.



-The joystick is a must have if you like games or have kids in the house. The joystick really tops off the Sound Card since there is a game port built into the sound card itself. There are many Joysticks out there to choose from and many are a little nit picky to say the least. Microsoft has a game pad out that can actually sense your body movement. Sound pretty neat doesn't it? Check it out and see the Microsoft Sidewinder.

  • Sidewinder Freestyle Pro, $65.27


Learn More About Sound Cards

More On Sound Cards

Installing Sound Cards

TroubleShooting Sound Cards

Back To Shoppers Guide


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