How Sound Cards Work

Other Options for Sound Control
External sound controller
External sound controller
Photo courtesy HowStuffWorks Shopper

Not every computer has a sound card. Some motherboards feature integrated audio support instead. A motherboard that has its own DSP can process multiple data streams. It may also support 3-D positional and Dolby surround sound. However, in spite of these features, most reviewers agree that separate sound cards provide better audio quality.

Laptops usually have integrated sound capabilities on their motherboards or small sound cards. However, space and temperature control considerations make top-of-the-line internal cards impractical. So, laptop users can purchase external sound controllers, which use USB or FireWire connections. These external modules can significantly improve laptop sound quality.

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