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Sound Boards

Sound Boards

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Published by Drift Gee

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Published by: Drift Gee on Feb 11, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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ound is an area of the PC that has been largely overlooked in early systems. Aside froma simple, oscillator-driven speaker, the early PCs were mute. Driven largely by the de-mand for better PC games, designers developed stand-alone sound boards that could read sound data recorded in separate files, then reconstruct those files into basic sound, music,
Understanding Sound Boards
The recording processThe playback processThe concept of “sampling”Data bits vs. sound qualityThe role of MIDIInside a sound board
Knowing the Benchmarks
DecibelsFrequency responseSignal-to-noise ratioTotal harmonic distortionIntermodulation distortionSensitivityGain
Using Microphones
Microphone typesPhantom powerChoosing a microphone
Troubleshooting a Sound Board
Drivers and driver orderFull-duplex drivers.WAV playback problems underWindows 95Symptoms
Further Study
and speech. Since the beginning of the decade, those early sound boards have blossomed into an array of powerful, high-fidelity sound products, capable of duplicating voice, or-chestral soundtracks, and real-life sounds with uncanny realism (Fig. 41-1). Not only havesound products helped the game industry to mature, but they have been instrumental in thedevelopment of multimedia technology (the integration of sound and picture), as well asInternet Web phones and other communication tools. This chapter is intended to explainthe essential ideas and operations of a contemporary sound board, and show you how toisolate a defective sound board when problems arise.
Understanding Sound Boards
Before you attempt to troubleshoot a problem with a sound board, you should have an un-derstanding of how the board works and what it must accomplish. This type of back-ground helps you when recommending a sound board to a customer or choosing acompatible card as a replacement. If you already have a strong background in digitalsound concepts and software, feel free to skip directly to the troubleshooting portion of this chapter.
All sound starts as
 pressure variations
traveling through the air. Sound can come from al-most anywhere—a barking dog, a laughing child, a fire engine’s siren, a person speaking.You get the idea. The process of recording sound to a hard drive requires sound to be car-ried through several manipulations (Fig. 41-2). First, sound must be translated from pressure variations in the air to analog electrical signals. This is accomplished by a mi-crophone. These analog signals are amplified by the sound card, then digitized (converted to a series of representative digital words each taken at a fixed time interval). The result-ing stream of data is processed and organized through the use of software, which places the
A Logitech SoundMan Wave sound board.
Copyright ©1995 Logitech Corporation
data (as well as any overhead or housekeeping data) into a standard file format. The file issaved to the drive of choice (typically, a hard drive).
Simply speaking, the playback process is virtually the reverse of recording (Fig. 41-3). Asoftware application opens a sound file on the hard drive, then passes the digital data back to the sound card. Data is translated back into equivalent analog levels—ideally, the re-constructed shape of the analog signal closely mimics the original digitized signal. Theanalog signal is amplified, then passed to a speaker. If the sound was recorded in stereo,the data is divided into two channels that are separately converted back to analog signals,amplified, and sent to their corresponding speakers. Speakers convert the analog signal back into traveling pressure waves that you can hear.
To appreciate the intricacies of a sound card’s operation, you must understand the conceptof 
(otherwise known as
). In principle, sampling is a very straight-forward concept; an analog signal is measured periodically, and its voltage at each point in
SoundMicAnalogsignalDigitalsignalSoftwaredriverStoragedevice(hard drive)Sound board hardware
The sound-board recording process.
SoftwaredriverStoragedevice(hard drive) AnalogsignalDigitalsignalLspkr.Rspkr.Sound board hardware
The sound-board playback process.

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