Regardless of which program you use for recording, the signal must be processed by your sound card, which performs many functions, including analog-to-digital (A/D) and digital-to-analog (D/A) conversion, amplification, and mixing.
In this section we’ll explain the role of your sound card in recording audio, and we’ll look at how it processes different types of audio signals. This knowledge will help you minimize noise and distortion and troubleshoot any problems you may run into.
Unless you are ripping audio (as discussed later in this chapter), all audio signals must pass though your sound card, which processes the signals before sending them on to your recording program (Figure 11-3). If your recording program has editing features, the signal may be processed further before it is stored as a file on your hard disk. When you record from an analog source, your sound card samples the electrical signal and converts it into a digital stream of ones and zeros. Poorly shielded sound cards will pick up noise from the computer’s internal electronics.
Figure 11-3. Recording through a sound card
Ripping (Figure 11-4) bypasses your sound card and copies the audio directly to your hard disk, but it only works with digital sources such as audio CDs and DVDs. It’s the fastest way to get audio from a CD or DVD onto your computer. (Ripping is covered in more detail ...