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PCs For Dummies® Windows®, 7 Edition by Dan Gookin

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Chapter 13. PC Audio Abilities

In This Chapter

  • Understanding sound hardware

  • Configuring speakers

  • Setting up sound in Windows

  • Changing the volume

  • Playing sounds for certain events

  • Recording sounds

Originally, the computer's audio was a simple bell. Ding! When the first microcomputers came out in the 1970s, they had small, tinny speakers to emulate the bell. But computer hobbyists wanted their machines to do more than just go "beep."

Today's PCs have complex audio abilities. You'll find, built into the chipset on the motherboard, specialized sound circuitry, including a complete music synthesizer. The computer can talk, sing, play a symphony, and yes, even ding like a bell. This chapter explains all about your computer's sound system.

The Noisy PC

All PCs include sound-generation hardware on the motherboard. This hardware can process and play digitally recorded sounds, play music from a CD, generate music using the onboard synthesizer, and record sounds. That's a lot of capability, yet it's so common on a PC that the manufacturers seldom boast about it.

  • When you're really into audio, you can add more advanced sound hardware to your PC by using an expansion card. This type of upgrade is necessary only for diehard audiophiles, people who are composing their own music, or professionals who use their PCs as the heart of an audio studio.

  • If your PC lacks expansion slots or you have a laptop, you can upgrade your audio by adding an external, USB sound device, such as the Sound Blaster Audigy system. ...

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