Chapter 7. Sound

Not content to have pushed aside typewriters, fax machines, and copy machines, computers now replace stereos in some homes. The most tricked-out PCs serve as home theaters, with speakers dangling from every wall. Even low-budget models play CDs, ready to provide a soundtrack as you work through your day.

This chapter describes the sound-creation mechanisms inside your PC: its sound card, microphone, and speakers. You’ll learn how to set up all these devices and tweak their settings, so whether you’re playing games or hooking your PC up to a stereo, everything sounds crystal clear.

Also included is a quick guide to help you wade through the types of music files found on the Internet, and advice on how to choose the right ones for your digital music player—be it an iPod, or one of the zillions of others. Musicians will learn the basics of setting up a small recording studio. Finally, record collectors will find out how to move all their vinyl out of the closet and into their PCs, so they can finally switch from dusty to digital.

Understanding Sound Adapters (Sound Cards)

The circuitry dishing up sound and music within your PC is technically called a sound adapter, but most people and computer stores simply call it a sound card. That term comes straight from your PC’s history. Early PCs merely blurted out a single beep on startup, meant to reassure nervous owners that everything was working correctly. (More than two beeps, on the other hand, meant it was time to reach ...

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