Topics and tasks in this chapter
Adding a sound card
Plugging the right cable into the right jack
Adding a sound box
Connecting your computer's sound to your home stereo
Routing sound through an HDMI cable
Years ago, computers simply beeped when you turned them on. A few early games managed to strangle the computer's little speaker into making squawking noises. Engineers eventually created sound cards: circuit-filled gadgets that plug inside your computer to add music and explosions to computer games. A few years later, the cards grew sophisticated enough to power speaker-filled home theaters.
Today, however, sound cards are slowly fading away. What once took a large circuit-filled card now lives on a single chip built into many computers' motherboards.
Some folks still shell out the cash for the higher-quality sound available only through an add-on card. Gamers still buy sound cards, for example, as do musicians, who turn their computers into full-fledged recording studios.
This chapter explains how to upgrade the sound on your computer, laptop, or netbook; plug the right cables into the right spots; and route the sound to your computer's speakers or to your home stereo.
Today, nearly every computer, from netbooks to desktops, includes a ⅛-inch stereo speaker jack, and a ⅛-inch microphone jack. Plug in your headphones or a small microphone, and you're ready to hear music or record your own podcasts.
But when you're ...