Hump Day Hardware: Sound Cards

August 27, 2008

While we are all in the world of computer graphics, the projects we tackle every day can vary widely. Today I’m going to cover a product category that is vitally important to some of you and it probably isn’t terribly useful for others. We’re going to talk about sound cards. Those of you working on multimedia projects will find a good sound card to be an important component of your system. Others just want to listen to music at high quality. And I realize that some of you have no need for sound.

Most new computers offer the option of sound on the motherboard. The quality of these components have improved greatly over the years. Yet it still lacks the quality available in a standalone sound card. One change that has recently come to sound cards is cards that use the PCI Express slot instead of the much older PCI slot.

I really enjoy Maximum PC magazine and they recently did a comparison of PCI Express cards. Their pick was the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty. I have the previous version of this card and I love that it comes a header that fits in one of the drive slots of the front of the computer. This gives you easy access to volume knobs, headphone jacks and much more. It isn’t the least expensive card on the market, but it isn’t outrageously expensive for someone who works with audio in their projects.

For those who want to save a little money, the previous generation card is still available and it costs about half as much. The Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro Series is a great card and it is less than $100. Don’t let the gamer in the name fool you. Yes, it is great for games, but works just as well for multimedia. Sure, there are cards that cost even less. If you are going to step up from motherboard audio, don’t skimp and make the jump worthwhile. Either of these cards are great options for you.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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