What is Sound Card in Computer? (Explained)

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The sound card is an electronic device that is fixed in the computer or even coming externally over here.

The craze for MP3 music all started when this component became a very mainstream component in the year 1990.

And since then the sound card has been a prominent component. There are a lot of types of sound cards consisting of a lot of components that make up this audio component of the computer.

Laptop computers and desktop computers have different sound cards based on the motherboard.

It is used in many areas like games, audio, CD and listening to music, creating and playing, MIDI for education purposes, software voice recognition, record dictation, business presentation, for watching movies, audio and video conferencing, and many more.

Read to understand how this component works and about the different types. You will also understand that it is not a complex component and is very convenient to use.


  • The sound card is used to send the auditory information to the speakers and headphones. Though optional, this component plays a significant role in enhancing the audio performance.
  • There are different types of sound cards such as motherboard, gaming, standard, external, audiophile and recording sound cards.
  • The primary function of the sound card is to change the analog sound into digital data for the computer to understand.

What is the Sound Card in Computer?

What is Sound Card in Computer

Electronics makes one’s life easier. The computer has an essential component called the Sound Card. The beep played an important role before this audio component was created.

It was before used as a warning or a signal. The beep was constant. And one could not change it. Like from the beep to a different sound. After the beep, an expansion card was added.

It is called a sound card. With the literal name, the sound card is used for users, who want to listen to music or even change is the data. Which is digital to sound.

It sends the auditory information to a device like a speaker, headphone, and many more. It is an optional component.

This component in the computer is also known as a sound board, audio card, and even an audio output device.

The demand for varieties of a sound card has started growing. Music, games, videos, and many more purposes are served by the audio card. Also, they can record and store sounds from an external source too.

There is also an expansion card. The computer can be not dependent on this audio part of the computer. Therefore, it is attached in the expansion slot or is sometimes integrated or joined to the motherboard.

The audio card is a hardware which is rectangular in shape and consists of ports inside. It even consists of many contracts found in the bottom of the sound card.

The connection found in this audio component is many. The audio port in the audio card is differentiated with colored ports. And sometimes even symbols.

The first one comes in a yellow or white port. It is known as the “digital out” or even the “digital”. These are used for loudspeakers. And then comes the blue color or “the sound in” port.

Usually known as “line in”, sometimes it even consists of symbols. Like the waves where the arrow is being pointed in. This is used to connect to the audio sources which are external.

As the tape recorder, the record player, and even more. The green port is the “sound out” or the symbol of this port is the arrow that is placed pointing out of the waves.

It is a sound connection for one speaker and headphones. Which is even primary. It comes in a black color port or an orange color port. The next is the pink port also known as the microphone.

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Which is used as a microphone in headphones or a mic. The next comes the MIDI or the joystick port. Which is used in many games. It consists of 15 pin conductors which are mainly yellow in color.

It can connect a MIDI keyboard or joystick. The last is the Firewire which is used for high quality devices like a digital video camera and many more.

There is also a very special trick to understanding which cable will connect to which point. Many cables come with a thin line placed on it. Of the same color.

Therefore, it is used to be connected to the port of the same color. It is done for the user’s convenience. The sound card is installed in the PCI slot.

Nowadays, the demand for PCI-e slots has become more. Therefore, it is installed in the PCI slot which is one on the motherboard. One thing the user has to keep in mind is the compatibility of the case, PCI, and even the motherboard.

One needs to see if the side of the audio card fits properly and the side is visible to the user. Which should be present for the user to utilize. The conversion from data to sound is done by this audio component of the computer.

They are different from each other. The sounds are seen as analog with invisible and come in waves. That travels to the ear, making it vibrate. When these waves vibrate the eardrums.

Then one listens to the sound. The other component of the computer like the GPU or the Graphics Processing Unit. Which converts the data to graphics on the screen for the user to see.

The same way the sound card converts the data into waves or analog for hearing the conversion from digital data to analog or vice-versa. There are sometimes three or four components of the whole time of conversion.

Starting from the ADC or the Analog to Digital converter. Which is the first one. It converts the sound of the audio analog or waves to digital data.

Which is saved by the computer and it is measured in wavelength. Now the reverse performance is done if the user is playing the sound on the speaker.

Then the DAC or the digital to analog converter comes in use, here. The higher the measurement and sampling rate the more accurate it becomes leading to the measurement to conclude.

There are two types of sound quality. The first one is the SNR or the Signal to Noise Ratio which is measured. And the next is the THD or the Total Harmonic Distortion which is measured.

Many sound boards do not have expansion slots but are integrated with the motherboard like the laptop computers. They have all components integrated which consist of the sound card also.

Which are also small leading to some problems which are present. It is because of the small sound cards. Therefore, it is sometimes advised that the user can always get an external sound controller which can be connected via USB on the laptop computer.

Then next is the desktop computer which consists of a USB port. That is facing the front of the sound card and is very essential. One easily gets to know whether the cable is attached to a wrong board.

For instance, if one attaches the different cable to the USB port then there will be a static. Which will remind or give the user the signal that the user has put the cable in the wrong port.

Sound boards are very essential for gamers because games consist of auditory as well as vision (graphics). One of the best creations is 3D sound. It provides the user with realistic game experience with the 3D sound.

The other way which has a DSP will support the 3D sound. If one is planning to purchase a sound card then one needs to keep in mind all the factors like the data capacity which is measured.

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The measurement of the sound quality, the types, the connections to the audio card. And also the uses which this component of the computer is useful for.

Types of Sound Cards

Sound cards are of a few types which are found in different types of personal computers.

  • Motherboard Sound Card

These sound cards are also known as the integrated audio cards. It is because they are built on the motherboard. Before this part of the computer was very expensive and was used as an add-on.

Which costs a lot of money. Therefore, computers and technology have gone a long way after that. Now many computers use the motherboard sound card which comes in a chip that is installed or integrated into the motherboard.

One can even install a separate audio card but the motherboard sound card is already present. When one purchases a motherboard that makes it affordable and convenient for the user.

  • Standard Sound Card

The standard sound card is an expansion card that can be connected to the computer via expansion slots. It is one of the best components of the computer which can be attached even when the motherboard has a sound chip.

These audio cards have their own processor chips like the motherboard. Which is dependent on the computer processor to perform functions. It is one of the best easy and less loading sound cards. It is good for games and doing other audio related tasks.

  • Gaming Sound Card

Computers have always been an important device for gaming sound cards. Just like the graphics card is used for games. Many audio components of the computer are also made exclusively for game applications and gaming.

In the game car, it comes with a different or separate processor. Which does not usually rely on the processor of the integrated sound card. Which is attached to the motherboard.

Similar to the standard sound cards but these audio cards are exclusively for gaming. It consists of their own input and output set. Better than the input and output size build on one’s computer.

As technology is becoming advanced the gaming cards are also being able to advance. Like the 3D sound, equalizer, and many more. This makes it easier for the gamer to hear while playing the game.

It is even used for many high intensive tasks. And the gaming sound card is even used for creating and making games.

  • External Sound Card

The external or the USB Sound Card is available in the market and has a huge range of collections. And there are a lot of functions. They are similar to the other audio cards.

But these are attached externally to the computer. Many computer audio outputs which make a lot of noise are not present in the USB sound card.

This audio component is usually used in laptop computers. Because for many users’ convenience. It is even easier to move from one computer to another. One can even upgrade an external sound card by using the USB expansion slot on the computer.

  • Audiophile and Recording Sound Card

These sound cards are very good in sound quality. These are a special type of audio card which are only used for audiophile and recording. These sound cards are used by professionals in big studios.

It reduces the noise level and makes the sound very much clear and better. They have heavy shield output and many other qualities. These sound cards are very exclusive and are very expensive.

How Does a Sound Card Work?

Many are aware of the main functions of this audio related component of the computer. But the sound card works in a very different way. Many types of sound cards are used for many different types of work.

But the main function of this audio card is to change or convert the digital data in the computer to sound or audio and vice versa. The analog and digital conversion sound very familiar.

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The analog is the sound and the digital is the data on the computer. These analogues are waves that make eardrums vibrate. That is how one hears sounds.

The conversion is done by the sound card. There are four parts of the whole analog and digital category. The first one is the ADC or the analog to digital converter.

It converts sound to the data which is digital. If one speaks on the mic that has been plugged on the computer. The analog to digital converts the waves of one’s voice into data.

Or the computer to read the measurement of the specific sound wave is taken at recording intervals. The recurring intervals are measured as the sampling rate.

And the kHz is measured by the sampling rate. The opposite is performed by the DAC or the digital to analog converter. The wires which are used for moving sound cause distortion.

And the reduction in sound quality is measured in two ways. The first one is the signal to noise ratio or SNR. Which is measured in decibel or dB.

And the other is the total harmonic distortion or THD measured in percentage or in %.

It is used to designate the best quality sound. Advancement has taken place and many will realize that the sound card nowadays not only consists of mic and speaker.

There are some sound cards that even consist of a mini processor. Like the standard and the gaming audio cards. Which is very efficient and divides the work between the Central Processing Unit or the CPU and itself.

The mini processor is the DSP or a digital signal processor. Its function is to take the workload or divide the work between itself and the CPU. This is done for proper functioning.

Many computers like the laptop computers have integrated sound cards where the digital single processor is not present. In the integrated audio component of the computer.

One will also come to know that the digital signal processor is an amazing work of technology. It even has its own memory for faster processing. The motherboard that has its own DSP provides many benefits to the sound card.

For example, the desktop computer. And there are also a few options provided.

That many opt for a separate audio card for betterment here.

There are many options for a USB or Firewire connector.

It is usually used in laptop computers because it does not have a DSP or Digital Signal Processor. Which is present in many computers. This communicates to the sound card with the help of the software.

Also, one will understand this audio related component is not a complex process to understand. Rather it is very easy and convenient.

Sound cards have been very easy to handle and access making it beneficial for the use.


After understanding what the sound card is. And how it functions and its components. Even though the computer is not dependent on the audio card. But it is an essential part of the computer.

It makes the computer a proper device to function with the help of the audio component. The computer is known for multitasking and without the sound card, it would be incomplete. It is also because it is not complex to understand how it works.

With the colorful ports including symbols. It makes it very easy to connect it to the port. Therefore, the sound card is an essential and easy component of the computer.