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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sound Cards

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Sound Cards


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  1. How can I record sound under Win9X/NT/2000?
  2. Introduction to Microsoft Windows Driver Model(WDM).
  3. What is HRTF technology in PC sound card 3D field ?
  4. What is the FM synthesizer?
  5. What is the wave table synthesizer?
  6. What is MIDI?
  7. How I determine if the sound card is full duplex?
  8. What is 32 Note Polyphony?
  9. How can I enable the MPU401?
  10. What is Wavetable and DLS(Downloadable Sounds)?
  11. How can I create my own game environments with sound blaster live! products?
  12. I have 2 CD-ROMs on my PC. How can I hear CD audio from both of them when using sound blaster live
  13. How can I connect my Sound Blaster Live! to my surround receiver?
  1. How can I record sound under Win9X/NT/2000?

    To record sound under Microsoft windows systems, some setup steps are needed.

    a. Select input sound source:
    Usually the sound card supplies users record from various input sound sources, like CD AUDIO, LINE IN, or MIC etc.. Please make sure and proper select input sound source. For example, if you want to record sound from Microphone, you might do list step..

    • a-1) Double click the horn icon from windows' task bar, and system pop-up the Volume Control window.
    • a-2) Select the Options->Properties->Recording page.
    • a-3) Then select the Microphone as the input source.


    b. Boost your Microphone:
    For variously types of microphones, some input level might be lower, To enhance your microphone input level, you can boost you microphone follow list steps.
    • b-1) Double click the horn icon from windows' task bar, and system pop-up the Volume Control window.
    • b-2) Select the Options->advanced controls.
    • b-3) Click the Advanced button from Microphone item.
    • b-4) Enable the Microphone Boost selection.


    c. Setup Recording tools:
    • c-1) Quality setup: usually the recording applications supply Telephone,Radio and CD quality formats, please select it before you recording.
    Go to Top

  2. Introduction to Microsoft Windows Driver Model(WDM.

    Windows Driver Model(WDM) provides a common set of I/O services and binary-compatible device drivers for both Microsoft Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 operating systems. To help decrease the effort necessary for hardware vendors to support all Windows platforms, this driver model is based on a class/minidriver structure that provides modular, extensible architectures for device support. WDM is a core technology for the SIPC and Zero Administration initiatives and for new Plug and Play device support for USB, IEEE 1394, and the OnNow power management initiative.

    The announced WDM class driver support for Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 includes:

    1. Stream class driver to support kernel-mode streaming of data for video capture, MPEG
    2. Decoders, audio, DVD-ROM, and broadcast architectures
    3. HID class driver to support input devices
    4. USB bus class driver
    5. IEEE 1394 bus class driver

    Windows Driver Model(WDM) more complete architecture performs all audio processing in kernel mode, which significantly improves latency. Code common to all audio hardware on a given bus is now part of the operating system, making for faster driver development with more consistent results.

    It is also implementation of external digital audio. USB and IEEE 1394 provide excellent mechanisms for delivering digital audio to external peripherals for high-quality conversion (greater than 85 dB dynamic range) to and from analog. In the near term, the popularity of USB makes it a natural choice. In the long term, the consumer-electronics industry envisions IEEE 1394 transporting audio and video among many devices in a simple,high-performance manner.

    For more information about WDM,please visit Microsoft
    . Go to Top

  3. What is HRTF technology in PC sound card 3D field ?

    HRTF(Head Related Transfer Functions) is a set of audio functions that are varying locations of sound effects in 3-dimension measured from listener's ears. With HRTF technology to re-create spatial hearing cues makes our ears to hear a realistic and three-dimensional sounds coming from a pairs of loud speakers or headphones. Go to Top

  4. What is the FM synthesizer?

    The FM synthesizer is a component device based on the synthesis technique called frequency modulation. This technique allows PC component manufacturers to deliver complex sounds from simple, economically produced computer components. Go to Top

  5. What is the wave table synthesizer?

    The wave table synthesizer is a component device that contains large numbers of short digital recording of real instruments, which are stored in ROM. The amount of ROM and the compression technology required makes the Wave Table solution more expensive than the FM solution, but produces a richer sound. Go to Top

  6. What is MIDI?

    MIDI is the interface standard for connecting musical instruments to computers, and the MIDI standard provides the format for playback of digitized sounds by computers. MIDI allows a computer to turn 16 different sound channels on and off, and call up different instrumental sounds in each of those channels. Go to Top

  7. How I determine if the sound card is full duplex?

    The sound card has to be set and configured with two DMA channels. The full duplex allows to record and playback simultaneously. In certain environment, the full duplex enables the user to speak and listen at the same time making conversation as easy and natural as possible. This function is necessary for the operation of an Internet phone, video conferencing applications or other two way communications devices that might utilize the sound card. Go to Top

  8. What is 32 Note Polyphony?

    Polyphony refers to the number of notes the sound card's processor can simultaneously play to create a sound. A sound card that features 32-note polyphony can use up to 32 notes simultaneously to produce a sound. Go to Top

  9. How can I enable the MPU401?

    In Windows 3.1, click MAIN group, CONTROL PANEL, and MIDI MAPPER. Then choose MPU401. In Windows 95, click CONTROL PANEL, MULTIMEDIA icon, and MIDI folder. Then choose MPU401 or external MIDI device. However, the sound card has to have wave table built in or attached to the wave table connector in order to activate the MPU401. Go to Top

  10. What is Wavetable and DLS(Downloadable Sounds)?

    There are two fundamentally different ways of producing music on a computer, and each has its advantages and disadvantages.

    a.Wave forms are reproduced from digital samples, typically stored in a .wav file or, in the case of Red Book audio, on a standard CD track. Digital samples can reproduce any sound, and the output is very similar on all sound cards; however, they require large amounts of storage and resources for streaming.

    b.Instrument sounds are synthesized, usually in hardware, in response to messages, typically from a MIDI file or device. MIDI files are compact and require few streaming resources, but the output is limited to the number of instruments available in the General MIDI set and in the synthesizer, and may sound very different on different systems.

    One way to combine the advantages of digital sampling with the compactness and flexibility of MIDI is wavetable synthesis? The synthesis of instruments from digital samples. These samples are obtained from recordings of real instruments and then stored on the hardware. The samples are looped and processed in such a way as to produce sounds of any length at various pitches and volumes. Wavetable synthesis produces more realistic timbres than algorithmic FM synthesis, but is still limited to a fixed set of instruments. Moreover, a particular instrument may sound different on different pieces of hardware depending on the manufacturer's implementation of that instrument. Enter the downloadable sounds (DLS) standard, published by the MIDI Manufacturers Association.

    DLS is basically a way of enabling wavetable synthesis to be based on samples provided at run time rather than hardwired into the system. The data describing an instrument is downloaded to the synthesizer, and then the instrument can be played just like any other MIDI instrument. Because the data is stored as software, application developers can be sure that their soundtracks will be delivered uniformly on all systems. DLS Level 1 Specification was published by MIDI Manufacturers Association(MMA).For more information, Go to Top

  11. How can I create my own game environments with sound blaster live! products?

    To create your own game environments, you need to use both the Speaker and Environmental Audio applets located in the AudioHQ group. The Environmental Audio applet or control lets you create your environment by choosing various reverb presets. If you are an advanced user, consider creating your own environments from scratch by adjusting the various parameters. The Speaker applet lets you position the various audio devices. In a typical game, the sound effects are often in .WAV format while the background sound track is often either in MIDI or CD audio. You can therefore position these devices within your speaker environment. For example, you can position the music tracks toward the rear speakers to create "background" music. Go to Top

  12. I have 2 CD-ROMs on my PC. How can I hear CD audio from both of them when using sound blaster live!?

    2 CD-audio connects are offered on Sound Blaster Live!: CD Audio and CD-SPDIF (CD Digital output). The CD SPDIF and CD Audio inputs are independent of each other, so you can run 2 separate CD-ROMs, one using the CD SPDIF and the other using the normal CD Audio connector. You can then control the volumes of the 2 CD-ROMs separately. You can also opt to connect the 2nd CD-ROM drive's audio output to the Sound Blaster Live!'s AUX input connector. Go to Top

  13. How can I connect my Sound Blaster Live! to my surround receiver?

    Sound Blaster Live! offers 2 kinds of connection to your surround receiver:

    1. Front stereo connection (only front speaker output of Sound Blaster Live!) to RCA stereo input of your Receiver (Aux-in, CD-in)

    2. SPDIF (from Digital Audio Extension card to SPDIF input on Surround receiver)

    Once you have connected Sound Blaster Live! to your surround receiver, choose "Live!Surround" in your speaker panel located in the AudioHQ group.

    For more information, please refer to the right side links. Go to Top

| FAQ-General | Hard Drives | Hard Drive(2) | ATA66 | Motherboards |
| Video Cards | Cases | Memory | AMD K7 | CD, CDRW&DVD | CPU |
| Monitors | Modems | Networks | Printers | Sound Cards |
Useful Links:

  • Sound Blaster FAQ Page
  • Turtle Beach / Voyetra Website







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