Audio Drivers and Sound Cards are interconnected and without them working together, your computer would be unable to produce sound. Knowing what type of sound card you have is vital in order to update the Sound Card Drivers and prevent any errors from occurring.
What is an Audio driver?
Audio drivers are pieces of software which interact with the Operating System of the computer. They help the Operating System identify any existent audio hardware connected to the computer. Audio Drivers make sure the Operating System works effectively with the hardware without any problems.
Audio Drivers either come with the piece of hardware or can be downloaded from the manufacturers website.Older and hard to locate Drivers may require the use of a Driver Update Tool.
What is a Sound Card?
Integrated Sound Card
A Sound Card is an expansion card which allows the computer to be able to produce sound. This sound can then be output from audio devices connected to the computer e.g. speakers, headphones etc. Audio card, audio adapter, sound adapter are many different names used for a Sound Card.
Most modern computers come with sound cards already built into the motherboard and are referred to as Integrated Sound Cards or Onboard Sound. Dedicated sound cards, the opposite of integrated, can be installed onto the system and are more convenient for professional audio output and extensive gaming.
Dedicated Sound Card Specifications
Many consumers have become increasingly interested in buying Sound Cards for the best sound experience. These cards usually produce much higher quality sound. In order to get the right sound card, the following features should be taken into consideration before purchase:
Dynamic range can be defined as the difference between the quietest sound and the loudest sound humans are capable of hearing and is measured in decibels. It also describes the card’s ability to perform and present the broad range and variety of tones. High quality sound cards nowadays can deliver up to 109dB or even higher.
The human ear can hear sounds on a particular spectrum. The frequency response of a sound card measures the different tones produced in this spectrum and should have the ability to produce sound in this entire spectrum.
The sampling rate of a Sound Card is the number of times the audio stream sends data over a period of time. This is measured in Hertz or kilohertz (kHz). The higher the sampling rate, the better the sound quality.
Signal to Noise Ratio
This measurement is the relationship between the sound produced against and above the sound of the background noise generated by all electrical equipment. The higher the ratio, the less the background noise. This is measured in decibels and anything above or at 105dB is deemed excellent.
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N)
This measures the ability of the sound card to shield itself from other outside noises. Exceptional Sound Cards will have THD+N close to 0%.
Examples of Sound Cards are Sweex 7.1 External USB Sound Card and Asus Xonar Essence STX Sound Card
Laptops usually cannot support internal high quality sound cards and hence external sound controllers can be purchased. These either use USB or FireWire and produce high quality audio output for laptops.
How do Audio Drivers work with Sound Cards?
Sound Cards cannot work without the presence of Audio Drivers. Every Sound Card has a precise Audio Driver which allows the Sound Card to run smoothly with the Operating System. Audio Drivers can be said to form data connections or data links between the Sound Card (hardware) and the Operating System (software).
Sound Cards with correct Audio Drivers will produce sound absolutely from your computer. They will also allow you to connect the microphone onto the computer.
Importance of correct Audio Drivers
Having the correct Audio Drivers installed onto the computer system is vital in order for the Sound Card to produce any kind of sound or many peripheral devices to even be connected to the computer. Sound will not be produced nor will you be able to get sound via microphone without the correct Audio Drivers.
If incorrect Audio Drivers are installed, the Sound Card will stop working permanently unless these incorrect Audio Drivers are uninstalled.
What type of Sound Card do you have?
Follow these instructions to find out what type of sound card your computer has.
1. Click on start and type “device manager” into the search box as shown. Press Enter.
2. A list should come up on the start menu. Click on “Device Manager“. A new window should pop up.
3. As shown, locate the “Sound, video and game controllers“.
4. Click on the arrow to the left of the “Sound, video and game controllers” and a drop down list, showing the type of sound card you have, should appear, as shown.
In many cases you can update the Audio Drivers yourself by searching for, downloading and installing the Drivers. If you prefer not to update the Drivers manually, you can use a driver update toolto automate driver updates for all your devices.