12 Nov 2003 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

Recommend a Better Sound Card?

The cheap sound card I use in my PC picks up a lot of electrical noise. Digital circuitry emits a lot of RF noise, and this is picked up in the analog circuitry of my sound card as a crackle and buzzing sound. Also, if I try to digitize sound input, the audio files will have a lot of the same kind of noise.

The noise on playback didn't bother me when I used speakers, but tonight I switched to using headphones, which make the noise much more obvious.

I'm looking for a new sound card that will have as little of this noise as possible, and ideally will be of very good audio fidelity. It turns out that one can get sound cards as fancy as one cares to pay for, that are mostly used for professional audio production or for home recording studios by musicians, that have as much as 32 bits per sample and many channels, but those are expensive and require special application software.

I'd like a good 16 bit stereo sound card that I can use for playing Oggs and MP3s, maybe do some Voice over IP, and for playing CDs on my PC. But I want this card to be as good as possible given that it's just 16 bit stereo.

Ideally it would have an external pod containing all the analog circuitry, so the audio circuits would be isolated from the electrical noise inside the PC case. All the professional sound cards do this, but I don't know if any consumer sound cards do.

My hopeful new sound card will need to work with Linux, BeOS and Windows 2000. Extra credit if the card's vendor provides complete hardware specs to Free Software developers.

If you'd like to email me your recommendation send it to crawford@goingware.com

Thanks for your help.

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