Sound card

Sound card

Alternatively referred to as a sound board or an audio card, a sound card is an expansion card or integrated circuit that provides a computer with the ability to produce sounds that can be heard by the user either over speakers or headphones. The computer sound card is considered a peripheral, although the computer does not need a sound card to function almost every computer today will include a sound card in the expansion slot or on the motherboard (onboard). Below is an image of the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio sound card and an example of what a sound card that connects to an expansion slot may look like.
Computer sound card
Back sound card connections
Audio-in connection on the back of a computer sound cardIn the picture to the right, is an example of what a sound card audio ports may look like on the back of your computer, associated colors, and the connector symbols usually found next to each of the connections.
  • Digital Out (White) (Words Digital) - Used with surround sound or loudspeakers.
  • Sound in or line in (Blue) (Arrow pointing into waves) - Connection for external audio sources, e.g. tape recorder, record player, or CD player.
  • Microphone or Mic (Pink) (Microphone) - The connection for a microphone.
  • Sound out or line out (Green) (Arrow pointing out of waves) - The primary sound connection for your speakers or headphones. This sound card also has a second (black) and third (orange) sound out connector.
  • Firewire (Not pictured) - Used with some high quality sound cards for digital video cameras and other devices.
  • MIDI or Joystick (Not pictured) - Used with earlier sound cards to connect MIDI keyboard or Joystick.
Tip: Usually the cables connecting to the devices are also color-coded and will match or be close to the colors the cables connect into. For example, the end of the speakers cord may have a green line or be completely green.
Uses of a computer sound card
  • Games
  • Audio CDs and listening to music
  • Watch movies
  • Audio conferencing
  • Creating and playing Midi
  • Educational software
  • Business presentations
  • Record dictations
  • Voice recognition


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