Sound card

soundcardsound cardssoundaudio cardaudio interfacesound boardsaudiosynth boardsAudio processing unitcomputer sound card
A sound card (also known as an audio card) is an internal expansion card that provides input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs.wikipedia
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Motherboard

motherboardsmainboardlogic board
Sound functionality can also be integrated onto the motherboard, using components similar to those found on plug-in cards.
Motherboard specifically refers to a PCB with expansion capability and as the name suggests, this board is often referred to as the "mother" of all components attached to it, which often include peripherals, interface cards, and daughtercards: sound cards, video cards, network cards, hard drives, or other forms of persistent storage; TV tuner cards, cards providing extra USB or FireWire slots and a variety of other custom components.

Ad Lib, Inc.

AdLibAd LibAdLib Gold
Later cards, such as the AdLib sound card, had a 9-voice polyphony combined in 1 mono output channel. Early sound cards for the IBM PC platform were not designed for gaming or multimedia applications, but rather on specific audio applications, such as music composition with the AdLib Personal Music System, IBM Music Feature Card, and Creative Music System, or on speech synthesis like Digispeech DS201, Covox Speech Thing, and Street Electronics Echo.
Ad Lib, Inc. was a Canadian manufacturer of sound cards and other computer equipment founded by Martin Prevel, a former professor of music and vice-dean of the music department at the Université Laval.

Direct memory access

DMADMA controllerDMA channel
The card may use direct memory access to transfer the samples to and from main memory, from where a recording and playback software may read and write it to the hard disk for storage, editing, or further processing.
Many hardware systems use DMA, including disk drive controllers, graphics cards, network cards and sound cards.

Softmodem

Winmodemsoftware modemsoft modem
This is similar to the way inexpensive softmodems perform modem tasks in software rather than in hardware.
A softmodem (software modem) is a modem with minimal hardware that uses software running on the host computer, and the computer's resources (especially the central processing unit, random access memory, and sometimes audio processing), in place of the hardware in a conventional modem.

Gravis Ultrasound

Gravis Ultrasound GF1GUS
Responding to readers complaining about an article on sound cards that unfavorably mentioned the Gravis Ultrasound, Computer Gaming World stated in January 1994 that "The de facto standard in the gaming world is Sound Blaster compatibility ... It would have been unfair to have recommended anything else".
Gravis UltraSound or GUS is a sound card for the IBM PC compatible system platform, made by Canada-based Advanced Gravis Computer Technology Ltd. It was very popular in the demo scene during the 1990s.

AC'97

AC97AC-LinkAC'97 Audio
Modern low-cost integrated sound cards (i.e., those built into motherboards) such as audio codecs like those meeting the AC'97 standard and even some lower-cost expansion sound cards still work this way.
The standard was used in motherboards, modems, and sound cards.

Digital-to-analog converter

DACDACsD/A
Sound cards use a digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which converts recorded or generated digital signal data into an analog format.
DACs are therefore found in CD players, digital music players, and PC sound cards.

Intel High Definition Audio

HD AudioHDIntel HD Audio
However, these features were dropped when AC'97 was superseded by Intel's HD Audio standard, which was released in 2004, again specified the use of a codec chip, and slowly gained acceptance.
Users requiring more audio I/Os will typically opt for a sound card or an external audio interface, as these devices also provide additional features that are more oriented towards professional audio applications.

Surround sound

Surround5.1 surround sound5.1
These devices may provide more than two sound output channels (typically 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound), but they usually have no actual hardware polyphony for either sound effects or MIDI reproduction – these tasks are performed entirely in software.
Some AV receivers, stereophonic systems, and computer soundcards contain integral digital signal processors and/or digital audio processors to simulate surround sound from a stereophonic source (see fake stereo).

Computer

computerscomputer systemdigital computer
A sound card (also known as an audio card) is an internal expansion card that provides input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs.

Sound Blaster

SoundBlasterSound Blaster ProCreative Music System
Early sound cards for the IBM PC platform were not designed for gaming or multimedia applications, but rather on specific audio applications, such as music composition with the AdLib Personal Music System, IBM Music Feature Card, and Creative Music System, or on speech synthesis like Digispeech DS201, Covox Speech Thing, and Street Electronics Echo. For years, sound cards had only one or two channels of digital sound (most notably the Sound Blaster series and their compatibles) with the exception of the E-MU card family, the Gravis GF-1 and AMD Interwave, which had hardware support for up to 32 independent channels of digital audio.
The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was the de facto standard for consumer audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, until the widespread transition to Microsoft Windows 95, which standardized the programming interface at application level (eliminating the importance of backward compatibility with Sound Blaster), and the evolution in PC design led to onboard audio electronics, which commoditized PC audio functionality.

Game port

portGameportjoystick
It was incorrectly called a "DSP" (to suggest it was a digital signal processor), a game port for adding a joystick, and capability to interface to MIDI equipment (using the game port and a special cable).
Originally located on a dedicated expansion card, the game port was later integrated with PC sound cards, and still later on the PC's motherboard.

Line level

line-levelline inline out
Most sound cards have a line in connector for an analog input from a sound source that has higher voltage levels than a microphone.
Consumer electronic devices concerned with audio (for example sound cards) often have a connector labeled line in and/or line out.

Audio codec

audio codecscodecaudio
Modern low-cost integrated sound cards (i.e., those built into motherboards) such as audio codecs like those meeting the AC'97 standard and even some lower-cost expansion sound cards still work this way.
This is used in sound cards that support both audio in and out, for instance.

Covox Speech Thing

CovoxDisney Sound SourceSound Source
Early sound cards for the IBM PC platform were not designed for gaming or multimedia applications, but rather on specific audio applications, such as music composition with the AdLib Personal Music System, IBM Music Feature Card, and Creative Music System, or on speech synthesis like Digispeech DS201, Covox Speech Thing, and Street Electronics Echo.
The plug was used long into the 1990s, as sound cards were still very expensive at that time.

Expansion card

daughterboardexpansion slotexpansion bus
A sound card (also known as an audio card) is an internal expansion card that provides input and output of audio signals to and from a computer under control of computer programs.
Wavetable cards (sample-based synthesis cards) are often mounted on sound cards in this manner.

MIDI

Musical Instrument Digital InterfaceMIDMIDI file
Along the way, some cards started offering 'wavetable' sample-based synthesis, which provides superior MIDI synthesis quality relative to the earlier OPL-based solutions, which uses FM-synthesis.
The spread of MIDI on personal computers was largely facilitated by Roland Corporation's MPU-401, released in 1984, as the first MIDI-equipped PC sound card, capable of MIDI sound processing and sequencing.

Creative Technology

Creative LabsCreativeCreative Technology Limited
Creative Labs also marketed a sound card about the same time called the Creative Music System.
The success of this audio interface led to the development of the standalone Sound Blaster sound card, introduced at the 1989 COMDEX show just as the multimedia PC market, fueled by Intel's 386 card and Windows 3.0, took off.

E-mu Systems

E-muEMUEmulator
For years, sound cards had only one or two channels of digital sound (most notably the Sound Blaster series and their compatibles) with the exception of the E-MU card family, the Gravis GF-1 and AMD Interwave, which had hardware support for up to 32 independent channels of digital audio.
E-MU Systems was a software synthesizer, audio interface, MIDI interface, and MIDI keyboard manufacturer.

Phone connector (audio)

headphone jackTRRSTRS connector
The output signal is connected to an amplifier, headphones, or external device using standard interconnects, such as a TRS phone connector.
Personal computer sound cards, such as Creative Labs' Sound Blaster line, use a 3.5 mm phone connector as a mono microphone input, and deliver a 5 V polarizing voltage on the ring to power electret microphones.

Sample-based synthesis

Sample-basedsample-based synthesizerwavetable synthesis
Along the way, some cards started offering 'wavetable' sample-based synthesis, which provides superior MIDI synthesis quality relative to the earlier OPL-based solutions, which uses FM-synthesis. Also, in the early days of 'wavetable' sample-based synthesis, some sound card manufacturers advertised polyphony solely on the MIDI capabilities alone.
The concept has made it into sound cards for the multimedia PC, under the names such as wavetable card or wavetable daughterboard.

Roland Sound Canvas

Sound CanvasRolandRoland SC-88 Pro
The adoption of the MT-32 led the way for the creation of the MPU-401/Roland Sound Canvas and General MIDI standards as the most common means of playing in-game music until the mid-1990s.

Environmental Audio Extensions

EAXEAX 3.0 ADVANCED HDEAX environments
On the other hand, certain features of consumer sound cards such as support for environmental audio extensions (EAX), optimization for hardware acceleration in video games, or real-time ambience effects are secondary, nonexistent or even undesirable in professional sound cards, and as such audio interfaces are not recommended for the typical home user.
The Environmental Audio Extensions (or EAX) are a number of digital signal processing presets for audio, present in Creative Technology Sound Blaster sound cards starting with the Sound Blaster Live and the Creative NOMAD/Creative ZEN product lines.

RealSound

Several companies, most notably Access Software, developed techniques for digital sound reproduction over the PC speaker like RealSound.
At the time of release, sound cards were very expensive and RealSound allowed players to hear life like sounds and speech with no additional sound hardware, just the standard PC speaker.

Sound chip

audio chipsoundSound chip(s)
Some cards include a sound chip to support production of synthesized sounds, usually for real-time generation of music and sound effects using minimal data and CPU time.
This method is used in Mobile phones, PC sound cards and motherboards.