An Ex Post Facto View on History of PC Sound Cards
The gaming sound card has undergone immense change since its inception under the names Tandy 1000, Sound Blaster, Pro Audio Spectrum 16, Disney Sound Source, Gravis Ultrasound, Sound Blaster Pro and Monster Sound PCI. A quick fast-forward to the contemporary world, the gaming card is relied upon by a big number of gamers. It now looks like an integrated motherboard. Earlier on, the speaker of the personal computer had the capability of allowing simple beeps and some slight tones in various games with the exception of the medium whose sound was produced by the Central Processing Unit. After this, the SB Pro came into the picture. It had stereo audio. Later came the PAS16, which came with audio that was of the level of CD-audio. The CD-audio could be transmitted to the personal computer and an amplifier could help enhance the sound.
The model that ushered in the wave table MIDI synthesis to the public was the Gravis Ultrasound. Each invention came with unique benefits to the consumer more so due to the advanced technological measures. Things began to get better. As the DOS era was nearing termination, consumers could not see the previous improvements on quality that had taken place through the previous years.
Once 3D was introduced as well as personal computers were fitted with audio, consumers began to note an intense competition. Some of the companies that competed for the market share included Creative Labs/EAX, Sensaura and Aureal. However, since the contemporary CPU is very powerful, it is not a major hustle to offload audio workload.
The amount of computational power required to process audio is insignificant. When we start to check on quality, majority of the sound cards are excellent. Even though the market for professional devices used for recording, such as ASIO, is huge, the figures are self-explanatory. Creative Labs have dispatched their sound cards in various percentages since the year 2000. The sales have gone down in growth in bits and the sales in year 2007 were 22% less than the previous year.
Factually speaking, the sound card market fell astoundingly by 80% in a record seven years. The current market of sound cards is almost crumbling by 53%.
Audiophiles can compete technically with another DAC as far as refined nuances are concerned. The increasing popularity that HDD has amassed has proved that audio in personal computers is of high quality. Majority of the games and applications for consumers have great sound as a result of the sound cards and the software used herein is designed in such a manner that it can resonate well with the audio of high-resolution.
There is no sober game-developer who will take time and money to mix, master, distribute and record soundtracks in 24-bit/96 kHz. As a matter of fact, most of the Hollywood films are produced at 24-bit/48 kHz. The software developers prefer to spend more money in adding new levels to a given games or some art works. A software developer will also employ his or her efforts in adding more computational horsepower in physics and graphics.
If you are a gamer and you want to have a better audio from your computer, you might be forced to spend slightly more on your speakers as opposed to a sound card. The reason behind this is that the technology of speakers advances in a slower manner as compared to any other technology industry. For all the things that you can purchase at Best Buy, the best is DeLorean-era Magnepan MG-IIIs, whose power is got from Adcom GFA-555 IIs.
Since the year 1999, the best personal computer audio is probably Klipsch Pro Media. The speakers that have been powered and paired with an integrated motherboard give a superior performance per dollar, whether you are talking about music or games. However, if you are in pursuit of something better than the personal computer audio, go over to a dedicated receiver hi-fi speaker or a home theater.
The death of the sound card market occurred once the technology got to the level of diminishing returns for the content creator and the consumer. Moreover, the sound card market breathed its last once there were advances in the technology of semiconductors, which proved to be the inflection point to reach a negligible cost of the commodity.