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In response to David Gabel's discussion of sound cards in the cover story ("Hot Stuff," October 1996), I must say that the sound card has been misrepresented for too long. This article only perpetuates the ignorance and misinformation. First, the article suggests that stereo cards are a recent innovation. Every name-brand sound card sold in the past two years is stereo, requiring two speakers for accurate spacial reproduction. Second, there are no 32-bit sound cards. All cards have some sort of synthesizer to generate musical instrument sounds. These synthesizers can use equations to generate loose facsimiles of instrument sounds (FM), or they can have digital samples of real instruments stored on them to be played back when requested (wavetable). Third, every sound card benefits from good speakers. Bit streams can contain enough information to reach beyond the limits of human hearing. These signals are rarely appreciated by the listener because of the poor sound quality of the speakers that are most often sold with computers, which cannot reproduce the full bandwidth or dynamic range of the signal offered by the sound card.
Franklin Flint via the Internet