17.7 Installing a Sound Card

A sound card physically installs just as any other expansion card does. Some sound cards require many system resources, so keep the following guidelines in mind:

If you are building a new system

Install the PCI sound card before you install other components such as network adapters or SCSI host adapters, allowing the sound card to make first claim on system resources. Although Plug and Play usually does a good job of juggling resources, we have sometimes experienced resource conflicts when installing a sound card in a system that was already heavily loaded with other adapters. If that happens, the best course is to disable all adapters in the Device Manager (except essential ones such as the video card and IDE interface), physically remove those adapters, install and configure the sound card, and finally reinstall the other adapters one by one. If your CMOS Setup program allows you to assign an IRQ to a particular PCI slot, use that feature to assign IRQ 5 to the slot where you plan to install the sound card. If you experience conflicts or improper functioning, try installing the sound card in a different PCI slot.

If you are replacing an existing sound card

Before you remove the card, delete it in the Device Manager (if you are running Windows 9X) and delete all its drivers from the hard disk. Turn the PC off, take off the cover, physically remove the old sound card, and start the PC. Verify that all vestiges of the old sound card are gone. If the sound card is embedded, run CMOS Setup and disable it in BIOS. With all that done, turn off the PC again and physically install the new sound card. Start the system again and install the drivers for it.

Except for physically removing and replacing the sound card, we recommend following the same procedure when updating sound card drivers. That is, never upgrade sound card drivers. Instead, remove the old ones and install the new ones as a clean install. We have encountered problems more than once when attempting to upgrade existing drivers. A clean install avoids those problems.

If you are installing a sound card in a motherboard that has embedded sound

Before you install a sound card in a system with embedded sound, disable the embedded sound adapter either in CMOS Setup or by changing a jumper on the motherboard (or both). Every motherboard we know that includes embedded PCI sound allows you to disable sound in BIOS. Enabling or disabling sound usually has no effect on interrupts because embedded PCI sound uses one or two shareable PCI interrupts. Older motherboards, however, may have embedded ISA sound adapters, which may use fixed ISA interrupts. Such motherboards may or may not allow sound to be disabled and the interrupt made available for other adapters. If it is possible to disable the interrupt, doing so usually requires removing a physical jumper on the motherboard.

When installing a sound card, remember to connect the CD audio cable from the Audio Out jack on the back of the CD-ROM drive to the CD Audio jack on the sound card. If you have two CD or DVD drives installed, you can connect Audio Out from the second drive to the Aux In jack on the sound card, if present. We always forget to connect these cables, which is a good reason to test the system before putting the cover back on.