A stereo sound card is a device that is typically a computer component, which allows audio signals to be transmitted between a computer and input and output devices. This type of card can be an internal or external device, which dictates the way in which it can be connected to a computer. The stereo jack on this type of device will typically be an output jack, though it is also possible for these cards to provide stereo input for a computer as well. A stereo sound card allows a computer to be connected to a stereo sound setup, such as surround sound speakers.
There are many different manufacturers of stereo sound card devices, though in general they tend to be categorized by how they connect to a computer and what jacks they provide. A jack is a port on a sound card that allows an input device, such as a microphone, or output device, like speakers, to be connected to the card, and through it to a computer. These devices are typically divided into internal or external devices that can be connected to a computer.
An internal stereo sound card is a device that connects directly to the motherboard of a computer, inside a computer tower. One part of this card is then usually exposed to external plugs and connections at the back of a computer, though other mounting methods can be used as well. Most sound cards provide a few basic ports for devices to be plugged into, usually consisting of a basic input port and an output port. A stereo sound card, however, provides additional ports and support for stereo sound and greater sound quality.
External stereo sound card devices usually connect to a computer from the outside, often through a universal serial bus (USB) port or similar connection. These devices often require no other software for installation, though drivers may need to be installed for some models. Once the external sound card is connected to a computer, then other devices can be connected to it and communicate with the computer.
One of the most important aspects of a stereo sound card is the fact that it allows for stereo sound into and out from a computer. Stereo sound is divided between multiple channels, and some channels are sent to some speakers while other channels are sent to other speakers. In its simplest format, this consists of a left and right channel, each going to an appropriate left or right speaker. A stereo sound card can also allow for greater fidelity and higher sound quality, as well as multiple channels for use with a greater number of speakers for surround sound setups.