Sunday, October 10, 2004

Last week, I changed the motherboard on my computer to get USB 2.0 support (it was cheaper than buying a separate USB 2.0 card -- go figure) and fix some other annoying issues (I had a voltage regulator fall off; resoldering it fixed it, but it was flaky). Unfortunately, the sound card on it would buzz -- loudly -- every time I moved the mouse. Not surprising, given that the mouse connector was next to the audio out connector, and motherboard designers are not audiophiles and under constant pressure to eke out every fraction of a cent in the cost of making these things.

So, yesterday I purchased and installed a new sound card. The E-MU 0404 looked interesting -- external connectors (gets the signals away from the noisy interior), definitely in the "prosumer" line (it's meant for home studios). And it was cheap enough -- $99 -- that I decided to spring for it.

It is amazing. It's unbelievably quiet when no sounds are being made (with most cards, you get at least faint "ocean" white noise). And playing music on it, after living with crappy sound cards for years now, is like listening to a CD if all you've heard are tapes. And this is on the same old speakers I have.

Very happy. Amongst the best $100 I've spent.

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