How to Connect an External USB Sound Card

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How to Connect an External USB Sound Card
Sound cards are built into the motherboard alongside other components. (motherboard image by Valentin Mosichev from

Your multimedia experience is greatly affected by the quality of your computer's sound card, whether you stream video and music from the Internet, or watch DVDs using your PC. Through the versatility and power of USB connections, you can use an external sound card to circumvent a shoddy, generic/factory card.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Microsoft Windows XP, Vista or 7 operating system

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  1. 1

    Find an unused USB port on the front, side or back of the computer. Front and side ports are easier to reach if your are connecting headphones via a short-length cable.

  2. 2

    Plug the sound card into the USB port, making sure the connectors are properly aligned and the card is snugly in place. When you release the card it should support its weight.

  3. 3

    Monitor the taskbar on your computer screen near the operating system clock. A new icon should appear. You will also hear sounds from the speakers if the internal sound card is working, as the operating system installs default USB drivers so the computer recognises your new USB hardware. You will see a pop-up balloon on the taskbar indicating when driver installation is complete.

  4. 4

    Plug your headphones or microphone into the sound card and begin using the audio on your computer, per usual.

Tips and warnings

  • If your internal sound card is malfunctioning, use Microsoft's "Automated Troubleshooting Services: No Sound in Windows" diagnostic tool to examine and repair the problem (see Resources).

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