So I have been using an SB Live! Value for a long time now, in XP. I recently upgraded the mobo and thought I would give the on board audio a try (C-Media 6 channel on Soyo Dragon Plus!). Everything sounded great until I was setting up the microphone. The Sound Hardware test wizard in XP sounded horrible when playing back my voice. It was staticy (sp?) and the volume seemed off (too loud then too low). I made sure the drivers were up to date and played with the hardware acceleration slider to no avail. I then gave up and re-installed the SB card. Microphone sounds perfect. I attributed my problem to poor hardware quality or drivers. Here we are a few months later and I decide to purchase a Philips PSC706. I install it and everything workds perfectly except, you guessed it, the microphone sounds like crap again. I could understand if the mic was crappy, but it sounds fine on the SB card?!? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
In case someone asks, here are the base specs of the system:
XP 2000+ (stock clock)
Corsair XMS512-2700C2 (stock clock)
G4 Ti4400 (310/648) 29.42 (shouldn't there be an 'X' in here somewhere?)
From what you say happened when you spoke into the microphone, it sounds like it was simply distorting, i.e. sound coming from mic was too loud. On SB cards, you have the option of enabling / disabling a 20db Mic Boost on the microphone jack, chances are that was disabled by default on the SB and enabled by default on the mobo.
If you're curious, what is happening is that the mic records pressure samples vs. time which produces sound. It records these pressure samples as signed 16-bit numbers, which means there is a mapping from pressure to 16-bit number that has a maximum and minimum defined range. If the pressure is above max, it clamps to the highest signed 16-bit number, similar for below min. So, if you talk loud into the mic, or if the mic is sensitive to volume, or if the volume is up too high or is boosted in the PC, you clamp off all parts of your sound wave that go above or below min, and it sounds lower and staticy.
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