Replacing Hardware

Sometimes you have no choice but to replace audio hardware. Fortunately, basic sound cards are inexpensive; you can pick up a generic 16-bit sound card for $20 or less in many stores or from mail-order retailers. Unfortunately, a generic card can be a gamble from a Linux driver perspective, because it's seldom obvious from examining the box what chipset the card uses. You could try performing a web search on some models to find information on Linux driver support, or you could try cards in series until you find one that works. Another option is to step up a level or two in order to obtain a brand-name card with better-documented driver requirements. Consult the kernel configuration tools or the ALSA web page to learn what cards are supported.

Just because a card is supported under Linux doesn't mean that it will work well under Linux. In particular, features such as wavetable MIDI synthesis (which uses samples of instruments to play back good-sounding instrumentals from very small files) and surround sound features may not be supported. If these features are important to you, you'll have to do more extensive research to discover what Linux drivers support these features.

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