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AW: PC sound cards
For most experiments, the quality of the software and the
loudspeakers/headphones with which you work will be more critical than the
quality of the sound card.
The built-in midi instruments in most sound cards are inappropriate for
several reasons: poor sampling rate, high noise content, faulty or
inflexible intonation, etc.. Instead, I recommend working with audio (e.g.
*.WAV) file playback, with files to be called up either via a sampler or
computer interface, or from burned CDs or DVDs. In contrast to midi, the
qualitative differences in the playback of audio files from card to card are
To generate *.WAV files, I suggest a powerful synthesis package like CSOUND.
For a more conventionally "musical" interface, I have found Anderberg's ACID
WAVE (synthesis) and WAVEMAKER (rendering) programs to be very handy.
However, for most experimental samples and for users comfortable with
mathematical descriptions, using a general mathematics program like Mathlab
is an excellent alternative.