Frequently Asked Questions about Optical Audio USB 2.0 Sound Cards

Optical audio connections can be used to connect your computer to your sound system. External USB 2.0 audio cards can be a method of adding a digital audio port to your computer without installing a card inside your computer. When choosing an external USB 2.0 audio card, there are different styles and features available to use.

How do you select an external USB 2.0 sound card?
  • Select connections: In addition to the optical audio port, you can also select ports like a line in, headphone, and other connections to add additional audio systems to the sound card.
  • Choose a brand. There are several brands available, such as Creative, Hercules, Vantec, and others. You can also select from various unbranded and generic options.
  • Review the speaker system: The number of speakers will determine the number of channels supported by the external sound card.
How do the channel options differ?
  • 5.1 surround sound: This type has a total of six channels that include five speakers and a single subwoofer. The formats supported by this channel system include Dolby Digital. DTS. 5.1 is referred to as a standard surround-sound system and is used in small to medium-sized rooms.
  • 7.1 surround sound: This type uses a total of eight channels; it includes seven speakers coupled with a subwoofer. Three speakers will be placed on the left side and three on the right. The seventh speaker is placed in the center front along with the subwoofer. This type is used for large rooms, and it supports high-definition formats.
What are the features of an external 2.0 USB sound card?
  • Volume control: Some USB 2.0 audio cards will have a dial or set of buttons for adjusting the volume of your speakers.
  • LCD screen: Some units will have a display embedded in the box where you can view its settings.
  • Amplifier: On some models that are designed to convert digital signals to analog, an amplifier is built into the sound card. This is designed to provide extra adjustments to the sound output.
  • Remote: Some units include a remote that allows you to control the settings without having to touch the external card.
  • Wireless connections: Some sound cards let you connect audio devices wirelessly to the computer. This can include Bluetooth connections for allowing your smartphone to play media on your speakers.
What types of connections are available?
  • Line in: This type of connection allows you to connect a microphone that uses a standard 3.5mm line-in cable.
  • Output: A 3.5mm-output connection can also be included on an external USB 2.0 sound card. This allows you to connect a pair of headphones that use a 3.5mm cable.
  • USB: Some USB 2.0 external sound cards will carry additional USB 2.0 ports for attaching additional USB 2.0 audio equipment to your sound card.