The Complete Guide to Computer Aviation
by Steve Smith
THE SOUND AND THE FURY
Well, there is one little thing. Sound. The tinny, tiny little squeaks and squawks that emanate from the PC's two-inch internal loudspeaker just don't cut it. I find a sound board absolutely indispensable for the enjoyment of not only flight simulations but also for every other kind of game, MIDI device (music), or multimedia CD-ROM.
The software of virtually every game in this book includes an entirely different set of audio signals than the ones you hear piped through a PC's internal speaker—richer, lusher, more complex, more interesting, far more realistic. Your sound board detects and amplifies these signals and routes them to either an external speaker or through your hi-fi. Big Sound.
You will hear not only engine noises, cannon fire, missile launches, bombs, and crashes, but also radio traffic from other pilots and the control tower, advanced targeting electronics (the Sidewinder's famous "growl" when its radar locks onto a target), and great swells of theme music specially composed to heighten the illusion of flight and adventure.
One program,Falcon, can take advantage of two sound boards at once—one for cockpit chatter, the other for sounds of battle (provided one of the boards is the estimable-but-hideously-expensive Roland).
The de facto standard in sound boards is the SoundBlaster, which comes in various permutations (for example, SoundBlaster Pro, SoundBlaster 16). Many sound board manufacturers promise "SoundBlaster compatibility"; sometimes it's true. Another standard is AdLib, which is nearly identical to that of the SoundBlaster and sometimes—but not always—compatible with it. MediaVision is the third most popular standard.
Trust me: get a sound board (they're getting fancy—enhanced models now cost over $400, but you can find simple ones for under $50); it will make your day.