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Testing Challenges in Personal Computer Audio Systems

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The Personal Computer Audio environment has evolved over the years to become a tier one entity within the acquisition and rendering of audio information. The personal computer is a highly stochastic interactive environment that is much more complex than a traditional dedicated capture or rendering device, lending itself to new problem areas. These include, but are not limited to, stochastic interrupts, network accesses, disc I/O and disparate hardware qualities. While the environment of a highly matrixed multi-tasking concurrent operating system lends itself to many opportunities to overcome quality issues, the PC due to the media rich tools and feature sets is becoming the capture and rendering device of choice for future generations. Many of the quality issues have been hardware focused, such as converter quality, power supply quality and component metrics. We will be focusing on software performance metrics which are, by definition, much more difficult to ascertain. The tests will include "glitch verification", throughput latency, and MIDI latency. We will also address traditional audio measurements such as distortion, frequency response and signal-to-noise ratios, but will extend these to new depths.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society