We have a PC application that runs on Windows 7 platform that is designed to play sound to up to 10 different MP3's to up to 10 separate sound cards (ie. 10 different inputs playing to 10 different output channels - all at same time). This software was actually designed to play translations of a lecture to foreign students.
The problem we have is the hardware implementation. Obviously, you can't fit 10 sound cards into standard pc, so we have been using external usb sound cards attached to the back of the pc via usb hubs, then headphones are plugged into the external sound card. This all works.. but there are issues / problems. They are:
- We end up with a mass of complicated / confusing cabling behind the pc (usb in pc -> usb hub , each hub then connecting to usb sound cards (via a cable), then headphones). This tangle causes problems
- The mini usb sound cards can be unreliable, and we get failures
- If a usb is accidentally unplugged, Windows loses track of which channel goes where.
The good thing about the above architecture is that it is very inexpensive (usb sound cards are less than $20 each).
So, my questions are:
Can anyone think of a better architecture to deliver 10 channels to 10 sets of headphones?
Could we somehow extend the number of pci slots on the pc perhaps, and run 10 proper sound cards?