An audio driver is a type of computer file used by a computer’s operating system (OS) to recognize and properly interact with an audio device. It usually refers to a driver used for sound cards within a computer, but can also be used in reference to drivers necessary for especially complex sound systems or audio input devices as well. An audio driver may come with a piece of audio hardware or may be downloaded or updated through the Internet.
Drivers are, in general, software files installed onto a computer to help devices and other types of hardware run properly with a computer. In order for an OS installed on a computer to recognize everything else connected to that computer and work with those things properly, drivers identify various components for an OS and help it all work effectively. An audio driver is simply a specific type of driver that focuses on audio devices and helping an OS recognize and work with such devices.
Audio devices can come in a number of forms, though typically a sound card or similar input or output device is involved. Sound cards may often be built into a computer system as part of a motherboard, usually referred to as onboard sound, or they can be separate components that need to be installed into a system. A sound card is usually used to allow a computer to process audio information and output that information through speakers as auditory sound.
The OS on a computer uses an audio driver to recognize a sound card and allow the computer to utilize all the options and features a sound card can provide. An OS can also sometimes have audio driver files installed during installation of the OS, to allow a number of different devices to operate at least in basic ways with a computer. Devices will typically have specific drivers made for use with the device, and installing this type of audio driver allows the OS on a computer to fully access and work with a device.
These drivers will usually come with an audio device on a disc and can be installed during the physical installation process of the device. Many manufacturers of audio devices will also frequently update and improve the audio drivers used by their devices. These updated drivers can usually be downloaded from the website of a manufacturer and can fix problems with device software or include new features that take better advantage of the hardware or device.