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Sound Card Duplex, Half and Full
This term arises from communications use, where full-duplex (sometimes spelled without the hyphen) refers to a system that can send and receive simultaneously, as in a standard telephone (where only politeness prevents both parties from talking at the same time). Half-duplex systems can only do one thing at a time, either send or receive.
The "full-duplex" designation is often applied to sound cards that can acquire input data via an ADC at the same time they are producing output data via a DAC. Note that "full" tells nothing about the bit resolution in each direction, and a sound card may legitimately be called "full-duplex" if it can acquire 16-bit data while generating 8-bit data, or vice-versa. (This was the case with most ISA-bus Sound Blaster cards, for example.)
"Full" also tells nothing about the number of channels in each direction. Most full-duplex cards can achieve stereo operation in both directions, but there are some cards that are stereo in either direction alone but only mono in both directions at once.
However, even stereo full-duplex cards may not synchronize the input and output streams properly, or maybe only at certain sample rates. It is thus important to use the Duplex Delay option during Auto-Calibrate to determine the card's capabilities.
See also Full-Duplex Techniques
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