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Whether you are attempting to build your own computer or are studying what makes your prebuilt computer tick, you are going to hear all about the motherboard. Much like a real human mother, a motherboard is designed to take care of your entire PC.
It allows all of the computer’s components and parts to talk to one another and be connected together. Without your motherboard, then all the other parts of your computer will not be able to work well together.
As you look into some of the different types of motherboards, you will also notice that there are places for cables to be attached to different slots. One of these cables is an AAFP cable. But with so many strange terms around a computer, you might not know what AAFP means.
This article is going to tell you what an AAFP means on a motherboard, and it will also show you why that connector is so important.
Still, if you have ever plugged a headset or set of earphones into a headphone jack on your computer, you’ve already experienced and used the AAFP!
What is AAFP on Motherboard?
AAFP Motherboards are just a fancy way of saying that the motherboard in question has an AAFP connector on it.
The Analog Audio Front Panel connector comes with an HD audio header, allowing you to listen to HD sound while you are gaming. The AAFP connects to a chassis-mounted front panel audio I/O module, which lets you listen to one of two types of sound, either HD audio or the legacy AC’97 audio standard.
An I/O shield is a very specific plate that is built for a specific motherboard, and it snaps onto the back of your PC case. When you buy your motherboard, the specific I/O will come with it, and that is where you will find the AAFP port.
Once you plug your headphone or microphone into the associated jack, then your device is plugged into a pin grid on the motherboard called an HD audio header. This allows your computer to auto-detect whenever you plug in your devices and then make changes to the audio accordingly.
For example, if you have sounds playing through the speakers and then unplug the speakers and put in your headphones, the audio header will detect the device change and send the sounds through your headphones. In some cases, the HD audio can even mute the speakers and continue to play the sound through the headphones too.
This is also why a pop-up will often happen on your computer or on third-party applications like Discord whenever you plug in a device for the first time. Your computer has recognized that a device has been plugged in, and it wants to know what to do with it.
What is The Difference Between AC’97 and HD Audio?
If you have an older motherboard, the connector for the sound was an AC’97 header. You will either just have a selector that can take you between the AC’97 and HD audio modes, or a forked cable for connectors for both HD audio and AC’97 audio. For newer motherboards, AC’97 isn’t an option at all, and if it is, then you will probably be ignoring it in favor of HD.
AC’97 audio was the first attempt to use and integrate an audio player inside of motherboards and chips. However, it was quickly eclipsed by the better HD audio motherboards because HD had auto-detection for headphones, and HD audio gives you much better audio quality. AC’97 audio was fine in its day, but now the world of audio belongs to HD.
What if my Audio Jack Doesn’t Work?
Of course, auto-detection might say that your device is connected. But sometimes, you boot up a game or video and still have to deal with the sound not coming out of the headphone jack and reaching your ears. If your audio jack doesn’t seem to be working, then make sure that the device works on your other electronics.
If your device does work on your other electronics, then the problem isn’t with your headphones, so start looking for the other sound ports inside of your AAFP motherboard. If there is not any sound coming from either port inside of your motherboard, then try going into the PC and disabling your Realtek drivers.
Once the Realtek is reinstalled, then you can check your connector settings and disable the front panel jack detection option, and then try to test the affected jack to see if you get sound.
It is mostly a driver issue whenever your jacks don’t provide sound, so making sure to check and reinstall your audio drivers is one of the first troubleshooting options to get things resolved.
What if my Audio Port Breaks?
We’ve all tripped over a cable or two in our lifetime. But whenever that cable is connected to an audio port and things get wrenched, not only does sound stop coming from that jack, but the motherboard could be damaged as well, which is something you don’t want. In most cases, you can connect a USB audio solution to your computer, which will allow you to connect a port to your computer through a USB.
If the motherboard isn’t damaged (and you’ll be able to tell if the motherboard is damaged because the computer will stop working), you can fix the port with some soldering or take it to a repair shop. If the AAFP jack was damaged and the motherboard was damaged along with it, then you need to get a brand new motherboard.
Do I Need Headphones or Speakers for HD Sound?
If you have got the sounds you want coming through the headphone jacks, then you might wonder what the best way to experience that sound is. Especially if you have a high-end motherboard that connects to your equally high-end gaming computer! The biggest choice you will have to make is between speakers or headphones/earbuds, with pros and cons for both.
Do You Want Privacy?
Of course, the first consideration is whether you want people to hear whatever is coming out of your computer. Do you want the people downstairs or in the next room to hear about what’s going on in your moving or video game? If you are entertaining others or really don’t mind that much, then you can get some speakers.
You could even get really powerful speakers to ensure that people will be able to hear all about what you are watching as well! Still, if you prefer to keep what is going on on your screen private, then a good pair of headphones is going to work just as well for you and your needs.
Do You Want to Hear Details?
Still, in order to get the most of your HD sound, honestly, headphones can be much more accurate in terms of making sure you hear the smaller details. If you want to listen to every single detail, then an accurate pair of headphones can be helpful.
You can even pair the headphones with noise cancellation to make sure that your music is the only thing that you hear when you put them on.
Do You Want Surround Sound?
However, speakers are better at providing the feeling that you are surrounded by the music or have the band of the song you are playing inside of the room with you. It stops you from feeling like the music is all inside of your head as well, and the ambient noise of the room can also mix in with the music and can fool your brain into believing the music is a part of the room you are in.
What about Quality?
Regardless of which one you pick, you need to make sure to get some that are good quality. While it might seem like a no-brainer to pick up an old set of speakers for $20 or borrow a three-year-old headset from a family member, you won’t be getting all the benefits of the HD sound if you don’t make an investment in your speakers or headset.
Watch the Noise Level to Protect Your Hearing
There is one other thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to audio. No matter what you plug into your AAFP jack, make sure the volume is safe for your ears. When it comes to using headphones over speakers, we tend to turn up the headphones louder which can be bad for our ears.
Make sure to monitor the volume level and make sure to keep your ears safe whenever you are listening to your music.
An AAFP is More Important than You Think
Hopefully, you’ve learned that an AAFP is more important than you first thought because it allows you to listen to sound and experience all that HD audio has to offer. So make sure to look for it whenever you are installing a brand new motherboard!