Inadequate sound device control

Jonathan Kamens jik at
Tue Apr 17 12:21:05 UTC 2012

On 4/17/2012 7:25 AM, Matthias Clasen wrote:
> Well put Adam, thanks. That being said, we certainly want to provide
> enough control to let people use their sound cards. If something is
> missing, by all means, let us know. But "I need control on the level of
> <picture of alsa mixer>" is not a very concrete description of what our
> controls don't let you do...
Well, let's see...

Once recently the audio I was playing was being mixed with the audio 
being transmitted to others. E.g., if I had a music player going while 
using Skype, the people at the other end of the line could hear the 
music mixed directly into the audio they were getting (it was /not/ 
going through the microphone). I have no idea how things got into this 
state -- I certainly didn't configure them this way -- and the only way 
to fix it was through tweaking the ALSA channels.

To get my microphone to work properly, I recently had to play with the 
"Front Mic" and "Front Mic Boost" channels in the ALSA mixer. Just 
tweaking the input volume slider in pulseaudio wasn't doing the job. I 
don't know why that is... I don't understand all the ins and outs of how 
my sound card or sound cards in general work, nor do I wish to. I just 
want to be able to make my system work properly.

Those are two use cases I can think of right now; there are others that 
come up from time to time that I can't think of off the top of my head.

If ALSA and pulseaudio worked better together, i.e., they were, between 
the two of them, smart enough to automatically DTRT with the low-level 
sound settings, then there would be no need for anyone but the real 
audiophiles to access those settings directly. But they /don't/ work 
perfectly together. If you just fixed all the glitches so that 
everything worked better out-of-the-box, I'd be perfectly happy never 
needing to run the ALSA mixer again.


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