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Trouble shooting ALSA on Debian

Posted 07-17-2010 at 10:02 PM by craigevil
Updated 08-10-2010 at 06:59 AM by craigevil

First go through the ALSA checklist:
1) add yourself to the 'audio' group (log out and log in again) , as root add username audio, where username is your user's name
2) use alsamixer and unmute channels and raise levels (also try muting some channels & toggle jack sense)

--$ alsamixer <Enter> {You will be able to control the volumes and balance through the keyboard.}

Press: Alt+F2
Then type: /usr/bin/kmix {Click 'Run'.}

For Xfce 4:
Press: Alt+F2
then type: /usr/bin/xfce4-mixer {Click 'Run'}

3) arts or esound stopped?
4) OSS modules unloaded?
5) speakers on?
6) As root
modprobe snd-pcm-oss
7) Test your sound with aplay and a wav so codec issues don't confuse the situation. does this work for root:
aplay  /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Noise.wav
8) Check what soundcards are detected by your system
cat /proc/asound/cards
9) List the sound module in use
cat /proc/asound/modules
10) List the sound playback devices on your system
aplay -l
11) One way to check what ALSA driver you have is
cat /proc/asound/version
12) Do you have alsa-utils installed? One way to check is to see if you have /etc/init.d/alsa-utils If not found install it by doing
apt-get update && apt-get install alsa-utils
This script will give a detailed output of the current alsa setup on your system.
Download this script save it as
To run and create the info file
bash ./ --no-upload <-- without this option it will upload to
To view the created file
 less /tmp/alsa-info.txt
Or to paste it to
bash ./ --pastebin
You can also use the HDA Analyzer
The HDA analyzer tool provides a graphical interface to access the raw HD-audio control, based on pyGTK2 binding. The program gives you an easy-to-use GUI stuff for showing the widget information and adjusting the amp values, as well as the proc-compatible output.

This tool can parse also proc files (/proc/asound/card#/codec*) and output from script and monitor mode (check --help option).

If none of that works then you need to find the specific audio chipset to add to your /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf file.

Each combination of audio codec, audio mixer and audio device name requires a very specific configuration in the alsa-base.conf file.

The following string needs to be added to the /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf file

options snd-hda-intel model=YOUR_MODEL

You can find your codec chip name using this command

cat /proc/asound/card*/codec* | grep Codec
Then look at
find your codecs and model and add the appropriiate line to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

Valid model names (that replace YOUR_MODEL) depending on the codec chip, can be found here and here.

Also check to see if there is more than one alsactl executable in your path and remove the wrong/oldest one.
sudo which alsactl
or su if you do not have sudo setup. It should return something like this:
# which alsactl
Having more than one alsactl can cause your sound settings to be muted during every boot.

For more info see:
LinuxPlanet - Tutorials - Using ALSA to Control Linux Audio - ALSA User Tools
SoundTroubleshooting - -
ALSA Multi-channel Audio mini-HOWTO

If none of these steps work, either take your computer back to where you bought it or get used to not having sound. Sound is overrated anyway.
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