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Old 10-17-2010, 07:07 PM   #1
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Registered: Nov 2009
Posts: 14

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A sound solution for sound in Ubuntu

I'm an experienced seasoned Linux professional and yet even I am constantly annoyed by never ending issue with the state of sound in Linux. I have a Zotac Mag box that I'm trying desperately to use as a Linux HTPC but I can't ever seem to get the sound working consistently and completely. It is very embarrassing and frustrating to have visitors state very clearly "You wouldn't be having this problem if you'd just use Windows". What makes it worse is that I know they are correct. I am a Linux advocate, I am not concern trolling. I am a die-hard, open-source, free-software, zealot but I'm really frustrated and upset that no one is even willing to admit there is a problem and even worse, some get offended for pointing out any deficiencies in Linux.

If anyone can please point me to definitive documentation, or a guide that can assure fool-proof, perfectly working sound, please do so before I am forced to look at alternatives.

My sound is inconsistent, generally working in some appliations but not in others. I have more luck with digital sound input and output than with analog (dtv). mplayer is the most consistent application that works most of the time but sound in gnome and boxee and mythtv and generally anything else is hit-and-miss. There is a 2-3 second delay for any sound output which makes desktop sounds very inconsistent. I've been fighting this battle for months and I'm not sure there is a solution.

Ubuntu 10.10
mark@htpc:~$ uname -a
Linux htpc.localdomain 2.6.35-22-generic #34-Ubuntu SMP Sun Oct 10 09:24:00 UTC 2010 i686 GNU/Linux

aplay mark@htpc:~$ aplay -L
    Discard all samples (playback) or generate zero samples (capture)
    Playback/recording through the PulseAudio sound server
    HDMI Audio Output
    Direct sample mixing device
    Direct sample snooping device
    Direct hardware device without any conversions
    Hardware device with all software conversions
mark@htpc:~$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 3: NVIDIA HDMI [NVIDIA HDMI]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

mark@htpc:~$ lspci
00:00.0 Host bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Host Bridge (rev b1)
00:00.1 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Memory Controller (rev b1)
00:03.0 ISA bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 LPC Bridge (rev b2)
00:03.1 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Memory Controller (rev b1)
00:03.2 SMBus: nVidia Corporation MCP79 SMBus (rev b1)
00:03.3 RAM memory: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Memory Controller (rev b1)
00:03.5 Co-processor: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Co-processor (rev b1)
00:04.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP79 OHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b1)
00:04.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP79 EHCI USB 2.0 Controller (rev b1)
00:06.0 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP79 OHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev b1)
00:06.1 USB Controller: nVidia Corporation MCP79 EHCI USB 2.0 Controller (rev b1)
00:08.0 Audio device: nVidia Corporation MCP79 High Definition Audio (rev b1)
00:09.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Bridge (rev b1)
00:0a.0 Ethernet controller: nVidia Corporation MCP79 Ethernet (rev b1)
00:0b.0 IDE interface: nVidia Corporation MCP79 SATA Controller (rev b1)
00:0c.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
00:10.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
00:15.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
00:16.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
00:17.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
00:18.0 PCI bridge: nVidia Corporation MCP79 PCI Express Bridge (rev b1)
03:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation ION VGA (rev b1)
04:00.0 Network controller: Atheros Communications Inc. AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) (rev 01)
mark@htpc:~$ lsmod
Module                  Size  Used by
binfmt_misc             6599  1 
parport_pc             26058  0 
ppdev                   5556  0 
snd_usb_audio          86704  2 
snd_usbmidi_lib        17413  1 snd_usb_audio
ir_lirc_codec           3092  3 
lirc_dev                9393  1 ir_lirc_codec
ir_sony_decoder         1889  0 
ir_jvc_decoder          1950  0 
ir_rc6_decoder          2334  0 
ir_rc5_decoder          1950  0 
nvidia               9329739  100 
tuner                  20578  1 
au8522                 16289  2 
snd_hda_codec_nvhdmi    12879  1 
arc4                    1165  2 
ath9k                  88756  0 
snd_hda_intel          22107  0 
ath9k_common            5982  1 ath9k
snd_hda_codec          87552  2 snd_hda_codec_nvhdmi,snd_hda_intel
ath9k_hw              292297  2 ath9k,ath9k_common
ath                     8153  2 ath9k,ath9k_hw
mac80211              231541  2 ath9k,ath9k_common
snd_hwdep               5040  2 snd_usb_audio,snd_hda_codec
snd_pcm                71475  3 snd_usb_audio,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec
snd_seq_midi            4588  0 
snd_rawmidi            17783  2 snd_usbmidi_lib,snd_seq_midi
snd_seq_midi_event      6047  1 snd_seq_midi
snd_seq                47174  2 snd_seq_midi,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_timer              19067  2 snd_pcm,snd_seq
rc_rc6_mce              1146  0 
mceusb                 11494  0 
snd_seq_device          5744  3 snd_seq_midi,snd_rawmidi,snd_seq
ir_nec_decoder          2014  0 
au0828                 32905  0 
dvb_core               88505  1 au0828
v4l2_common            17329  3 tuner,au8522,au0828
psmouse                59033  0 
ir_core                14654  9 ir_lirc_codec,ir_sony_decoder,ir_jvc_decoder,ir_rc6_decoder,ir_rc5_decoder,rc_rc6_mce,ir_nec_decoder,mceusb
snd                    49006  14 snd_usb_audio,snd_usbmidi_lib,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_hwdep,snd_pcm,snd_rawmidi,snd_seq,snd_timer,snd_seq_device
cfg80211              144470  4 ath9k,ath9k_common,ath,mac80211
videodev               43098  4 tuner,au8522,au0828,v4l2_common
v4l1_compat            13359  1 videodev
videobuf_vmalloc        4619  1 au0828
serio_raw               4022  0 
videobuf_core          16907  2 au0828,videobuf_vmalloc
joydev                  8735  1 
led_class               2633  1 ath9k
tveeprom               11178  1 au0828
shpchp                 29886  0 
soundcore                880  1 snd
snd_page_alloc          7120  2 snd_hda_intel,snd_pcm
agpgart                32011  1 nvidia
i2c_nforce2             5179  0 
xc5000                 11623  2 
lp                      7342  0 
parport                31492  3 parport_pc,ppdev,lp
usb_storage            40172  1 
usbhid                 36882  0 
hid                    67742  1 usbhid
ahci                   19013  0 
forcedeth              49433  0 
libahci                21667  5 ahci
mark@htpc:~$ cat ~/.asoundrc 
pcm.!hdmi-remap {
type asym
playback.pcm {
type plug
slave.pcm "remap-surround71"

pcm.!remap-surround71 {
  type route
  slave.pcm "hw:0,3"
  ttable {
  0.0= 1   # front left
  1.1= 1   # front right
  2.6= 1   # rear left
  3.7= 1   # rear right
  4.2= 1   # center
  5.3= 1   # lfe
  6.4= 1   # side left
  7.5= 1   # side right
Old 10-18-2010, 07:29 AM   #2
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So, this happens only in Ubuntu ? Does it happen in other distros ?
Old 10-20-2010, 04:44 AM   #3
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Registered: Oct 2010
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The sound scheme in Jaunty has some important changes that you need to be aware of. Alsa 1.0.18 and Pulseaudio 0.9.14 are implemented in Jaunty.
Old 11-09-2010, 12:14 PM   #4
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I got a very similar setup jetway not zotec but almost the same internals.

I've had no issues under gentoo running xfce with alsa and no pulseaudio anywhere (what a piece of cr*p)

I don't use gstreamer either, but i don't think that was the issue. It's just unnecessary.

sound over hdmi works fine in mplayer and vlc. No delays I've noticed.

Ditching ubuntu was my solution to similar issues, I couldn't find a way to scrub pulseaudio from ubuntu.

If i didn't have the time/inclination for Gentoo I'd use Slackware or Arch. As long as pulse is not used you should be fine.

I don't use any media center type stuff, but i've heard no sound issues with any programs or desktop sounds over hdmi, spifd and analog out.

Last edited by dougunder; 11-09-2010 at 12:22 PM.
Old 11-09-2010, 02:16 PM   #5
Registered: Jul 2005
Posts: 335

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Try another distro that doesn't force an overly complex sound system on its users. Alsa should do fine for most applications, and unless you plan on trying to play multiple files at once that all need a diffrent volume, there shouldn't be any problems.


alsa, audio, htpc, pulseaudio, sound

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