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Old 01-18-2009, 06:36 PM   #1
Registered: Dec 2008
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Sound Problem (Bad Quality in Most Applications)

I hope this is the right forum for this question. (sound problem)

At first I have to say that I'm not very well versed in sound in GNU/Linux. I don't know what ALSA means or maybe other things...

The first time I installed a Linux distribution on this PC the sound was working, however with very poor quality. The sound was always there and correct, but when I increased the volume you could hear that something was strange. (like when you hear radio with bad quality) I thought that the reason for it was a bad onboard sound card that had only drivers for windows with noise reduction (don't know really). This applied for all distros I tested (Fedora, Ubuntu, Debian).

So I decided to buy a new card. Unfortunately I didn't look up any list of supported sound cards and just bought a Sound Blaster Audigy SE.
At fist glance, the card worked fantastically! Now I'm noticing that the sound is not working well. My ears can't bear it. But it's another problem than with the onboard card. (Tested only on Fedora 10 with KDE)

When a sound starts playing the sound is not right there and continuous, it plays a bit, pauses shortly, continues, and so on. It's jerking. (don't know if it's the right word, the dictionary said this =))
So when I start KDE, the login sound is not played nicely (sometimes it says "device "xxx" is not workling properly, falling down to next device").
When the beginning of the sound is over the sound plays nicely (like the login sound). It's like loading at the beginning.

The main problem is that various applications don't play sound well. So games are almost unplayable because of the jerking sound. (like little explosions or noise... start stop)
Many music players like Amarok or MPlayer play music without many problems (but has also little problems at the first and last seconds of the song, not tragic)!
VLC has problems. (is it using a specific sound system?)

I tried changing the order of Device Preferences in the System Settings but that didn't help.

Would be nice if somebody could help me or just give me some small tips!
But I suppose it's not very easy to solve problem... =(
My system:


Last edited by aero_z; 01-19-2009 at 03:35 PM.
Old 01-19-2009, 10:24 AM   #2
Registered: May 2005
Location: New Zealand
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Hi aero_z

Not sure how much help I can be, but here goes...
I have an Audigy2 that has worked mostly well with two distros. Seems to me these cards are well supported by ALSA - but there are often some glitches depending on what distro users have.
(There are tips and tweaks about that kind of thing on the ALSA website.)

However it seems that things are definitely not set up right in your system.

You said: "So when I start KDE, the login sound is not played nicely (sometimes it says "device "xxx" is not workling properly, falling down to next device")."

This is a sign that something basic is not right. KDE has not established a good connection to your sound card (or ONE of them) so nothing that relies on KDE can be expected to work smoothly.

You could look at your boot messages and KDE logs to find out whether there is more information about exactly why the suspect device is said to be not working properly.

To get some good help on this forum you will need to say more about your OS and installed software.

For example, people will want to know what sound system you are using, e.g. OSS, ALSA.

Is ALSA installed? try...
cat /proc/asound/version

To determine whether you have drivers installed for your sound card, use the command:
lsmod | grep snd

Post the output here and people will be able to tell you whether you have the right drivers/modules installed.

If you have the right ALSA drivers installed for an Audigy card you should see a lot of entries that mention "snd_emu10k1".
I don't know much about OSS but, if you need it, I think the output from lsmod should say something like "snd_pcm_oss" if OSS is going to be usable.

About VLC: a player like that is great because you can TELL it what sound system and card to use.
In the VLC menu go to Settings>>Preferences>>Audio>>Output Modules: you will see the options to choose and set up for ALSA or OSS (and the sound cards that those systems know about).

Of course this will only work if a sound system like ALSA or OSS is properly installed and configured. I'm not a Fedora user, so I can't tell you how look into that for your distro.

But players like VLC (and Mplayer) are great because even if other applications (e.g. a browser, game, KDE) are confused about what sound cards and sound systems are present, you can configure VLC to use what you know you have.

Well, I can't promise to follow this thread and offer step-by-step help: I'm still struggling with some of those ASLA+Audigy tweaks myself. Just hope this helps.
Old 01-20-2009, 03:37 PM   #3
Registered: Dec 2008
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Thank you very much spindles for your time!

Here some outputs:

cat /proc/asound/version:

Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version 1.0.18a.

lsmod | grep snd:

snd_ca0106 32644 3
snd_rawmidi 22272 1 snd_ca0106
snd_ac97_codec 96672 1 snd_ca0106
snd_seq_dummy 6660 0
snd_seq_oss 30364 0
snd_seq_midi_event 9600 1 snd_seq_oss
snd_seq 48320 5 snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_seq_device 9996 4 snd_rawmidi,snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq
snd_pcm_oss 41600 0
snd_mixer_oss 16896 1 snd_pcm_oss
snd_pcm 64772 4 snd_ca0106,snd_ac97_codec,snd_pcm_oss
snd_timer 21896 2 snd_seq,snd_pcm
snd 51768 16 snd_ca0106,snd_rawmidi,snd_ac97_codec,snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq,snd_seq_device,snd_pcm_oss,s nd_mixer_oss,snd_pcm,snd_timer
soundcore 9416 1 snd
ac97_bus 5504 1 snd_ac97_codec
snd_page_alloc 11144 2 snd_ca0106,snd_pcm

I have to say that the sound quality increased a bit since the last time (like magic). The only thing I remember doing is following these instructions:

su -c 'vi /etc/pulse/'

replace load-module module-hal-detect
with load-module module-hal-detect tsched=0

su -c 'yum -y install pavucontrol pavumeter paman padevchooser paprefs alsa-plugins-pulseaudio gstreamer-plugins-pulse pulseaudio pulseaudio-core-libs pulseaudio-esound-compat pulseaudio-libs pulseaudio-libs-glib2 pulseaudio-libs-zeroconf pulseaudio-module-gconf pulseaudio-module-x11 pulseaudio-module-zeroconf pulseaudio-utils xine-lib-pulseaudio xmms-pulse'
pulseaudio -k

Well at least some apps and games work bether. (like vlc)

Sorry for posting this problem before looking at the other thread, but it was just coincidence... The problem is half solved now, but there is still a little bad sound!
Mainly games have problems with sound quality. (for example SuperTux, glest)

Thank you guys!

EDIT: where can I choose which sound system to use? OSS/ALSA?

Last edited by aero_z; 01-20-2009 at 03:55 PM.
Old 01-21-2009, 03:28 PM   #4
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If you have sound, then alsa is mostly installed and working. Sounds more like you've got the speakers hooked up to the wrong outputs. Or you need to change some mixer settings. Without a proper ~/.asoundrc for your setup, certain apps might have difficulty upsampling / downsampling the bitrate of the audio they're using. i.e. 44.1kHz (CDs) versus 48kHz (DVDs). There are apps to put a layer in there to help. jackd, artsd, esd, pulse audio, and probably others. They handle software mixing (several apps, one soundcard), software volume (it's softer, but not because you changed your hardware settings) and other nice-ities. Sometimes if you try to run more than one of them at a time, you have issues like you've described.

ALSA - advanced linux sound architecture (or something like that) - Originating from SuSE (the distro) - it basically deprecates OSS, and provides a layer of OSS emulation for those older and relatively unchanged applications.

Old 01-22-2009, 02:30 PM   #5
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Thank you Shadow_7! How should I verify if there are two such applications running at the same time?

Is there a control dialog box or program to configure the sound card? I don't know where to find it. (for maybe changing the bitrate)
Old 01-22-2009, 08:53 PM   #6
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$ ps -Al

(linux equivalent of task manager, although top, xtop, and others might look more like task manager)

I tend not to run any of those mixer applications. I'm generally not using more than one app with sound at a time anyway. Sound on a desktop environment, or instant messenger can get pretty old pretty fast anyway. I do however run jackd when using rosegarden, or ardour for sound recording / composing.


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