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Jane Delawney 03-27-2003 07:03 PM

Troubleshooting tips (and a useful hardware kludge) for CD audio problems
From surfing the forums it seems that problems with playing audio CDs occupy the minds of many newbs...including me :)

Here are some troubleshooting tips, and a handy hardware kludge, which some may find as useful as I did.

I was in the same position as many newbs. Recent Linux install (mandrake 9) and everything works except CD audio. I read the forums, man pages, howtos, Mandrake documentation. All of some help - I gathered that the problem probably related to the way my distro designates my drives (I have a CDRW - CDROM0 - which fstab identifies as /dev/scd0 and a dvdrom - CDROM1 - which is /dev/hdd thanks to my somewhat unusual partitioning scheme
:) )

And the symlinks don't appear to work. I deleted them and recreated them; still no joy!

But anyway, in theory, the problem should be easy to solve. Just point kscd at /dev/scd0 rather than /mnt/cdrom, and it should play. Well of course it did - that is, the player registered track times and so forth; but no sound output. Nothing.

Further investigation: Linux requires the CD drive to be connected to the sound card with a dedicated audio cable. Fine, let's see if I have one. I open the case, find a cable - and it's connected to the DVDrom, not the CDRW.

First, I tried pointing kscd at /dev/hdd. Didn't like it at all! Seven crashes of kscd, and one global KDE crash, later, I gave up, and applied logic.

If there's no output thro' the sound card, doesn't mean the drive's not working. I mean, the software *thinks* the CD is playing...

Most CDroms and CD-RWs have an output socket on the front. This is a 3.5mm headphone socket. From somewhere beg, borrow or otherwise obtain a set of 'phones with a 3.5mm jack plug on the end (if you've only got the larger sort, get an adaptor, they're cheap). Phones from a Walkman work fine. Plug into your CD drive's phones socket, listen to CD.

If you've got the player pointing to the right device, even if you don't have that all important audio cable, you will now be able to listen to your audio CDs, on headphones.

But that's a nuisance? Agreed. So (in the UK) get on down to Maplin's - or your local equivalent elsewhere, a store that sells all kinds of electronic, audio, video, whatever, bits and pieces. Buy a Stereo cable which has 3.5mm jack plugs on each end. Connect one jack plug to the headphone socket on the CD player, and the other to the audio-in socket on your sound card (this will usually be marked as the microphone socket). These cables are cheap too - 3 or 4 quid.

Fire up kscd, or whatever your chosen player might be, and you should be able to hear your CDs through your speaker system.

OK, it's a kludge, and it's not very pretty. But it's probably quicker than a special order for a cable to connect your (specific) CD drive to your (specific) sound card. For those nervous of open cases and fiddling with hardware, it's really easy. And as a short term solution it works pretty well.

Still left with the problem of why kscd won't recognise /dev/hdd and why grip won't recognise either device right now, but that's another thread.

And I have my CD collection back!

Hope this is of some help,


Aussie 03-27-2003 07:12 PM

Any computer parts retailer/repairer can sell you an internal audio cable for a few dollars, they are easy to install as the sound card and drive connections are clearly labled and no other internal cable will have the same plugs.

Jane Delawney 03-31-2003 05:58 PM

OK got it - but reckon there's still a good chance that some newbs might welcome information that will allow them to deal with this issue without opening their box.

Plus...*gulp*. I went to buy that cable...the guy at the PC World store wanted exact make/model nos. for my drive & sound card. Can't help wondering whether he didn't know his stuff...or whether he did it on purpose because I'm a girly.

I'll never know. But next time, I stick with Maplin's, even tho' the guy visibly twitched when I told him my problem was with a linux box.


Aussie 03-31-2003 06:21 PM

Chances are he didn't have a clue, I want into a local shop the other day to ask a few questions about the linux servers they had advertised, I wanted to know what distro and version, and the sales monkey said "Whats linux?" Needless to say I won't be shopping there.

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