Episode 74: Linux and Audio

News & Personal Updates

Main Topic

Short Segment

  • 0:53:33 Now Hear This!


Website of the Week

  • www.linuxaudio.org
    Linuxaudio.org is a not-for-profit consortium of libre software projects and artists, companies, institutions, organizations, and hardware vendors using Linux kernel-based systems and allied libre software for audio-related work, with an emphasis on professional tools for the music, production, recording, and broadcast industries.

Tip of the Week

  • Inexpensive, external low-latency USB audio interfaces such as the Behringer UCA 202 and 222 can allow you to connect musical instruments to your Linux Digital Audio Workstation.  Tascam and M-Audio offer similar products.  Additionally, by placing the audio interface outside the computer (away from interference from other components) you can eliminate buzz and hum from your recordings.


  • Send in mintCast logos and T-Shirt designs for a chance to win one of the new mintCast T-Shirts in our contest.
    The best logos and designs will win a free T-Shirt, so send in your designs by July 31th.

More info

Hosts: Rob, Scott, James, Harrison
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Podcast Entry and exit music provided by Mark Blasco. http://www.podcastthemes.com/ The podcast’s bumpers were provided by Oscar.

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11 Replies to “Episode 74: Linux and Audio”

  1. Jamie Bingham

    you asked in latest podcast about why Pulse Audio is so crappy. In my experience, I’ve got several pc’s and most work ok but my newest machine is one that I’ve built myself

    ECS MCP61M-M3 motherboard with hda-intel-snd
    nvidia chipset

    now with this machine I’ve tried several distros, started with mint 9 and it worked ok but could not crank up the volume, as in 20% if I did the volume would mute. I played with the alsamixer controls and finally found a sweet spot but at the point where the main pulse volume control is at 100% you could barely hear any audio at all. I was willing to settle with this for a while until a fix cropped up. In the midst of waiting I had hard drive crash. Got a new hard drive and decided to try a few more distro’s on live-cd. In which I installed PCLinuxOS KDE worked ok on live-cd but after a couple days installed, guess what audio started to mute along with having two audio applications open at the same time a no go.

    Example: if I had firefox open on a flash video and paused it to play the radio say with vlc, rhythmbox. stop radio from playing by shutting down vlc, rhythmbox or just stopping it. Unpause flash video in firefox no audio. would have to restart firefox so audio would come back in flash. Now I went through the various fixes found online and yes they’d work but only for a few days. Finally wiped the install all together and went with PCLinuxOS lxde 2010.12 installed fully updated and still working to this point. I supposed this is and has always has been a pulse audio problem.

    Now I say this because when I ran distros without pulse audio installed by default I had no problems whatsoever. I do keep my system fully updated every week, and don’t laugh but I mostly run puppy linux off of a multi-session dvd , why because it has no pulse audio and I save what I need back to the cd and last but most important is the fact audio is not a problem with alsa only. It works every time I boot, Im not holding my breathe hoping that my audio is going to mute out every time I raise the volume control.

    Sorry for the long post but in my opinion a-l-s-a is exactly what it’s titled, advanced compared to pulse!

    LOL thanks for letting me rant


  2. Sid32

    Would be nice to go into all the firefox plugins for sound and videos. I seem to have a dozen or so of them. Everything plays fine, but do I need vlc, win media, totem, etc?

    I know its not all pure sound issue, but seems to run along side.

  3. BostonPeng

    Thanks for doing a podcast on Linux audio. I worked in a recording studio back in New Orleans (back in the day) and I’ve also done live sound as well as some production work for an internet radio station I used to work with. Between that and my own work as a (frustrated) musician I’m always on the lookout for not only better ways to create sound but also for info on how the technology works. This episode was delicious food for my geeky desire to know how things work.

    When I had an apartment in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood I began building a small project studio to work on my own music as well as recordings of the worship band I mixed at a local church. I was a Windows guy back then, using Steinberg’s Cubase software and an Echo Layla audio and MIDI interface, as well as a borrowed MIDI keyboard and some software synths. The system was great for not only working on demos of my Christian rock songs but also for my classical compositions and I really miss having the gear to work on new music on.

    Having been an Ubuntu user when they added Pulse I dealt with the frustration of trying to get things working and it’s good to know the reason it was such a pain in the rear. Now it makes sense that it got such a bad rap. Of course as a KDE user all of the GNOME audio options aren’t of that much use to me but it’s good to finally know what everything is. Would it be possible to create a page with the general info in the podcast? I’m one of those weird folk who like having a single page to get the range of info on this kind of thing. If it doesn’t exist yet I’d be willing to try to create something for my blog with the info.

    Keep up the great work. Every weekend I’m looking forward to seeing what good info mintCast will have for me when the new week starts.

  4. rad_sci_guy

    Hi Guys

    Just wanted to let you know that even though this latest episode took a bit of time to load I was successful in getting it to play on all my devices and in my car stereo as well.

  5. RHTopics

    This podcast about audio was interesting and well done.

    I have a 13 year old Compaq Presario desktop computer that has an ES1869 built-in sound card. It is Sound Blaster compatible.

    Linux does not see the sound card by default. Several years ago I would manually insert the OSS SB module to get sound working. The computer currently has Debian 5 installed and it does not support the OSS SB module. Instead, after searching the Internet for the right module to load and configure, I am inserting the module “snd_es18xx” with a string of parameters. This is an ALSA supported module. The utility program “alsaconf” was needed to create the proper configuration file for the sound card.

    The sound card works great. I have the computer connected to my home sound system and occasionally “rip vinyl” with it using audacity.

    Thanks for the enjoyable podcast.

    • Scott

      Older hardware used Intel’s AC97 interface architecture. In addition to AC97 defining control and data access functions (as well as a Plug and play setup interface), it also defines a couple standardized audio formats which are common to many desktop computers. This includes 16-bit and 20-bit sample size and 48 kilohertz and 96 kilohertz sample rates for multichannel recording and playback. Newer hardware has moved to High Definition Audio, or HDA, which is also an Intel spec, and allows for controlling a much more sophisticated audio system. To see which spec you are running, open a terminal and type “lsmod | grep snd”. Let’s have each host do that now. Do you see references to HDA modules, or AC97?

      Also, open a terminal and type “alsamixer”. What you get is an ncurses based graphical mixer program for ALSA. Play around with it a little while listening to this podcast or some music. You can put it in ‘playback’ or ‘capture’ mode using the F3 and F4 keys and just see the controls related to that activity. Or you go to ‘all’ mode by pressing f5 and see both.

      • BostonPeng

        Thanks! I was hoping I wouldn’t have to hunt the commands down in the podcast. It’s one of those cases where listening to a podcast on a digital media player while away from the computer isn’t always a good idea.

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