[blfs-support] ALSA and No Sound

Dan McGhee beesnees at grm.net
Fri Dec 20 09:58:59 PST 2013

On 12/20/2013 11:34 AM, Bruce Dubbs wrote:
> Dan McGhee wrote:
>> On 12/19/2013 08:27 AM, Dan McGhee wrote:
>>> On 12/18/2013 04:14 PM, Dan McGhee wrote:
>>>> The only addition and possibly relevant info is that my HP laptop, HP
>>>> ENVY m6 Sleekbook, has "Beats Audio."  I don't know if I need to install
>>>> or do anything other than alsa.  I want to use the minimal number of
>>>> packages to get the functionality that I'd like.  I do know that Ubuntu
>>>> uses pulse-audio.  Additionally, I found this "HowTo"
>>>> http://www.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/17sov5/
>>>> It uses "jack" to "re-pin" the speakers.  "JACK" and pulseaudio are
>>>> listed as "optional" dependencies for alsa-plugins.  If I need one or
>>>> both of these, I want to install them.  If they're not absolutely
>>>> necessary, I'd like to get this configured "as is."
>>> Yup, this is it. I misread the "HowTo." It doesn't use "Jack" it uses an
>>> application called "hda-jack-retask." Apparently, Beats Audio is a
>>> super-duper, laptop, surround sound setup. The way I understand what I
>>> have read is that ALSA, and the current hda-intel drivers, are set up to
>>> use the two "front" speakers of a laptop. In Beats Audio these speakers
>>> are used for something else than standard "right-left" channels--maybe
>>> LFE and woofer, I can't remember right now.
>>> The trick is in knowing which motherboard pin goes to what speaker. I
>>> did something like this in a previous life when I had an Audigy sound
>>> card on my PC. It had 7.1 capability and all the sound stuff at the time
>>> had either 3.1 or 4.1 abilities. I ended up inserting a signal to the
>>> card and listening for the speaker that contained the sound. There's
>>> nothing new under the sun.
>>> This application exists as an Ubuntu or Debian package right now. I did
>>> finally find the "source" tarball, but it installs a binary. The info
>>> about this application says that in Ubuntu 13.10, to which I just
>>> updated, hda-jack-retask is now part of the alsa-tools package. This
>>> must be an Ubuntu thing because I couldn't find any patches or upstream
>>> releases at ALSA that had this.
>>> The actual, "re-pinning" is a platform specific thing and is
>>> trial-and-error. I'm hoping that someone else who monitors this list
>>> might have some experience with this application either installing it or
>>> using it. If so, I sure would like some pointers or at least someone
>>> with whom to compare notes. In any case, I will share my
>>> experience--good, bad or ugly--with the list.
>> I am still trying to get sound. I'm hoping, even if someone doesn't have
>> any experience at this, to get some comments on my logic and approach. I
>> like to have a plan, with a reasonable chance for success, based on
>> knowledge and understanding before I go charging off and install
>> packages and do things in an "easter egging" sort of way. I don't like,
>> "Try this," "No, try that." The key is, "based on knowledge and
>> understanding." I need to "know what I don't know" so I can ask
>> questions. In this case I have very little knowledge and understanding.
>> For example, I don't know how "hda-jack-retask" works. I'm just working
>> from a couple of wiki posts that say, in essence, "If you have a Beats
>> Audio System on your HP laptop, you need to do this."
>> At any rate, thanks for listening. :) I studied the particular "HowTo"
>> I'm using and realized I had glossed over this statement:
>>> Apply now, [Dan NOTE: The pin remapping that was outlined in previous
>>> steps.] then test with your favorite audio program (some may not work
>>> due to Pulse reset, so find one that does, verify sound is coming from
>>> all speakers). Note - on Debian I couldn't get any test sound to play,
>>> so I had to skip this step, apply boot override, and reboot before the
>>> speakers would make sound again, but they definitely all work after
>>> rebooting!
>> Here is the link for the "HowTo:"
>> http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=105284
>> What's happening for me is that I do the steps for hda-jack-retask and
>> then run <speaker-test> with no success. The quoted remark seems to be
>> saying to use some audio program, other than alsa, and that PulseAudio
>> is installed. This "HowTo" appears both on Ubuntu and Debian sites, and
>> both of those distros employ PulseAudio. The author of hda-jack-retask
>> is an Ubuntu--maybe Debian--developer. No where in anything I've seen so
>> far have I read that PulseAudio is needed for this.
>> I also don't know when the author of the "HowTo" says, "...on Debian I
>> couldn't get any test sound to play...," if he was referring to
>> <speaker-test> or not.
>> This whole process is aimed at changing the way the "snd_hda_intel"
>> module works. I can't see that any app could reach down to the bowels of
>> that module and change it. This "retask" package may operate at a higher
>> level and need something like PulseAudio to "interpret" the changes as
>> the info comes off the sound harware. My picture is that this works
>> similarly to the way NdisWrapper works for some wireless drivers.
>> So the question becomes, "Do I need higher level operations to get
>> sound?" I'm about to install PulseAudio, beef up Gstreamer and install a
>> music player to test all of this.
>> Comments? Thoughts? Encouragement? Analysis?
> I've used pulseaudio and plain alsa.  Pulseaudio is useful if you want
> to control the audio via a command line interface includign things like
> volume, playing multiple streams (e.g. music and beeps), etc.  For
> speaker test, it sounds like the system may not be playing on the device
> you expect.  Have you looked at the man page for speaker-test?
>     -- Bruce
Yes, I have, Bruce. I physically have two sound devices. One is HDMI and 
the other, whose chip I can't identify, runs with the Azalia Controller 
so employs snd_hda_intel. `aplay -L` gives me nine devices. In addition 
to "null" and the HDMI, it tells me

> sysdefault:CARD=Generic
> HD-Audio Generic, 92HD91BXX Analog
> Default Audio Device

Then it proceeds to give me six more devices all associated with 
CARD=Generic from "front" through all the combinations from surround 4.0 
to 7.1. I have used

speaker-test -D<name of option>:Generic -c [1-6] with the same results:

> speaker-test
> Playback device is surround41:Generic
> Stream parameters are 48000Hz, S16_LE, 1 channels
> Using 16 octaves of pink noise
> Broken configuration for playback: no configurations available: 
> Invalid argument
> Setting of hwparams failed: Invalid argument

Of course, the report isn't just limited to 1 channel all the time. It 
depends on what I pass with the -c option.

I thought I'd wait to run "alsaconf" until after my testing was 
satisfactory. But maybe I should run it sooner.


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