[blfs-support] ALSA and No Sound

Dan McGhee beesnees at grm.net
Fri Dec 20 10:21:19 PST 2013

On 12/20/2013 11:58 AM, Dan McGhee wrote:
> 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.
BTW, Bruce. I'm thinking that pulseaudio may pass the new pin mapping to 
the player. When I get pulse audio installed, I'm going to try this 
using aplayer rather then `speaker-test.`

What I discovered when I ran hda-jack-retask is that I have a number of 
"not connected" pins. I found a script called "alsa-info.sh" which gives 
more info than you ever wanted to know about your sound system and found 
that the pins that I need are all mapped to the same memory location. 
What that translates to human understanding I don't know. It just seems 
that 6 different pins should be mapped to different locations. These 
pins for example 0xfd are also those indicated "not connected."



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