Volume-on-Linux adventures

Havoc Pennington recently wrote a post and Marc Maurer replied. The topic? How volume control is quite brain-damaged at the moment.

I was actually thinking the same thing last week during two specific instances:
# I tried to watch some stream through RealPlayer and noticed that the sound was very soft with both RealPlayer’s and my ThinkPad’s volume both turned up to max.
# When I tried to mute the internal microphone on my laptop during a Skype conference call with Anna, Tuomas, and Jakub. (Since Anna and I were in the same room, both wearing headphones, it didn’t make sense to have two microphones on at the same time.)

I solved problem one by fiddling with the master, pcm, and some other random settings. Problem two was seemingly unsolvable — none of the sliders or even mute checkbuttons seemed to do anything. There were literally several dozens of options, yet not a single one muted the microphone. At one point in time, I had every mute checkbox checked (and that was quite a feat).

Frustrated with the software, I went to my trusty backpack o’ wires and stuff and found a Y-adaptor for headphones. A few seconds after plugging it into Anna’s laptop, and our headphones into the Y-splitter, we were Skyping away with Tuomas and Jakub without oddly delayed echoes.

By-the-way, if you thought figure 1 (above) is hideous, you haven’t seen what’s behind the second tab…


One Response to “Volume-on-Linux adventures”

  1. Nico says:

    That’s crazy. But did you ever see the volume control with a Sound Blaster Live card using Alsa? The mixer has about 100 options, about 40 of them have 12 sliders and are called “EMU10K1 PCM Send Routing”. I really don’t wanna know what happens if I touch them…

    Some Gnome Mixer “Settings” with smart defaults on which sliders to display would be great.