Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'audio'

Dustin Kirkland

I had the honor and privilege a couple of weeks ago, to participate in a recording of The Changelog, a podcast dedicated to Open Source technology.

You can listen to it here.

These guys -- Jerod and Adam -- produce a fantastic show, and we covered a lot of ground!

Give it a listen, and follow the links at the bottom of their page (their site is hosted on Ubuntu, of course!) to learn more.


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Colin Ian King

PC Speaker weirdnesses

Today we were trying to do some debugging by getting some tones out of a laptop speaker by frobbing bit 1 of port 0x61 on the keyboard controller.  Rather unexpectedly I got no sound whatsoever out of the speaker, yet I had managed to do so the day before.   So I double checked what had changed since the day before:

1. Was it because I upgraded my kernel?
2. Did I unexpected disabled the speaker when tweaking BIOS settings?
3. Was it something interfering with my port 0x61 bit twiddling?
4. Was the hardware now broken?

As per usual, I first assumed that the most complex parts of the system were to blame as they normally can go wrong in the most subtle way.  After a lot of fiddling around I discovered that the PC speaker only worked when I plugged the AC power into the laptop.  Now that wasn't obvious.

I suspect I should have applied Occam's Razor to this problem to begin with. We live and learn...

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Colin Ian King

HDA Analyzer

The HDA Analyzer tool that allows one to look at the raw HD-audio control data in an easy to user GUI. The instructions on how to download and use this tool are described at the HDA Analyzer page - they are as follows:

1. Fetch:

2. Run:


And browse...

This certainly takes the pain out of looking at the control information.

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Colin Ian King

Poking around the HD-Audio Configuration

HD-Audio can be reconfigured without having to re-load the driver using the special sysfs files - this enables one to twiddle and debug HD-audio in a relatively pain free way.

Each codec-hwdep device has a sysfs directory in /sys/class/sound populated with a bunch of files which can be read. Some of these files can be written to, enabling one to over-ride the default. For example on my Lenovo I have /sys/class/sound/hwC0D0 which contains:

32 bit codec vendor id (hex) (read-write)

32 bit subsystem id (hex) (read-write)

32 bit revision id (hex) (read-write)

name of chipset

AFG id (read-only)

MFG id (read-only)

code name string (read-write)

current model option (read-write)

verbs to be execute at initialisation time. Extra verbs can be added by writing to init_verbs as numbers in the form: nid verb parameter

hint strings in format 'key= value', e.g. eapd_switch = yes (for example, this particular hint is picked up by a call to snd_hda_get_bool_hint(codec, "eapd_switch") in the patch_sigmatel.c source)

show the default initial pin configurations as set up by the BIOS at boot time

show the default pin configurations as set by the codec parser. Only pin configurations changed by the parser are shown.

show ping configurations used to override the BIOS set up configurations. One can append new values by writing a nid and value tuple to this file.

triggers codec reconfiguration by writing any value to this file

codec reset, remove mixer elements, clear all init verbs and hints

For example to see the BIOS pin configurations on my Lenovo laptop:

$ cat /sys/class/sound/hwC0D0/init_pin_configs
0x14 0x99130110
0x15 0x411111f0
0x16 0x411111f0
0x17 0x411111f0
0x18 0x03a19820
0x19 0x99a3012f
0x1a 0x411111f0
0x1b 0x0321401f
0x1c 0x411111f0
0x1d 0x40178e2d
0x1e 0x411111f0

And to identify my audio hardware, I can use:

$ cat /sys/class/sound/hwC0D0/ \

..showing that my Lenovo has Realtek ALC861-VD and the vendor and subsystem ids.


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Thanks to the work of David Henningsson, we now have a proper Apport symptom for audio bugs. It just got updated again to set default bug titles, which include the card/codec name and the problem, so that Launchpad’s suggested duplicates should work much more reliably.

So from now on you are strongly encouraged to report sound problems with

$ ubuntu-bug audio

instead of trying to guess the package right.

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Colin Ian King

Audio Weirdnesses

Yesterday I got poking around a perplexing audio recording issue; quite bizarrely stereo (2 channel) audio from the internal microphone would record perfectly, but mono (1 channel) would not. After working my way down through the driver and though ALSA I got to the point where I could not see how there could be any driver problem, so the issue had to be with the ALSA user space library, or the hardware (or both!).

My colleague spotted an interesting characteristic - using alsamixer to set the capture level to 100% left channel and 0% right channel or vice-versa made the mono recording work. Further investigation by using stereo recording of a pure sine wave (whistling into the microphone!) showed that the left channel was the complete reverse of the right channel. Then the penny dropped - the mono recording was essentially ALSA summing left and right channels, causing a near perfect zero recording since the left channel was the inverse of the right channel. Doh.

As it is, this very same issue has been discussed on LKML here with a suggested workaround described by Takashi Iwai here as follows:

Put the below to ~/.asoundrc

pcm.imix {
type plug

slave.pcm "hw"

ttable.0.0 0.5

ttable.0.1 -0.5


And record using:

arecord -Dimix -c1 test.wav

Urgh. Well, at least there is some kind of ALSA workaround.

So the moral of the story is to twiddle with left and right channel levels and do some stereo recording and look at the results before hacking through the driver. I should have applied Occams' razor - I assumed the complex part (the driver) was the problem.

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