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Re: PulseAudio

On 17-07-13 10:58, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz wrote:
> On 07/17/2013 10:48 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
>> So have I, with alsa. Mainly because I've never had any problem with
>> alsa beyond "my hardware is shiny new and the driver hasn't been written
>> yet". Okay, and there was also this one time where I wanted to figure
>> out how you enable analog 5.1 surround sound. I've never been able to do
>> that with PulseAudio, mind you.
> Alsa is a completely different layer in the sound stack. It doesn't even
> make sense to compare these two.

They're both APIs that applications can use to produce audio. What do
you mean, it doesn't make sense?

Of course they're not the same thing; I get that. That's not what I'm
saying. But as far as "producing audio" is concerned, they can both do that.

>> PulseAudio piles another layer of possible failures on top of a kernel
>> driver, and hides most of the audio mixer for no particularly good
>> reason other than "it might confuse the poor user". It just doesn't make
>> any sense to me.
> Some sound cards expose two dozens or more level adjustments which most
> people don't even understand.

I've never seen a setup where there wasn't a "master" mixer.

I've never seen a setup where there were more than a handful of mixers,
except on an expensive piece of hardware meant for audio professionals
(or advanced hobbyists). I doubt such people would like to see their
expensive hardware reduced to a single mixer.

> I don't think it's a bad idea in general
> to clean that up and make the whole interface more consistent and
> easier to understand.

Not contesting that. It's just that every time pulseaudio got pulled
onto my system, my audio stopped doing what it was supposed to. That's
not what I would expect from something that's supposed to make things
"easier to understand".

> Also, your sound setup probably just consists of one sound card in your
> desktop/laptop PC which sure enough works just fine with only Alsa.

I have a USB headset, too, which I use from time to time.

> However, if you have more than one sound device, PulseAudio is a
> blessing. For example, my video card has an HDMI output. When
> I hook up my PC to my television via HDMI, I want the sound from
> VLC to go through HDMI rather than through my sound card. It's
> a matter of opening a preferences pane, change the output device
> to HDMI and I am done.

That's something you can do with plain alsa, too.

> How do I do that with just plain Alsa without using a text editor?


ctrl-p, go to the audio tab, and select the correct device in the
"output" frame.

That's not VLC-specific, FWIW; most applications that can do alsa output
have a way to select the output device. There are exceptions, of course,
but those applications are either immature or buggy.

Even so, there's no reason why there can't be a tool to edit an asoundrc
file... but you don't really need that, in my experience, since most
applications allow you to choose the correct output device.

> What do I do when I want my Skype input going through the USB
> webcam's microphone and the audio of Skype through my bluetooth
> headset instead of my primary sound card?

You select the correct input and output devices in skype...

> I am sorry, but in my eyes, people who claim that PulseAudio is useless
> simply don't realize that there can be sound setups which are a little
> more sophisticated than just a single sound card and configuring
> these can be PITA when you don't have PA.

That simply does not match my experience.

This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space.

If it starts pointing toward space you are having a bad problem and you
will not go to space today.

  -- http://xkcd.com/1133/

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