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Re: Good documentation on Sound ?

At 2004-05-06T08:42:19Z, Uwe Dippel <udippel@uniten.edu.my> writes:

> Actually, there are no problems here for the time being. But I'd like to
> understand a bit more on this 'Kernel-based' ALSA, esd, OSS, etc.  I tried
> to google and around here, but what I get are zealots telling me that OSS
> is s**t, or esd is just as bad or ALSA, which - of course !  'sucks'. And
> I'd have to use the only good one .... !

No link, but a quick rundown:

1) OSS and ALSA are the kernel sound drivers.  You *have* to pick one of
   these.  OSS is the old, deprecated system, and ALSA is the new, much
   improved system.

2) ESD and ARTS are "sound servers" that accept requests from programs to
   play a sound, and then pass those sounds to the kernel sound drivers
   above.  The majority of Gnome programs talk to ESD, and most (all?) KDE
   programs talk to ARTS.  Others, like XMMS, can use other one (or none!).

   The main reason for having the intermediate sound server is that Unix
   kernel sound drivers have traditionally been single-channel.  That is,
   only one program could write to /dev/dsp at a time, so you couldn't
   listen to music and still hear other sound events at the same time.  ESD
   and ARTS can accept multiple channels at once, multiplex them, and then
   dump the unified stream to /dev/dsp.  They also add other, less used
   functions like the ability to send an audio stream via network to a sound
   server on another machine.  For example, you could have a little computer
   hooked to your home stereo, and could redirect the output of your MP3
   player to that computer so you could listen to it via presumably better
   speakers than you'd have on your PC.

ESD is typically criticized because of its supposedly lower sound quality
due to bad processing routines.  ARTS is typically criticized because of its
supposedly higher latency due to more complex processing routines.  Both
come with "wrapper" programs so that you can redirect the output of a
program that would otherwise write directly to /dev/dsp to the corresponding
sound server.

In a nutshell, you want to use ALSA if you can.  The choice of ESD vs. ALSA
will mostly depend on which desktop environment, if any, you most often
use.  Does that about cover it?
Kirk Strauser
In Googlis non est, ergo non est.

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