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Thread: Using Two Sound Cards

  1. #1
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    Using Two Sound Cards

    I would like to be able to use two sound cards simultaneously. (actually want to use one soundcard and onboard audio) Is there a way in .asoundrc to force Ubuntu to do this?

  2. #2
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    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    What version of Ubuntu do you have?

  3. #3
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    May 2007
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    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    in principal, Ubuntu can use multiple sound cards.

    I currently have the onboard audio + a USB sound adapter that I use for Skype.

    Sometimes the system gets a little confused where it's supposed to send sounds. About half the time the startup sound comes out of my Skype headset and the other half it comes out the main speakers.

    I didn't really have to mess with .asoundrc, just the PulseAudio manager.

    I'm running 9.04 btw...

    -scott

  4. #4
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    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    At the moment, this system is sitting in parts on my workbench. I intend to install Jaunty Jackalope, and the system will be used as an HTPC with XBMC. (I have been using Hardy Heron on my desk top, where I have been testing media software)

    The motherboard is a GIGABYTE GA-E7AUM-DS2H LGA 775 , and this will handle digtial audio out for 5.1

    The Audio Card will most likely be M-AUDIO Audiophile 2496 to handle analog audio out (I havn't purchased this yet, because it will be a waste if this doesn't work, actually the whole system is a waste if this doesn't work)

    If I can't do this through ALSA and .asoundrc, it looks like I should be able to send sound out to an audio server such as JACK, and have jack then send the audio to the two cards. My receiver will decide wich stream to use. The only thing that concerns me with this, is audio sycing in movies.

    Thanks for any help.

  5. #5
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    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by fh_scott View Post
    in principal, Ubuntu can use multiple sound cards.

    I currently have the onboard audio + a USB sound adapter that I use for Skype.

    Sometimes the system gets a little confused where it's supposed to send sounds. About half the time the startup sound comes out of my Skype headset and the other half it comes out the main speakers.

    I didn't really have to mess with .asoundrc, just the PulseAudio manager.

    I'm running 9.04 btw...

    -scott

    From my research using two cards does not seem to be a problem, but using them simultaneously seems to be a little trickier. I am trying to avoid having to have choose between one or the other and have both of them working at all times. i.e. system sound should come out of both devices.

    Everything I have read so far, leads me to beleive that I will need to remove PulseAudio.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    No, you do not need to remove pulseaudio. In fact it is the easiest way to control multiple sound hardware. I have 4 hardware sound devices on my machine and they all work simultaneously with pulseaudio.

    You can set up alsa and jack to use multiple hardware devices but you will need to build the libasound2 library from source since ubuntu has stipped out the libraries necessary to play alsa and oss apps through jack though they left in the libs for jack to play through alsa so there is some confusion over this. You will also need to make some devices in asoundconf to use multiple hardware devices with jack or use netjack, which if you want to do you will need to build jack from source since ubuntu has left that out too.

    If you just want audio out, the 2496 is sort of overkill for that but will work OOB.

    The Pulseaudio version used in Jaunty (0.9.14) was not recomended for distribution by the pulse developers so it is somewhat broken and ALSA is also pretty kludged in Jaunty.

    You would be better off with pulseaudio 0.9.15 and alsa 1.0.20 and a 2.6.29 kernel and jack 1.9.2 and ardour2.8. or maybe just waiting for Karmic Koala in October.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon

    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    I am currently using my gigabyte mobo's onboard sound (snd-intel-hda) for movies/music/media/games and a Hammerfall HDSP sound card for low-latency recording. I think you're right that you can accomplish what you need w/out pulseaudio.

    I strongly disagree that pulseaudio is the easiest way to handle multiple sound hardware. It works well enough w/ my onboard sound but is useless for the HDSP card (not to mention the latency hit it would add).

    Currently I use ALSA & jack for low-latency recording and monitoring with the HDSP, and pulseaudio for the onboard card. I did not have to build libasound2 from source to get ALSA to work, either (I'm running jaunty amd64).

    If you just want to be able to send one or two streams to one or two sound cards I think ALSA & jack will both work and make sense. Installing the ubuntustudio-audio and ubuntustudio-audio-plugins packages should give you everything you'll need.

  8. #8
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    Jul 2009
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    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    I have Audidgy2 old card and it's work perfect
















    зелёный лазер для подарка

  9. #9
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    Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by malrost View Post
    I am currently using my gigabyte mobo's onboard sound (snd-intel-hda) for movies/music/media/games and a Hammerfall HDSP sound card for low-latency recording. I think you're right that you can accomplish what you need w/out pulseaudio.

    I strongly disagree that pulseaudio is the easiest way to handle multiple sound hardware. It works well enough w/ my onboard sound but is useless for the HDSP card (not to mention the latency hit it would add).

    Currently I use ALSA & jack for low-latency recording and monitoring with the HDSP, and pulseaudio for the onboard card. I did not have to build libasound2 from source to get ALSA to work, either (I'm running jaunty amd64).

    If you just want to be able to send one or two streams to one or two sound cards I think ALSA & jack will both work and make sense. Installing the ubuntustudio-audio and ubuntustudio-audio-plugins packages should give you everything you'll need.
    As I said, there is some confusion over this alsa jack thing. Try playing a native ALSA application through jack, you cannot unless it has a jack plugin.

    In a recording environment you would not use pulseaudio anyway. In fact the pulse devs recomend against it. Anyway, you are not trying to use your cards simultaneously which is what the OP asked.

    There is another significant problem with using multiple cards together, their clocks drift apart and can cause significant discrepancies in timing. Unless you are using pairs of high end sound production cards like Hammerfall or M-Audio cards designed for clock sharing you will have this problem with jack and alsa since they have no way to synchronize the clocks other than physically wiring the clock circuits together.

    The reason I use pulseaudio with my multiple sound hardware devices is because pulseaudio is the only way to keep them in sync. It works fine for playback which is what I use it for.

    For live recording etc I use jack and one card only. I can also feed jack with any app playing in pulseaudio through the pulse-jack module which, btw, is also not included in ubuntu and must be built from the source code. I can also use one card for jack and another for pulseaudio and run them both at the same time without any problems. I have been doing these things for a long time in Hardy but with Jaunty there are some problems between the kernel and the pulseaudio version causing it to not work so well so, while I have Jaunty installed, I still use Hardy as my main OS.

    I will probably wait for jack2.0 before moving my production away from hardy.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    Ubuntu 7.10 Gutsy Gibbon

    Re: Using Two Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by markbuntu View Post
    As I said, there is some confusion over this alsa jack thing. Try playing a native ALSA application through jack, you cannot unless it has a jack plugin. . . .

    Anyway, you are not trying to use your cards simultaneously which is what the OP asked.

    The reason I use pulseaudio with my multiple sound hardware devices is because pulseaudio is the only way to keep them in sync. It works fine for playback which is what I use it for.

    For live recording etc I use jack and one card only. I can also feed jack with any app playing in pulseaudio through the pulse-jack module which, btw, is also not included in ubuntu and must be built from the source code. I can also use one card for jack and another for pulseaudio and run them both at the same time without any problems. I have been doing these things for a long time in Hardy but with Jaunty there are some problems between the kernel and the pulseaudio version causing it to not work so well so, while I have Jaunty installed, I still use Hardy as my main OS.

    I will probably wait for jack2.0 before moving my production away from hardy.
    Would you mind attaching a screenshot of the pulse-jack module in action, and/or it's config window? I had no idea.

    I'm more musician than hacker so some of your critique is lost on me. What is an example of a native ALSA app that won't run in jack? There are distinctions between native ALSA apps, apps with a jack plugin, alsa/oss apps etc.?

    Since pulse was included in Hardy, everything I have so far been able to accomplish with pulseaudio I had been able to accomplish previously w/ ALSA, including networked audio via remote access.

    Admittedly I have a difficult time conceptually w/ pulseaudio. I *enjoy* audio functionality apps and I've tried to understand the pulse approach, but have yet to find any worth to my efforts, particularly when the jack model seems so logical. In jack, anything that has an audio in/out can be connected w/ anything else that does. Also you have ready access to tweak settings for all available hardware.

    Perhaps that's my main problem w/ pulseaudio: it does not seem to recognize my HDSP card, while jack recognizes both. Maybe you'd have some insight as to why: attached are screenshot comparisons of pulse and jack. You can see that my HDSP card in inaccessible via pulseaudio, whereas both appear in jack connections (the HDSP HW:1,0 and the onboard NVidia is HW:0).

    While I hadn't yet needed to try using both cards simultaneously, I've since tested my dual card setup for concurrent use. The two card outs go to different amp/speaker hardware, for obvious reasons. Jack/ALSA for recording/monitoring works simultaneously with pulseaudio entertainment playback. While both recording and monitoring through the HDSP w/ jack & ardour, I am able to get sound from Amarok, Flash (Daily Show on Firefox), and I stopped at four additional audible instances of VLC.
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