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Thread: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

    HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    I know there are alot of people trying to get 5.1 surround sound to work in Ubuntu. It's actually pretty easy, but took me a long time to figure it out. Here are the specs for this guide.

    1.) Your sound card has analog output

    2.) It actually has a plug for front, rear, center/woof speakers (5.1 not 7.1 or anything else)

    3.) You're using ALSA
    **EDIT** I have confirmed that this method works in Hardy heron as well, so PulseAudio doesn't seem to cause any trouble with this method.

    4.) You can get sound out of the card, just not surround sound


    *********************The Hopeful Result**************************************
    You'll have surround sound for your movies and any audio program that uses ALSA will out put stereo sound through all of your speakers with the woofer handling bass appropriately




    I did read somewhere that ALSA can be made to output through pulse audio, but this is a straight up ALSA guide.


    So, from a fresh install of 7.10, you'll have ALSA already installed. You just need to configure it.


    Open a terminal and check if your sound card is detected

    Code:
    asoundconf list
    Note the name of your sound card. In my case, it was called "Audio"

    Then, set your sound card to be the default card for ALSA
    Code:
    asoundconf set-default-card cardname
    Where "cardname is replaced with your cards name. So for me, I typed in "asoundconf set-default-card Audio"

    Now, enter this to edit your ALSA config file
    Code:
    sudo gedit ~/.asoundrc
    Whatever is in there, empty or not, paste this in at the bottom
    pcm.!default {
    type plug
    slave.pcm "surround51"
    slave.channels 6
    route_policy duplicate
    }


    pcm.analog {
    type plug
    slave analog_slave;
    }

    pcm_slave.analog_slave {
    pcm surround51;
    format S32_LE;
    }
    That should do it for ya. It did for me on a fresh install. Now test your glorious sound! try out rhythmbox. you should get sound from all your speakers. Now, try watching a movie. I only use VLC, so I'll tell you how to get 5.1 in that. Make sure vlc is set to use ALSA and your soundcard in Edit>Preferneces. Then, play your movie, and once the movie is actually playing, select Audio>Audio Device>5.1


    Enjoy!
    Last edited by Afkpuz; July 13th, 2008 at 03:16 AM.
    check out linuxmce! It's the future of home media centers. It is flat out the most amazing piece of linux software I've ever seen.

    http://www.linuxmce.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Carolina, Puerto Rico
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    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    Well, it most definitely not work with me

    No sound at all on the other channels, but is ok, I kind of expected it, it was my last resort. Now is off to get a 5.1 card as it seems that Ubuntu wont be able to use my onboard 5.1 audio.

    ELP

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    I'm sorry to hear that. If you're in the market for analog 5.1, I can recommend the card I use.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829126101

    It's small, usb, has 2 line ins, and is only $20!!

    I know for sure that this card will work with the above steps. If you're not looking for digital sound, you might give this one a try.
    check out linuxmce! It's the future of home media centers. It is flat out the most amazing piece of linux software I've ever seen.

    http://www.linuxmce.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Carolina, Puerto Rico
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    Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    Yeah, I read about that USB option some days ago, I think it was you who posted about it. Im looking for something more professional though not too expensive, I've heard wonders about the M-Audio Revolution and just want to confirm them.

    At $20 though, the GWC is a nice option which I will consider.

    ELP

  5. #5
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    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    I have Asus M2NPV-VM mobo with integrated 5.1 surround. i'm using dell 5.1 surround speakers

    i tried your method and when i listed my devices, it lised NVidia and UART

    i did your method for NVidia but it did not work for me. When I do the speaker-test, it works perfectly fine. all the speakers are called out properly from their respective speaker. But i can't for the life of me get the surround to work with mp3's or movies.

    any other ideas? i've tried it many different software including vlc and audacious but no luck
    Gateway C140-X Tablet PC: Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
    Dual Boot with Windows XP Pro

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ w/Asus M2NPV-VM Mobo & ATI x1950: Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

  6. #6
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    I have that EXACT GWC usb sound card. It worked fine with tweaking in fiesty and gutsy, but I CANNOT make it work in Hardy, even with your instructions. Setting everything to in sound preferences in VLC and Ubuntu and with the computer only detecting the 1 USB sound card:

    Code:
    aplay -l
    **** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
    card 1: Audio [USB Audio], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
    Subdevices: 1/1
    Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    I get this infernal list of errors.

    VLC media player 0.8.6e Janus
    ALSA lib confmisc.c:768parse_card) cannot find card '0'
    ALSA lib conf.c:3513_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_card_driver returned error: No such file or directory
    ALSA lib confmisc.c:392snd_func_concat) error evaluating strings
    ALSA lib conf.c:3513_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_concat returned error: No such file or directory
    ALSA lib confmisc.c:1251snd_func_refer) error evaluating name
    ALSA lib conf.c:3513_snd_config_evaluate) function snd_func_refer returned error: No such file or directory
    ALSA lib conf.c:3985snd_config_expand) Evaluate error: No such file or directory
    ALSA lib pcm.c:2145snd_pcm_open_noupdate) Unknown PCM surround51
    [00000349] pulse audio output error: Failed to connect to server: Connection refused
    [00000349] pulse audio output error: Pulse initialization failed
    [00000349] jack audio output error: failed to connect to JACK server
    [00000349] oss audio output error: cannot open audio device (/dev/dsp)
    HOWEVER, Amarok will play stuff fine, but only from my front speakers!!! Im totally at a loss, please help!!

  7. #7
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    Oh and Im running Hardy 64bit and I had it import my setting and files, etc when I installed it. I have since recompiled alsa and alsa utils to no avail.

  8. #8
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    Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron

    UPDATE- ALSA has been subdued

    I finally have sound coming out of my 4 speaker sets!!

    1. Clean install of Hardy64 with nothing imported
    2. In sys==>prefs==>sessions uncheck pulse audio manager
    3. in sys==>admin==>services check alsa-utils
    4. in gnome volume applet change device to USB audio
    5. In sys==>prefs==> sound
    In devices tab: set all to auto-detect, set device to USB audio, select PCM in the box below the device selector

    In sounds tab UNCHECK ESD
    6.
    Code:
    sudo gedit  /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base
    ALSA had blacklisted the module snd-usb-audio for some reason by inserting:
    options snd-usb-audio index=-2-
    DELETE THAT LINE

    Instead I blacklisted my onboard audio with
    options snd-hda-intel index=-2
    7. Recompile alsa from source easily with
    Code:
    sudo module-assistant a-i alsa-source
    8. Use Afkpuz's instructions for modifying ~/.asoundrc

    9. Reboot and enjoy sound!

  9. #9
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    Re: UPDATE- ALSA has been subdued

    thank you Afkpuz and victorgreen...

    i now have sound out of all of my speakers! which is great... but not what i was looking for . first i'll outline how i did it and then the problems i'm having.

    I first followed Afkpuz's post to the letter and i still wasn't getting any sound.

    victorgreen's post was for the usb sound card but it worked for my onboard sound.

    i didn't have to do step 1. in step 4, i changed the device to HDA Nvidia (Alsa mixer). I didn't have to do step 6 and 7. after a reboot, sound is now coming out of all 4 speakers.

    now the problem is that it does not decode surround. i have videos that have surround sound decoded into them but the "surround" doesn't work... but sound comes out of all 4 speakers.

    VLC: now when i try to play the file in vlc it's all choppy and eventually vlc crashes. also, 5.1 surround does not show up under audio>audio devices... it's only mono or stereo. same file works fine in Mplayer but still no proper surround

    i wonder if there is a fix for that.

    thanks!
    Last edited by dublued; May 5th, 2008 at 09:03 PM.
    Gateway C140-X Tablet PC: Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala
    Dual Boot with Windows XP Pro

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ w/Asus M2NPV-VM Mobo & ATI x1950: Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Distro
    Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex

    Re: HOWTO: Set up 5.1 sound for movies with an analog surround sound card (ALSA)

    I should mention that I'm running hardy 32 bit. It looks like my method doesn't work for the 64 bit version.
    check out linuxmce! It's the future of home media centers. It is flat out the most amazing piece of linux software I've ever seen.

    http://www.linuxmce.com

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