Linux sound level too low?


After having (finally) upgraded Fedora-11, I found it pretty annoying that the sound level was wayy too low. I mean, even with speaker volume set to full, system volume set to full and application volume set to full (not to forget pulseaudio volume .. which is another layer between the app and the system), the sound levels were only just enough for me to watch a movie without missing out a dialog. WTH! I have awesome speakers and they should ideally crack my windows. But here, even full volume was just barely enough. It hurt my ego (:P).

On Windows, the full volume is a real window-cracker. What is the problem with Linux then? (I could replicate the same issue on Ubuntu 9.04 too.. that should explain why I went for generic “Linux” and NOT “fedora”). Then I found this bug filed in the fedora bugzilla which made things clearer (actually, they didn’t). Don’t bother to read, it went swooosh over my head. The only thing that stuck was – How to solve the problem.

Here it is:
Make sure you have the package “alsa-utils” installed.

For fedora:
$ sudo yum install alsa-utils

For Ubuntu:
$ sudo apt-get install alsa-utils

Then, run
$ alsamixer -c 0
and increase the master volume beyond green area to the red area. (I understand that the red area implies increased noise, but I didn’t really notice much of a difference with a slightly less than maximum setting. Even with max master volume, there is only a slightly noticeable noise)

I don’t understand why this control is hidden away in such a manner. What is the whole point? Why not export a GUI for it? Weird. Probably they’ll fix it in fedora 12. There’s been a lot of work in the sound area in the last 6 months. There are going to be some bugs afterall. Anyway, this healed my ego :P. Linux sound is at-par with any other sound system! It makes me happy!


7 Responses to “Linux sound level too low?”

  1. damien-nyx Says:

    thanks buddy

  2. Ryan B. Lynch Says:

    Depending on which GUI mixer/volume control you use, this might be a shortcoming in the GUI utility configuration. For instance, I use ‘kmix’ in KDE on F11, and by default, ‘kmix’ only shows a few of the available sliders/buttons.

    Reconfiguring ‘kmix’ to add the extra controls is easy, if you know where to look: With the mixer window open, go to ‘Settings’ -> ‘Configure Channels…’, and you should see a list of mixer control names and a checkbox to the left of each name. If there are any unchecked boxes, check them, and then press ‘OK’. You should see new sliders/controls in the ‘kmix’ window.

    Also, I’ve noticed that ‘kmix’ picks its “master” channel pretty arbitrarily. (I’m NOT referring the control slider labeled ‘master’, here–I’m talking about whichever slider ‘kmix’ ties into the task-try icon when minimized.) You can change it by right-clicking on the ‘kmix’ task-tray icon and selecting ‘Select Master Channel…’, which will open a new window with a list of mixer control names and radio buttons next to each. Set the radio button next to the control you want, and click ‘OK’. Personally, I usually like to set this to ‘PCM’, which is usually as close to a system-wide volume control as you can get.

  3. kumar rajput Says:

    I tried using alsa mixer too the sound levels there are already 100% . But still the volume levels are very low. what should I do ??

  4. Takotak Says:

    YEARS I’ve been looking for that, and it now works.
    Thanks for posting this trick!

    I was used to turn the speakers up when switching back to Linux from Windows, until I upgraded my kernel (which on Debian doesn’t happen often, which is a good thing IMO => less problems, no need to upgrade all depending modules as well, like ATI drivers, etc.)

    The sound was so low… The alsamixer Master volume was as its minimum although everything else in Gnome, Pulseaudio and application was at 100% !
    I tried “alsamixer” but the only thing to change was already at Max volume. The “-c 0” by allowing to tweak the soundcard I/O via Alsa made the trick.

    Too bad “paVuControl” i.e. Pulseaudio cannot completely hide Alsa or at least show the link between both components.

  5. beans Says:

    thanks, fixed my lubuntu(running latest release) low sound issue too.

  6. Amitabh Says:

    Many thanks for posting this!

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