[pulseaudio-discuss] Problems with PulseAudio (under Gentoo)

Jeff Rush jeff at taupro.com
Sun Oct 1 00:08:44 PDT 2006

Greetings.  I've been struggling with PulseAudio for a couple of weeks.  It 
looks cool but odd things don't work, or I don't understand how to do them.

1. Using pacmd I try to play a file:

 >>> list-sinks
1 sink(s) available.
   * index: 0
         name: <beeps>
         driver: <modules/module-alsa-sink.c>
         volume: <0: 100% 1: 100%>
         latency: <61405 usec>
         monitor_source: <0>
         sample spec: <s16le 2ch 44100Hz>
         channel map: <front-left,front-right>
         owner module: <0>
         description: <ALSA PCM on dsp0 (dmix0)>
 >>> play-file /var/tmp/blueriver.wav beeps
No sink by that name.
 >>> play-file /var/tmp/blueriver.wav 0
No sink by that name.

2. Unable to set the volume of a sink:

 >>> set-sink-volume beeps 32768
Failed to parse volume.
 >>> set-sink-volume beeps 50%
Failed to parse volume.

There are no examples of the commands in the docs, so perhaps I need a comma, 
quotes or parentheses?

3. The big problem I have is that I want to have multiple audio sinks mapped 
to a single ALSA sound card: beeps, speech and jukebox, and I'd like to set 
the volume for each differently (the beeps i.e. desktop sound effects are too 
loud, but I don't want to turn down the volume across all sinks).

When I try to use pavucontrol, the "sinks" tab is empty (?) and the "streams" 
tab only has things on it while they are playing.  For desktop sounds, this is 
a very short time and I cannot move the mouse and adjust the volume in the 
fraction of a second it plays.  The desktop sounds are coming in via the 
esound protocol, from the Enlightenment window manager.

When I use module-volume-restore, it doesn't write a record to 
~/.pulse/volume.table for every desktop sound event, only for those things 
where I actually managed to change the volume (music and speech).  Also it 
seems it writes _very specific_ names in those cases, such that you're setting 
the volume for a particular sound and not like all desktop beeps.  I really 
need a volume control on the sink itself.

4. There seems to be no way to grab and control the merged output from Pulse 
Audio.  For example in my case with the three sinks, I'd like to also control 
the volume of the trio as one merged sink.  I can do so by changing the volume 
in the underlying ALSA device to which they all flow,  using ALSA tools, but 
it seems odd that PulseAudio doesn't provide a mechanism.  I've played with 
null sinks, *.monitor outputs and such trying to map the pipes to achieve it, 
but failed.

5. Not really within the domain of this list, but we really need to get the 
latest Pulse Audio software into the Gentoo ebuilds, for x86 usage.  Many of 
the cool utilities aren't in there yet.

Thanks and PulseAudio looks neat.  After reviewing all the other sound 
subsystems for Linux, I've come to the conclusion that PulseAudio has the 
flexibility, performance/low-latency and feature set (RTP/SDP/RTSP/Rendevous) 
to become the standard.


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