[pulseaudio-discuss] How to specify default soundcard?

Colin Guthrie gmane at colin.guthr.ie
Sat Jul 30 06:40:35 PDT 2011

'Twas brillig, and Clemens Eisserer at 29/07/11 19:45 did gyre and gimble:
> I use two sound-cards (usb and internal), when the external usb
> soundcard is connected I would like pulseaudio to output on the external
> one and use it as default, otherwise it should use the internal one. Is
> this possible with pulseaudio?
> I would be really grateful if somebody could point me to documentation
> regarding this issue.

Yes it's possible with PulseAudio, but really the policy regarding this
is left to the various Desktop Environments that use it, e.g. GNOME, KDE

> KDE's kmix used to support setting a "default soundcard" (however, that
> didn't really work), however after I switched to XFCE I don't find any
> such options - looks like I have to configure it manually.

In KMix, it's really just controls which soundcard to use for the volume
controls (e.g. in the system tray or via the multimedia keys on laptops
and keyboards). It's nothing to do with which actual sound card you use
by default for applications.

In KDE you can setup the exact routing structure you want in System
Settings -> Multimedia -> Phonon.


Under GNOME you cannot do this by default (it's possible, but there
would be no GUI for it!) and IIRC XFCE uses the GNOME UIs for volume
control stuff.

So for now, whenever you plug in your USB, you'll have to fire up the
Gnome control panel and choose "Sound", then pick the device on the
Output tab.

Alternatively, you can use pavucontrol and select the device as your
preferred fallback. Provided you don't specifically move applications to
a new sink (in pavucontrol's playback tab) then the fallback will be used.




Colin Guthrie

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