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Thread: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

  1. #1

    Default Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Installed 11.4 KDE on a desktop, managed to get everything working (except the paperweight lexmark printer hehe). But for the life of me, i just cant get 5.1 audio working. At first only one speaker worked, and after i disabled Pulse audio, the sound is fine, but only normal stereo (2 channels), not 5.1.
    The PC has audio built into the motherboard, Intel Azalia High Definition audio (Realtek ALC888B chip).

    Under windows, the driver included a nice application to configure the audio outputs, and to use 5+1 speakers you had to reasign the rear line in and mic jacks to be the outputs for rear satellites and center/woofer channels. But the motherboard manufacturer (gigabyte) does not provide a similar application for linux. And i have been searching and messing arround with settings for hours now, but i just cant get it to work
    I tried "Disabling Pulse Audio" option in Yast->Sound, installed every alsa related package i could find (including alsa mixer), but no luck.
    Any sugestions of what i can do? is there a linux application to do "advanced" configuration of the audio devices (like the windows one that came with the MB)?

    I managed to convince the owner to try out linux instead of windows 7, but he spent big bucks on his 5.1 speakers, and i dont think he will "settle" for stereo sound just to use linux. hehe

    Any help would be appreciated.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Holly Cr@p! i finally got it working!
    for others that might have the same problem...

    1.- Download the realtek driver source code here: Realtek
    2.- Download the neccesary stuff to compile modules (make, patch, gcc, kernel-devel, etc)
    3.- Follow the instructions in the readme.txt inside the tar you downloaded (dont worry its just a ./install command)
    4.- Go to Yast, and MAKE 1000% SHURE PULSEAUDIO IS DISABLED, and reboot your pc
    5.- just open kmix->configure channels, and viola! you should have sliders for front, surround, center, etc.

    The catch here is to make shure you disable pulse audio, otherwise it wont work even after compiling and installing the driver.
    On a side note, i am a newby, but i just cant understand, what the heck is pulse audio anyway? from what ibe read, it causes nothing but grief, and alsa works perfectly!
    Am i missing something? does pulseaudio add extra funcionality? i just dont get it.

  3. #3
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    Smile Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Here is one description of pulse:

    PulseAudio - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It seems that our developers are set on using/switching to it. The way I look at it is instead of working like a standard mixer, think Windows XP audio mixer, it is working from the application side, more like the Windows 7 audio control, to permit multiple applications to work at the same time with a selected output. Most likely you did not know about the PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) where you could have selected the output device. It is OK to use what works like switching to Alsa, but you will be swimming upstream in the future, if you can’t figure out how to work with PulsAudio in my opinion.

    Thank You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, thus compensating for Moore's Law

    Its James again from Austin, Texas

  4. #4

    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Thank you for your reply.
    From what i read in the link you gave me, PulseAudio is an aditional layer that sits on top of, and uses ALSA. Correct?

    About the PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) you mentioned, the wikipedia link mentions this...
    Starting with version 4.5 (and further enhanced in 4.6) PulseAudio is also integrated into KDE primarily by PulseAudio contributor Colin Guthrie, adding support to Phonon (the KDE multimedia framework) and KMix (the integrated mixer application) as well as writing a new "Speaker Setup" GUI to aid the configuration of multi-channel speakers.
    Is this the one you ment?
    In any case, if the one you ment is in the kde main menu, i must have tried it (i tried every mixer, volume control gadget there).
    For some reason i never got the option to add the aditional channels (surround, center, etc) in Kmix, even after installing the driver/codec from the realtek page. Then i disabled pulse audio, rebooted, opened Kmix options again, and the channels where there to add.
    I dunno, maybe the driver i installed doesnt support pulseaudio?

    I wish i still had that PC to do some more testing/learning, and to try to find the PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) you mentioned, but that PC is gone now. Its owner picked it up yesterday

    I too have 5.1 speakers on my main working PC, and my MB has the same chip, but as much as i would like to, i just cant make the full switch to linux on that PC. Because apart from tech support, i am also a developer, i develop business applications for small/medium companies, and i do that in C# with visual studio and .net platform. (a #ell of a lot faster that using straight C++ and a GUI kit like wxWidgets like i did before! haha).
    Thanks again for your reply and info

  5. #5

    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Intrigued by this issue, i decided to investigate and test some more, so i booted my PC (same audio chip, 5.1 speakers) with a linuxmint 11 live CD i have, and went to do some testing...

    by default, i had stereo audio on my front speakers, then i opened synaptics and installed the PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) package.
    I opened it from the multimedia menu, and it only has sliders for "left right" channels. after exploring every option in it, i found no feature to add aditional channels.
    Then i went back to synaptics, this time i installed Gnome alsa mixer package, and opened it from the same multimedia menu...



    Uploaded with ImageShack.us
    Here are both volume controls on screen. Alsa mixer on top, pavucontrol on bottom.
    As you can see, in Alsa mixer my card is properly detected, and i automatically got controls for front, surround, center and woofer channels. I dint even have to mess arround with its settings, nor download compile and install the realtek driver!
    It just works "out of the box".
    pavucontrol on the other hand, only offers controls for 2 channels.

    So im guessing in the original case with the other pc, it would have made no diference to try pavucontrol either (maybe i did, tried so many that i cant remember).
    It seems to me that the problem is Pulse Audio.
    Is this a bug in pulse audio, or just lack of functionality?

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    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    You need to go to the configuration tab where you select your output configuration. Consider that normally most all sources are in stereo and not 5.1 format. My receiver is set to multi-stereo mode which just makes all left speakers left channel and all right speakers right channel. When playing a DVD, I am using Kaffeine/KDE3, designed to use xine where I can set it to work as 5.1 Dolby digital spdiff passthrough which is the only time I get real 5.1 audio. So, when you say a 5.1 setup, who is doing what? Now with the Realtek driver loaded, which may only work with Alsa, it may be doing what my receiver can do with a stereo source, but Pulse per say is not stopping 5.1 Dolby Digital passthrough from getting out to my speakers when it is needed. Further, it is OK to take the steps that you did. If it works it works, nothing else to do.

    Thank You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, thus compensating for Moore's Law

    Its James again from Austin, Texas

  7. #7

    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    If i understand you correctly, you mean that i dont get 5.1 audio in pulseaudio because the source is in stereo only?
    But even if the source had 6 channel audio, how would i configure the channels, if there are no sliders anywhere for center, surround, etc?

    Anyway, Did another test, booted the mint11 live cd, and followed the steps here:
    Linux surround sound with PulseAudio (mini-HOWTO)
    Worked like a charm!
    I got 5.1 audio with pulseaudio. The aditional sliders for woofer, surround, etc. finally appeared in the pulse audio volume control app.
    Tested it with a 5.1 audio test video, and worked perfectly. Also tested it with a stereo .mp3 file, and still got audio from all of the 6 channels.

    My Conclusions...
    1.- It is my opinion that this whole issue, and how to fix it (as described in the above link) should be properly documented. One shouldnt have to google for an hour just to get something this basic working.

    2.- the developers of pulseaudio, should address this issue. And make proper corrections, like adding the functionality to do what the above link tells us to do, from inside the volume control application.
    This is no "small issue", for example: when working on my customers PC (when i started this thread), and after hours of scratching my head, i was about 5 minutes away from telling my customer "sorry, but i will install W7, because it seems your sound card is not compatible with linux". And its my job! im betting 90% of normal, home users would have quit after the first hour.

    3.- I wish i had found that link earlier! it would have saved me hours of scratching my head!

    NE way, the above solution (in the link) seems to work perfectly, i hope it spares someone hours of intensive-head-scratching! hehe

    EDIT: i think ill make a small how to and submit it to the howto section, but first ill verify that the solution works as well on opensuse, because testing was done with mint. I see no reason why it shouldnt work with suse, but just to make shure.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    I have a 5.1 surround sound system.

    I am an openSUSE-11.3 user, as I have not yet migrated to openSUSE-11.4. Note openSUSE-11.3 does not have pulse enabled by default in KDE and I have not enabled pulse on my openSUSE-11.3.

    Having stated that (not having migrated to openSUSE-11.4) I do have openSUSE-11.4 running in a test partition on my PC with the surround sound system and with pulse audio. I have also installed the application pulse audio volume control (pavucontrol) and surround sound with proper selection in pavucontrol, just worked.

    So I confess I simply scratched my head over this thread.

    Now its a bit of a pain for me to reboot to 11.4 just to offer support (I'm a non-paid volunteer enthusiast and I have my own hobbies, typically with a lot of encoding running in the background in my PC with the surround sound system and any reboot is a MASSIVE disruption to my ongoing hobby/work).

    Anyway, one thing I have learned over the many years that I have been a moderator on this forum, is while things often just work for me, they often do not just work for others, and I probably do things for tuning that are obvious and easy for me and not obvious nor easy for others. So perhaps if you have this working, and since you found it difficult and needing non-obvious steps, you could write the guide that you feel is needed, as I think I am not a good person to write such a 5.1 pulse audio guide ? I simply works for me. No special steps needed.

    I definitely did NOT need to follow the link you provided (for pulse) although MANY thanks for posting that link. It was .... interesting.

    Thanks and best wishes.

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    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Quote Originally Posted by ErnestoRD View Post
    About the PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) you mentioned, the wikipedia link mentions this...

    Is this the one you ment?
    In any case, if the one you ment is in the kde main menu, i must have tried it (i tried every mixer, volume control gadget there).
    pavucontrol is NOT installed by default in openSUSE-11.4. Instead one must make an extra point out of installing pavucontrol themselves.

    Fortunately pavucontrol is in the OSS repository and one can find it easily in YaST > Software > Software managment for installation, or one can simply type with root permissions (when connected to the internet) :
    Code:
    zypper in pavucontrol
    and then pavucontrol needs to be run the 1st time one runs any multimedia (with audio) application and then pulse audio can be tuned on an application by application basis. Once one has tuned pulse audio for a given appliciiton, it need not be run again for that application as pulse is 'supposed' to store the settings.

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    Default Re: Intel Azalia audio (Realtek ALC888B), Cant get 5.1 audio to work

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    pavucontrol is NOT installed by default in openSUSE-11.4. Instead one must make an extra point out of installing pavucontrol themselves.
    Here is a typical screen shot of pavucontrol:


    Configuration is where one MUST select their 5.1 system.

    The above is NOT set for a 5.1 system and I am NOT on a GNU/Linux PC right now and I can not in the time I have currently, provide anything more explicit.

    Note under output-devices it is important that one have the SHOW filter set to show 'all devices' . In playback I also find it important to have the SHOW filter set to show 'all streams'.

    Edit - I am a KDE user, but I note in one of your Gnome screen shots you illustrate something that looks like pavucontrol. You do not show the 'configuration' tab and it is in there that the setting is very important for a 5.1 system. If you do not have the 5.1 system configuration selected then you will not get the appropriate 5.1 controls elsewhere.

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