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Thread: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

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    Default Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Is it possible to output one playback stream to multiple devices simultaneously with the current PulseAudio / Phonon setup?

    The PulseAudio mixer only has radio buttons to choose one device per playback stream. I believe the hardware is capable of this, since I remember doing that before we had PulseAudio. How can I duplicate an audio stream?

    Here's one application scenario: I am travelling with my family, all crammed in small hotel room. My wife and me want to watch a movie on my laptop without waking up our kids. I just happen to have one analogue headphone available and one wireless USB headset with me. (Of course, the low tech solution is to bring an 3,5mm Y-cable to attach two analogue headsets, but I would really love to use the USB headset together with the analogue one.)

    Another similar thing that bugs me is that my laptop's built-in speakers now always seem dead when an analogue headphone is plugged in. This is mostly what one wants, and before PulseAudio, one had to manually switch them off which was generally annoying. However, the downside is for example with notifications. For example, before PulseAudio, I could configure Skype to always ring over the laptop's built-in speakers, regardless of whether the analogue headphones were plugged in. This is no longer possible, since PulseAudio does not distinguish between built-in speakers and built-in analogue port any more, while old Alsa did. So in my office, where some analogue headphones are plugged into the docking station, I never hear Skype ringing if I don't wear the headphones.

    Don't get me wrong: I love PulseAudio in general and don't want to switch back, these are just two rare scenarios that I regret being lost.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    PS:
    I should add that I tried paprefs -> simultaneous output and ticked the checkbox there to "create virtual device for output on all devices". However, even after a restart of the entire machine, I notice no difference in Kmix, Phonon nor pavucontrol. paprefs remembered the settings, but I cannot see any effect (likewise for network sound and multicast).

    I am on KDE, btw.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    Is it possible to output one playback stream to multiple devices simultaneously with the current PulseAudio / Phonon setup?
    Is it possible ? Yes. It is possible.

    Pulse allows one to play multiple streams to one output device, or to multiple output devices directed as one wishes to each or more output devices. Pulse also allows one to take the input of multiple input devices and stream it to single applications or to multiple applications directed as one wishes.

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    The PulseAudio mixer only has radio buttons to choose one device per playback stream.
    One needs to be careful not to filter out the selection of devices/streams with pulse. The control I use for this is the application 'pavucontrol' (pulse audio volume control) and it is important that in the 'SHOW' select at the bottom of most tabs that one selects to show everything.

    I was playing with pulse and multiple input and output devices in this thread: Looking (maybe) for audio mixer for use with Pulse Audio ... (see post#4, #5, and #11 in theat thread) of course that is a different and more difficult case than what you are trying to do (I don't think you will need the 'sinks').

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    Of course, the low tech solution is to bring an 3,5mm Y-cable to attach two analogue headsets, but I would really love to use the USB headset together with the analogue one.
    My wife and I always adopt the low tech solution here. Our analogue headsets are small and take up less space than a USB headset. Still, this is likely easy to setup for an extra USB headset.

    I do NOT know pulse well enough to give specific advice, other than to believe that I can do what you are trying to do without difficulty. I don't have USB headphones nor USB speakers, so I can not test this (nor trial a representative setup) myself. You would need to provide screen prints of the different 'menu tabs' from pavucontrol (showing your selections, and show what OTHER selections were available that you did NOT choose) in order for me to provide any concrete suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    Another similar thing that bugs me is that my laptop's built-in speakers now always seem dead when an analogue headphone is plugged in. This is mostly what one wants,
    Indeed thats the way the vast majority of users want this. Imagine if your mixer does not have a headset volume control (which IS the case for many different audio hardware) and one plugs in their headset and the speakers can not be muted. Thats incredibly annoying.

    So while I appreciate you liked that extra feature, IMHO its not as important as having the volume of speakers muted for those of us whose hardware does not allow as many mixer selections.
    Last edited by oldcpu; 09-Jun-2011 at 03:12.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    One needs to be careful not to filter out the selection of devices/streams with pulse. The control I use for this is the application 'pavucontrol' (pulse audio volume control) and it is important that in the 'SHOW' select at the bottom of most tabs that one selects to show everything.
    I already selected to show all in the bottom right of pavucontrol, but I don't see how this can help? For each stream, I can only select one output device. I would like to select two output devices!

    Here are the screen shots of pavucontrol and paprefs. The language is unfortunately set to German, but "Alle" means "All" is the important bit.

    So if I hit the button "internal audio analog stereo" I have a choice to select "USB Headset Analog Stereo", but that switched the sound to this device, making the "internal audio analog stereo" silent.



    Uploaded with ImageShack.us
    Here we can see my three devices: "internal audio analog stereo", "USB Headset Analog Stereo" and an HDMI output (which unfortunately only works under windows, but that is another story in another post)

    Here is the ticked checkbox for adding virtual devices for simultaneous output:

    However, if I ask pavucontrol to show me virtual devices, the tabs are just empty.


    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    I was playing with pulse and multiple input and output devices in this thread: [snip because of limit on URL tags] ... (see post#4, #5, and #11 in theat thread) of course that is a different and more difficult case than what you are trying to do (I don't think you will need the 'sinks').
    So apart from these additional sinks, which you think I might not need, what else should I try or do then?
    Last edited by STurtle; 09-Jun-2011 at 06:48. Reason: Pictures not loading

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    I already selected to show all in the bottom right of pavucontrol, but I don't see how this can help? For each stream, I can only select one output device. I would like to select two output devices!
    First, I do not speak German. The selections are difficult enough in English, so I can not say if you have the correct selections. Unless perfect translations can be provided I can not provide good recommendations (and even if perfect translated my recommendations may not be good - this is NEW TO ME ALSO).

    I have NO IDEA if your Anzelgen selection is correct. My guess is 50-50 chance its not correct - and that guess is because I don't speak German.

    Under the Weidergabe (playback I assume) I would be looking for a selection that reads "Internes Audio Analog Stereo + USB Headset Analog Stereo". ie both should be listed as one selection. Both not being listed as one selection suggests something needs to be configured elsewhere.

    Under the Ausgaberate (output devices) you have "Internes Audio Analog Stereo) selected to "Analoge Ausgabe" and "USB Headset Analog Stereo" set to "Analog Augabe". What are the other selections ? Are there any ? A wrong selection there could mean Weidergabe does not have the correct selections available elsewhere.

    The same is true for Konfiguration (which you did not show). The wrong selection there (if there is a selection) could mean you do not have the correct selections available elsewhere.

    If one DOES have the correct selections, and IF one ONLY see's what you show, then sinks may be needed.

    But I don't speak German, and I can't play with your drop down menu's to see what can be done.
    Last edited by oldcpu; 09-Jun-2011 at 07:40.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    I have NO IDEA if your Anzelgen selection is correct. My guess is 50-50 chance its not correct - and that guess is because I don't speak German.
    Well, there are only three choices and I tried them all. For the "Playback" tab the choices are "All", "Applications" & "Virtual Tracks". For me, the first two are equal and the last is empty. For the output-devices tab, I The choices are: "All devices", "Hardware-Devices" & "Virtual-Devices". The first two show the same, while the last is empty. Not much that can go wrong here, three choices are easy to try.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    Under the Weidergabe (playback I assume) I would be looking for a selection that reads "Internes Audio Analog Stereo + USB Headset Analog Stereo". ie both should be listed as one selection. Both not being listed as one selection suggests something needs to be configured elsewhere.
    No, I can only select them individually, there is no "+" choices anywhere. It just lists my all my devices single. Any idea what needs to be configured where - or where to read to figure it out?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    Under the Ausgaberate (output devices) you have "Internes Audio Analog Stereo) selected to "Analoge Ausgabe" and "USB Headset Analog Stereo" set to "Analog Augabe". What are the other selections ? Are there any ? A wrong selection there could mean Weidergabe does not have the correct selections available elsewhere.
    The only other choice is "Analogue Headset", which mutes the built-in speakers and forces audio through the 3,5mm line out. However, if a headset is plugged in, then I cannot tell a difference between the setting (i.e. it is always through the headset). For the USB-Headset shown, the choice is the same, but I could not discern any difference between "Analogue Output" and "Analogue Headset". For another USB-Headset of mine, there is no such choice at all,

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    The same is true for Konfiguration (which you did not show). The wrong selection there (if there is a selection) could mean you do not have the correct selections available elsewhere.
    How do I get to see the configuration? I only know about "pavucontrol", "paprefs", "phonon" and "kmix" to twiddle with my audio. Is there a config file?

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    But I don't speak German, and I can't play with your drop down menu's to see what can be done.
    Of course. However, thus far the choices are very limited and obviously "show all" is better than "only show virtual devices", but I just tried all three possible choices for each tab anyway. I think I need to enable something somewhere to get more choices available.

    I really appreciate your help, thanks!

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    How do I get to see the configuration? I only know about "pavucontrol", "paprefs", "phonon" and "kmix" to twiddle with my audio. Is there a config file?
    Konfiguration is a tab in pavucontrol :

    [click on above for larger image]

    I've used one of your images as an example.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    For the USB-Headset shown, the choice is the same, but I could not discern any difference between "Analogue Output" and "Analogue Headset". For another USB-Headset of mine, there is no such choice at all,
    Unfortunately I don't have a USB headset (nor USB speakers) so I can not play with the settings and give you an example.

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    I've got one step ahead:
    On a different machine running Kubuntu, ticking a checkbox in paprefs immediately offered me the desired option for simultaneous output in pavucontrol (which I had accidentally open while playing with paprefs), while playing audio!

    So in paprefs, tab "Simultaneous Output" the single checkbox labelled "Add virtual output device for simultaneous output on all local sound cards" ought to do it (yes, i changed the language setting to english) , but it does not work on my openSUSE 11.4 machine. I compared all setting in paprefs and pavucontrol - on the Kubuntu machine it works, on my openSUSE machine it does not.


    So something on my machine is broken. I cannot remember tweaking anything audio related, though, at least not since the 11.4 installation (not upgrade - but I did keep my entire home directory). Any ideas how to fix it?


    PS@oldcpu: I was aware of that Configuration-Tab in pavucontrol,thanks, but I thought you mentioned something else, as that particular tab does not offer me much choice: for each non-virtual device I can choose a mode (i.e. off, duplex, in-only, out-only, stereo, mono).

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    Default Re: Sound to multiple output devices with pulse?

    Quote Originally Posted by STurtle View Post
    I've got one step ahead:
    On a different machine running Kubuntu, ticking a checkbox in paprefs immediately offered me the desired option for simultaneous output in pavucontrol (which I had accidentally open while playing with paprefs), while playing audio!
    .........
    So something on my machine is broken. I cannot remember tweaking anything audio related, though, at least not since the 11.4 installation (not upgrade - but I did keep my entire home directory). Any ideas how to fix it?
    Can you run the following command on each GNU/Linux distro (Kubuntu and openSUSE) obtaining two separate URL/website addresses (one from each):
    Code:
    /usr/sbin/alsa-info.sh
    and post here the output URLs (website address) provided, so we can look for differences. Select the SHARE/Upload option. Ensure PC is connected to Internet. And ensure USB device is plugged in using same method (ie if you plugged in USB speakers before boot on one, do the same on the other). The idea here in comparing differences is to do an 'apples to apples' comparison. [note - post website/url address, don't post the massive script output as its too much and will clutter the thread needlessly]

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