No sound after latest updates - system borked?

HI all,
I am having a weird problem on my Lenovo T440 laptop I use for work.

I had sound working beautifully until yesterday, when I did a zypper dup. After reboot, I had no more sound.
KMix shows no channels and the “volume control” applet in the tray only shows an empty window.
aplay -l shows “aplay: device_list:268: no soundcards found…”

“Multimedia” in “System Setup” only shows a “default” card that does nothing.

Sound configuration in Yast reports two sound cards:

  • index 0: Haswell-ULT HD Audio Controller
  • index 1: 8 Series HD Audio Controller

At first, the two cards were not configured. But the strangest thing is that just yesterday my system showed different cards!
I do not exactly remember the names, but going into ./config/pulse and dumping the 4ed603cd18304c8d9216b69334cdeb3a-device-manager.tdb file I can see the old names:

  • Built-in Audio Analog Stereo
  • Built-in Audio Digital Stereo (HDMI)

I remember using the first (the second did not work IIRC).

After configuring the two new cards (I clicked “Edit” and used the default option) I am in this situation: if I choose “Volume…” on the first card I get an empty window (no master volume, no channels).
If I click “Volume…” on the second card I see the controls correctly and I can hear the test sound. HOWEVER, if I now choose “Set as the primary card” on the second card, the situation is reversed! I.e. although the cards are now swapped, I still see the controls only on the second card! Other times I get no controls on both the first and the second, until I force a restart of the sound system.

After a bit of playing with Yast (mostly blindly, because what I see makes little sense or none at all), I finally got to see something in KMix: I have now two tabs: “HDA Intel HDMI” and “HDA Intel PCH”.
The first reports three channels (IEC958, IEC958_2, IEC958_3) but has no controls. The second reports the usual Master, PCM, Headphone, Mic, Mic Boost channels. But I still have no sound.

aplay -l now reports:

> aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 7: HDMI 1 [HDMI 1]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: HDMI [HDA Intel HDMI], device 8: HDMI 2 [HDMI 2]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: ALC3232 Analog [ALC3232 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

But if I close Yast (it updates the configuration) I get back to aplay -l reporting “aplay: device_list:268: no soundcards found…”.

If I launch pavucontrol it says it cannot connect to PulseAudio.

I am adding here a few more infos about my system, just in case:

> uname -a
Linux xmper8q3.gcv.dom 4.3.0-2-default #1 SMP PREEMPT Sat Nov 14 16:19:19 UTC 2015 (734b32c) x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
> lsmod|grep -i snd
snd_hda_codec_hdmi     53248  1
snd_hda_codec_realtek    86016  1
snd_hda_codec_generic    81920  1 snd_hda_codec_realtek
snd_hda_intel          40960  2
snd_hda_codec         147456  4 snd_hda_codec_realtek,snd_hda_codec_hdmi,snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_hda_intel
snd_hda_core           73728  5 snd_hda_codec_realtek,snd_hda_codec_hdmi,snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_hda_codec,snd_hda_intel
snd_hwdep              16384  1 snd_hda_codec
snd_pcm               135168  4 snd_hda_codec_hdmi,snd_hda_codec,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_core
snd_timer              36864  1 snd_pcm
snd                    90112  13 snd_hda_codec_realtek,snd_hwdep,snd_timer,snd_hda_codec_hdmi,snd_pcm,snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_hda_codec,snd_hda_intel,thinkpad_acpi
soundcore              16384  1 snd
> inxi -MA
Machine:   System: LENOVO product: 20B7S43B00 version: ThinkPad T440
           Mobo: LENOVO model: 20B7S43B00 version: SDK0E50510 WIN Bios: LENOVO version: GJET80WW (2.30 ) date: 10/20/2014
Audio:     Card-1: Intel 8 Series HD Audio Controller Sound: ALSA ver: k4.3.0-2-default
           Card-2: Intel Haswell-ULT HD Audio Controller

I am quite lost. Tumbleweed was rock solid for me until yesterday, but now the sound setup is quite flacky.

I would be very grateful to anybody helping me to sort this out.
Would reverting back tyo an older kernel help? I have vmlinuz-4.3.0-1-default and vmlinuz-4.3.0-2-default installed presently.


Don’t know if it is of any help in diagnosing my problem: VLC can play audio.

Sound devices as viewed by VLC (the selected one is the working one):


After a lot of searching around, I have been able to restart pulseaudio after completely cleaning the ~/.config/pulse directory.
Now, with pulse running, it seems that sound is working as expected.
The volume widget had to be removed and reinstated to be able to see the volume streams and devices.
We’ll see if this survives a reboot.

I read elsewhere that the pulseaudio equalizer may corrupt pulseaudio to the point where it does not start anymore. Since I had installed the equalizer since about a week when the problem happened, this could be more evidence that the equalizer is causing problems. I am keeping it installed to see if it happens again.

However… is it normal that without pulseaudio the sound system is completely unreliable?