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PulseAudio is a general purpose sound server intended to run as a middleware between your applications and your hardware devices, either using ALSA or OSS. It also offers easy network streaming across local devices using Avahi if enabled. While its main purpose is to ease audio configuration, its modular design allows more advanced users to configure the daemon precisely to best suit their needs.

Note: Some confusion may occur between ALSA and PulseAudio. ALSA includes a Linux kernel component with sound card drivers, as well as a userspace component, libasound.[1] PulseAudio builds only on the kernel component, but offers compatibility with libasound through pulseaudio-alsa.[2]


Install the pulseaudio package.

Some PulseAudio modules are not included in the main package and must be installed separately if needed:


There are a number of front-ends available for controlling the PulseAudio daemon:


  • ncpamixer — Ncurses mixer for PulseAudio inspired by pavucontrol.
https://github.com/fulhax/ncpamixer || ncpamixerAUR
  • pacmixer — Alsamixer alike for PulseAudio.
https://github.com/KenjiTakahashi/pacmixer || pacmixerAUR
  • PAmix — Ncurses PulseAudio mixer similar to pavucontrol.
https://github.com/patroclos/PAmix || pamix-gitAUR
  • pamixer — PulseAudio command line mixer.
https://github.com/cdemoulins/pamixer || pamixer
  • pavolume — Simple command-line volume control for PulseAudio with libnotify messages.
https://github.com/sseemayer/pavolume || pavolume-gitAUR
  • Ponymix — Command line mixer for PulseAudio.
https://github.com/falconindy/ponymix || ponymix
  • pulseaudio-ctl — Control PulseAudio volume from the shell or mapped to keyboard shortcuts.
https://github.com/graysky2/pulseaudio-ctl || pulseaudio-ctlAUR
  • pulsemixer — CLI and curses mixer for PulseAudio
https://github.com/GeorgeFilipkin/pulsemixer || pulsemixer


  • KMixKDE volume control application supporting several platforms including PulseAudio, system tray applet configurable.
https://kde.org/applications/en/multimedia/org.kde.kmix || kmix
  • MicTray — Lightweight system tray application which lets you control the microphone state and volume using PulseAudio.
https://github.com/Junker/MicTray || mictrayAUR
  • pa-applet — System tray applet for PulseAudio with volume bar.
https://github.com/fernandotcl/pa-applet || pa-applet-gitAUR
  • pasystray — System tray applet for PulseAudio.
https://github.com/christophgysin/pasystray || pasystray
  • plasma-paKDE Plasma applet for audio volume management using PulseAudio
https://invent.kde.org/plasma/plasma-pa || plasma-pa
  • PulseAudio Equalizer — LADSPA based multiband equalizer for PulseAudio.
https://github.com/pulseaudio-equalizer-ladspa/equalizer || pulseaudio-equalizer-ladspa
  • PulseAudio Graph Control — Electron-based volume and graph control for PulseAudio.
https://github.com/futpib/pagraphcontrol#readme || pagraphcontrol-gitAUR
  • PulseAudio Manager — Simple GTK frontend for PulseAudio.
http://0pointer.de/lennart/projects/paman/ || pamanAUR
  • PulseAudio Preferences — Simple GTK configuration dialog for PulseAudio.
https://freedesktop.org/software/pulseaudio/paprefs/ || paprefs
  • PulseAudio Volume Control — Simple GTK volume control tool ("mixer") for PulseAudio.
https://freedesktop.org/software/pulseaudio/pavucontrol/ || pavucontrol
  • PulseAudio Volume Control (Qt) — Mixer for PulseAudio (Qt port of pavucontrol).
https://github.com/lxqt/pavucontrol-qt || pavucontrol-qt
  • PulseAudio Volume Meter — Simple GTK volume meter for PulseAudio.
http://0pointer.de/lennart/projects/pavumeter/ || pavumeterAUR
  • PulseEffects — Audio effects for PulseAudio applications.
https://github.com/wwmm/pulseeffects || pulseeffects
  • Volctl — Per-application system tray applet volume control for PulseAudio.
https://buzz.github.io/volctl/ || volctlAUR
  • Xfce PulseAudio Panel Plugin — PulseAudio plugin for Xfce4 panel.
https://goodies.xfce.org/projects/panel-plugins/xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin || xfce4-pulseaudio-plugin


Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with PulseAudio/Configuration.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: Configuration should stay in the main article, so the linked page should be merged here. (Discuss in Talk:PulseAudio#Abandoned draft)

By default, PulseAudio is configured to automatically detect all sound cards and manage them. It takes control of all detected ALSA devices and redirects all audio streams to itself, making the PulseAudio daemon the central configuration point. The daemon should work mostly out of the box, only requiring a few minor tweaks.

While PulseAudio usually runs fine out of the box and requires only minimal configuration, advanced users can change almost every aspect of the daemon by either altering the default configuration file to disable modules or writing your own from scratch.

PulseAudio runs as a server daemon that can run either system-wide or on per-user basis using a client/server architecture. The daemon by itself does nothing without its modules except to provide an API and host dynamically loaded modules. The audio routing and processing tasks are all handled by various modules, including PulseAudio's native protocol itself (provided by module-native-protocol-unix). Clients reach the server through one of many protocol modules that will accept audio from external sources, route it through PulseAudio and eventually have it go out through a final other module. The output module does not have to be an actual sound output: it can dump the stream into a file, stream it to a broadcasting server such as Icecast, or even just discard it.

You can find a detailed list of all available modules at Pulseaudio Loadable Modules. To enable them you can just add a line load-module <module-name-from-list> to ~/.config/pulse/default.pa.

Configuration files

PulseAudio will first look for configuration files in the home directory ~/.config/pulse, and if they are not found, the system-wide configuration from /etc/pulse will be applied.

  • It is strongly suggested not to edit system-wide configuration files, but rather edit user ones. Create the ~/.config/pulse directory, then copy the system configuration files into it and edit according to your need.
  • Make sure you keep user configuration in sync with changes to the packaged files in /etc/pulse/. Otherwise, PulseAudio may refuse to start due to configuration errors.
  • There is usually no need to add your user to the audio group, as PulseAudio uses udev and logind to give access dynamically to the currently "active" user. Exceptions would include running the machine headless so that there is no currently "active" user.


This is the main configuration file to configure the daemon itself. It defines base settings like the default sample rates used by modules, resampling methods, realtime scheduling and various other settings related to the server process. These can not be changed at runtime without restarting the PulseAudio daemon. The defaults are sensible for most users, see the pulse-daemon.conf(5) manpage for additional information. Boolean options accepts any of these: true, yes, on and 1 as well as false, no, off and 0.

Note: PulseAudio does not perform tilde expansion on paths in this file. Use absolute paths for any files.
Option Description
daemonize Controls whether the server will daemonize itself and return. Set to no when debugging so you can see the debugging information on the terminal.
resample-method Which resampler to use when audio with incompatible sample rates needs to be passed between modules (e.g. playback of 96kHz audio on hardware which only supports 48kHz). The available resamplers can be listed with $ pulseaudio --dump-resample-methods. Choose the best tradeoff between CPU usage and audio quality for the present use-case.
Tip: In some cases PulseAudio will generate a high CPU load. This can happen when multiple streams are resampled (individually). If this is a common use-case in a workflow, it should be considered to create an additional sink at a matching sample rate which can then be fed into the main sink, resampling only once.
avoid-resampling With avoid-resampling = yes, PulseAudio automatically configures the hardware to the sample rate which the application uses, if the hardware supports this sample rate (needs PA 11 or higher)
Warning: Enabling this feature might cause audio distortion, therefore it is disabled by default, see the release notes for more information.
enable-remixing When the input and output have a different channel count (for example, outputting a 6 channel movie into a stereo sink), pulse can either remix all the channels (default, yes) or just trivially map the channels by their name (left goes to left, right to right, all others ignored) when no
system-instance If set to yes, run the daemon as a system-wide instance. Highly discouraged as it can introduce security issues. Useful on Multiseat systems, or headless systems that have no real local users. Defaults to no.
flat-volumes flat-volumes scales the device-volume with the volume of the "loudest" application. For example, raising the VoIP call volume will raise the hardware volume and adjust the music-player volume so it stays where it was, without having to lower the volume of the music-player manually. Defaults to yes upstream, but to no within Arch.
Note: The default behavior upstream can sometimes be confusing and some applications, unaware of this feature, can set their volume to 100% at startup, potentially blowing your speakers or your ears. This is why Arch defaults to the classic (ALSA) behavior by setting this to no.
realtime-scheduling If your kernel supports realtime scheduling (for instance, Realtime kernel or Linux-ck), set this to yes to ensure PulseAudio can deliver low-latency glitch-free playback. You can adjust realtime-priority as well to have it use the correct priority, especially when JACK is also running on the system.
nice-level Since PulseAudio runs in userspace and involves inter-process communication, audio can be subject to dropouts if the daemon does not have enough CPU time to process the audio. The default usually is enough, but can be tweaked to give pulse the wanted priority over (or below) other applications.
exit-idle-time If you want to run PulseAudio only when needed and use ALSA otherwise, you can set a delay in seconds after which the daemon will automatically shutdown after all clients are disconnected. Set it to -1 to disable this feature.
log-level When debugging, you may want to increase the logging level of the daemon to see exactly why a specific module fails to load. High logging levels will sometimes print useful information such as detected minimum latency for the system, which can then be used to tweak default-fragments and default-fragment-size-msec.
default-sample-format This usually does not need to be changed, but if your sound card's native format is different, performance and quality can be improved by setting the right format here.
default-sample-rate The default sample rate user by pulse unless overriden at module level. Change this if your sound card does not support 44100Hz or if you wish to upsample all audio. See previous note about CPU usage.
alternate-sample-rate To fix a common limitation where movies at 48000Hz were needlessly downsampled to 44100Hz, some modules support changing their sample rate dynamically to avoid resampling when possible. See manual for more in-depth information. This usually does not need to be changed.
default-channels The default number of channels when not specified. Usually do not need any change as you can configure more channels on per-module basis.
default-fragments Audio samples are split into multiple fragments of default-fragment-size-msec each. The larger the buffer is, the less likely audio will skip when the system is overloaded. On the downside this will increase the overall latency. Increase this value if you have issues.
default-fragment-size-msec The size in milliseconds of each fragment. This is the amount of data that will be processed at once by the daemon.


This file is a startup script and is used to configure modules. It is actually parsed and read after the daemon has finished initializing and additional commands can be sent at runtime using $ pactl or $ pacmd. The startup script can also be provided on the command line by starting PulseAudio in a terminal using $ pulseaudio -nC. This will make the daemon load the CLI module and will accept the configuration directly from the command line, and output resulting information or error messages on the same terminal. This can be useful when debugging the daemon or just to test various modules before setting them permanently on disk. The manual page is quite self-explanatory, consult pulse-cli-syntax(5) for the details of the syntax.

  • Rather than being a complete copy, ~/.config/pulse/default.pa can start with the line .include /etc/pulse/default.pa and then just override the defaults.
  • Run $ pacmd list-sinks|egrep -i 'index:|name:' to list available sinks. The present default sink is marked with an asterisk.
  • Edit ~/.config/pulse/default.pa to insert/alter the set-default-sink command using the sink's name as the numbering cannot be guaranteed repeatable.


This is the configuration file read by every PulseAudio client application. It is used to configure runtime options for individual clients. It can be used to set and configure the default sink and source statically as well as allowing (or disallowing) clients to automatically start the server if not currently running.

Configuration command

The main command to configure a server during runtime is $ pacmd. Run $ pacmd --help for a list options, or just run $ pacmd to enter the shell interactive mode and Ctrl+d to exit. All modifications will immediately be applied.

Once your new settings have been tested and meet your needs, edit the default.pa accordingly to make the change persistent. See PulseAudio/Examples for some basic settings.

Tip: leave the load-module module-default-device-restore line in the default.pa file untouched. It will allow you to restart the server in its default state, thus dismissing any wrong setting.

It is important to understand that the "sources" (processes, capture devices) and "sinks" (sound cards, servers, other processes) accessible and selectable through PulseAudio depend upon the current hardware "Profile" selected. These "Profiles" are those ALSA "pcms" listed by the command aplay -L, and more specifically by the command pacmd list-cards, which will include a line "index:", a list beginning "profiles:", and a line "active profile: <...>" in the output, among other things. "Profiles" correspond to different card input/output configurations, notably the number of available input/output channels.

The "active profile" can be set with the command pacmd set-card-profile INDEX PROFILE, with no comma separating INDEX and PROFILE, where INDEX is just the number on the line "index:" and a PROFILE name is everything shown from the beginning of any line under "profile:" to just before the colon and first space, as shown by the command pacmd list-cards. For instance, pacmd set-card-profile 0 output:analog-stereo+input:analog-stereo.

It may be easier to select a "Profile" with a graphical tool like pavucontrol, under the "Configuration" tab, or KDE System Settings, "Multimedia/Audio and Video Settings", under the "Audio Hardware Setup" tab. Each audio "Card", which are those devices listed by the command aplay -l, or again by the command pacmd list-cards, will have its own selectable "Profile". When a "Profile" has been selected, the then available "sources" and "sinks" can be seen by using the commands pacmd list-sources and pacmd list-sinks. Note that the "index" of the available sources and sinks will change each time a card profile is changed.

The selected "Profile" can be an issue for some applications, especially the Adobe Flash players, typically /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins/libflashplayer.so and /usr/lib/PepperFlash/libpepflashplayer.so. Often, these Flash players will only work when one of the Stereo profiles is selected, and otherwise, will play video with no sound, or will simply "crash". When all else fails, you might try selecting a different profile.

Of course, when configuring some variation of Surround Sound in PulseAudio, the appropriate Surround profile will have to be selected, before Surround Sound will work, or in order to do things like remap the speaker channels.


PulseAudio on Arch has pulseaudio.socket enabled by default for the systemd/User instance. This means that PulseAudio will automatically start when needed.

  • To disable pulseaudio.socket, make sure that $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/systemd/user/ exists and run systemctl --user mask pulseaudio.socket.
  • Many desktop environments support XDG Autostart. In those desktop environments, PulseAudio will be launched automatically regardless of the socket activation status.

For more information, see PulseAudio: Running.


$ systemctl --user stop pulseaudio.socket
$ systemctl --user stop pulseaudio.service

Back-end configuration


If you have applications that do not support PulseAudio explicitly but rely on ALSA, these applications will try to access the sound card directly via ALSA and will therefore bypass PulseAudio. PulseAudio will thus not have access to the sound card any more. As a result, all applications relying on PulseAudio will not be working any more, leading to this issue. To prevent this, you will need to install the pulseaudio-alsa package. It contains the necessary /etc/asound.conf for configuring ALSA to use PulseAudio. Also make sure that ~/.asoundrc does not exist, as it would override the /etc/asound.conf file.

Also install lib32-libpulse and lib32-alsa-plugins if you run a x86_64 system and want to have sound for 32-bit multilib programs like Wine and Steam.

To prevent applications from using ALSA's OSS emulation and bypassing PulseAudio (thereby preventing other applications from playing sound), make sure the module snd_pcm_oss is not being loaded at boot. If it is currently loaded (lsmod | grep oss), disable it by executing:

# rmmod snd_pcm_oss

Enable DTS via ALSA

To enable PulseAudio DTS (Digital Theater System) via ALSA install dcaencAUR package and enable it:


Finally restart PulseAudio. If experience volume issues with your DTS device and/or PulseAudio, you may fix it by looking for more setting option at dcaenc's Github.

Expose PulseAudio sources, sinks and mixers to ALSA

Although pulseaudio-alsa contains the necessary configuration file to allow ALSA applications to use PulseAudio's default device, ALSA's pulse plugin is more versatile than that:

~/.asoundrc (or /etc/asound.conf)
# Create an alsa input/output using specific PulseAudio sources/sinks
 pcm.pulse-example1 {
     type pulse
     device "my-combined-sink" # name of a source or sink
     fallback "pulse-example2" # if combined not available
 pcm.pulse-example2 {
     type pulse
     device "other-sound-card" # name of a source or sink
     # example: device "alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo"
 # Create an alsa mixer using specific PulseAudio sources/sinks
 # these can be tested with "alsamixer -D pulse-example3"
 ctl.pulse-example3 {
     type pulse
     device "my-output" # name of source or sink to control
     # example: always control the laptop speakers:
     # device "alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo"
     fallback "pulse-example4" # supports fallback too
 # Mixers also can control a specific source and sink, separately:
 ctl.pulse-example4 {
     type pulse
     sink "my-usb-headphones"
     source "my-internal-mic"
     # example: output to HDMI, record using internal
     sink "alsa_output.pci-0000_01_00.1.hdmi-stereo-extra1"
     source "alsa_input.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo"
 # These can override the default mixer (example: for pnmixer integration)
 ctl.!default {
     type pulse
     sink "alsa_output.pci-0000_01_00.1.hdmi-stereo-extra1"
     source "alsa_input.pci-0000_00_1b.0.analog-stereo"

The source code can be read to know all available options.

ALSA/dmix without grabbing hardware device

Note: This section describes alternative configuration, which is generally not recommended.

You may want to use ALSA directly in most of your applications while still being able to use applications which require PulseAudio at the same time. The following steps allow you to make PulseAudio use dmix instead of grabbing ALSA hardware device.

  • Remove package pulseaudio-alsa, which provides compatibility layer between ALSA applications and PulseAudio. After this your ALSA apps will use ALSA directly without being hooked by Pulse.
  • Edit /etc/pulse/default.pa.
Find and uncomment lines which load back-end drivers. Add device parameters as follows. Then find and comment lines which load autodetect modules.
load-module module-alsa-sink device=dmix
load-module module-alsa-source device=dsnoop
# load-module module-udev-detect
# load-module module-detect
  • Optional: If you use kmix you may want to control ALSA volume instead of PulseAudio volume:
$ echo export KMIX_PULSEAUDIO_DISABLE=1 > ~/.kde4/env/kmix_disable_pulse.sh
$ chmod +x ~/.kde4/env/kmix_disable_pulse.sh
  • Now, reboot your computer and try running ALSA and PulseAudio applications at the same time. They both should produce sound simultaneously.
Use pavucontrol to control PulseAudio volume if needed.


There are multiple ways of making OSS-only programs output to PulseAudio:


Install ossp package and start osspd.service.

padsp wrapper

Programs using OSS can work with PulseAudio by starting it with padsp (included with PulseAudio):

$ padsp OSSprogram

A few examples:

$ padsp aumix
$ padsp sox foo.wav -t ossdsp /dev/dsp

You can also add a custom wrapper script like this:

exec padsp /usr/bin/OSSprogram "$@"

Make sure /usr/local/bin comes before /usr/bin in your PATH.


Install gst-plugins-good, or gstreamer0.10-good-pluginsAUR if your intended program has a legacy GStreamer implementation.


OpenAL Soft should use PulseAudio by default, but can be explicitly configured to do so:


By default, OpenAL does not allow pulseaudio to move audio streams to a different device. To change this, add the allow-moves option:



Edit the libao configuration file:


Be sure to remove the dev=default option of the alsa driver or adjust it to specify a specific Pulse sink name or number.

Note: You could possibly also keep the libao standard of outputting to the alsa driver and its default device if you install pulseaudio-alsa since the ALSA default device then is PulseAudio.

Audio post-processing


PulseEffects is a GTK advanced utility for applying audio effects to applications output or to microphone before sending its audio stream to a recording tool. The user has full control over which effects to apply and their order. To install it, choose between pulseeffects or pulseeffects-gitAUR.

Effects for applications output are limiter, auto gain, expander, compressor, multiband compressor, equalizer, bass enhancer, exciter, crystalizer, reverberation, crossfeed, filter (lowpass, highpass, bandpass and bandreject modes), stereo tools, loudness, maximizer, pitch, gate, multiband gate, deesser and convolver. Effects applicable to input streams are gate, multiband gate, WebRTC, limiter, compressor, multiband compressor, equalizer, reverberation, pitch, filter (lowpass, highpass, bandpass and bandreject modes) and deesser.

If PulseEffects plugins are greyed out after installing plugins, trying to start the daemon produces an error, or no devices are shown in the Settings > PulseAudio tab, consider clearing the cache as shown in [3].

A collection of PulseEffects presets can be found in community presets.


If you want to use a different equalizer rather that the one integrated in #PulseEffects, there are the following options.

LADSPA module

Install pulseaudio-equalizer-ladspa, an equalizer based on LADSPA swh-plugins. Launch pulseaudio-equalizer-gtk GUI and tweak the parameters to match your expectations.

Integrated module

PulseAudio has an integrated 10-band equalizer system. In order to use it, install pulseaudio-equalizer and read the following instructions.

Warning: PulseAudio equalizer module is considered unstable and might be removed from PulseAudio.

Load the equalizer sink and dbus-protocol module

$ pactl load-module module-equalizer-sink
$ pactl load-module module-dbus-protocol

To start the GUI, run qpaeq.

Note: If qpaeq has no effect, install pavucontrol and change "ALSA Playback on" to "FFT based equalizer on ..." while the media player is running.

To load the equalizer and dbus module on every boot, edit the /etc/pulse/default.pa or ~/.config/pulse/default.pa file with your favorite editor and append the following lines:

### Load the integrated PulseAudio equalizer and D-Bus module
load-module module-equalizer-sink
load-module module-dbus-protocol
Note: The equalizer sink needs to be loaded after the master sink is already available.

Dynamic Range Compression

Dynamic range compression can be done with #PulseEffects. Anyway PulseEffects might introduce much overhead and latency to audio stream, so if you only need a compression effect and a minor load on the system, other options are available using a module-ladspa-sink.

Steve Harris plugin

Steve Harris LADSPA is a set of plugins containing various compression modules. Install swh-plugins and edit the configuration as the following

.include /etc/pulse/default.pa

 set-default-sink your_card_sink_name

 load-module module-ladspa-sink sink_name=shw_sc4 sink_master=your_card_sink_name plugin=sc4_1882 label=sc4 control=,,,,,,,,
 set-default-sink shw_sc4

You have to specify your card sink name, get it from pacmd list-sinks. In order to apply the changes, stop and restart Pulseaudio. The above configuration has empty control options using the default values.

To tweak the module with custom control parameters, fill them respecting the right order.

Control option Description
RMS/peak (0/1) The blanace between the RMS and peak envelope followers. RMS is generally better for subtle, musical compression and peak is better for heavier, fast compression and percussion.
Attack time (ms) The attack time in milliseconds.
Release time (ms) The release time in milliseconds.
Threshold level (dB) The point at which the compressor will start to kick in.
Ratio (1:n) The gain reduction ratio used when the signal level exceeds the threshold. 1 means no compression; higher values stronger compression.
Knee radius (dB) The distance from the threshold where the knee curve starts.
Makeup gain (dB) Controls the gain of the makeup input signal in dB's.
Amplitude (dB) The level of the input signal, in decibels.
Gain reduction (dB) The degree of gain reduction applied to the input signal, in decibels.

Other plugins can be found in Steve Harris' LADSPA Plugin Documentation.

Calf plugin

For a more professional compressor, you can use the one developed by Calf Studio Gear. Install calf-ladspaAUR and edit the configuration as the following

.include /etc/pulse/default.pa

 set-default-sink your_card_sink_name

 load-module module-ladspa-sink sink_name=calf_comp_x2 sink_master=your_card_sink_name plugin=veal label=Compressor control=,,,,,,,,,,
 set-default-sink calf_comp_x2

The plugin has 11 control options. If you want to insert custom values, read the following table and do not forget to specify them in the right order.

Control option Default Min Max Type Info
Bypass 0 0 1 Bool
Level in 1 0.015625 64 Float db
Threshold 0.125 0.000976563 1 Float dbFs For example, to set -18 db, the right value is 10^(-18/20) = 0.158
Ratio 2 1 20 Float
Attack 20 0.01 2000 Float ms
Release 250 0.01 2000 Float ms
Makeup 1 1 64 Float db
Knee 2.828427125 1 8 Float db
RMS/Peak 0 0 1 Bool 0 = RMS; 1 = Peak
Stereo Link 0 0 1 Bool 0 = Average; 1 = Max
Mix 1 0 1 Float Percentage
To understand the meaning of every single option, read the Calf Compressor Documentation.

Microphone Echo-Cancellation and Noise Reduction

See PulseAudio/Troubleshooting#Enable Echo/Noise-Cancellation.



Refer to QEMU#Host for a detailed guide on how to configure pulseaudio within QEMU.


Make alsamixer.appAUR dockapp for the windowmakerAUR use pulseaudio, e.g.

$ AlsaMixer.app --device pulse

Here is a two examples where the first one is for ALSA and the other one is for pulseaudio. You can run multiple instances of it. Use the -w option to choose which of the control buttons to bind to the mouse wheel.

# AlsaMixer.app -3 Mic -1 Master -2 PCM --card 0 -w 1
# AlsaMixer.app --device pulse -1 Capture -2 Master -w 2
Note: It can use only those output sinks that set as default.


Make it switch to pulseaudio output

$ nyxmms2 server config output.plugin pulse

and to alsa

$ nyxmms2 server config output.plugin alsa

To make xmms2 use a different output sink, e.g.

$ nyxmms2 server config pulse.sink alsa_output.pci-0000_04_01.0.analog-stereo.monitor

See also the official guide [4].

KDE Plasma Workspaces and Qt4

PulseAudio will automatically be used by KDE/Qt4 applications. It is supported by default in the KDE sound mixer. For more information see the KDE page in the PulseAudio wiki.

One useful tidbit from that page is that load-module module-device-manager should be loaded. This usually happens automatically at login through the script /usr/bin/start-pulseaudio-x11; if you find that the module is not loaded automatically you can consider adding it manually to /etc/pulse/default.pa. See #Switch on connect for possible conflicts with the module-switch-on-connect.

If the phonon-gstreamer backend is used for Phonon, GStreamer should also be configured as described in #GStreamer.


Audacious natively supports PulseAudio. In order to use it, set Audacious Preferences -> Audio -> Current output plugin to 'PulseAudio Output Plugin'.

Music Player Daemon (MPD)

Configure MPD to use PulseAudio. See also MPD/Tips and Tricks#PulseAudio.


MPlayer natively supports PulseAudio output with the -ao pulse option. It can also be configured to default to PulseAudio output, in ~/.mplayer/config for per-user, or /etc/mplayer/mplayer.conf for system-wide:



mpv supports PulseAudio same as written for #MPlayer. Configuration in ~/.config/mpv/mpv.conf per-user, or /etc/mpv/mpv.conf system-wide.


guvcview when using the PulseAudio input from a Webcam may have the audio input suspended resulting in no audio being recorded. You can check this by executing:

$ pactl list sources

If the audio source is "suspended" then modifying the following line in /etc/pulse/default.pa and changing:

load-module module-suspend-on-idle


#load-module module-suspend-on-idle

And then either restarting PulseAudio or your computer will only idle the input source instead of suspending it. guvcview will then correctly record audio from the device.

Networked audio

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: please allow for some time for me to port the most important information here -- Nodiscc (Discuss in Talk:PulseAudio#Networked_audio)

Play sound through the outputs of another computer on the network. This method streams raw PCM audio over the network, which can use pretty much network bandwidth (around 1.4 Mb/s for CD-quality sound).[5]

Basic setup with direct connection

On the server

Edit ~/.config/pulse/default.pa or /etc/pulse/default.pa (or /etc/pulse/system.pa if PulseAudio is started in system mode) and add the following line:

load-module module-native-protocol-tcp auth-ip-acl=;

Here only client from the IPs or IPs range specified here can stream sound.

To allow access from everywhere:

load-module module-native-protocol-tcp auth-anonymous=true
Note: If auth-ip-acl neither auth-anonymous are specified, authentification is done via ~/.config/pulse/cookie which must be the same on clients and server.

By default PulseAudio listens on port tcp/4713 for incoming connections, you may need to open this port in your firewall.

On the client

Edit ~/.config/pulse/client.conf or /etc/pulse/client.conf, to respectively apply this directive to one user or to all, and add :

default-server = server-address

server-address can be a simple domain-name or IPv4, for more see the documentation

It is also possible to set the server address in the environment variable $PULSE_SERVER.

Tips and tricks

Merge-arrows-2.pngThis article or section is a candidate for merging with PulseAudio/Examples.Merge-arrows-2.png

Notes: Same topic. (Discuss in Talk:PulseAudio#)

Keyboard volume control

See Keyboard shortcuts#Xorg to bind the following commands to your volume keys: XF86AudioRaiseVolume, XF86AudioLowerVolume and XF86AudioMute.

First find out which sink corresponds to the audio output you would like to control. To list available sinks:

$ pactl list sinks short

Suppose sink 0 is to be used, to raise the volume:

sh -c "pactl set-sink-mute 0 false ; pactl set-sink-volume 0 +5%"

To lower the volume:

$ sh -c "pactl set-sink-mute 0 false ; pactl set-sink-volume 0 -5%"

To mute/unmute the volume:

$ pactl set-sink-mute 0 toggle

To mute/unmute the microphone:

$ pactl set-source-mute 1 toggle
  • To have keyboard shortcuts operate always on the default sink, specify @DEFAULT_SINK@ as the sink number, for example pactl set-sink-mute @DEFAULT_SINK@ toggle.
  • For more advanced control, such as limiting the maximum volume, consider using one of the console front-ends.

Play sound from a non-interactive shell (systemd service, cron)

Set XDG_RUNTIME_DIR before the command (replace user_id with the ID of the user running PulseAudio):

$ XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=/run/user/user_id paplay /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/complete.oga

Or use machinectl:

# machinectl shell .host --uid=user_id /usr/bin/paplay /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/complete.oga

X11 Bell Events

To get pulseaudio to handle X11 bell events, run the following commands after the X11 session has been started:

$ pactl upload-sample /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/bell.oga x11-bell
$ pactl load-module module-x11-bell sample=x11-bell display=$DISPLAY

Or use configuration files /etc/pulse/default.pa or ~/.config/pulse/default.pa:

.include /etc/pulse/default.pa

# audible bell
load-sample-lazy x11-bell /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/bell.oga
load-module module-x11-bell sample=x11-bell

To adjust the volume of the X11 bell, run the following command:

$ xset b 100

100 is a percentage. This requires the xorg-xset package. See Autostarting for a way to run these commands automatically when the X11 session is started.

Switch on connect

This is a default enabled module used to switch the output sound to the newly connected device. For example, if you plug in a USB headset, the output will be switched to that. If you unplug it, the output will be set back to the last device. This used to be quite buggy but got a lot of attention in PulseAudio 8.0 and should work quite well now.

Tango-inaccurate.pngThe factual accuracy of this article or section is disputed.Tango-inaccurate.png

Reason: Editing /usr/bin/start-pulseaudio-x11 will not survive package upgrade. The offending module can be unloaded in the config before loading module-switch-on-connect, see Talk:Bluetooth_headset#GDMs_pulseaudio_instance_captures_bluetooth_headset. (Discuss in Talk:PulseAudio#)

On KDE/Plasma5 you should furthermore disable module-device-manager. As soon as Plasma5 is started it loads (via start-pulseaudio-x11) the module module-device-manager for pulseaudio to manage the devices. But that module apparently conflicts with module-switch-on-connect. Therefore you should disable that module by editing /bin/start-pulseaudio-x11 and commenting the lines for KDE. Simply logout and login again and in order to renew your pulseaudio session. On connect switching should now work properly.

Script for switching analog outputs

Some sound cards present the option of multiple analog outputs, being switchable through using Pulseaudio profiles. But switching manually can become a chore, so you can use the following commands to switch it:

$ pactl set-sink-port 'number of the card' 'port'

This will set the default output to whatever port you chose. Example:

$ pactl set-sink-port 0 "analog-output;output-speaker" 

The values can be easily obtained using:

$ pactl list

Current output can be obtained through:

$ pactl list sinks | grep "active profile"| cut -d ' ' -f 3-

This process can be automated through a simple script. This script then can be given a shortcut by the user:

~/pa.sh (or anything the user wants)
# This script uses kdialog notification to warn the user of the currently swapped to profile. User could adapt it to their needs or change it.

CURRENT_PROFILE=$(pactl list sinks | grep "active profile"| cut -d ' ' -f 3-)

if [ "$CURRENT_PROFILE" = "analog-output;output-speaker" ] ; then
        pactl set-sink-port 0 "analog-output;output-headphones-1"
        kdialog --title "Pulseaudio" --passivepopup "Headphone" 2 & 
        pactl set-sink-port 0 "analog-output;output-speaker"      
        kdialog --title "Pulseaudio" --passivepopup  "Speaker" 2 &

This script is intended to swap between two profiles. First checking the current profile then swapping it. Users are required to change the field 'active profile' according to the language pactl reports. Users might need to change the number of the card and the output to fit their machine.


See PulseAudio/Troubleshooting.

See also