PulseAudio is a sound server commonly used by desktop environments like GNOME or KDE. It serves as a proxy to sound applications using existing kernel sound components like ALSA or OSS. Since ALSA is included in Arch Linux by default, the most common deployment scenarios include PulseAudio with ALSA.
- 1 Installation
- 2 Configuration
- 3 Running
- 4 Back-end configuration
- 5 Equalizer
- 6 Applications
- 7 Tips and tricks
- 8 Troubleshooting
- 9 See also
Some PulseAudio modules have been split from the main package and must be installed separately if needed:
- : Bluetooth (Bluez) support
- : Equalizer sink (qpaeq)
- : GConf support (paprefs)
- : JACK sink, source and jackdbus detection
- : Infrared (LIRC) volume control
- : Xen paravirtual sink
- : Zeroconf (Avahi/DNS-SD) support
libalsa. PulseAudio builds only on the kernel component, but offers compatibility with
There is a number of front-ends available for controlling the PulseAudio daemon:
- GTK GUIs: and
- Volume control via mapped keyboard keys: AUR
- Console (CLI) mixers: and
- Console (curses) mixer: AUR
- Web volume control: PaWebControl
- System tray icon: AUR
- KDE4 plasma applet: broken link: archived in aur-mirror] and AUR[
- KF5 plasma applet: and
- If you want to use Bluetooth Headsets or other Bluetooth Audio Devices together with PulseAudio see the Bluetooth headset Article.
By default, PulseAudio is configured to automatically detect all sound cards and manage them. It takes control of all detected ALSA devices and redirect 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.
PulseAudio will first look for configuration files in home directory
~/.config/pulse, then in system wide
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. 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
- It is strongly suggested not to edit system wide configuration files, but rather edit user ones. Create the
~/.config/pulsedirectory, 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 no need to add your user to audio group, as it uses udev and logind to dynamically give access to the currently "active" user
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.
|Option||Description||system-instance|| Run the daemon as a system-wide instance. Highly discouraged as it can introduce security issues. Useful on (headless) systems that have no real local users. Defaults to
||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
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.
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
|default-fragments|| Audio samples are split into multiple fragments of |
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 additionnal 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, please consult
man pulse-cli-syntax for the details of the syntax.
$ pacmd list-sinks|egrep -i 'index:|name:'to list available sinks. The present default sink is marked with an asterisk.
~/.config/pulse/default.pato 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.
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.
load-module module-default-device-restoreline in the
default.pafile 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.
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/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.
- To disable
pulseaudio.socket, make sure that
$XDG_CONFIG_HOME/systemd/user/exists and run
systemctl --user mask pulseaudio.socket.
- Many desktop environments autostart programs based on desktop files in the
/etc/xdg/autostart/directory. In this case, PulseAudio will be launched automatically regardless of the socket activation status.
For more information, see PulseAudio: Running.
PulseAudio can be manually started with:
$ pulseaudio --start
And stopped with:
$ pulseaudio --kill
/etc/asound.conf for configuring ALSA to use PulseAudio.
Also install multilib programs like Wine, Skype and Steam.and if you run a x86_64 system and want to have sound for 32-bit
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
ALSA/dmix without grabbing hardware device
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 , which provides compatibility layer between ALSA applications and PulseAudio. After this your ALSA apps will use ALSA directly without being hooked by Pulse.
- 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 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 to control PulseAudio volume if needed.
There are multiple ways of making OSS-only programs output to PulseAudio:
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:
#!/bin/sh exec padsp /usr/bin/OSSprogram "$@"
/usr/local/bin comes before
/usr/bin in your PATH.
Install GStreamer implementation., or if your intended program has a legacy
OpenALOpenAL Soft should use PulseAudio by default, but can be explicitly configured to do so:
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.
PulseAudio has an integrated 10-band equalizer system. In order to use the equalizer do the following:
Load equalizer sink and dbus-protocol module
$ pactl load-module module-equalizer-sink $ pactl load-module module-dbus-protocol
Load equalizer and dbus module on every boot
~/.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
The audio driver used by QEMU is set with the
QEMU_AUDIO_DRV environment variable:
$ export QEMU_AUDIO_DRV=pa
Run the following command to get QEMU's configuration options related to PulseAudio:
$ qemu-system-x86_64 -audio-help | awk '/Name: pa/' RS=
The listed options can be exported as environment variables, for example:
$ export QEMU_PA_SINK=alsa_output.pci-0000_04_01.0.analog-stereo.monitor $ export QEMU_PA_SOURCE=input
To get list of the supported emulation audio drivers
$ qemu-system-x86_64 -soundhw help
To use e.g.
ac97 driver for the guest use the
-soundhw ac97 commnad with QEMU.
qemu-system-x86_64 -h | grep vga.
MakeAUR dockapp for the 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
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 .
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 to add
load-module module-device-manager to
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'.
Create a wrapper for the Java executable using padsp as seen on the Java sound with PulseAudio page.
Music Player Daemon (MPD)
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:
Webcam may have the audio input suspended resulting in no audio being recorded. You can check this by executing:when using the PulseAudio input from a
$ pactl list sources
If the audio source is "suspended" then modifying the following line in
/etc/pulse/default.pa and changing:
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.
Tips and tricks
Keyboard volume control
Map the following commands to your volume keys:
First find out which sink corresponds to the audio output you'd 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
Play sound from a non-interactive shell (systemd service, cron...)
replace foobar with the user running pulseaudio
machinectl shell .host --uid=foobar /usr/bin/paplay /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/complete.oga
X11 Bell Events
To get pulseaudio to handle X11 bell events, uncomment the following two lines in
load-sample-lazy x11-bell /usr/share/sounds/freedesktop/stereo/bell.oga load-module module-x11-bell sample=x11-bell
It is impossible to socket activation to handle X11 bell events, so to get them working right after login, start pulseaudio right away using whatever startup implementation your DE supports. There is currently a race condition bug within pulseaudio involving socket activation, so to get pulseaudio starting properly, disable socket activation (see #Running.) To adjust the volume of the X11 bell, do the following:
$ xset b 100
100 is a percentage. This requires the
xorg-xset package. This isn't permanent so consider running this command on startup using whatever startup implementation your DE supports.