The Simple Way to Get 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Working in Ubuntu 08/15/07
I recently upgraded the audio card on my Ubuntu (7.10) system, which was an “issue” simply because I created it (instead of looking at the issue and jumping to conclusions instead of analyzing possible causes). Suffice it to say, a word to the wise… If your motherboard comes with a soundcard embedded and you want to use an enhanced or better quality sound card in one of your PCI slots… Make your life easy, simply disable the on-board audio in the BIOS setting of your motherboard. I did not do this initially. The two were not compatible and I spent countless hours trying to troubleshoot the issue that took less that 30 seconds to fix! Needless to say, next time I won’t be as foolish.
However, the primary purpose of today’s post is enabling 5.1 surround sound. During the upgrade I was also able to grab an almost new set of Creative Inspire 5.1 5200 series speakers. When I plugged them in I was only hearing audio from the front speakers.
While troubleshooting the earlier sound card issue, I remembered that ALSA was one of the components in the configuration. After lots of research, here is the solution that worked (below).
Edit the configuration file like this:
(You can use vi or nano to edit it if you don’t have gedit).
Then add the following:
I think however, that it might be helpful to include some of the sound card related issues…
In my case the above 5.1 solution worked well (ONLY after I disabled the onboard audio of the motherboard!)
You can check to ensure that an issue is the sound card (and not the speakers) by using the following command in a terminal.
This will list the sound card installed. (If you see others, just remove or disable them).
If using the “aplay -l” command does not show your sound card, then try listing the sound card (PCI) device by entering:
If you see your card, then (most likely) the drivers are not installed, so just install them. More information for this can be found here: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=205449
Update: The edit to asoundrc is to configure the surround output so that it duplicates the stereo output to all 6 channels, instead of only through the front channel speakers.