How to manage sounds using PulseAudio on Ubuntu 18.04

PulseAudio handles the sound that is emitted by your Linux application. It works like a proxy or a sound server which can manipulate the sound before it reaches your ears.PulseAudio has the ability to combine sounds from different sources (aka mixing). It can alter the sound format, decrease or increase sound channels, send the sound of one machine to another one.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use PulseAudio in order to Manage Sounds on Ubuntu 18.04.

Enabling different Software Sources

Before you start, you would need to ensure that main, universe, multiverse and restricted software sources are already enabled on your Ubuntu 18.04 . This is because some of the required packages that would need to be installed will be retrieved from software sources.

In order to achieve this using a GUI, look up Software & Updates application by writing ‘software’ in the activities section as shown below.

Read: How to use Bluetooth Headset on Ubuntu 20.04

Once you open the application, ensure the the marked checkboxes are ticked as shown in the snapshot below.

Now close Software & Updates application and execute the command below in order to update the package repository list:

sudo apt update

Read: How to display your sound card details using the terminal on Ubuntu 22.04

PulseAudio Installation

You can install PulseAudio with the following command:

sudo apt install pulseaudio

PulseAudio Ubuntu 18.04

Your computer would need to be restarted.

Read: How to troubleshoot sound issues in Ubuntu 22.04

PulseAudio Volume Control: Pavucontrol

You can configure sound volume using PulseAudio graphical user interface or frontend which would need to be installed as well. Run the command below to do so :

sudo apt install pavucontrol

Pavucontrol Ubuntu

Hit ‘y’ and press Enter to continue.

To run Pavucontrol, open up the activities screen and type in ‘pulse’ in the input field as shown below :

Once you click on the Pavucontrol icon, you will see the following screen :

Pulseaudio volume control Ubuntu

On the Output Devices tab, you have the possibility to configure the sound output by dragging the slider to the left or to the right.

To mute or unmute the sound, click on the toggle button as shown below in the Output Devices tab.

PulseAudio allows you to control your speakers separately. Clicking on the lock button in the Output Devices tab will display two sliders as shown in the snapshot below :

On the Input Devices tab, you can control the sound from the input devices using the slider as shown below :

Other input devices (Microphone/Line In/Analog Input/Video) can be selected from the Port dropdown menu in the Input Devices tab.

Similarly, two sliders will show up when you click on the Lock button :

To display specific input devices in case you have several, use the Show drop down menu in the Input Devices tab.

Sound profiles can be changed as well from the Configuration tab. By default, Analog Stereo Duplex is the selected.

In the Playback tab, you have the possibility to control the sound for individual apps since any running media player application will show up in this tab. This can be done by using the corresponding slider.

When using VLC Media Player for instance, it will show up in the Playback tab :

You can control the sound while recording as well. The recording controls can be found on the Recording tab. Here is example below using GNOME Recorder :

Ubuntu audio recording

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amin nahdy

Amin Nahdy, an aspiring software engineer and a computer geek by nature as well as an avid Ubuntu and open source user. He is interested in information technology especially Linux based ecosystem as well as Windows and MacOS. He loves to share and disseminate knowledge to others in a transparent and responsible way.

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