How to fix sound issues on Ubuntu 18.04

Ubuntu 18.04 was possibly the most compatible and powerful of all Ubuntu versions. There are however some sound problems with certain types of hardware or even configurations.

These problems are common on Linux distros but in most cases, they are easy to solve.

Sometimes they may be related to a bad configuration of the speaker settings, or to a non supported hardware.

In this tutorial, we will outline some of the most common solutions that might help fix sound issues on your Ubuntu 18.04 system.

Sound devices not detected

Sometimes, especially when you upgrade from a previous version onto a higher LTS version like Ubuntu 18.04, sound devices cannot be detected as shown in the snapshot below :

For the output devices:

Ubuntu sound not working

Or the Input devices:

Ubuntu no sound issue

In such situations, it might be related to a permission issue with the pulseaudio config file. Try to run the commands below in order to fix this :

killall pulseaudio; rm -r ~/.config/pulse/*

Selection of the correct sound device

Some Linux computers have several sound devices installed. Some of these devices are able to output sound yet some others do not. You should therefore ensure by trial and error that the correct sound device is selected. In order to do this, follow the steps below :

Open up the Activities overview screen and type in ‘Sound’. Next click on the Sound icon to open the panel.

On the Output tab, select a device and modify the Profile settings. Now try to play a sound to check if it operates properly. If this is not successful, try to select another device and change the profile.

Read: How to manage sound on Ubuntu 18.04

Is the sound muted ?

It might seem unlikely, but sometimes, the sound might be muted. Make sure this is not the case by checking the volume icon on the system menu.

Some computers have mute keys or switches on their keyboards. You might want to press that key in order to see if it unmutes the sound.

There could be also some applications that have a built-in volume or mute button. You might want to check that you have not mistakenly muted the media application you are using to play sound (.e.g. Rhythmbox or music player).

Read: How to speed up Linux

You might also want to check, under the Sound section, the Applications tab. To do this, open up the Activities overview and type in ‘Sound’. Now click on Sound to open the panel.

Select the Applications tab and make sure the sound level is not set to low or not off.

Sound card detection

When the relevant drivers are not installed, the sound card may not be detected properly. In such circumstances, the drivers would need to be installed manually. This may depend on the sound card type though. You would need to run the lspci command to find out the type of your sound card :

Open up the terminal and run lspci as root:

sudo lspci

Check if an audio device or an audio controller is displayed. If this is the case, jot down the make and the model number of the corresponding sound card. Note that the command :

lspci -v

Will provide more details about the listed controllers.

Now that you have the information about your sound card, try to visit the maker website to check if they have suitable drivers for your system. You may also want to ask on support forums as well.

This article will help you install the latest drivers.

Pavucontrol installation

Since PulseAudio doesn’t allow to control each playback stream separately, Pavucontrol provides you with more control over your audio devices, so that you will be able to tweak your headphone or speaker more precisely.

Pavucontrol can be installed using the following commands:

pulseaudio –start

sudo apt-get install pavucontrol

Next run pavucontrol and under Output Devices, ensure your default speakers are currently selected.

In your configuration tab, set the profile to Analog Stereo Output :

Speaker settings

If your machine has external speakers, you would need to ensure that they are working properly and that the volume is not at its lowest, or is not turned off. Make sure also that your speaker cable is plugged into the correct output audio socket (light green) of your computer since the audio cable could be connected to the wrong port or even not connected at all.

This might seem straightforward but it is worth checking it out: try to see that the audio cable is plugged into the correct input socket of your speaker since these may have more than one input socket.

If you have a Bluetooth device, make sure it is paired up correctly also.

Alsamixer

This might seem unlikely but it could be that all the audio volume controls are at their highest levels yet you don’t hear anything. This might be related to the mixer control settings. In order to find out if this is the case, you would need to run alsamixer on your terminal as follows :

Type in :

alsamixer

This will display the screen below :

No sound on Ubuntu

In the upper part you can find the details of your card. In the central part, you can view the current levels configuration. Pressing the F6 key will let choose the sound card.

As you can see above, the Headphone bar was muted despite the fact that the Master bar was already at its maximum level. This might explain your audio issue in case you found the same setting. In order to solve this, simply use the left/right arrow keys to highlight/select the headphones tab. Next use the up/down arrow keys to raise/lower the volume. Finally exit the interface by pressing the ESC key.

You may have noticed that MM is displayed below the volume bar when a mixer control is muted. You can unmute a specific control using the m key. This will change the MM to OO.

You can also adjust the volume using the following commands on your terminal:

amixer set Master 50%

To find out more about the amixer command, simply type in :

amixer

In the next section, you will see how to reset or reload alsa in case it was misconfigured or it has other unidentified issues.

if the sound problem persists, try to reload ALSA using the following command:

sudo alsa force-reload

Reloading Alsamixer and Pulseaudio

In this section, you will be able to restart or reinstall Alsa and PulseAudio in case the solutions above did not help.

To do this, execute the following commands on the terminal:

sudo apt-get remove –purge alsa-base pulseaudio

sudo apt-get install alsa-base pulseaudio

Finally reboot your computer and reload Alsa(see previous section) and you should be good to go.

Read: Best music players for Linux

Fast dispatcher conflict

Fast dispatcher is the feature that allows your system to convert text to speech. Sometimes it conflicts with other audio settings. If you don’t need this feature, try disabling it, as this might bring your audio back.

Open up the terminal and edit the voice dialer file using the following command:

sudo gedit / etc / default / speech-dispatcher

Here, change RUN = yes to RUN = no. Restart your system and check if your issue has been solved.


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Nikolaus Oosterhof

Nikolaus has a degree in software development. He is passionate about gadgets with a screen, nostalgic for phones, a retired gamer and open source programmer. He likes also to write about macOS and Windows. design web pages and debug long programs!

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