Howto: Fix low system volume on Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid

I recently installed Ubuntu 8.10 (the Intrepid Ibex) on my laptop.  I’m happy to say that the upgrade process from 8.04 to 8.10 went very well.  When I first installed 8.04 I created a separate partition for /home (there’s a great howto guide here).  This made the upgrade process so incredibly painless.

After spending some time reinstalling some programs, I discovered that PulseAudio finally worked on my laptop.  Even though Pulse was included in 8.04, it didn’t work on my laptop and I had to switch everything back to ALSA.  I played around with Pulse for a couple of minutes, setting everything up and then I started to notice something strange.  Even though my system volume was turned up to 100%, everything still seemed too quiet.  I tried changing the device in System > Preferences > Sound, but nothing seemed to help.

Running alsamixer in terminal only showed one mixer track — as it should if PulseAudio was enabled, and this read 100%.  After quite a bit of searching I found out what was wrong.  It turned out that one of the tracks (front) on the alsa hardware mixer was turned down to about 50%.  There’s no way to see this through the gui.  The only way to fix this is to run alsamixer in a terminal like this:

$ alsamixer -D hw:0

This will bring up a bunch of bars representing all of the mixer tracks available on the hardware device.  After turning all of these up to 100% and exiting alsamixer (press ESC), everything was working perfectly again.

Hopefully this will save someone stuck in a similar situation from a few hours of headbanging.

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  • Dale says:

    Thanks – took me a few hours trying other fixes that didn’t work first but am delighted that this one did.

  • fred kard says:

    Thank you very much.
    You’ve save my life :)

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks alot! worked first time! Ubuntu Rox!!

  • Codak says:

    Man I been stuck on this one for at least a year. I just installed intrepid on a new system and it seemed to be worst then normal. This fixed my problem 100%.



  • Prakash says:

    There is some problem with pulseaudio.latest pulseaudio may hopefully fix.

  • Albert Herring says:

    Cheers. Saved a lot of climbing under the desk trying to find whereabouts the hardware volume control is tangled up in the piles of dusty spaghetti.

  • Arun says:

    Thanks a lot! It worked like a charm! I can get back to some headbanging to music atlast!

  • Heino Peters says:

    Thank you very much. Solved my problem with opensuse 11.1 too.

  • PeterD says:

    Great ,

    helped me a lot ! Even though I had the same problem on Suse Enterprise Desktop.



  • elijah says:

    Thank you! This hack was also needed before I could hear much of anything on a fresh install of karmic.

  • Cuco says:

    Men! great job! now i can make a party! ;)

  • Bryce says:

    Date: 10/7/09
    Time: 18:48
    Comin’ at yeh from: Sacramento, CA

    Wow, hope you don’t get sick of hearing from the appreciative masses, as I’m among them as of today. Appreciative thanks for pulling my hump from the low-volume malaise it was in.

  • mischorradas says:

    Thank you!!! :D
    You solved the low sound level problem in PulseAudio!!
    I thought I would never heard again a normal volume xD

  • Ed says:

    Thank you very much it saved me on Arch Linux.

  • Opera says:

    Black Metal…

    [...]And Ubuntu, of course, the well known Ubuntu at the honor of Vinageer[...]…