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I posted this on the Mint forums, and other than my own reply reiterating my need, didn't get a single reply. I'm posting here as a last try before clearing ...
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  1. #1
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    Distorted Sound


    I posted this on the Mint forums, and other than my own reply reiterating my need, didn't get a single reply. I'm posting here as a last try before clearing Mint and installing Ubuntu.

    Computer is an old Dell Inspiron 9400 running Mint 14 Cinnamon (I think). When playing MP3s or streaming movies, the sound is distorted. Voices are understandable, but garbled. Prior to converting the laptop to Linux-only, it was running Windows Vista, and one of its primary uses was for movies. There was never a problem with sound quality.

    I'm not very experienced with Linux, so not sure where to find system info, but checked System Settings/Multimedia/Phonon and found the sound listed as Built-in Audio Analog Stereo. The Sound Card is shown as Built-in Audio and the default Profile is Analog Stereo Duplex. The Backend was set to GStreamer but I switched it to VLC since I am a little bit familiar with that from Windows, but there wasn't any difference in sound quality.

    I searched the forums on "sound distortion" but while others are experiencing problems, didn't find any help there.

    Are there different Linux drivers for sound, and if so, would a different one be better, or would there likely be no difference?

    Since my primary use of this Linux system is for music and movies (front end for streaming online movies to my flat panel TV), fixing the sound quality is essential.

    I realize that it could be a hardware problem, though since it worked fine under Windows Vista, that seems unlikely.

    If you need additional system information, please tell me where to find it.

    Thanks!
    Optiker

  2. #2
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    It might be helpful to see the output of "lspci -v" and "lsmod" when logged in as root. It would seem your drivers are maybe not the correct ones.

    The Dell website has this to say about the Inspiron 9400:

    Sound:
    Standard:
    High definition integrated stereo sound with Integrated subwoofer
    Stereo headphones/speakers miniconnector (same as line-out)

    This makes me think it has some non-standard audio hardware that may require a special driver.

  3. #3
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    After a wee bit more research, it seems the Inspiron 9400 has Sigmatel Audio and should be using the Alsa snd-hda-intel module.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miven View Post
    After a wee bit more research, it seems the Inspiron 9400 has Sigmatel Audio and should be using the Alsa snd-hda-intel module.
    Thanks! I wouldn't have known what to do with your first reply.

    In fact, I also don't know what to do with this one. So how do I fix it? I'm far from being experienced in Linux, so think of me as a total newbie when and if you reply with specific steps to fix it.

    Thanks!
    Optiker

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    Well, ok.

    First, you open a terminal window (xterm, gnome-term, etc).

    Then you type "su" and hit ENTER.

    Then you provide the root password. Now you should be logged in as root. Be careful now.

    Then you type "lspci -v" and hit ENTER. It should spew screenfulls of stuff at you saying everything it knows about the hardware connected to your PC. This is not very useful, because only you can see it, and not anyone here. So what you can do is type "lspci -v > lspci.txt" and hit ENTER. This time you will not see anything spew to the screen, because it all just got dumped into "lspci.txt", a file sitting in whatever directory you were sitting in at the time (probably your home directory).

    Now you can do the same thing with lsmod: "lsmod > lsmod.txt" and hit ENTER. It will dump it's output into "lsmod.txt", and now you can attach both files (lspci.txt and lsmod.txt) to a post on this forum where someone else can see what's going on with your hardware and drivers.

    As an addendum, type "chmod 666 lspci.txt lsmod.txt" and hit ENTER. This will change the permissions of those 2 files to allow you (as ordinary user) to delete/modify them later, because now you have 2 files sitting in your home directory that are owned by root and are basically untouchable.

    Oh yeah, remember to logout of the root session (CTRL-D) or just close the terminal window.

    Peace and Cheer.

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    Miven...

    Thanks very much...especially for taking the time to spell it out so clearly.

    Have been away from the computer for a bit, so will get back to that in the next day or two and post the results.

    Optiker

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    Actually, with Mint it will be better to use: sudo lspci -v and when prompted, enter your primary user password.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by yancek View Post
    Actually, with Mint it will be better to use: sudo lspci -v and when prompted, enter your primary user password.
    Easy

    Code:
    harry@biker ~ $ inxi -S
    System:    Host: biker Kernel: 3.5.0-17-generic x86_64 (64 bit) Desktop: MATE 1.4.2  Distro: Linux Mint 14 Nadia
    harry@biker ~ $ inxi -s
    Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 41.0C mobo: 41.0C 
               Fan Speeds (in rpm): cpu: N/A 
    harry@biker ~ $ inxi -A
    Audio:     Card: Intel 82801I (ICH9 Family) HD Audio Controller driver: snd_hda_intel Sound: ALSA ver: 1.0.25
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    Miven...

    See attached files.

    Yancke...thanks! Understand, and vaguely recall doing it that way in the past.

    Rokytnji...thanks, but will try what Miven suggested, in part because what you posted is way beyond me.

    The two files that you asked for are attached.

    Optiker
    Attached Files Attached Files

  10. #10
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    00:1b.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation NM10/ICH7 Family High Definition Audio Controller (rev 01)
    Subsystem: Dell Device 01cd
    Flags: bus master, fast devsel, latency 0, IRQ 44
    Memory at efffc000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
    Capabilities: [50] Power Management version 2
    Capabilities: [60] MSI: Enable+ Count=1/1 Maskable- 64bit+
    Capabilities: [70] Express Root Complex Integrated Endpoint, MSI 00
    Capabilities: [100] Virtual Channel
    Capabilities: [130] Root Complex Link
    Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel
    Kernel modules: snd-hda-intel
    I dunno. It looks right.

    It just occurred to me that maybe the mixer levels are way too high for some reason. That would cause distortion. Have you tried turning the volumes (master, pcm, pcm2, line in, etc) down, to see if the distortion goes away? If I crank mine to 100%, I get distortion too if the gain on the audio track is fairly high.

    Another possibility is that the player that you're using has some gain control that's actually increasing the level out of reason. mplayer has a software volume control (-af volume) that could produce distortion easily.

    man mplayer:
    EXAMPLE:
    mplayer -af volume=10.1:0 media.avi
    Would amplify the sound by 10.1dB and hard-clip if the
    sound level is too high.
    Hard clipping sounds like crap and is very hard on the speakers too.

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