Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

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Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

Bob Williams
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For a long time, I have noticed that the sound intermittently drops
out for a few seconds, since pulseaudio became standard with openSUSE.
This seems to be triggered by other events, such as moving files
especially with Digikam, but also with Krusader or Dolphin. Fetching
mail with Thunderbird sometimes does it, and sometimes it just happens
- - presumably a 'behind the scenes' housekeeping job interferes).

My current setup is:

openSUSE 12.3
KDE 4.11.4
Music playback through mpd
Skype 4.2.0.11

The soundcard is MCP51 High Definition Audio and is integrated on the
motherboard.

The processor is 2.5GHz quad core, with 8GB RAM. Graphics output is
through an nVidia GeForce 9600GT card driven by the proprietary nVidia
drivers.

I finally decided to nail this, and carefully worked through the
advice on these two pages:

http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/PulseAudio/Documentation/User/PerfectSetup/
http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/PulseAudio/Desktops/KDE/

Most of my setup appeared to be correct. My mpd.conf contains the
following:

audio_output {
        type "pulse"
        name "My MPD Pulse Output"
        server "localhost" # optional
        sink "alsa_output" # optional
}

and I added ~/.asoundrc, which consists of:

pcm.pulse {
        type pulse
}

ctl.pulse {
        type pulse
}

Has anyone else experienced similar problems with pulseaudio, and if
so, do you have any recommended tweaks?

Thanks,

Bob
- --
Bob Williams
System:  Linux 3.7.10-1.16-desktop
Distro:  openSUSE 12.3 (x86_64) with KDE Development Platform: 4.11.4
Uptime:  12:00pm up 7 days 19:53, 4 users, load average: 0.86, 0.56, 0.47
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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

David C. Rankin
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On 12/20/2013 11:39 AM, Bob Williams wrote:
> Has anyone else experienced similar problems with pulseaudio, and if so, do
> you have any recommended tweaks?
>

Bob,

  I have seen exactly what you are talking about in both opensuse and
archlinux when using pulse. Either sound intermittently drops out, or sound
events are delayed by several seconds at times (i.e. you shade a window and a
few seconds later here the sound) I have tried about every pulse tweak you can
think of, but I haven't found any that "fixed" the problem. I would welcome
others thoughts on the issue as well.

- --
David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.
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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

Bob Williams
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On 29/12/13 05:01, David C. Rankin wrote:

> On 12/20/2013 11:39 AM, Bob Williams wrote:
>> Has anyone else experienced similar problems with pulseaudio, and
>> if so, do you have any recommended tweaks?
>
>
> Bob,
>
> I have seen exactly what you are talking about in both opensuse
> and archlinux when using pulse. Either sound intermittently drops
> out, or sound events are delayed by several seconds at times (i.e.
> you shade a window and a few seconds later here the sound) I have
> tried about every pulse tweak you can think of, but I haven't found
> any that "fixed" the problem. I would welcome others thoughts on
> the issue as well.
>
>
David,

Nice to hear from you again. Since my original post I have been all
round the houses with this one. I disabled pulseaudio and tried to get
things working with just alsa. mplayer on the command line worked, but
I couldn't get mpd working, so I went back to PA. I changed the
soundcard from a Soundblaster Live 24bit to the built in sound
hardware, but that was worse, both in terms of quality and dropouts.
Now I'm more or less back to the original setup.

My music is stored on a 2 x 1TB RAID1 partition, I use mpd via gmpc to
play the music through Phonon, Gstreamer, PA, alsa and whatever else
there is layered in there. See
<http://www.tuxradar.com/content/how-it-works-linux-audio-explained>.

As you are the first to respond, it would seem no one else on the list
has this problem, or no one knows the answer.
- --
Bob Williams
System:  Linux 3.7.10-1.16-desktop
Distro:  openSUSE 12.3 (x86_64) with KDE Development Platform: 4.11.4
Uptime:  00:00am up 4:37, 4 users, load average: 0.87, 0.38, 0.28
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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

Rajko M.
On Sun, 29 Dec 2013 11:05:29 +0000
Bob Williams <[hidden email]> wrote:

> As you are the first to respond, it would seem no one else on the list
> has this problem, or no one knows the answer.

I use 13.1 and no problems with delayed, or dropped, sounds.

If David is using 12.3, or earlier, taking that no change in user
space helped you, it could be that problem is in the kernel.

http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Kernel:/HEAD/standard/

See details in:
http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Kernel_of_the_day 

While it may sound scary, it is the easiest way to test kernel level
changes without installing newer openSUSE release.

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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

Bob Williams
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On 29/12/13 11:17, Rajko wrote:

> On Sun, 29 Dec 2013 11:05:29 +0000 Bob Williams
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> As you are the first to respond, it would seem no one else on the
>> list has this problem, or no one knows the answer.
>
> I use 13.1 and no problems with delayed, or dropped, sounds.
>
> If David is using 12.3, or earlier, taking that no change in user
> space helped you, it could be that problem is in the kernel.
>
> http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Kernel:/HEAD/standard/
>
> See details in: http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Kernel_of_the_day
>
> While it may sound scary, it is the easiest way to test kernel
> level changes without installing newer openSUSE release.
>
I was holding off upgrading to 13.1 until the nVidia repo had been
sorted out, as I have twin monitors and need the proprietary drivers.

Your suggestion of trying a more recent kernel sounds good.

Bob
- --
Bob Williams
System:  Linux 3.7.10-1.16-desktop
Distro:  openSUSE 12.3 (x86_64) with KDE Development Platform: 4.11.4
Uptime:  00:00am up 4:37, 4 users, load average: 0.87, 0.38, 0.28
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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

jdd@dodin.org
In reply to this post by Bob Williams
Le 29/12/2013 12:05, Bob Williams a écrit :

> As you are the first to respond, it would seem no one else on the list
> has this problem, or no one knows the answer.

thats me :-(

but I oftren hear about real time kernel, any on openSUSE?

jdd


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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

Bob Williams
In reply to this post by Rajko M.
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On 29/12/13 11:17, Rajko wrote:

> On Sun, 29 Dec 2013 11:05:29 +0000 Bob Williams
> <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> As you are the first to respond, it would seem no one else on the
>> list has this problem, or no one knows the answer.
>
> I use 13.1 and no problems with delayed, or dropped, sounds.
>
> If David is using 12.3, or earlier, taking that no change in user
> space helped you, it could be that problem is in the kernel.
>
> http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/Kernel:/HEAD/standard/
>
> See details in: http://en.opensuse.org/openSUSE:Kernel_of_the_day
>
> While it may sound scary, it is the easiest way to test kernel
> level changes without installing newer openSUSE release.
>
Last night I upgraded to 13.1 (zypper dup), and I regret to say, I'm
still getting the same problem.

The worst offender is Google maps (and any page that uses Google
maps), especially when zooming in/out, but also sometimes when
scrolling. It was worse using the 'old' Google maps, but it also
happens with the new version.

It also happened when running a perl script that made frequent calls
to perlMagick to resize about 2,000 jpg images, amongst other jobs.
This script uses all 4 cores in my CPU at between 50 and 75% according
to gkrellm. Pulseaudio is supposed to run with a niceness of -11, so
how does a program (perl) run from the command line push it out of the
way? Or is the conflict happening somewhere else? Alsa? Gstreamer? Or
is nice not respected?

Bob

- --
Bob Williams
System:  Linux 3.11.6-4-desktop
Distro:  openSUSE 13.1 (x86_64) with KDE Development Platform: 4.12.0
Uptime:  12:00pm up 19:43, 3 users, load average: 1.84, 1.96, 1.34
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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

jdd@dodin.org
Le 31/12/2013 13:17, Bob Williams a écrit :

> This script uses all 4 cores in my CPU at between 50 and 75% according
> to gkrellm. Pulseaudio is supposed to run with a niceness of -11, so

https://rt.wiki.kernel.org/index.php/Main_Page

http://subversion.ffado.org/wiki/IrqPriorities

may be :-(

jdd


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Re: Intermittent sound dropouts with Pulseaudio

David C. Rankin
In reply to this post by Bob Williams
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On 12/31/2013 06:17 AM, Bob Williams wrote:

> Last night I upgraded to 13.1 (zypper dup), and I regret to say, I'm
> still getting the same problem.
>
> The worst offender is Google maps (and any page that uses Google
> maps), especially when zooming in/out, but also sometimes when
> scrolling. It was worse using the 'old' Google maps, but it also
> happens with the new version.
>
> It also happened when running a perl script that made frequent calls
> to perlMagick to resize about 2,000 jpg images, amongst other jobs.
> This script uses all 4 cores in my CPU at between 50 and 75% according
> to gkrellm. Pulseaudio is supposed to run with a niceness of -11, so
> how does a program (perl) run from the command line push it out of the
> way? Or is the conflict happening somewhere else? Alsa? Gstreamer? Or
> is nice not respected?
>
> Bob

Sigh....

  The frustrating thing is sound would just "work" in the past. I probably spent
a week on this issue a year or so ago. If I recall, it was skype that prompted
my dive into the issue, ver. 3 worked, ver 4 didn't. I dorked with with
pulseaudio-alsa, messed with kcmartsrc, messed with pulse/system.pa and
default.pa, played with autospawn in pulse/client.conf, etc.. -- and through it
all I found I could make my problem worse, kill my sound all together, but not
find a fix that made sound work consistently through all applications (i.e.
kde/gtk/browser web plugins/etc..) Skype was a pain, it would work with a very
narrow config that broke sound for everything else, and not work when sound for
everything else worked. No, I never looked at cannibalizing and rebuilding
pieces of the sound puzzle, I just never had the time to dork with it.

  Another thing, as you have found with your sound card switch, is that sound
will work fine on some hardware, but be miserable with other hardware. My
laptops work fine, the dell boxes I have are hit and miss - same with the custom
boxes I have (using onboard audio - no high-end sound cards) I have seen no
consistency in motherboard manufacturers/sound chipsets either. I have MSI,
Tyan, Gigabyte, VIA, etc.. and it is really hit or miss.

  In the end, it was like the pieces of the sound puzzle didn't all match the
slots linux has for them. I suspect it is just a hard for the guys packaging the
sound drivers/packages in the various desktops and apps to keep up with kernel
and hardware changes as it is for anyone else, but the frustrating part is (1)
the old stuff should just work, and (2) if it doesn't, there should be a good
sound wiki somewhere that could walk you though a decision tree to find out why
it doesn't and help you fix it. So far, I haven't found either....

  I'm interested in whatever else you find as well.

- --
David C. Rankin, J.D.,P.E.
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