HOWTO: Disable pulseaudio in Ubuntu

This has been tested on Ubuntu 12.04.1 and 12.10 x86_64

I got myself a USB DAC and a set of nice headphones for Christmas. One of the main concerns was that the new hardware must work with Linux since Linux is my main OS at home. As it turns out most USB DACs work out of the box with Linux as they are standard USB compliant sound devices.

All modern Linux distributions seem to use pulseaudio as a front-end for ALSA these days. The thing that pulseaudio does is to remix all audio streams in software which is a bad thing if you have some nice audio gear that probably can do this much better.

The following explains how to uninstall pulseaudio and to configure ALSA on a per user basis. It also explains how to up-sample your audio from spotify, deadbeef, vlc and so on via ALSA.

Note: By disabling/removing pulseaudio you will loose some functionality but you will gain better sound. 😉

1st step: Remove pulseaduio

2nd step: Install gnome-alsamixer

3rd step: Find out what card number your sound devices have

4th step: Configure ALSA

The example below is a configuration that works for my Nuforce Icon HDP which has card number 1 according to the output above. I placed the configuration in ~/.asoundrc By doing this the configuration is only for your user and does not affect the whole system.

This configuration will up-sample all audio to 96/24.

 Tips and Tricks

DAC not working in ubuntu?

Try to comment out the line “options snd-usb-audio index=-2” in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf. A reboot after doing so might be necessary.

How to find out what sample rates your DAC can process

The capabilities of your DAC can be found in /proc/asound/<your dac>/stream0

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