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Revision as of 09:44, 20 January 2014 by UNiversal (talk | contribs) (Introduction)
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15% Completed


1 Outline

In the past XBMC had immense problems with users not getting Audio, because they had a full blown Ubuntu Desktop environment with PulseAudio installed. PulseAudio blocked the specific device required, and Audio Playback only worked reliably when using the virtual pulse device. Our workaround for those users was to uninstall pulseaudio. This of course broke complete Desktop Audio for these users.

We wanted this situation to change with XBMC Gotham releases.

Changes in Gotham: Users that run a normal Ubuntu Desktop and just use xbmc for normal video / audio playback while also wanting Audio in parallel in their browser or pause xbmc, run a game or rhythmbox / skype or whatever, they can now use our new PulseAudio Sink when using nightly and newer XBMC Gotham builds..

2 Introduction

This Sink automatically detects if PulseAudio is running and so assumes that the user, which installed PA and uses PA, also wants to use it.

This pulseaudio sink is also able to do AC3, DTS and EAC3 passthrough. Alternatively it can be configured to be a 7.1 or 5.1 output device. This is an exclusive OR. pulseaudio only provides AC3, DTS, EAC3 when it is configured to run with 2 channels (which is the default on every Desktop).

      • Clenup

Further references to Pulseaudio in this page also as PA or Pulse

      • Cleanup

2.1 Device support

Editor note: << table this with rest

What Pulse supports: When configured as digital stereo) Multichannel Output (when configured as 5.1 device)

What Pulse does not do: - DTS-HD, TrueHD passthrough

Passthrough Support
Audio formats Supported Limitations
AC3 Yes No
DTS Yes No
DD+/E-AC3 Yes No
TrueHD No Yes

3 Setup

In order to activate Passthrough Codecs, just use pavucontrol, like in the following:


To alternatively configure Multi channel, check this:


Note: Ubuntu 13.10 has a bug and passthrough might sound like noise, if you are affected only disabling passthrough helps. This is a distribution bug (OpenELEC, Arch, Debian, OpenSUSE works with the same code)

Passthrough is always exclusive mode. If you have another application hogging the device, e.g. google chrome or skype or something else, Passthrough won't work.


When would I want Pulseaudio
  • You use your xbmc computer mainly as your Desktop when you don't run xbmc
  • You want other sounds like Skype, youtube, browser mail notification in parallel
  • You use xbmc windowed as Desktop player
  • You use Pulseaudio as a network sink to stream Audio to other devices in your living room
  • Passthrough is nice to have for you, but to be honest - you don't really need it.
  • Whenever you plugin your BT headset, xbmc audio will continue over this new device (when Default (PULSE) device is chosen)
When would I want ALSA
  • You use xbmc as your standalone media center
  • You are highly interested in bitperfect exclusive audio output
  • DTS-HD, TrueHD is something you use daily and is of high importance
  • You don't need other applications that would access audio in parallel

Why can't I have both:

  • PA might hogg your Audio device and you cannot open the ALSA device exclusively, therefore we decided for one or the other.

Placeholder for content from http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=183436

DO NOT Remove page, DO NOT Delete or rename this page

Attention talk.png Linux - PulseAudio Sink Discussion and further information.

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