Rant: Why is digital sound so frustrating to set up on Mint?

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Rant: Why is digital sound so frustrating to set up on Mint?

Postby therealmark » Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:04 pm

Linux Mint. I mean come on, it's downright sexy to install. The first time I installed I said aloud "Holy **** Microsoft should be quaking in their boots!" Installed in minutes, no fuss no muss... except for sound.

It was the same then. I don't even remember what version my first experience was, but it was nearly identical... stereo.

This bothers me. I have had, in either analog or digital, some form of surround sound on every desktop since the nineties. Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 came out in 2000. These days, almost ANY motherboard you get is gonna have some sort of digital multichannel option, I've been through this on three different soundcard/onboard setups... I can get analog stereo, or nothing. My old solution was to remove Pulseaudio and go directly through Alsa. Brute force, but if my Linux-fu was better, I likely wouldn't be running Mint... I'd be on Arch or something similar.

At least this time I had digital. No digital choices outside of stereo though. AC3 passthough? You're joking, right? So, when I had to spend two days to get digital 5.1 to somewhat work in Mint 15 Cinnamon, eventually downloading source code and building a ****ing missing a52 plugin, I got a little grumpy. It feels like it's actually getting worse, not better.

So my question is, why?

Is it Pulseaudio? If so, why on earth is it still so widely in use? It doesn't seem to be particularly stunning... at best I'd say it's improved from the last time I had to deal with it.

Is it a misconception? Is there a huge group of people that assume no one will ever have more than two crappy speakers plugged in via a 3.5mm analog jack?

Is it hardware support? I don't think so... Alsamixer always seems to know what my card has available.

Is it an "open source" issue? By this, I mean, is there some restriction on allowing this on a vanilla install because it's Dolby Digital?

Is it me? Am I approaching the problem incorrectly? If so, how would you solve it?

Anyone else feel this is the area that's currently the most lacking in Mint?

I'll finish by saying I'm not trying to just be a Grumpy Gus. Linux is a communal effort, so what can I do to help this situation? Currently I've posted where I've gotten to this time around here, in the hope that it'll help someone else in my conundrum. I'm just tired of it being a conundrum at all. It doesn't seem like it should need to be.

Suggestions- What I'd like in sound management was two things...
First, much better success in finding and making available sound hardware. As Alsa seems to know it's there, I'm assuming there's better ways to interact with the soundcard than Pulseaudio is currently providing.

Second... give me a better mixer with an encoder. Stereo upsampling to 5.1 in my choice of DTS/DD would be phenomenal.

Rant over. I hope this doesn't come across too badly- I just want this part of Mint to match the awesomeness I see everywhere else. Thanks!


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