Request for better sound card support


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by 44922035 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:54 pm
It would be great if the Raspberry Pi had an on-board audio input.

However fortunately most USB soundcards are detected. The frustrating part is the lack of a system soundcard configuration tool to configure asoundrc plugin support.

Sound recording with the Pi is a painful thing to get working. Anything that can be done to make this more user friendly would be appreciated.
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by KB9LUK » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:10 pm
:D....I do agree about the Audio in/out, I am a Amature Radio Operator and i am taking a good long look at this little unit with a lot of posabiltys in Ham Radio. But it would need to have Audio in/out and be able to control it. The Ham Radio use's I am looking into are for my Vhf/Uhf Repeater's, So i would need to be able to us Echolink, Echo Producer and Teamviewer for remote control. I don't see any reason why I can't have the software installed that I need. But it would be MUTE if there is no in/out Audio. Raspberry PI does have Audio out, But no Audio out. This is a down fall to the unit. If there is a spot on the board that i don't see for it, Please someone let me know. I would pull all the standard deck top's and lap top's out of the my repeater link system and install these at all of the repeaters nd into future added repeaters. This unit would be perfect for a link system, Small, low power required and no need to have key board, mouse or monitor at each sight. Just carrie a tablet with a HDMI port and a small rubber key board & mouse with you and WA LA your working. Or pull it up from home VIA Teamviewer. More use's for this little beast is APRS, Packet. and So much more. It is all because of the size of the unit and the price (WOW). And the SD card only needs to be the size you need it for. So I for one am saying Thank You to everyone who worked so hard to get this out to the would. But as I am Giving pat's on the back for it and all of the possabiltys it holds. We still need to have that audio going IN and OUT of the unit.

Thank you; :geek:
James / KB9LUK 8-)
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by Peachmeister » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:06 am
Just want to echo the above sentiments really.

I too would love an audio in on the Pi
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by 44922035 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:33 pm
A this point I have tried the following sound devices:
Image
One is the LogiLink UA0053 listed in the Verified Peripherals page. In reality, they all showed up in dmesg correctly though, so in theory they should all work.

I don't understand why it has to have custom configuration's defined/setup in .asoundrc, for various sample rates. I am used to command line tools like play and record and sox just working with whatever I am trying to play. I wish it could be that simple.

So far I have only been trying with the 2012-10-28-wheezy-raspbian.img, has anyone found another image that is more friendly?

These two threads seem to offer some clues:
viewtopic.php?f=28&t=10848
viewtopic.php?f=38&t=20866

Perhaps someone out there has this mastered, and can share a step by step on how to get this working?
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by kb9mwr » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:01 pm
I just wanted to share that I am having the same frustrations.

I stumbled into some other hams that ran into ALSA issues:
http://villazeebries.krbonne.net/hamstuff/?p=218

I did try one other image, the ON4TOP custom ham image.
http://www.on4top.be/raspberry/
(Btw l/p is root/raspberry)

To my surprise, this image didn't appear to have any sound support. (No alsamixer installed, etc). I gave it a shot, because it includes the G4KLX Analogue and D-Star Repeater controller software.

Aside from that, I am not sure what to try next. This sound problem is a big downer of the Pi.
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by newdendrite » Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:28 pm
I also agree that the biggest limitation of the Raspberry Pi is its lack of reliable audio in and out. One of the linux wiki's describes its audio output capabilities as having design flaws. Getting high quality and reliable sound input is difficult with the USB sound cards that are widely available, and the cost is quite high the next level of products.

My hope is that someone will work on improving this situation and then supply good documentation for it. I have wasted a great deal of time reading blogs and posts in this forum on the problem. Users can only be expected to spend so much time on this problem before giving up. This is a well-known problem, and I'm surprised that it has not received more serious attention from the Foundation, who appear to be ignoring it.

Michael KD4SGN
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by jamesh » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:23 am
Er...why are you surprised it being ignored? It's really not a major issue for the Foundations intended purpose. Note we have digital audio out via HDMI, analog audio out, which is low quality (not a design fault, deliberately so to save money). Just no audio in which can be done with USB adapters.
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by newdendrite » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:02 am
@Moderator

If you are referring to the ostensible "educational" focus of the Raspberry Pi , there are some basic functions that are expected -- actually *assumed*, I might say -- by students working in today's educational environment, even beginning students. Their assumptions are different than what we expected of the small computers of yesteryear. Even if the Raspberry Pi is designed for an educational market, it needs to reliably provide these functions. Reliable and high quality audio input and output are two of those functions. By providing them, it expands the range of educational experiences that can be delivered.

Right now, the Raspberry Pi does *not* provide high quality sound input via a range affordable USB sound cards. There is also a serious problem with the audio output (PWM) drivers that needs to be fixed so that applications such as PD can be run. Fixes for these problems opens up many, many more educational opportunities.

Let's also be upfront about the issue here. The foundation is using income from non-educational buyers to fund and educational outreach. It needs to satisfy the needs of those non-educational buyers if it wants to continue that type of funding process. Already, many of those buyers are falling by the wayside after discovering limitations due to design issues. If the Foundation wants this funding to continue, it needs to take a leadership role in creating solutions to these limiting problems.
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by gritz » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:27 am
jamesh wrote:Er...why are you surprised it being ignored? It's really not a major issue for the Foundations intended purpose. Note we have digital audio out via HDMI, analog audio out, which is low quality (not a design fault, deliberately so to save money). Just no audio in which can be done with USB adapters.


This is a pretty disappointing response james.
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by Jim JKla » Fri Dec 28, 2012 7:56 am
Ok understood it would be nice if the foundation could throw some resources at this.

But if ever there was a sub-community better versed in its skill set it has to be the Ham radio community.

No group anywhere in the world has better training for this task. (OK maybe the US Military/DARPA/CIA).

If the Ham community were to take on board the task and just the task of solving the add-on of an Audio I/O unit that connected to the GPIO how many Ham users are there world wide how many of those have an understanding of electronics. Well a quick surf on google has Japan with over 1 million if you take the top eight countries there’s over 2.5 million licensed users.

If ever there was an opportunity to make an impact and shrug of a "cardigan clad sitting in a shed at the bottom of the garden image" this one is staring you in the face. ;)

Instead of criticizing the foundation you have probably the best qualified independent international communications network anywhere in the world. ;)
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by jamesh » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:21 am
gritz wrote:
jamesh wrote:Er...why are you surprised it being ignored? It's really not a major issue for the Foundations intended purpose. Note we have digital audio out via HDMI, analog audio out, which is low quality (not a design fault, deliberately so to save money). Just no audio in which can be done with USB adapters.


This is a pretty disappointing response james.


And yet it describes the situation perfectly....the Foundation cannot make a board that is all things to all men. Something has to give. Audio in simply isn't a high priority in a teaching environment (despite the previous post), and since we already provide a high quality digital audio out, adding extra circuitry for high quality analog out seems wasteful the vast majority of users.
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by jamesh » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:27 am
newdendrite wrote:@Moderator

If you are referring to the ostensible "educational" focus of the Raspberry Pi , there are some basic functions that are expected -- actually *assumed*, I might say -- by students working in today's educational environment, even beginning students. Their assumptions are different than what we expected of the small computers of yesteryear. Even if the Raspberry Pi is designed for an educational market, it needs to reliably provide these functions. Reliable and high quality audio input and output are two of those functions. By providing them, it expands the range of educational experiences that can be delivered.

Right now, the Raspberry Pi does *not* provide high quality sound input via a range affordable USB sound cards. There is also a serious problem with the audio output (PWM) drivers that needs to be fixed so that applications such as PD can be run. Fixes for these problems opens up many, many more educational opportunities.

Let's also be upfront about the issue here. The foundation is using income from non-educational buyers to fund and educational outreach. It needs to satisfy the needs of those non-educational buyers if it wants to continue that type of funding process. Already, many of those buyers are falling by the wayside after discovering limitations due to design issues. If the Foundation wants this funding to continue, it needs to take a leadership role in creating solutions to these limiting problems.


I find I disagree with almost everything in this statement, including the trolling 'ostensible"educational"' part - no need to be rude about the Foundation stated aims, there is NOTHING ostensible about it. Just because it doesn't do what YOU want, doesn't mean it's not suitable for what the Foundation wants. I can see very little need for audio in, in a device for teaching. Since almost a million have been sold there also seems only a small need for it outside teaching as well. Yes, there is a need to sort any issues out with the current sound drivers for analog, but, as I am sure you are aware, digital out works fine.

There is nothing stopping someone knocking up there own audio in board. There's some access to I2C, I2S on board, which could both be used to do some sort of audio in. Who knows, in the future, maybe the Foundation or Gert will do something like that. But it's not something on the 'we must do this or the whole purpose of the project goes down the pan' list.
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by gritz » Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:38 am
jamesh wrote:
gritz wrote:
jamesh wrote:Er...why are you surprised it being ignored? It's really not a major issue for the Foundations intended purpose. Note we have digital audio out via HDMI, analog audio out, which is low quality (not a design fault, deliberately so to save money). Just no audio in which can be done with USB adapters.


This is a pretty disappointing response james.


And yet it describes the situation perfectly....the Foundation cannot make a board that is all things to all men. Something has to give. Audio in simply isn't a high priority in a teaching environment (despite the previous post), and since we already provide a high quality digital audio out, adding extra circuitry for high quality analog out seems wasteful the vast majority of users.


A cursory glance through the fora will show that USB audio implementation is far from "plug and play". In fact it's probably best not to dwell on the USB situation too much at all.

Regarding the analogue out, I'm minded of this post:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=675

liz wrote:You may remember that we were discussing the audio output from the 3.5mm jack earlier. I know some of you who have media centre-type applications were disappointed that the audio quality from that jack was only going to be equivalent to FM radio. Happily, our very, very smart hardware team has managed to push all the noise out into a frequency that can't be heard by humans (I believe it's also dog-proof), so the audio quality from that jack will now be CD-quality.


With hindsight this was maybe a bit optimistic.

No, the Pi can't be all things to all men, but the Foundation could perhaps put a little more effort into ensuring that the basic hardware works to some sort of acceptable level. As it stands one could almost justify losing the analogue out completely, thus freeing up a couple of extra GPIO and saving a few cents to boot. And no, I'm not being serious.
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by 44922035 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:30 am
I am not much of a C programmer, as such I am relying on others to fix this. So where is the donate button, so we can place a bounty on this?
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by Ravenous » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:35 am
How much are you prepared to pay?

EDIT: I'm not asking for the job myself. I just suggest if you indicate what it would be worth, someone might be more likely to take it on.
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by jamesh » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:48 am
gritz wrote:
jamesh wrote:
gritz wrote:
This is a pretty disappointing response james.


And yet it describes the situation perfectly....the Foundation cannot make a board that is all things to all men. Something has to give. Audio in simply isn't a high priority in a teaching environment (despite the previous post), and since we already provide a high quality digital audio out, adding extra circuitry for high quality analog out seems wasteful the vast majority of users.


A cursory glance through the fora will show that USB audio implementation is far from "plug and play". In fact it's probably best not to dwell on the USB situation too much at all.

Regarding the analogue out, I'm minded of this post:

http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=675

liz wrote:You may remember that we were discussing the audio output from the 3.5mm jack earlier. I know some of you who have media centre-type applications were disappointed that the audio quality from that jack was only going to be equivalent to FM radio. Happily, our very, very smart hardware team has managed to push all the noise out into a frequency that can't be heard by humans (I believe it's also dog-proof), so the audio quality from that jack will now be CD-quality.


With hindsight this was maybe a bit optimistic.

No, the Pi can't be all things to all men, but the Foundation could perhaps put a little more effort into ensuring that the basic hardware works to some sort of acceptable level. As it stands one could almost justify losing the analogue out completely, thus freeing up a couple of extra GPIO and saving a few cents to boot. And no, I'm not being serious.


Sorry, but you are being disingenuous; the hardware DOES work to an acceptable level. As I said above, just because it doesn't do what YOU want doesn't mean it doesn't work full stop. The USB stuff is being worked on right now to iron out the last remaining issues. Once that done USB sound should be OK, given the limitations of the CPU - It's possible the CPU simply isn't fast enough to cope with every USB device thrown at it.
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by wirelessmonk » Fri Dec 28, 2012 1:39 pm
The RPi models A and B are introductory Computer Science tools developed and produced by a charity organization in order to encourage future generations to take an interest in programming and other computer sciences.

You're abusing the foundation's volunteers because you don't have audio-in.

Really?
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by cyrano » Fri Dec 28, 2012 2:06 pm
wirelessmonk wrote:You're abusing the foundation's volunteers because you don't have audio-in.


Amen.

It's not too difficult to find a USB audio interface that works with the standard kernel. USB UAC 2 is built in. Most middle-of-the-road 2 channel USB interfaces are USB UAC 2 compliant.

There is an obvious problem with USB on the Pi. I'm sure that's being worked on by the devs. Even over the holidays. And that affects audio over USB too.

A major part of the problem with audio, on any platform, is that most professional gear is not UAC 2. And in that case, no drivers for Linux, no go.

Except for the RME Fireface UCX. But that's an expensive option. 8-)

I'll admit that the state of the ALSA documentation is a bit of a disaster when it comes to compatible hardware, but that's not the Raspberry's team to correct. It's the community that's deficient.

So, explore, experiment. And report back. Maybe one of us can update the wiki page?

And Google around. On DiyAudio, someone is considering hooking up a Ti 8 channel AD over SPI. Sounds good to me. 8 audio I/O's for 100 to 200 € kit? I'll buy it.

What about 8 outputs over HDMI? HDMI allows it. Who will dive into the tech background and see if it works on the Pi? I've been told it's on page 119 of the Broadcomm specs pdf :D
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by 44922035 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 8:48 pm
To clarify, I am just looking for a USB sound card to work so that I have audio in and out. I realize the on-board audio-out might be a hardware issue from the sounds of things.

I'd like to think making a USB sound card work is a matter of a kernel update or some other image re-working.

I'll pledge $25 at this point. I encourage anyone else wanting the same to make a pledge, and we can go from there.
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by Jim JKla » Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:38 pm
Maybe suitable as a kickstarter project. ;)
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by cartman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 5:21 pm
I was excited when I learned about the Raspberry Pi project and it's possibilities of using it as a cost effective way to build a stand-alone digipeater/TNC and to teach newcomers about ham radio, so I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents worth into the fray. After days of frustration I still haven't got it to reliably decode ax25 transmissions.
As a rough benchmark to compare the ease of setup, I used 3 different USB sound card devices: The one built into the Signalink USB, a Startech (C-Media) and a Soundblaster SB1140 and plugged them into my desktop machine running Fedora Core 16 and an Eeepc netbook running Ubuntu 12.10. All of these combinations worked the first time via the Soundmodem software application.
Hopefully this issue can be resolved in a timely manner. It would also be useful to encourage all of the forum contributors to consolidate their troubleshooting information into the wiki. Best of luck on the progress of this.

73,
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by Jim JKla » Sat Jan 19, 2013 7:46 pm
You have to take account the hardware is about a year old.

There's a lot of code out there that is bloatware in time we should start to get tight code, the minds we need to do that are not really in the mix yet, once the model "A"s hit the market and we get tens of thousands of kids or even more pushing the envelope I believe we will start to see amazing things. ;)
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by iabarry » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:01 am
Jim kb9luk

The pi doesn't run Windoz, so those programs that are only available as Win executables won't likely work. Echoproducer is written in Visual Basic if I recall and requires some VB libraries. I don't know if the source code is available, but it would take some work to adapt. There is more to this problem than audio support issues.
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by mahjongg » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:01 pm
I'm a bit puzzled why everybody wants to use an USB device to get audio in when the PI (since revision 2) has a sound interface to which it should be easy to connect a codec (audio I/O chip) to get high quality audio in (and analog and probably optical audio out). Using such a chip is the standard solution used with most SoC's that need quality analog audio in and out.

Perhaps people simple do not realize that the PI has an I2S interface!

Yes a codec chip should be chosen that works with the PI, but perhaps someone at the foundation can tell us which codec chip would be a good choice. Adafruit or someone else could build a board that plugs into the new I2S header, and offers 3.5mm jacks, and obviously a driver should be written that works with linux, but it would be a very good high quality and ultimately cheap solution, that doesn't use any USB bandwidth either.
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by dextrus » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:18 pm
I think we just need to be patient, and help where we can. The sound issue is a very complex one and the negativity isn't going to help the engineers or volunteers fix the problem. I'm sure it will be fixed, but obviously for some of the posters, you can't increase the quality of the original hardware.

Talking of help, just where *is* the alsa driver code? Does it come under firmware in the Git repo?

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