Ubuntu 14.04 Sound Past 100

Do you know which sound server you use on Ubuntu? It’s PulseAudio — and today it got a new release.

PulseAudio 11.0 is the latest stable release of this desktop staple. A bunch of new features and capabilities have been added, plus plenty of bug fixes and bandaids.

Among the changes there is support for newer AirPlay hardware, including the latest Apple TV models, so that it’s possible to stream music to devices and receivers which use the newer AirPlay protocol.

PulseAudio plays stereo streams through all speakers in a surround system set up (except for the subwoofer). If you’re not a fan of this set-up you can disable PulseAudio upmixing without issue in PulseAudio 11.0 “by setting “remixing-use-all-sink-channels = no” in the appropriate config files.

Another notable tweaks sees USB and bluetooth devices preferred over internal sound cards. This move, PulseAudio devs say, will be useful “…after plugging in an USB sound card or connecting a bluetooth device [so] it’s not necessary to manually set the new device as default.”

Other changes copy/pasted over from the change-log:

  • Bluetooth HSP headset role implemented
  • Bluetooth HFP audio gateway role implemented (requires oFono)
  • Bluetooth HSP audio gateway and HFP hands-free unit roles can be enabled simultaneously
  • Improved bluetooth MTU configuration
  • Avoid having unavailable sinks or sources as the default
  • Option to avoid resampling more often
  • Option to automatically switch bluetooth profile to HSP more often
  • Better latency regulation in module-loopback
  • Changed module argument names in module-ladspa-sink and module-virtual-surround-sink
  • Support for GNU/Hurd
  • Per-app LADSPA/virtual surround filtering

For more details on PulseAudio 11.0 skip over to the FreeDesktop.org website.

Go Sing! Getting PulseAudio 11.0 on Ubuntu is Hard

Here comes the bit you won’t want to hear: it’s not a trivial task to upgrade to PulseAudio 11.0 on Ubuntu (alas!).

Ubuntu 17.10 currently uses PulseAudio 10.0, with nothing newer currently pending in the package queue.

So, if you eager to try out the various improvements on offer you’ll need to upgrade PulseAudio manually using a third-party PPA (not recommended) or by opting to build it from source (also not recommended).

As the PulseAudio website makes plain: upgrading an integral part of your OS isn’t something to be done lightly, so should you manage to find a way do let us know about it do be careful and backup any important configs.

You can check which version of PulseAudio you’re using by running this command:

pulseaudio --version
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