[alsa-devel] Output levels on SBLive! 5.1 on ALSA vs WIndows

ChernYue Kwok chernyue at gdc-tech.com
Wed Jun 20 11:12:39 CEST 2007

On Tuesday 19 June 2007 18:59:01 Takashi Iwai wrote:
> At Mon, 18 Jun 2007 17:37:46 +0800,
> ChernYue Kwok wrote:
> > Hello,
> >
> > I am using an SBLive! 5.1 sound card (emu10k1 chipset) with 6 channel
> > output. Due to the nature of my work, I need to be able to play sound
> > through all 6 channels at the same output level to an amplifier.
> >
> > Using Linux and the emu10k1 ALSA driver, I measured output voltage levels
> > on an oscilloscope while playing a sine wave on all 6 channels, and I got
> > three different output voltage amplitudes for the front, rear and
> > center/subwoofer channels.
> > Repeating the same test with the same card on WIndows using the Creative
> > SBLive drivers from their website, I am able to get the same output
> > voltage amplitude on all 6 channels.
> > For both tests, all output levels in the relevant mixers were set to
> > their maximum levels.
> >
> > I would like to know if this output normalizing 'feature' of the SBLive
> > Windows driver can be found in the emu10k1 ALSA driver, or in any other
> > ALSA driver. Failing that, is there any other solution to set output
> > levels in the driver, or am I doomed to twiddle in alsamixer to get the
> > output levels that I want?
> Did you check the dB level appearing in mixer?  The recent version of
> ALSA shows dB level in alsamixer and amixer.  Note that the "Master"
> and "PCM" controls are applied only for front channels.  So, set them
> to 0dB and control the volume via Wave* digital mixers.
> Takashi

Hi Takashi,

Thanks for your suggestions.
Based on your advice on dB levels, I set the PCM and Master channels to 0dB 
gain, and maxed the levels on the Center, LFE, and Surround channels.
The Wave* channels were set to 0 since I was playing surround and not stereo 

Playing the same 6-channel sine wave again, I was able to obtain the 
following, more evenly matched, results:

Front channels: 0.64V peak to peak
Rear channels: 0.68V peak to peak
Center and subwoofer: 0.48V peak to peak

The front and rear channel output voltages were more evenly matched, but the 
center/subwoofer channel shows a large difference from the other channels.
For comparison, the results I obtained in Windows using the Creative SB Live 
drivers are:

Front channels: 0.72V peak to peak
Rear channels: 0.68V peak to peak
Center and subwoofer: 0.64V peak to peak

Is there any way to increase output on the center and subwoofer channels in 
I already have the Center and LFE channels set to maximum gain in alsamixer, 
so any suggestions to further boost the output are most certainly welcome. :)

Thanks in advance.

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