[alsa-devel] A plea for help on mixer support for Fast Track Ultra (8R)

Takashi Iwai tiwai at suse.de
Thu May 19 09:24:20 CEST 2011

At Thu, 19 May 2011 08:45:43 +0200,
Felix Homann wrote:
> Am 19.05.2011 07:42, schrieb Takashi Iwai:
> > I see no big reason to make things more complex.  If you want to avoid
> > the standard audio parsing after quirk but only parse mixer, just call
> > snd_usb_create_mixer() in your quirk function.
> >
> Maybe I'm misunderstanding your point. But I think your suggestion is 
> making things more complex.
> I don't want to avoid the standard audio parsing. I want to use standard 
> quirks if possible and still would like a means to call 
> snd_usb_create_mixer(). That's all.

First off, there is no "standard" quirk per definition :)
There can be common quirks used by multiple devices, but this doesn't 
justify the fact that it's no standard USB-audio.

In principle, quirks are provided to be self-contained.  If it's not
compliant to standard usb-audio, handle everything there -- that's the
whole policy.  If we add yet another condition here and there in the
main path for specific devices, it'll make readability worse.

(Or, think like OO implementation: if you want to implement a variant,
 you wouldn't put new conditional branch, but usually override the
 necessary parts.)

In this particular case, you can call snd_usb_create_mixer() then
create your mixer elements in addition in your quirk function.  This
is more straightforward than adding branches in multiple points.

Of course, there can be some room for refactoring to share codes
between different quirks.  But it's a thing to be done in quirk

> The device in question can be handled by a standard quirks 
> There's no hook for calling snd_usb_create_mixer() by the respective 
> quirk functions, is there? Should I really need not to use those 
> standard quirks just to call snd_usb_create_mixer()?
> Moreover, I can't believe that the Fast Track Ultra devices are the only 
> ones in the world which have a standard USB mixer without exposing it 
> through the descriptors. (I've often read something like "but the mixer 
> won't work") A simple generic standard way to handle those devices would 
> be nice to have.
> Take a look at it from my perspective: I'm just a layman on all of this. 
> I full heartedly confess, that I don't actually understand all those 
> functions involved in making a mixer work. I don't understand usb 
> control messages an so on.
> For example, take a look at the snd_nativeinstruments_control_put() 
> function as Daniel suggested. There's a line
>      usb_control_msg(dev, usb_sndctrlpipe(dev, 0), bRequest,
>                    cpu_to_le16(wValue), cpu_to_le16(wIndex),
>                    NULL, 0, 1000);
> What is it? How is anyone not deeply involved with USB programming 
> and/or audio device programming supposed to understand it? How is 
> anybody supposed to help Alsa development to get his device working 
> without deeply diving into all this stuff *which should not be needed*?
> But being a layman I could still understand that the mixer unit in my 
> device is there and that it is controlled by standard usb commands 
> (control messages?). So what to do next?
> For the capture, playback and MIDI side it's already simple: If you have 
> a device that you suspect to be more or less standard compliant but just 
> doesn't tell the world about it he can just try some combinations of  
> QUIRK_MIDI_FIXED_ENDPOINT etc. (which by the way are still not easy to 
> understand due to lack of documentation!).
> For mixers, there isn't such a standard way. That's what I would like to 
> have! And that's what I have at least sketched with my patch. (While the 
> standard way to tell the driver to call snd_usb_create_mixer() is still 
> missing.)
> Take a look at my (maybe naive?) snd_ftu_controls_create() function. 
> It's easy to understand, it's simple:
> I essentially just pass channel numbers, and names to 
> build_named_mixer_unit_ctl() which is a slightly modified version of 
> build_mixer_unit_ctl() and voila: I get a volume control for the 
> respective mixer channel, just as if the control had been known from a 
> descriptor. That's a lot easier to understand than fiddling around with 
> usb_control_msg(), isn't it?
> So, at the end as stated above, I would like to see a simple, easy to 
> understand standard way to handle a mixer that essentially *is* a 
> standard USB audio mixer but doesn't tell the world about it...And of 
> course, it should work with my device ;-)

What I'm thinking is also to keep the thing simple.
My points are:
 - Try to avoid conditional branches, don't touch the main path as
   much as possible
 - You can call the standard parsers in the quirk itself
 - You can create additional mixer contents in the quirk as well
   (so just use your simplified snd_ftu_controls_create()).



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