ALSA + Microphone + E1505 + Ubuntu Feisty

Posted in Linux, Tech at 5:41 pm by Acorns

Since I’m not taking any type of phone I needed to get Skype working in order to have easy conversations with people back home. Skype is amazingly easy; a quick, no-extra questions signup through the client (for which a .deb exists) and it is ready to go. Didn’t even really have to tweak it. Getting the microphone to work was quite another story.

The first thing i tried was using the built in volume control gui. I enabled the microphone, enabled “recording” and turned the capture volume up a bit. Of course, nothing can be that simple in Linux; every sound app would simply freeze the moment it was told to record audio. After a little googling I found that most users solved this problem by enabling the microphone boost, which supposedly can be done through any alsa control app (like Ubuntu’s volume control). My control didn’t have a mic boost. /sigh. A little more googling found alsamixer, a terminal app to control sound. Mic boost was present here, but could not be enabled. It still seemed a little weird that boost -had- to be enabled or else apps would freeze.

After fiddling for several hours with config files, restarting the alsa service, upgrading the alsa service and trying most of the recording apps known to man I stumbled across the site at http://geekybits.blogspot.com/2007/06/microphones-skype-on-ubuntu.html . The lucky google search involved Skype, I tried this because I figured others would have had the same problem and been wanting recording soley for Skype (although I would have thought my first few searchs involving the E1505 would meet with more success).

The alsa package listed at the bottom compiled and installed fine. Immediately after installing recording worked; didn’t even have to reboot. Mic boost can be enabled, or not. During the course of my researching I found that the Sigmatel audio device my laptop uses doesn’t support stereo muxing by default, a “hack” had to be used in the windows driver to get recording/playing at the same time to work. I’m guessing that the alsa package I downloaded included something of this type, although I don’t know this for sure. For now, I’m just glad it works.

Will be heading to bed in about an hour, then getting on the plane to Japan; not very much time for troubleshooting!