Muting the Optiplex 760 Internal Speaker

The Dell Optiplex 760 that I’m using as a rendering box has an internal “business audio” speaker that is not disabled by plugging an external speaker / earphone into either the front or rear audio output jack. The tiny volume control applet in the Xubuntu 12.04 notifications panel doesn’t provide any control over the sound card; it’s definitely not a mixer and its Sound Settings button calls up the Pulseaudio configuration which is oddly unhelpful.

So.

Install xfce4-mixer, add it to the panel, fire it up, select the HDA Intel “sound card”, enable all the controls, slide rightward until Mono appears, click the speaker button under the slider to mute it, and you’re done.

Memo to Self: there ought to be a BIOS setting for that.

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  1. #1 by Red County Pete on 2013-01-19 - 10:20

    Hmm, must be a Dell thing. Julie’s 17R laptop has stereo speakers that don’t mute when you plug in headphones. Potentially very embarrassing when using the library broadband. [wince] Muting them in Win 7 (as far as I can tell) seems to need major tweaks to the settings. Must find the user-guide, nothing in the dead-tree flyer they provided.

    • #2 by Ed on 2013-01-19 - 10:28

      seems to need major tweaks to the settings

      From what I saw while digging that up, the internal speaker attaches to a completely separate audio channel that’s not included in the default mixer setup. If you display the Windows mixer and show all the controls, then you can find the speaker channel. It’s an Easter Egg Hunt to discover which control you want, but at least it’s possible.

      Good hunting…

  2. #3 by Frans on 2013-01-21 - 17:12

    Strange, I find pavucontrol (the default in Xubuntu 12.10, so I presume also in 12.04) oddly, well, helpful. In your case you should merely have to go to the “Output Devices” tab and click the mute button for the speakers in question. But of course everything’s easy when it’s working; it’s a bit harder when it doesn’t.

    I’ve been installing pavucontrol on every computer where I use PA and I was quite pleasantly surprised that it came with Xubuntu by default. With a few small adjustments Xubuntu 12.10 is by far the best post-Unity, post-Shell experience I’ve had. Unfortunately I don’t like the window switcher, but I could use Openbox instead. Sigh.

    PS If it’s just ALSA you could also stick to alsamixer.

    • #4 by Ed on 2013-01-21 - 17:25

      pavucontrol (the default in Xubuntu 12.10, so I presume also in 12.04)

      The cute speaker icon in the 12.04 indicator panel takes you to the PulseAudio config, but the internal speaker doesn’t appear in the list of Things You Can Change. The ALSA mixer does show it, but only if you enable everything and know where to look.

      Ditto for 12.10, so there’s something about the Dell / Intel configuration that PulseAudio doesn’t expect. Maybe it’s a configuration that’s not enabled by default because no other hardware uses it?

      Linux audio remains a shambles; you can (probably) make it do anything, but you must really want to.

      • #5 by Frans on 2013-01-21 - 18:04

        It might potentially help to choose a different configuration under the thusly-named tab, although unfortunately it probably won’t.

        Linux audio remains a shambles; you can (probably) make it do anything, but you must really want to.

        I’d say on Windows it works passably at best. Windows Vista/7 is a lot like plain ALSA for 5.1 output, even if it has some PA-like control interface. There’s no mixing going on there at all. On XP it works slightly better from the end-user perspective, but why must all hardware companies write such terrible control interfaces? The mysterious inner workings of ALSA are almost easy in comparison; hardly what you’d expect from a GUI. Creative, Realtek, etc. Ugh, horrible. Oh yeah, and they decided not to upgrade their drivers. Whoopee.

        I still remember my Sound Blaster 16 DOS control interface. Very reminiscent of alsamixer and much easier to use than anything since, with the exception of pavucontrol — which unfortunately you don’t like. :)