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Author Topic: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?  (Read 548 times)

Offline Bill Statler

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How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« on: August 22, 2019, 05:15:36 am »
The audio output on my system has a glitch in the sound -- a short click-buzz thing that happens randomly about every 5 to 30 minutes.

Any suggestions on how I should start searching for the cause?  I'm not asking you guys to solve the problem for me (although it would be cool if somebody knows the solution!).  All I really want is a clue about where I should start looking.

Code: [Select]
inxi -F
System:    Host: Volvox Kernel: 5.2.9-sparky-amd64 x86_64 bits: 64 Desktop: MATE 1.22.1 Distro: SparkyLinux 6 (Po-Tolo)
Machine:   Type: Desktop System: ASUSTeK product: VM60 v: N/A serial: <root required>
           Mobo: ASUSTeK model: VM60 v: Rev 1.xx serial: <root required> UEFI: American Megatrends v: 0602 date: 04/29/2014
CPU:       Topology: Dual Core model: Intel Core i5-3337U bits: 64 type: MT MCP L2 cache: 3072 KiB
           Speed: 798 MHz min/max: 800/2700 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 798 2: 798 3: 798 4: 798
Graphics:  Device-1: Intel 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics driver: i915 v: kernel
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.4 driver: modesetting unloaded: fbdev,vesa resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz
           OpenGL: renderer: Mesa DRI Intel Ivybridge Mobile v: 4.2 Mesa 19.1.4
Audio:     Device-1: Intel 7 Series/C216 Family High Definition Audio driver: snd_hda_intel
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.2.9-sparky-amd64
Network:   Device-1: Realtek RTL8821AE 802.11ac PCIe Wireless Network Adapter driver: rtl8821ae
           IF: wlan0 state: down mac: 2a:e6:a8:21:6f:a5
           Device-2: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet driver: r8169
           IF: eth0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: 10:c3:7b:9d:98:50
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 465.76 GiB used: 42.02 GiB (9.0%)
           ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Samsung model: SSD 850 EVO 500GB size: 465.76 GiB
Partition: ID-1: / size: 29.40 GiB used: 9.03 GiB (30.7%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda5
           ID-2: /home size: 400.74 GiB used: 18.01 GiB (4.5%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda3
           ID-3: swap-1 size: 8.00 GiB used: 1.5 MiB (0.0%) fs: swap dev: /dev/sda4
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 73.0 C mobo: 27.8 C
           Fan Speeds (RPM): cpu: 0
Info:      Processes: 199 Uptime: 1d 4h 55m Memory: 7.69 GiB used: 2.32 GiB (30.1%) Shell: bash inxi: 3.0.36

It's possible the problem is in my amplifier and not my computer -- but I don't think so.  The same amplifier has no problems when I use it to play audio from a CD player.

Thanks for any hints!

Offline lami07

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Re: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2019, 08:44:22 am »
Is there any pattern to this behavior? Do you use any power management tool like for example tlp ?
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Offline paxmark1

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Re: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2019, 06:29:22 pm »
And hardware versus software.  How old.   Intermittent, does it occur after it warms up or does it ever appear from powerup, etc.  When did the problem arise, what was occuring prior, physical bumps, drops; updatates - upgrades?

Thanks for the inxi. 
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Offline Bill Statler

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Re: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2019, 12:28:17 am »
Is there any pattern to this behavior?

Not that I can see.

Do you use any power management tool like for example tlp ?

Only the MATE Power Manager, and the only thing it does is to shut off the display after 30 minutes of inactivity.

And hardware versus software.  How old.

It's a mini desktop system I assembled in March 2015.  I think of it as my "new computer" but I guess that's an antique by industry standards!

Intermittent, does it occur after it warms up or does it ever appear from powerup, etc.

The computer is generally turned on all the time, so I'm not sure.  Mostly I use the audio output at night -- I've got a script that generates "pink noise" all night and then wakes us up by playing music.

When did the problem arise, what was occuring prior, physical bumps, drops; updatates - upgrades?

It appeared right after I switched from LMDE 2 to Sparky 5.  :(  It's only a tiny glitch, so I've just been putting up with it.  But I'm preparing to install Sparky on my wife's computer too, and if she runs into the same problem, it'll drive her nuts because she watches lots of movies.

I have tried obvious things like looking at syslog for something that happened at the same time as an audio glitch.  No luck.

I don't really understand how audio works in Linux, so I'm not sure where I should be looking, or what keywords to use in a Google search.

Offline paxmark1

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Re: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2019, 03:35:16 am »
LMDE2 (Linux Mint Debian Edition)  possibly going from sysv-init to systemd.         So my guess is that you are staying with Mate DE. 

Did you purge your dot files in /home/user/    like .xauthority  .config/  .local/     etc?  That might be it.  You did not do a version upgrade, you did a major system change.   

After 3 hours at work on LM  17  Mate - all the corpuscular  (bl...) old  HP laptops have skittery flaky keyboards, touchpads and little button in the middle that threatens  data loss at all times and frequent jumps elswhere in the field or even other fields for data entry on HIPPA protected documents, I would gladly try installing Sparky 6 onto one of them and seeing if I can replicate your bug, but I would be fired.  Sorry about the vent. 

I am not a sound guru.  Hopefully you did not leave your home partition's dot files intact for a System Level Change.  If you did there is a possibility  that may have caused it.  I really do not know how to diagnose how or where, possibly via journalct.

If you did a clean install with no old dot files, I would not even no where to start to look.   Hopefully another person would have some ideas. 
Don't make a FrankenDebian

Offline Bill Statler

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Re: How do I find the cause of an intermittent audio problem?
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2019, 09:38:48 pm »
So my guess is that you are staying with Mate DE.

Yes, LMDE 2 + MATE --> Sparky 5 (now 6) + MATE

Did you purge your dot files in /home/user/    like .xauthority  .config/  .local/     etc?  That might be it.  You did not do a version upgrade, you did a major system change.

Okay, that's a good place for me to start looking.  I kept some dot files and I changed some dot files.  I'll have to check umpteen pages of notes to remind myself exactly what I did.

Thanks for the suggestion.