[ecasound] ecasound and PulseAudio problems

From: Lindsay Haisley <fmouse@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Thu Jun 30 2011 - 20:33:09 EEST

I'm configuring a Linux box running Ubuntu 11.04 and am having some
nasty problems with ecasound elements and PulseAudio. It seems that
Canonical has chosen to embed PulseAudio so deeply into Ubuntu that it's
difficult to remove it without disabling a number of very useful parts
of the OS (I thought Linux was about end-user choice - but don't get me
started!). I've identified the problems I'm having as being directly
related to PulseAudio, and when I disable it, the problems go away. I'm
also a musician and frequently use ecasound for normalizing audio files,
reviewing them, and for other tasks. It's a wonderful package!

All problems are related to using ecasound or ecaplay on the CLI as a
playback utility. Here's a summary:

When playing any sound file, the playback terminates prematurely,
perhaps 20 or 30 seconds before reaching the end of the file.

When playing a file with a sample rate other than 44100 (this happens
with an mp3 file with a SR of 22050), ecasound/ecaplay just quits - no
error, no sound. I can us ecasound to convert such a file to another
format, no problem, but when I try to play it - no joy.

This problem is complicated by several other factors. If I kill the
pulseaudio daemon so that it stays down ("autospawn = no"
in /etc/pulse/client.conf so ALSA won't restart it) most of the problems
go away. I can play a 22050 sample rate file through the alsa,default
device and a sample rate conversion is auto-magically done, so the file
plays normally, but when pulseaudio is running, the alsa,default device
becomes the PulseAudio daemon device and I have the problem I described
above. I can play the 22050 file through other ALSA devices on the
card, such as surround40, with or without the PulseAudio daemon, but
there's no sensing of the sample rate and the file plays in double-time.

GUI programs in Ubuntu seem to behave properly, and seem, in fact, to
depend rather heavily on PulseAudio. I really would like to get the
ecasound pieces working properly, though since I do a lot of work at the
Linux CLI.

I don't know whether this is a PulseAudio problem, or an ecasound
problem, or perhaps lies somewhere else. I can reproduce this problem
on two different computers, both running Ubuntu 11.04 w. PulseAudio. If
I replace PulseAudio with the esound package, which used to be standard,
the Ubuntu developers at Canonical, in their infinite wisdom, have seen
to it that lots of things will break, from system upgrades to the gnome
volume and sound parameters controls. Perhaps I should take this
problem to the Ubuntu lists, but I haven't been impressed with the
quality of responses I've gotten to other problems I've posted there.
Specialty software lists, such as this one, also seem to be read and
replied to by smart people with a genuine interest in helping to solve
problems :-)

The more I see of PulseAudio, the less I like it! It may have
low-latency, but latency has never been a problem on my other desktop
system running esd instead of pulse, plus jack, ardour2, audacity and
other sound processing tools. IMHO PulseAudio is a solution in search
of a problem, and is a problem on several fronts in its own right!

Lindsay Haisley       | "We have met the enemy, and it is us."
FMP Computer Services |
512-259-1190          |          -- Pogo
http://www.fmp.com    |
All of the data generated in your IT infrastructure is seriously valuable.
Why? It contains a definitive record of application performance, security 
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sense of it. IT sense. And common sense.
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Received on Fri Jul 1 00:15:02 2011

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