Amarok + PulseAudio: volume control changes global volume

Nikos Chantziaras realnc at
Wed Jun 23 12:47:10 BST 2010

On 06/23/2010 01:45 PM, Colin Guthrie wrote:
> 'Twas brillig, and Nikos Chantziaras at 23/06/10 10:22 did gyre and gimble:
>> On 06/23/2010 11:30 AM, Colin Guthrie wrote:
>>> 'Twas brillig, and Nikos Chantziaras at 21/06/10 21:49 did gyre and gimble:
>>>> When I change the volume in Amarok, it changes the global volume of the
>>>> whole system instead of just Amarok's volume.  Currently selected Phonon
>>>> backend doesn't matter.
>>>> Gentoo AMD64
>>>> KDE 4.4.4
>>>> Phonon-kde 4.4.4
>>>> Phonon 4.4.2
>>>> PulseAudio
>>>> Amarok 2.3.1
>>> When you say it "changes the global volume" does this have a practical
>>> impact?
>> It means it changes the "Master" volume.  If I change volume in Amarok,
>> "Master" in alsamixer changes with it.  That means, changing volume in
>> Amarok will change my sound card's hardware mixer volume.
>> As for the practical impact, I'm sure I don't have to explain how grave
>> of an annoyance it is having Amarok's volume knob being tied directly to
>> ALSA's "master" hardware volume knob :)
> Did you read the links I sent? These explain *exactly* what the flat
> volume logic does and what it's meant to achieve.

I don't understand the information there.  I have my MSN client's sounds 
enabled.  When I then set Amarok's volume to 60% so I won't miss an 
incoming chat I'm expecting, Amarok will change my MSN client's volume 
too.  I will still miss the incoming chat because lowering Amarok also 
lowers the MSN notification sounds.

> Why do you even care that master volume control in alsa is changing
> (other than for the reason of "it didn't used to"!)? I don't mean to
> troll here, it's a genuine question!

Uhm, because if I lower the volume of one app, it means I want that app, 
and that app only, to have a lower volume than all the other apps so I 
can hear them better.  If it instead changes the volume off all other 
apps too, it kind of defeats the purpose.

> I mean, if you're using PA, why are
> you looking directly at alsa controls anyway? Mixer applications for PA
> are generally more useful and shield users from the various reasons why
> alsa sucks: :p

Because ALSA sucks I'm normally on OSS4, not ALSA.  I installed 
PulseAudio on one machine to see how well it works and whether it makes 
ALSA suck less.  And it almost does so; the main problem is that it 
breaks too much stuff here, most probably because PulseAudio support in 
most apps I use is totally half-assed and doesn't work correctly.  Which 
might explain why I still prefer OSS4 on my main machine and am just 
keeping an eye on PA to see when the apps will get fixed (prime example 
is mplayer, where watching a movie with its PA output is buggy as hell.)

> Anyway, this is a feature of PA. Any application (not just Amarok) that
> integrates properly with PA's per-application volume streams will be
> subject to the same method of operation. It's quite similar to the Flat
> Volume logic in Windows Vista and generally speaking users quite like
> it. It's enabled by default and you can disabled it if you don't like it.
> Personally, I like the way things are now nicely integrated:

My MSN client doesn't offer any kind of volume adjustment, so I don't 
see how PA can help here.  If I lower the volume of Amarok, it lowers my 
sound card's volume, which in turns lowers my MSN client's volume, which 
achieves nothing compared to what I wanted to achieve: Amarok having a 
much lower volume than my MSN client.

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