Microphone volume very low

Hello! I am coming from Windows 10 and I have just installed Zorin OS 16 Pro, although I have some knowledge in Linux. Please, ask me for additional information that may be of use. Any help is appreciated!

Problem
My microphone volume is extremely low. It is almost impossible to hear me talking even with maxed out microphone slider. I have turned on over amplification and it somewhat helped, however I am still very quiet.

What I tried so far
I tried to google my problem and I found similar complaints from other users on different websites, but none of them had any working solutions.

I have tested my microphone in Discord, default Voice Recorder and in Skype to confirm it is not software dependant. The results were same: I was barely audible. The volume slider does change loudness of the microphone, but it is nothing compared to how well it performed in Windows 10.

I have installed Pulsemixer and tried to configure my device with that but it was useless. I maxed out everything and the results were same as before.

Useful info
I am using AMP/DAC combo called Schiit Hel for input and output. It is connected through USB cable to my PC. When I try to select it in alsamixer it crashes with an error message cannot load mixer controls: Broken pipe.

inxi -Faz

System:    Kernel: 5.11.0-27-generic x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: N/A 
       parameters: BOOT_IMAGE=/boot/vmlinuz-5.11.0-27-generic root=UUID=4708ba5d-dc7d-4786-b793-76bfa15c3479 ro quiet 
       splash vt.handoff=7 
       Desktop: Gnome 3.38.4 wm: gnome-shell dm: GDM3 3.38.2.1 Distro: Zorin OS 16 base: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal 
Machine:   Type: Desktop Mobo: ASUSTeK model: TUF B450-PLUS GAMING v: Rev X.0x serial: <filter> UEFI: American Megatrends 
       v: 2202 date: 07/14/2020 
Battery:   ID-1: hidpp_battery_0 charge: N/A condition: N/A volts: 3.7/N/A 
       model: Logitech G703 LIGHTSPEED Wireless Gaming Mouse w/ HERO type: N/A serial: <filter> status: Discharging
CPU:       Topology: 8-Core model: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X bits: 64 type: MT MCP arch: Zen family: 17 (23) model-id: 71 (113) 
       stepping: N/A microcode: 8701021 L2 cache: 4096 KiB 
       flags: avx avx2 lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 sse4a ssse3 svm bogomips: 114977 
       Speed: 2196 MHz min/max: 2200/3600 MHz boost: enabled Core speeds (MHz): 1: 2193 2: 2193 3: 2185 4: 2196 5: 2242 
       6: 2195 7: 2195 8: 2195 9: 2194 10: 2195 11: 2195 12: 2195 13: 2196 14: 2195 15: 2194 16: 2195 
       Vulnerabilities: Type: itlb_multihit status: Not affected 
       Type: l1tf status: Not affected 
       Type: mds status: Not affected 
       Type: meltdown status: Not affected 
       Type: spec_store_bypass mitigation: Speculative Store Bypass disabled via prctl and seccomp 
       Type: spectre_v1 mitigation: usercopy/swapgs barriers and __user pointer sanitization 
       Type: spectre_v2 mitigation: Full AMD retpoline, IBPB: conditional, STIBP: conditional, RSB filling 
       Type: srbds status: Not affected 
       Type: tsx_async_abort status: Not affected
Graphics:  Device-1: NVIDIA GP106 [GeForce GTX 1060 6GB] vendor: eVga.com. driver: nvidia v: 470.57.02 bus ID: 08:00.0 
       chip ID: 10de:1c03 
       Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.11 driver: nvidia unloaded: fbdev,modesetting,nouveau,vesa compositor: gnome-shell 
       resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz 
       OpenGL: renderer: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB/PCIe/SSE2 v: 4.6.0 NVIDIA 470.57.02 direct render: Yes
Audio:     Device-1: NVIDIA GP106 High Definition Audio vendor: eVga.com. driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 08:00.1 
       chip ID: 10de:10f1 
       Device-2: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] Starship/Matisse HD Audio vendor: ASUSTeK driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel 
       bus ID: 0a:00.4 chip ID: 1022:1487 
       Device-3: Schiit Audio Schiit Hel type: USB driver: hid-generic,snd-usb-audio,usbhid bus ID: 1-7:4 
       chip ID: 30be:0101 
       Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.11.0-27-generic
Network:   Device-1: Realtek RTL8111/8168/8411 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet vendor: ASUSTeK driver: r8169 v: kernel port: f000 
       bus ID: 03:00.0 chip ID: 10ec:8168 
       IF: enp3s0 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter>
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 2.02 TiB used: 27.55 GiB (1.3%) 
       SMART Message: Required tool smartctl not installed. Check --recommends 
       ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: A-Data model: SU650 size: 894.25 GiB block size: physical: 512 B logical: 512 B 
       speed: 6.0 Gb/s serial: <filter> rev: 1c64 scheme: GPT 
       ID-2: /dev/sdb vendor: Samsung model: SSD 860 QVO 1TB size: 931.51 GiB block size: physical: 512 B logical: 512 B 
       speed: 6.0 Gb/s serial: <filter> rev: 1B6Q scheme: GPT 
       ID-3: /dev/sdc vendor: A-Data model: SU800 size: 238.47 GiB block size: physical: 512 B logical: 512 B 
       speed: 6.0 Gb/s serial: <filter> rev: 7AC scheme: GPT
Partition: ID-1: / raw size: 893.75 GiB size: 878.70 GiB (98.32%) used: 27.54 GiB (3.1%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda2
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 49.6 C mobo: N/A gpu: nvidia temp: 54 C 
       Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A gpu: nvidia fan: 0%
Info:      Processes: 402 Uptime: 58m Memory: 31.36 GiB used: 3.59 GiB (11.4%) Init: systemd v: 245 runlevel: 5 Compilers: 
       gcc: 9.3.0 alt: 9 Shell: bash v: 5.0.17 running in: gnome-terminal inxi: 3.0.38

pactl list sinks (It does turn into RUNNING when I play audio)

Sink #13
State: SUSPENDED
Name: alsa_output.usb-Schiit_Audio_Schiit_Hel-00.iec958-stereo
Description: Schiit Hel Digital Stereo (IEC958)
Driver: module-alsa-card.c
Sample Specification: s16le 2ch 44100Hz
Channel Map: front-left,front-right
Owner Module: 23
Mute: no
Volume: front-left: 65859 / 100% / 0,13 dB,   front-right: 65859 / 100% / 0,13 dB
        balance 0,00
Base Volume: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB
Monitor Source: alsa_output.usb-Schiit_Audio_Schiit_Hel-00.iec958-stereo.monitor
Latency: 0 usec, configured 0 usec
Flags: HARDWARE DECIBEL_VOLUME LATENCY SET_FORMATS 
Properties:
	alsa.resolution_bits = "16"
	device.api = "alsa"
	device.class = "sound"
	alsa.class = "generic"
	alsa.subclass = "generic-mix"
	alsa.name = "USB Audio"
	alsa.id = "USB Audio"
	alsa.subdevice = "0"
	alsa.subdevice_name = "subdevice #0"
	alsa.device = "0"
	alsa.card = "1"
	alsa.card_name = "Schiit Hel"
	alsa.long_card_name = "Schiit Audio Schiit Hel at usb-0000:01:00.0-7, high speed"
	alsa.driver_name = "snd_usb_audio"
	device.bus_path = "pci-0000:01:00.0-usb-0:7:1.0"
	sysfs.path = "/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:01.3/0000:01:00.0/usb1/1-7/1-7:1.0/sound/card1"
	udev.id = "usb-Schiit_Audio_Schiit_Hel-00"
	device.bus = "usb"
	device.vendor.id = "30be"
	device.vendor.name = "Schiit Audio"
	device.product.id = "0101"
	device.product.name = "Schiit Hel"
	device.serial = "Schiit_Audio_Schiit_Hel"
	device.string = "iec958:1"
	device.buffering.buffer_size = "352800"
	device.buffering.fragment_size = "176400"
	device.access_mode = "mmap+timer"
	device.profile.name = "iec958-stereo"
	device.profile.description = "Digital Stereo (IEC958)"
	device.description = "Schiit Hel Digital Stereo (IEC958)"
	module-udev-detect.discovered = "1"
	device.icon_name = "audio-card-usb"
Formats:
	pcm

amixer

Simple mixer control 'IEC958',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',1
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',2
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',3
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',4
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',5
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',6
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]

Whilst related to Arch Linux, This does not look too promising:
https://bbs.archlinux.org/viewtopic.php?id=268237

Yes, I have seen this one. However the author didn't complain about the microphone sound and said it was working fine. I tried to run journalctl -p 3 -b and got some errors in there but they are different from the one in the post.
Here is the output:

-- Logs begin at Fri 2021-09-03 12:44:10 EEST, end at Fri 2021-09-03 17:23:52 EEST. --
sept  03 15:53:58 Phoenix-ZO kernel: gpio gpiochip2: (gpio_aaeon): tried to insert a GPIO chip with zero lines
sept  03 15:53:58 Phoenix-ZO kernel: gpiochip_add_data_with_key: GPIOs 0..-1 (gpio_aaeon) failed to register, -22
sept  03 15:53:59 Phoenix-ZO kernel: gpio gpiochip2: (gpio_aaeon): tried to insert a GPIO chip with zero lines
sept  03 15:53:59 Phoenix-ZO kernel: gpiochip_add_data_with_key: GPIOs 0..-1 (gpio_aaeon) failed to register, -22
sept  03 15:54:00 Phoenix-ZO kernel: 
sept  03 15:54:05 Phoenix-ZO bluetoothd[1148]: Failed to set mode: Blocked through rfkill (0x12)
sept  03 15:54:06 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:54:06 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:54:06 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:54:06 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:54:09 Phoenix-ZO bluetoothd[1148]: Failed to set mode: Blocked through rfkill (0x12)
sept  03 15:57:07 Phoenix-ZO gdm-password][1844]: gkr-pam: unable to locate daemon control file
sept  03 15:57:08 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:57:08 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:57:08 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:57:08 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:57:09 Phoenix-ZO systemd[1854]: Failed to start Application launched by gnome-session-binary.
sept  03 15:57:09 Phoenix-ZO systemd[1854]: Failed to start Application launched by gnome-session-binary.
sept  03 15:57:09 Phoenix-ZO systemd[1854]: Failed to start Application launched by gnome-session-binary.
sept  03 15:57:12 Phoenix-ZO gnome-session-binary[1554]: GLib-CRITICAL: g_hash_table_find: assertion 'version == hash_table->version' failed
sept  03 15:57:44 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:58:25 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 15:59:15 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 16:03:13 Phoenix-ZO pipewire[5520]: server 0x558a95bea3e0: unable to lock lockfile '/run/user/1000/pipewire-0.lock': Resource temporarily unavailable (maybe another daemon is running)
sept  03 16:03:13 Phoenix-ZO pipewire[5520]: config 0x558a95bd0820: could not load mandatory module "libpipewire-module-protocol-native": Resource temporarily unavailable
sept  03 16:03:13 Phoenix-ZO pipewire[5520]: can't find factory spa-node-factory
sept  03 16:19:44 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1
sept  03 17:04:50 Phoenix-ZO kernel: usb 1-7: cannot get ctl value: req = 0x81, wValue = 0x100, wIndex = 0x1100, type = 1

As you can see there is something about pipewire and usb 1-7. I don't know what device that is though.

lsusb

Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 003 Device 002: ID 05ac:0250 Apple, Inc. Aluminium Keyboard (ISO)
Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
Bus 002 Device 002: ID 05e3:0732 Genesys Logic, Inc. All-in-One Cardreader
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 006: ID 2516:0051 Cooler Master Co., Ltd. AMD SR4 lamplight Control
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 30be:0101 Schiit Audio Schiit Hel
Bus 001 Device 005: ID 0a12:0001 Cambridge Silicon Radio, Ltd Bluetooth Dongle (HCI mode)
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 1a40:0101 Terminus Technology Inc. Hub
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 046d:c539 Logitech, Inc. USB Receiver
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub

I would suggest removing pipewire completely, then installing

sudo apt install pavucontrol

Open with alt+F2 or terminal;

pavucontrol

and configure sound, input and output, then test.

If that has any success, credit to Zabadabadoo and Frenchpress for using the above method.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply! I tried to remove pipewire but when I entered sudo apt remove pipewire it tried to remove additional 24 system packages related to gnome and zorin. How can I remove pipewire safely?

ugh... integrated...
Just for the record:

Try killing it with fire, instead:

systemctl --user stop pipewire.service pipewire.socket

I have stopped it and disabled. After a reboot the error in journalctl about pipewire is gone. I reinstalled pavucontrol, just in case. The rest though is the same. Can't open Schiit Hel in alsamixer and microphone is still extremely quiet.

Sound issues are my weakest point in trying to help others on this HelpDesk. I will ungracefully back out slowly as I doubt anything I suggest at this point will be of much use and keep hitting the books.
Pulseaudio with systemd is notorious on all distros that use it. It is the thorn in all our sides.

I have made a personal note of this for future use. :wink:

Sound issues are truly horrible. Thank you for all your help! I'll keep looking for something useful on the internet, although my hopes aren't high. I suspect there is something wrong with the configuration in pipe or sink (or whatever it is), but I don't understand a single line in the configs :joy:

Low Mic volume comes up on occasion and about 50% of the time, the user solves it by some unexpected means, often different from the last users solution. It's part of what makes it troublesome. The rest of the time, we never hear back if it was resolved or not.
But from my own perspective: I would say there is room for hope.

Am I correct in that you have 2 other sound cards in addition to the USB device, as I see listed above?
What do you get in Alsamixer if the Schiit Hel USB sound card is unplugged?
Does Alsamixer still crash?

I was having a similar problem with my sound the other day. Open audio and video category in the app menu, sound settings. Choose the input tab, scroll down to your microphone and turn up the input to at least 100. The only thing I'm unsure about is how to keep this setting after you log out/shutdown. I will attempt to get back to this with an answer shortly.

1 Like

If you were to change sound channel settings in Alsamixer you can save those settings using:

sudo alsactl store

I wouldn't necessarily call the NVIDIA one a sound card. It's my videocard and I assume it just shows that it can output a sound through HDMI port.
The other one, which is marked as Device 2 (Starship/Matisse HD Audio), is motherboard's built-in soundcard.

Alsamixer works fine even if the Schiit Hel is plugged in. I can open it and change settings of the other two devices. But as soon as I try and select Schiit Hel it crashes with an error that I mentioned above.

Thanks for replying to my thread! I tried to mess around with the input slider in Sound settings and it is set to 150% (overamplification is turned on), but the results are underwhelming at best. I become a little bit louder but still waaaay too quiet. I even tried one solution I saw on other forum, which suggested to turn down Left or Right channel, but it didn't help.

It will effect it more if you adjust output and playback volumes, making sure the device you want to use is chosen.

When i plug in my headset, usb-c, it creates two devices. One is the software device and the other is the hardware. I've had to max out the software device then choose the hardware to assist volumes, otherwise they are easy to low. I'm thinking you're running into something similar, or your playback or output is still turned down.

A quick update. I tried to see a detailed info about my soundcards and what it looks like to ALSA. So I entered this command to save a text file alsactl store -f /home/rudolf/abc.txt and I've got an error:

alsactl: get_control:256: Cannot read control '2,0,0,Mic Capture Switch,0': Broken pipe.

I believe that there is a problem with microphone's configuration, which prevents Alsamixer from accessing my mic. I don't know how or where to edit the configs though.

Ok... was looking around, because this is above my head now, and found the following solution:

Since the volume levels can not be stored, I needed an /etc/asound.conf and a way to restore/set the
volume at boot...

/etc/asound.conf

pcm.!default {
type asym
capture.pcm "mic"
playback.pcm "speaker"
}

pcm.mic {
type softvol

slave {
pcm "array"
}

control {
name "MicArray Master"
card 0
}

max_dB 50.0

}

pcm.speaker {
type plug
slave {
pcm "hw:0,0"
}
}

pcm.array {
type plug
slave {
pcm "hw:1,0" <-------will change depending on your config (when in alsamixer press F6 to get the card index #)
}
}

To restore/set the alsa volume at boot, I added this to /etc/rc.local

arecord -d 1 --device=default -r 48000 -c 1 -f S16_LE test.wav
sleep 1
amixer sset 'MicArray Master' 70%

For pulseaudio....
Since the mic volume isn't stored between boots, setting the array volume,
starting pulseaudio and then setting the volume for pulseaudio worked for my
app that needed pulseaudio.

So my /etc/rc.local looks like this...

arecord -d 1 --device=default -r 48000 -c 1 -f S16_LE test.wav
sleep 1
amixer sset 'MicArray Master' 70%

su pi -c '/usr/bin/pulseaudio --start'
sleep 1
pactl set-source-volume 0 250%

None of this will be necessary when the drivers are finished but for now, this is what
worked for me.

From:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://github.com/matrix-io/matrixio-kernel-modules/issues/24&ved=2ahUKEwjW6pzBpubyAhVxLH0KHY2eAyUQFnoECAYQAQ&usg=AOvVaw0lg1Masieu4-gBBJBkQZ3p

You will have to edit the script from MicArray Master to whatever your mic/soundcard/hardware is.

1 Like

Thanks for this info! I will try to modify it, although I am not sure where to start. Can you explain to me what does type asym mean?

Asym is an ALSA PCM plugin that combines half-duplex PCM plugins like dsnoop and dmix into one full-duplex device.

1 Like