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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Hardware » Audio
Recording Problems DELL E521
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James186282


Joined: 08 Sep 2009
Posts: 228
Location: Minnesota

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan 2016, 00:32    Post subject:  Recording Problems DELL E521
Subject description: Alsa Audio Recording
 

I've made a cheat sheet for my old Gateway computer because the Audio was a big headache getting it working the first time. Someone just gave me a very nice DELL Dimension E521 and for a few bucks put in the fastest CPU I could find for next to nothing. The playback audio worked out of the Box with TahrPup 6.0.5 Recording works fine if I use a USB Camera but with microphones plugged into every mic input connector just doesn't work. I tried audacity so it was easy to try every input.

Its a Sigmatel 9227 Audio chipset.

I would love to find a procedure to go step by step for getting this going.
*Note fiddled with alsa.conf and really doesn't seem to get anything working.

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starhawk

Joined: 22 Nov 2010
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Location: Everybody knows this is nowhere...

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan 2016, 01:01    Post subject:  

Instant thought -- have you looked in the BIOS settings to see what is/isn't disabled, etc, at boot?
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James186282


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PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan 2016, 01:04    Post subject:  

No... Thats a very good suggestion. I haven't even considered that it might be bios related. Its just so weird the sound output works so great but recording is just dead. Thanks for the idea I'll check it out and report back.
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James186282


Joined: 08 Sep 2009
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Location: Minnesota

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan 2016, 01:23    Post subject:  

Good idea. I checked it and see that it was on. I tried it off to see if that might mean the opposite was true but it just turned the audio output off. I had a variety of abstraction layers on top of Alsa in a futile attempt to get Skype to work. I thought maybe all the junkware was the problem so I got rid of everything but Alsa to keep it simple and did a force reload.

*I ended my contract with Skype. Wow did that program get bad. I had the house set up with cordless Skype phones but the chronic problems and now... Well. I can report that ObiHai works perfectly (so far) with zero issues installing anything. Pretty much plug in to the router and dial a number then... Old wired phones and a set of cordless phones I was almost going to toss them in the trash.

Dialtone! It rings. I got to select an easy to remember phone number. Joy!

I think my next step is to go reread the ALSA website and see if there is some A B C D instructions that I can follow.

I do appreciate the suggestion!

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bigpup


Joined: 11 Oct 2009
Posts: 8030
Location: Charleston S.C. USA

PostPosted: Fri 08 Jan 2016, 01:27    Post subject:  

From dell E521 manual:
Quote:
Use the pink connector to attach a personal computer microphone


Right click on the speaker icon in the tray.
Choose full window.
Got mic selected and the slider turned up?

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James186282


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PostPosted: Sat 16 Jan 2016, 12:34    Post subject:  

Ha! No, I'm perfectly capable of having had audio muted or the slider down to zilch but I learned my lesson on that and the color of the connectors. It does suggest another idea. Maybe I should see if any of the line in connectors are responding. I really like this Dell. Mostly because it cost next to nothing and it 5 or 6 times faster then my old box. And with the CPU throttle it runs ice cold with the fan noise aprox zero. LOVE that.

I've tried to simplify my system to un-up pile all the #$#$ abstraction layers on top of layers. So all the Jack, Pulse Audio etc etc are gone and its just me and Alsa. For the project I was working on it dawned on me that the USB camera mic DID work so just use what works. *Pretty dumb on my part. I still would like to get audio working correct but I have a way to do screen videos which don't (In this case) need to he high fidelity.

Just another update on the ObiHai. I am so much happier with this then the Netgear Skype phone. I'm putting all that Skype stuff on EBay with a buyer beware. It did work pretty well but then... It was Microsofted...

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James186282


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Location: Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr 2016, 13:13    Post subject:  

Just an update that I never have gotten this thing to record anything with the exception of the USB camera.

In general what do people do that works. I've got it in my head that ALSA is the low level connection to sound and that this has to work or nothing else will. I tried looking at doing a compile of the latest version of Alsa but its so huge I have little confidence that I can make that happen. Just un Taring it took forever. Keep it simple must be keep it simply huge.

I also have this dim impression that everything else is just stuff that lays on top of Alsa and slows things down (Or makes it more confusing)

This computer has three sets of audio in out jacks. Sound out works straight from the box. Audio in? Uhhh... still not. I found very little on the web about this even tho Nvidia is a pretty well known chipset.

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James186282


Joined: 08 Sep 2009
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Location: Minnesota

PostPosted: Wed 27 Apr 2016, 21:33    Post subject: SOLVED Audio Recording in DELL E521
Subject description: Audacity
 

The solution was actually fairly simple but compounded by my screwing up a very simple soldering job on a connector and not understanding Mic Input connectors.

So the software part of this that you need to insert a line into the file
/etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

# Prevent abnormal drivers from grabbing index 0
options snd-hda-intel model=ref <----- ADD THIS LINE
options bt87x index=-2

Then you need to plug you cable from what your playing into (Recording) the correct jack. I had an unused Green speaker cable and chopped off the end and wired it to some RCA connectors so I could plug them into my stereo and make recording of some tapes I had. I failed to connect the Left channel properly so it was mono all the time. *Head scratching time for sure. This got much worse because I set up a laptop with Audacity and even when I had fussed with the cable it was always mono which is because.... Mic inputs are Mono... LINE inputs are stereo. In fact some Mic inputs put 5 volts on one of the channel wires.

So imagine large handfulls of hair being ripped out.

Some quick Audacity stuff that might help someone. If you set it up so you can hear what your recording as its being recorded your computer may not be able to keep up and the recorded audio will have tiny misses that for some time I was sure was the cable still not being right. No hair left to yank out so I tried to pull my own head off until I stumbled onto that solution. Plus I thought everything just needed to be hit harder but of course that rarely makes anything better. There are some other setting like how much latency you will allow the program and how high a quality you record but all in all once you get to the point where there is a left and right channel of audio doing something I think you can find lots of hints on Audacity elsewhere.

This fix also (I've read) works on other Del Towers like the D-520.

My last word of almost wisdom...
Double checking all the simple stupid stuff is what I really learned today. The cable. Is it actually soldered correctly? The Dell has 8 or 9 sound inputs or outputs. So here its plugged in actually makes a difference. In my case I set Audacity to record hw 0,0 and just plugged into one thing after the other until it worked. *Which btw was a complete shock to me at that point.

I'm sure this all seems pretty obvious but its a really good idea to check that before going around and around. *Oh and don't forget to make sure the mixer has everything turned up and on both in Audacity and the system. Nothing like having 2, 3 or 4 ways to turn the volume off... SIGH.

*I suggest either of the Alsa mixers - for me is the most basic and idiot proof way to be sure things are on. MUTE = OFF!

And try not to be mean to your cat because she wants to be fed and you want to swear at the computer....

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