I'm following the Arch Beginner's Guide.

I have Arch running. Now I'm working on the post-installation instructions, one of the first parts of which is to unmute the speakers. This is where my problem is.

First, I installed alsamixer.

pacman -S alsa-utils

Then unmuted master:

amixer sset Master unmute

I get this error:

amixer: Unable to find simple control 'Master',0

I don't know how to proceed.


# cat /proc/asound/cards
0 [MID]: Hda-Intel - HDA Intel MID
         HDA Intel MID at 0xf7e14000 irq 63
1 [PCH]: Hda-Intel - HDA Intel PCH
         HDA Intel PCH at 0xf7e10000 irq 59 

# amixer -c1 sset Master unmute
Simple mixer control 'Master',0
Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
Playback channels: Mono
Limits: Playback 0 - 87
Mono: Playback 60 [69%] [-20.25dB] [on]

# speaker-test -c 2


Playback device is default
Stream parameters are 48000Hz, S16_LE, 2 channels
Using 16 octaves of pink noise
ALSA lib pcm_dmix.c:1022:(snd_pcm_dmix_open) unable to open slave
Playback open error: -2, No such file or directory
  • 1
    What's the output of cat /proc/asound/cards? Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:29
  • @EliasProbst I've updated the question with that info. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:37
  • 1
    Ok, it looks like your MIDI-Controller is Card#0, so try amixer -c1 sset Master unmute instead. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:44
  • @EliasProbst Ok I tried that. I updated the question with the output. Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 20:56
  • 1
    @CL."speaker-test -c 2 -D plughw:1" works, and it also works with "-c 2". Commented Dec 8, 2013 at 21:13

4 Answers 4


When setting up a new Arch install I usually do the following:

pacman -S alsa-utils

Then fire up alsamixer with


Go to 'Master' then press M and then keep hitting the up key to bring the sound levels up. I do that for any other inputs I want like pcm etc.

Then do

speaker-test -c2 

with the number being how many channels you want to test. You should hear static from each channel in turn.


I recommend asoundconf, which will take care of generating a proper .asoundrc .

  1. List the available sound cards:

    asoundconf list

  2. Set the default one:

    asoundconf set-default-card PARAMETER

  3. Unmute it if necessary through either alsamixer(ncurses) or amixer (cli)

  • 1
    This saved me much time :D
    – hso
    Commented Sep 26, 2015 at 1:11
  • 1
    This is without a doubt the easiest way to get that overly complex system to work.
    – sshine
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 19:36

If you do not want to use the HDMI output as the default output device, and if are using PulseAudio, select the "PCH" card as the default card in PulseAudio.

For pure ALSA applications, add the following to /etc/asound.conf or your ~/.asoundrc:

defaults.ctl.card PCH
defaults.pcm.card PCH

What I do to enable audio is:

pacman -Sy alsa-utils pulseaudio

This is all you need to do to enable sound in a fresh install, I recommend installing pulseaudio as in the recent update of firefox it has dropped support for alsa, making pulseaudio a hard dependency(I think many more might follow).

If however you want to use alsa alone and are willing to switch to browsers which support alsa(I think chromium does) for the principle.

pacman -Sy alsa-utils

Edit /etc/asound.conf

pcm.!default {
  type hw
  card 1
  device 0
ctl.!default {
  type hw
  card 1
  device 0

To get the device check the output of aplay -l and if you select sound card in alsamixer (F6 to select) you would be able to manipulate the sound settings of the device and don't forget to unmute the devices' master volume

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