I'm working on a relatively clean install of Wheezy - relatively as I installed it today and have been installing packages for quite some time. I previously had Ubuntu which played sounds, so it's not a hardware problem.

I have little information initially as I've tried all sorts of things found online, but can't remember what I did. So please, do ask me to include info in the comments.

The problem: Wheezy (or alsa or gstreamer or whatever handles the sound) doesn't see my sound card. It does see it as a piece of hardware, but it doesn't see it as a sound card. For example, I can see it when I run lspci -v (together with the Nvidia HDMI output). Here goes:

Audio device: Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] nee ATI SBx00 Azalia (Intel HDA)

Subsystem: Giga-byte Technology Device a002
Flags: bus master, slow devsel, latency 32, IRQ 16
Memory at fe024000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
Capabilities: < access denied >
Kernel driver in use: snd_hda_intel

alsamixer displays a nice bar, but when I try to select the sound card (HDA ATI SB) it fails with cannot load mixer controls: Invalid argument.

During boot, alsa fails to start and displays a bunch of hw error invalid argument messages (or something similar, the text goes too fast to read).

Basic checks: I am in the audio group, nothing is muted, the speakers are plugged in & set to a reasonable volume. Before I did anything else I fiddled with the Sound settings (as I had previously done on Ubuntu) and the PulseAudio volume control, PulseAudio manager (which only sees Built-in Audio Analog Stereo and HDMI), and of course the gnome sound settings.

How do I make Alsa work with my sound card?

  • After booting, dmesg outputs the contents of the system log buffer.
    – CL.
    Dec 9, 2013 at 7:57
  • Nope, sorry. Useful command but in my case I can't see the error messages. I rebooted since I posted this and I remember alsamixer is the one complaining about invalid parameters. @CL
    – rath
    Dec 9, 2013 at 12:01

1 Answer 1


There can be more than one way to do this. But I recommend you to disable internal sound hardware of beaglebone black by adding optargs=capemgr.disable_partno=BB-BONELT-HDMI in the end of /boot/uEnv.txt file. And reboot your board with sound card connected. This will make your sound card as default hardware . So every sound process will select your sound card automatically.

  • 1
    It was a desktop PC, not a beaglebone. Anyway I've since upgraded and/or plugged my headphones to a different jack so the problem is near-unreproducible. Cheers
    – rath
    May 10, 2016 at 10:03

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