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problem: Running either of the main Linux sound testing command line applications aplay or paplay results in no sound, but also no errors and the programs do not exit.

question: Why are they not exiting?

original question text follows

Trying to play a wav file with either aplay or paplay results in the command hanging and having to be killed. No errors are reported from either applications and nothing appears in syslog

This is Lubuntu running in VirtualBox.

I had a similar issue a year ago and got around it by running

pulseaudio -k && sudo alsa force-reload

but the alsa force-reload always fails now.

Unloading ALSA sound driver modules: snd-seq-midi snd-seq-midi-event snd-seq snd-rawmidi snd-seq-device snd-hda-codec-idt snd-hda-codec-generic snd-hda-intel snd-hda-codec snd-hda-core snd-hwdep snd-pcm snd-timer (failed: modules still loaded: snd-hda-codec-idt snd-hda-codec-generic snd-hda-codec snd-hda-core snd-hwdep snd-pcm snd-timer).
Loading ALSA sound driver modules: snd-seq-midi snd-seq-midi-event snd-seq snd-rawmidi snd-seq-device snd-hda-codec-idt snd-hda-codec-generic snd-hda-intel snd-hda-codec snd-hda-core snd-hwdep snd-pcm snd-timer.

uninstalled and reinstalled both pulseaudio and alsa.

What I really want is a smoking gun. An error message that indicates what's wrong.

aplay -L and any of the pulseaudio information utils all show intel HD correctly (changing to AC97 in VirtualBox has the same issue)

pavucontrol will show applications trying to play sounds but the VU meter does not move.

speaker-test -c 2 -t wav does not hang but no sound is produced.

YouTube via Firefox will only play 2-3 seconds before refusing to play any more and hear no sound.

edit - more technical information as suggested by https://alsa.opensrc.org/TroubleShooting

$ cat /proc/asound/version
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version k4.15.0-70-generic.

$ grep VERSION_STR /usr/include/alsa/version.h
#define SND_LIB_VERSION_STR "1.1.3"

$ lspci | egrep -i audio
00:05.0 Audio device: Intel Corporation 82801FB/FBM/FR/FW/FRW (ICH6 Family) High Definition Audio Controller (rev 01)

$ ls /proc/asound/cards
/proc/asound/cards

$ ls -l /proc/asound/cards
-r--r--r-- 1 root root 0 Nov 24 16:49 /proc/asound/cards
$ cat /proc/asound/cards
 0 [Intel          ]: HDA-Intel - HDA Intel
                      HDA Intel at 0xf0804000 irq 21

$ ls /dev/snd/
by-path  controlC0  hwC0D0  pcmC0D0c  pcmC0D0p  pcmC0D1c  pcmC0D1p  pcmC0D2c  seq  timer

$ file /usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf
/usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf: ASCII text

$ lsmod | egrep snd
snd_hda_codec_idt      57344  1
snd_hda_codec_generic    73728  1 snd_hda_codec_idt
snd_hda_intel          45056  5
snd_hda_codec         126976  3 snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec_idt
snd_hda_core           81920  4 snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_hda_codec_idt
snd_hwdep              20480  1 snd_hda_codec
snd_pcm                98304  4 snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_hda_core
snd_seq_midi           16384  0
snd_seq_midi_event     16384  1 snd_seq_midi
snd_rawmidi            32768  1 snd_seq_midi
snd_seq                65536  2 snd_seq_midi,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_seq_device         16384  3 snd_seq,snd_seq_midi,snd_rawmidi
snd_timer              32768  3 snd_seq,snd_pcm
snd                    81920  18 snd_hda_codec_generic,snd_seq,snd_seq_device,snd_hwdep,snd_hda_intel,snd_hda_codec,snd_timer,snd_pcm,snd_hda_codec_idt,snd_rawmidi
soundcore              16384  1 snd

$ dmesg | egrep snd
[    3.920091] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0: autoconfig for STAC9221 A1: line_outs=3 (0xc/0xf/0xb/0x0/0x0) type:speaker
[    3.920093] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    speaker_outs=0 (0x0/0x0/0x0/0x0/0x0)
[    3.920094] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    hp_outs=1 (0xa/0x0/0x0/0x0/0x0)
[    3.920094] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    mono: mono_out=0x0
[    3.920095] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    dig-out=0x10/0x0
[    3.920095] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    inputs:
[    3.920096] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:      Mic=0xd
[    3.920097] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:      Line=0xe
[    3.920097] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:      CD=0x15
[    3.920098] snd_hda_codec_idt hdaudioC0D0:    dig-in=0x11
[   13.864016] snd_hda_intel 0000:00:05.0: Invalid position buffer, using LPIB read method instead.
$ dmesg | egrep -i sound
[    3.944086] input: HDA Intel Mic as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input8
[    3.944115] input: HDA Intel Line as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input9
[    3.944139] input: HDA Intel Speaker Front as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input10
[    3.944256] input: HDA Intel Speaker CLFE as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input11
[    3.944280] input: HDA Intel Front Headphone as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input12
[    3.944302] input: HDA Intel SPDIF In as /devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:05.0/sound/card0/input13
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  • Due the down vote I have made the question more distinct and included lots of suggested technical information. Also alsamixer shows all channels unmuted and at 100%
    – rob
    Nov 24, 2019 at 17:03
  • I ended up compiling aplay from source and tracking where it hung. But it did not lead anywhere and was different for different WAV files. Uninstalled and reinstalled many times. Tried without pulseaudio. Absolutely no change. Will burn this VM and start again from scratch.
    – rob
    Dec 3, 2019 at 23:46

1 Answer 1

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I cannot quite believe this, but it is a known bug in VirtualBox and has been for almost a year.

tldr; There is timing value that needs to be set to 100ms. Shutdown your VM and run

VBoxManage setextradata global VBoxInternal2/Audio/ALSAAudio/BufferSizeMs "100"

You can also try and revert to an earlier version of VirtualBox where that was the default value.

As I had just built a new host system from scratch and that the host system had no issue in any other application with sound, that VirtualBox could not be the issue and nor could the host.

This issue currently being discussed in the following places

https://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-1104042-highlight-virtualbox.html

https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=95560

https://forums.virtualbox.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=93940

https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/18342

https://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/18820

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