How can I tell my system default sound output is card 2 and device 0, and not card 2 device 3 or 7 or 1?

I did this, but no sound.

$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: Device [C-Media USB Audio Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 0: ALC892 Analog [ALC892 Analog]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 1: ALC892 Digital [ALC892 Digital]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 2: PCH [HDA Intel PCH], device 7: HDMI 1 [HDMI 1]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

$ cat /etc/asound.conf
#pcm.!default { 
#  type plug; 
#  slave { pcm "hw:2" } 
pcm.!default {
    type hw
    card 2
    device 0

2 Answers 2


If you find that your sound cards keep switching indices, you won't be able to hardcode defaults.pcm.card 2 in /etc/asound.conf. One (complex) approach might work, is to configure the sound kernel modules with your desired priority.

This approach is described in Debian Bug #614113:

  1. run alsamixer;
  2. use F6 and research available sound devices
  3. set correct levels for playing on devices;
  4. run some sound player that allow select sound devices (audacious for example);
  5. play with you sound devices (with repeating steps 2,3) and decide what should be default;
  6. exit alsamixer and player;
  7. login as root;
  8. run lsmod | grep snd and try to understood what modules corresponds to physical sound devices;
  9. if unsure that you correctly determine modules on step 2: go to /sys/module and inspect all directories wich names begins with "snd". This directories names exactly as modules. If you will see "drivers" directory in inspected directory - then name of inspected directory is name of module that corresponds to physical sound device. Remember (wrote in notepad) all such modules.
  10. run modinfo <module name> | grep desc for each module that yo found at steps 2 and 3. Read descriptions and make decidion about priorities of this modules. This will be priorities of corresponding sound devices.
  11. go to /etc/modprobe.d;
  12. create snd_cards_priorities.conf;
  13. write to snd_cards_priorities.conf something like this:

    alias snd-card-0 <module for highest priority card>
    options <module for highest priority card> index=0
    alias snd-card-1 <module for lower priority card>
    options <module for lower priority card> index=1
  14. save file;
  15. restart alsa with /usr/sbin/alsa force-reload command;
  16. run cat /proc/asound/cards command and check that sound devices are in correct order (device #0 has highest priority);
  17. repeat steps 9, 10 several times and check that sound devices order is not changing;
  18. exit root;

  19. run alsamixer and configure you default sound device, exit alsamixer.

  20. use you favorite sound player to test you new configuration.

To set the default device, you should not redefine the default device but simply put the following into /etc/asound.conf:

defaults.pcm.card 2      # or better "PCH"
defaults.pcm.device 0

This will work only for programs that actually use a default device without explicitly specifying a device. If some program like PulseAudio or VLC has been configured for some specific output device, you must change that configuration.

  • This worked for me with card 1, but not with PCH, although PCH seems indeed name of card 1. Nov 1, 2017 at 20:56
  • Before modifying /etc for global change as root, it can be applied immediately to one specific user by putting said lines in ~/.asoundrc. Nov 1, 2017 at 20:57

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