Advanced Audio Control on Linux

Linux audio control is as messed up as the Linux audio system structure. Long story short, after many years of development, the default sound control tools look like this:

Linux Audio Control.

The default and only option of setting the volume level may be enough for the majority of users out there, but it certainly isn't the best when you want to set specific audio levels, or define individual settings for different audio sources, etc. Here is a post on a selection of utilities that could help you get the sound you want on your Linux system.


This one is famous among the more experienced users, as this has been the go-to tool to set your sound level on Linux since a long time ago. It works on the terminal with the command “alsamixer” which is a part of the alsa-utils package.


You can navigate between the channels and adjust the volume levels by using the keyboard arrow keys. Hit “F4” to get the “capturing” channel levels screen instead.

Alsamixer Channels.

Pulse Audio Volume Control

Let's get a step further and suppose that we now want to adjust the volume levels of different individual sources. One way to do this is through a utility called Pulse Audio Volume Control, which you can install as a package named “pavucontrol”.

Pulse Audio Volume Control.

Other options include left/right channel setting (unlock them by pressing the shield button on the right), sound input devices level control, and recording options. In general, it is a slightly more advanced GNOME volume control, which is great to have handy.

Pulse Audio Channel Settings.

Pulse Audio Equalizer

The Pulse Audio equalizer gives you the opportunity to set up and enable a system-wide equalizer in order to help you tune all of the sounds in a certain preset. If you're using Ubuntu, you can install this utility through a third party repository. Enter the following commands to do so:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install pulseaudio-equalizer

You may choose a preset from the presets list on the right, or set the levels on your own. When the “EQ Enabled” box is ticked, the equalizer is active and all sounds from all streams are affected by the its settings.

Pulse Audio Equalizer.

For more hardware-specific audio control tools, you should install the “alsa-tools-gui” package which contains many GUI audio controlling utilities for Envy24, HDA Intel chips, RME Hammerfall DSP, Digi32 and Digi96 sound cards.

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By: Brandon

I am currently running av gentoo and a Debian machine. I use kodi/xbmc on them for watching TV/movies. I also have PC connected to an 8 channel amp, then the speakers. Basically this amp is strictly an amp, no eq, no crossover, not a receiver, etc, purely an amp, nothing else. Now my PC does all the surround processing. Now if I crank up the volume, I get sought distortion from highs as there is a bit of bass going through them, I also get some words and such through the 2 sub's.. So I'm looking for a way to have an eq/crossover software, so i can say send >400hz to channels 1-5 and <400hz to channel 6.. Or even better would be an eq that I could have a 16+ band eq for each channel! 

Thanks, any help would be great!

By: ShalokShalom

Hi Brandon, the people in #ardour at freenode are always a great help for such tasks.

By: Mike

Thanks for this article! Little bluetooth speaker has a bit more life to it!

By: Joao Batista

Gostei do programa, completo...

By: Fil

Thank you for your clear disciptions. Now Audacity 2.1.2 works because "pavucontrol" gives me volume gain control on input for recording. Running on Linux Mint 17.1.

By: Mayravixx

Came for the package names and I can safely say it works great on arch. Just got some new headphones and they work pretty well with the equalizer.

By: bruce williams


I'm trying to create a custom mix on the outputs of my Scarlett 18i20, but skype for linux has locked the indivudal channel output sliders. Any idea how to unlock them?

Thanks in advance!

By: vangru

how can i control noice cancellation of my bluetooth headset?

By: Gary

Hello-  does this work on Ubuntu 20.04?  I installed it and it does not seem to work.