Unmute the sound card using the ALSA utils

On Arch Linux all the channels are mute by default. To unmute your sound card you can do it manually in the ncurses-gui-based alsamixer of the alsa-utils package which looks like shown on the following picture.

MM means that the channel is muted wheras OO marks it to be unmuted. The vertical bars visualize the volume which can be turned up and down with the up and down cursor keys. The Master and PCM channels need to get unmuted to hear some sound from your computer.

The same job can be done with amixer with the sound card number, the channel and the volume controls as arguments.

amixer set -c 0 Master 25 unmute
amixer set -c 0 PCM 25 unmute

Each sound card is enumerated, the first is 0, the second is 1 and so forth. To find out the appropriate number of a card the declaration can be found out by executing aplay -l.

➜  ~  aplay -l                                                              [0]
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: I82801CAICH3 [Intel 82801CA-ICH3], device 0: Intel ICH [Intel 82801CA-ICH3]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

The settings are stored in /var/lib/alsa/asound.state, to reload them after a reboot, the alsa daemon can be added in your /etc/rc.conf (on distributions not following the bsd style the system configuration file might differ).

DAEMONS=(... @alsa ...)

The @ symbol means that the daemon is started in the background which speeds up the boot time.

Other useful commands can be found here:


  1. This was very helpful, thanks!

  2. Hello, i say this post from google and its closer to what I am looking for. I have android x86 installed on my intel pc but no sound. I was able to detect my sound card with ‘alsa_aplay -l’ but what I dont know is how to switch to it. I am not quit experienced in using linux/android terminal.

    Pls help.

  3. slopjong

    Oops. I’ve missed for 3 years to explain that little detail.

    You just need to hit the ‘m’ key to mute or unmute. Make sure you have the column selected from which you want to turn off/on the sound.

    Let me know if this helped you.

  4. Thanks slopjong for your response.
    what I mean is how to set default Master output in Android Terminal. I have Delta 1010 LT sound card and M-Track USB sound card and both can be detected on my computer running Android x86. I set all the out put to 100 unmute but still no sound. everything works fine like this message I am typing but sound “NO” :(
    my pc is intel compaq cd7100 running multiple OS. win xp, win 7, ubuntu, fedora and Android x86.
    its only Android that has no sound but in my second pc which i configured this way but not intel, works great. I am confused.

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