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How To Fix Low System Volume on Ubuntu 18.04 with Realtek Drivers

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In this guide, we will walk you through the process of fixing low system volume on Ubuntu 18.04, specifically for systems using Realtek drivers. Ubuntu is a popular operating system choice for many users due to its user-friendly interface and robust performance. However, like any other system, it can sometimes face issues, one of which is low system volume. This can be particularly frustrating, but fortunately, there are several solutions to this problem.

Quick Answer

To fix low system volume on Ubuntu 18.04 with Realtek drivers, you can adjust the volume from the command line using the pactl command, enable the headphone amplifier in the ALSA sound system or PulseAudio, turn on over-amplification in the Ubuntu settings, or adjust the master sound level in alsamixer. Remember to increase the volume gradually to avoid damaging your speakers.

Adjusting Volume from the Command Line

One of the simplest ways to increase the system volume is to do it directly from the command line. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the terminal. You can do this by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on your keyboard.
  2. Enter the following command:
    pactl set-sink-volume 0 150%
    This command increases the system volume to 150%. You can adjust the percentage as per your needs. Here, set-sink-volume is used to set the volume of a sink (a sound output), 0 is the index of the sink, and 150% is the new volume.
  3. If the pactl command is not found, you might need to install the required package. Run the following command to do so:
    sudo apt install pulseaudio-utils
    This command installs the pulseaudio-utils package, which contains the pactl utility.
  4. To determine the index of your sound card sink, use the following command:
    pacmd list-sinks | grep -e 'name:' -e 'index'
    This command lists all the sinks and filters the output to display only the names and indices.

Enabling the Headphone Amplifier

If your system uses a Realtek audio chip, you might need to enable the headphone amplifier to increase the volume. Here’s how to do it:

  1. In the ALSA sound system, open the terminal and enter the following command:
    alsamixer
    This command opens the ALSA mixer, a soundcard mixer for ALSA soundcard driver.
  2. Look for the amplifier switch. It might appear as a mixer channel with a mute button. Press ‘m’ to mute/unmute and activate/deactivate the amplifier.
  3. In PulseAudio, use the application pavucontrol to find the amplifier option. You can install it using the following command:
    sudo apt install pavucontrol
    Once installed, open it and look for the amplifier option on the “Output Devices” or “Configuration” tab.

Turning On Over-Amplification

Ubuntu has a feature called “Over-Amplification” that allows you to increase the volume beyond 100%. Here’s how to enable it:

  1. Open the “Settings” application.
  2. Go to the “Sound” section.
  3. Enable the “Over-Amplification” option.

Adjusting the Master Sound Level in Alsamixer

Another way to increase the system volume is to adjust the master sound level in alsamixer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the terminal and enter the following command:
    alsamixer
  2. Use the arrow keys to set the master sound level to the maximum value.

Please note that increasing the volume beyond 100% may result in distorted or noisy audio. Start with a moderate increase and adjust gradually to avoid damaging your speakers.

Conclusion

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you should be able to fix low system volume on Ubuntu 18.04 with Realtek drivers. Remember, it’s always important to adjust the volume gradually to avoid damaging your speakers. If you continue to experience issues, consider reaching out to the Ubuntu community or Realtek support for further assistance.

What should I do if the `pactl` command is not found?

If the pactl command is not found, you can install the required package by running the following command: sudo apt install pulseaudio-utils. This command installs the pulseaudio-utils package, which contains the pactl utility.

How can I determine the index of my sound card sink?

To determine the index of your sound card sink, use the following command: pacmd list-sinks | grep -e 'name:' -e 'index'. This command lists all the sinks and filters the output to display only the names and indices.

What should I do if increasing the volume beyond 100% results in distorted or noisy audio?

If increasing the volume beyond 100% results in distorted or noisy audio, it is recommended to start with a moderate increase and adjust gradually. This will help avoid damaging your speakers and maintain audio quality.

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