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Fixing HDMI Audio Issues on Ubuntu 20.04

Ubuntu 17

If you’ve recently installed Ubuntu 20.04 and are having trouble getting sound to play through your HDMI device, you’re not alone. This is a common issue, but thankfully, there are several possible solutions. In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the most effective methods for resolving HDMI audio issues on Ubuntu 20.04.

Quick Answer

To fix HDMI audio issues on Ubuntu 20.04, you can try restarting PulseAudio, using PulseAudio Volume Control to select the HDMI profile, checking sound devices with Alsamixer, setting a default sink for sound output, checking for Linux kernel issues, disabling the onboard sound card, trying different drivers, or referring to the Arch Linux wiki for further troubleshooting.

Understanding the Issue

Before diving into the solutions, it’s important to understand the problem. When you run the aplay -l command in the terminal, it lists all the available playback hardware devices, including your HDMI device. However, in the sound settings, only the built-in audio options are available. The HDMI options are shown as unplugged and unavailable, even though the sound works fine on the laptop itself.

Possible Solutions

1. Restarting PulseAudio

A simple workaround for this issue is to restart PulseAudio after turning on your TV or monitor. You can do this by running the following command in the terminal:

pulseaudio -k

In this command, the -k option tells PulseAudio to kill itself, but it will automatically restart.

2. Using PulseAudio Volume Control

Another solution is to use PulseAudio Volume Control (pavucontrol) to select the HDMI profile for the built-in audio device. You can install pavucontrol using the following command:

sudo apt install pavucontrol

Once installed, open pavucontrol and navigate to the ‘Configuration’ tab. Here, select the HDMI profile for your audio device.

3. Checking Sound Devices with Alsamixer

You can use alsamixer to check if your sound devices are muted. Run the following command to open alsamixer:


In the alsamixer interface, use the arrow keys to select your HDMI device and press ‘M’ to mute or unmute it.

4. Setting a Default Sink for Sound Output

You can also set a default ‘sink’ for sound output using the aplay -D command. First, list all playback devices with the aplay -l command. Then, set the default sink with the aplay -D command, replacing ‘device’ with the name of your HDMI device:

aplay -D device

5. Checking for Linux Kernel Issues

Sometimes, HDMI audio issues can be caused by problems with the Linux kernel. You can check for any known issues by visiting the Linux Kernel Bug Tracker.

6. Disabling the Onboard Sound Card

If your motherboard has an onboard sound card, disabling it may resolve the issue. This process varies depending on your motherboard, so refer to your motherboard’s manual for instructions.

7. Trying Different Drivers

If you’re using an NVIDIA graphics card, try using the proprietary NVIDIA driver or the open-source nouveau driver. You can switch between these drivers using the ‘Additional Drivers’ tab in the ‘Software & Updates’ application.

8. Further Troubleshooting

If none of the above solutions work, refer to the Arch Linux wiki for further troubleshooting.


HDMI audio issues on Ubuntu 20.04 can be frustrating, but they’re usually solvable with a bit of troubleshooting. Remember, the solution that works for you may depend on your specific hardware and software configuration. If you’re still having trouble after trying the solutions in this article, consider seeking help from the Ubuntu community on forums or through online support channels.

How do I check if my HDMI device is recognized by Ubuntu 20.04?

You can use the aplay -l command in the terminal to list all available playback hardware devices, including your HDMI device.

Why are the HDMI options shown as unplugged and unavailable in the sound settings?

This is a common issue on Ubuntu 20.04, and it may be due to a problem with PulseAudio not properly recognizing the HDMI connection.

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