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ALSA Mixers

The basic concept of a mixer is explained in the glossary entry Mixer.

I created this page, because I heard that some mixer apps for ALSA (especially graphical ones like alsamixergui) don't treat the mixer devices right. alsamixergui for example doesn't allow setting the capture flag on the "Capture" slider. This basically makes recording on cs46xx-based soundcards impossible, since it is necessary to select Line-in, ADC and Capture for capturing from line-in.


So my first tip when it comes to mixers and ALSA is: Use alsamixer. It treats the ctl interface right.

If you know of any other mixer apps with problems like that, please report them here.

Actually I also think that every AlsaDrivers page should have a section on mixer usage, because this varies wildly from one driver to the next. It took me 2 days to find out that I had to enable capture on more than one slider with my soundcard.


gamix is very nice - some controls of my SB Live! soundcard aren't displayed or are displayed badly in alsamixer, such as the whole EMU 10K1 PCM section. gamix displays the controls in a more logical and human-readable form and makes it much easier to change levels.

Where can you get gamix? From:



And there's another very good mixer application for X and GNOME - the gnome-alsamixer. I like it much more than other mixers just because its logical separation of different kinds of controls - there are sliders for volume levels and checkboxes for switchable elements are on different panel.

gnome-alsamixer is available at



Good mixer for KDE is kalsamix. It is only for ALSA and alsa support is good, it supports events. kalsamix is available at

Don't miss out on kalsamix even if you use Gnome. For me kalsamix features of being able freely group & choose which sliders should show as well as allowing renaming of the channels to whatever I want is invaluable. It's helps me keep sane with 2 soundcards with multiple in&outputs on each, connected to different external hardware. Amazing how there seems to be no native Gnomemixer capable of this.



Gnome volume Control


Note that I had severe problems with insufficient mic gain, even with the 20db boost selected, on a Gigabyte GA-K8N Pro SLI motherboard, with both KMix, gnome volume control, and even alsa-mixer until I tried gamix/GNOME Alsa mixer. Then all of a sudden it started working even though it doesn't appear to have been due to additional controls. Apparently before I was only getting between channel crosstalk.

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Category: Software