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Plugin Documentation

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Official Documentation

The official documentation for plugins is here:

You might also find other useful information here, though much of it is quite technical:

Plugin Basics

Plugins are used to create virtual devices that can be used like normal hardware devices but cause extra processing of the sound stream to take place. Virtual devices are defined in either the .asoundrc file in your home directory or the /etc/asound.conf file for machine-wide settings. This is the most basic skeleton of a virtual device definition you might seen in a .asoundrc file:

    slave {
        pcm SLAVENAME

This creates a new virtual device with name SOMENAME of type PLUGINTYPE that pipes its output to some other virtual or hardware device SLAVENAME.

SOMENAME can be any simple name. It's the name you'll use to refer to this device in the future. There are several virtual device names that are predefined, such as default and dmix.

PLUGINTYPE is one of the names listed in the official documentation above. Examples are dmix (a plugin type as well as a predefined virtual device), jack, and linear.

SLAVENAME is the name of another virtual device or a string describing a hardware device. To specify the first device of the first card use "hw:0,0" (with the quotes).

Signal Path Illustration

Here is an illustration to put the "SLAVE" and the "PLUGIN/VIRTUAL DEVICE" into context:

input signal (audio program)-->  SOMENAME (plugin/virtual device)--> SLAVENAME (slave device)

You can see that you can chain plugins this way by having the SLAVE of a VIRTUAL DEVICE be the input signal to another VIRTUAL DEVICE. This process continues until finally the SLAVE of the last plugin is a hardware device and not a virtual device.

Example .asoundrc Configuration

To create an automatic rate-conversion virtual device (using the "plug" plugin that is designed for that purpose) that pipes to the default device we would write

pcm.myplugdev {
    type plug
    slave { 
        pcm default 
        rate 44100

We can now specify myplugdev to any (properly written) program that asks for an alsa device and any sound that the program outputs will be converted to 44100 Hz before being played. For example, we can run "aplay -D myplugdev foobar.wav".

aplay--> myplugdev (plugin named "plug" converts rate) --> default --> hw:0,0

There might be problems with some programs though. Some applications always try to open a control device with the same name as the pcm device they are given, so you may also need to create a dummy control device with the same name:

ctl.myplugdev {
    type hw
    card 0  # This works if you have one sound card

That was pretty simple. Other plugins will have more parameters and options. For more info on the syntax of the configuration file, see:

Feel free to append any additional plugin related tips or documentation...

See also

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Category: Documentation