Audio CD playing silent in Linux

Q I can't play audio CDs in either my user account or my partner's. My audio is working - I'm having no problems with digital tracks ripped onto my system. KsCD shows that an audio CD seems to be playing but there's no audio output. The CD is turned up to about 90 per cent in a mixer. The master is at 100 per cent and nothing obvious is muted. I did have to change the /etc/fstab so that /dev/cdrom had user, users, noauto listed.

A To take your last comment first, audio CDs are not mounted so /etc/fstab has no bearing on this. Most distros use automounting via HAL nowadays, so data CDs don't usually want an entry in /etc/fstab either. To your audio problem: there are two ways of getting the audio data from the drive to your sound card. The first is the traditional method of using an audio cable. This plugs into the small, flat four-pin connector on the back of the drive, and the matching connector on the sound card (or motherboard, if you have on-board sound).

This is the most efficient method because all the computer needs to do is send the start/stop/etc commands to the drive; the audio simply runs down the cable where it is mixed by the sound card. The second method uses digital extraction, where the computer pulls the CDDA (Compact Disc Digital Audio) data from the drive via its ATA/SATA cable, performs any audio conversion needed and passes the result to the sound card. This is more processor-intensive, but the load is insignificant with modern hardware, and tends to be the default setup because it saves the manufacturer a few pennies per machine on cables. There is an easy way to tell if a CD drive is sending audio directly: if it has a headphone socket, plug some headphones into it.

If you can hear the music, you are trying to play via a direct audio connection. KsCD does not use digital extraction by default, this has to be turned on explicitly by enabling the Use Direct Digital Playback checkbox in the configuration window. You may prefer a different media player: KsCD is OK as a basic CD player, but if you also listen to MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files or Internet radio, KDE's all-encompassing audio player, Amarok, may be more suitable.

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