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I have these external speakers: Sony Active Speaker System SRS-D4 plugged into a Ubuntu 11.10 laptop (same issue with a previous ubuntu desktop system.)

It's almost as if the speakers sleep after some amount of inactivity.

YouTube videos play fine with audio, but system alerts, such as when a torrent download completes, or email notifications, are not audible. Presumably since the system is sitting there not playing sound.

Does anyone know how to fix this?

EDIT: If I am playing audio such as an mp3 through Rhythmbox or YouTube video, I do hear system sounds. Sorry fi that wasn't clear. I.e. if audio is already playing I hear everything. It's as if the speakers take a small amount of time to "wake up" and play something. For short system sounds this seems to be too short of a time so I hear nothing.

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This is not a real answer, but are you sure the speakers are not, in fact, sleeping? I have some little JBL's and they sleep, and are meant to. I see the same behavior you do. It takes 20-30 seconds of input for them to rouse themselves from slumber.

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