Having an issue with sound at the moment. I am trying to configure my 5.1 surround sound but it will only work on the Front left and Front right speakers. On the back of my motherboard I have 3x3.5mm jacks which I have connected the speakers to although these are not the right ports.

I want to "assign" the three ports on the back to each output (Sub and centre, Left and right, and rear left and right) although I'm not sure how to do this. My audio is ALC889 from Realtek and am using Ubuntu 12.04 with all updates installed.

  • Did you select a correct channel mode for your card? Install pavucontrol, run it, and see the settings in the "Configuration" tab. The commandline way is running alsamixer in a terminal, select the right sound card and change the channel mode. Similar to most right mixer setting in this screenshot.
    – gertvdijk
    Nov 16, 2012 at 21:13

3 Answers 3


First, you should define in ALSA that you have 6 channels. You can refer to this post. Basically, you launch alsamixer and you define (for the right soundcard) the number of channels to 6. Then you store the configuration in order to be reloaded on reboot:

sudo alsactl store

Then pulseaudio should be configure (pulse is the sound layer that will be used by apps and talks directly to ALSA.). You should define the number of channels in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf, like said in this documentation:

default-sample-channels = 6

Also, to enable the remixing of low frequencies in your subwoofer, you should activate this in your sound card by editing the same file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf:

enable-lfe-remixing = yes

Then, you maybe need to reboot, or kill and relaunch pulseaudio:

pulseaudio -k
pulseaudio -D

Then, pavucontrol may help you, as replied in this question. In the configuration tab, you should see different profiles for your sound card, for example "Suround analogiq 4.1" that means that you want to use 4 channels and 1 subwoofer.

enter image description here


You'll want to use a tool such as hdajackretask , pavucontrol and pavumeter for the pin re-assignments and audio output monitoring afterwards respectively. The tools are installed by running:

sudo apt-get install alsa-tools-gui pavumeter pavucontrol

When done, launch the tool with administrative privileges as shown:

gksudo hdajackretask

From here, you'll then need to re-assign each required pin. Note that this tool, depending on your sound card, will most likely detect them by the color panel layout (see the back of your card and confirm if its' pins are color coded) or by the jack designator.

Either way, when you're done and you select "Apply", you'll need to reboot and the settings will apply on the next startup.

Before you reboot, confirm that pulseaudio is configured to utilize the channel layout as desired.

Of note is that for /etc/pulse/daemon.conf , the following changes must be made (with your preferred text editor):

(a). For 5.1 channel sound, set: default-sample-channels = 6

(b). Ensure that enable-lfe-remixing is set to yes.

(c). The default channel map option for 5.1 audio should be set as:


How the tool works:

The tool generates a firmware patch (under /lib/firmware/hda-jack-retask.fw ) entry that's also called up by a module configuration file (under /etc/modprobe.d/hda-jack-retask.conf or similar) , whose settings are applied on every boot. That's what the "boot override" option does, overriding the sound card's pin assignments on every boot. To undo this in the case the configuration is no longer needed, just delete both files after purging hdajackretask.

An example:

To get the Clevo P751DM2-G's Audio jacks to work with the Logitech Z506 surround sound speaker system that uses three 3.5mm jacks as input for 5.1 surround sound audio, I had to override the pins as shown in the generated configuration file below (confirm with the screen shots attached at the bottom for my use case, your mileage may vary depending on your exact sound card):

(a). Contents of /lib/firmware/hda-jack-retask.fw after setup:

0x10ec0899 0x15587504 0

0x11 0x4004d000
0x12 0x90a60140
0x14 0x90170110
0x15 0x411111f0
0x16 0x411111f0
0x17 0x01014012
0x18 0x01014011
0x19 0x411111f0
0x1a 0x01014010
0x1b 0x411111f0
0x1c 0x411111f0
0x1d 0x40350d29
0x1e 0x01441120
0x1f 0x411111f0

(b). Contents of the /etc/modprobe.d/hda-jack-retask.conf file after setup:

# This file was added by the program 'hda-jack-retask'.
# If you want to revert the changes made by this program, you can simply erase this file and reboot your computer.
options snd-hda-intel patch=hda-jack-retask.fw,hda-jack-retask.fw,hda-jack-retask.fw,hda-jack-retask.fw

Then rebooted the system. Confirming the successful override by running grep on dmesg on boot:

dmesg | grep hda-jack-retask


[    5.183912] snd_hda_intel 0000:00:1f.3: Applying patch firmware 'hda-jack-retask.fw'
[    5.184524] snd_hda_intel 0000:01:00.1: Applying patch firmware 'hda-jack-retask.fw'

3.5mm audio jack connections to the sound card on the laptop/motherboard:

On the rear of the Logitech system, all the I/Os are color coded. In my case, I swapped the GREEN line with the YELLOW line such that the GREEN line feed would correspond to the Center/LFE feed, as it does on Windows under the Realtek HD Audio manager panel. Then, on the computer, I connected the feeds in the order, top to bottom: Black, Green then Yellow at the very end.

Final step after reboot to use the new setup:

Use pavucontrol (search for it in the app launcher or launch from terminal) and under the configuration tab, select the "Analog Surround 5.1 Output" profile. This is important, because apps won't use your speaker layout UNTIL this is selected.

When done, you can verify your setup (as shown below) with the sound settings applet on Ubuntu by running the audio tests. Confirm that audio is routed correctly to each speaker. If not, remap the pin layout again using hdajackretask and retest again.

Screen shots of success:

As attached:

Great success, showing audio output mapping from a minimized audio player


Did you checked SurroundSound on Ubuntu documentation? This(The Simple Way to Get 5.1 Surround Sound Audio Working in Ubuntu) article might also help you.

  • Sorry it seems you have misunderstood my question,I'm wanting to assign ports on my motherboard as I do in realtek audio manager in windows,when you plug a device in on windows,realtek audio manager will ask what you plugged in (eg plug in centre/sub to line in) and I can assign what to do with that port,I would like to do this but in ubuntu
    – user107829
    Nov 21, 2012 at 20:34

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