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How can I play music on my speakers while I use my headset for video chat applications like Skype?

Shouldn't this be possible via this PulseAudio sound server that Ubuntu uses?

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Routing sound to different sinks with PulseAudio

Yes this is possible, but you need more than one soundcard (PulseAudio calls these sinks) for this to work. Don't worry, if you have something like a headset that is connected via Bluetooth or USB, then this also counts as another soundcard.

Using the PulseAudio GUI

While you can configure PulseAudio from the terminal with pacmd (manpage), you don't need to! There is a GUI application called PulseAudio Volume Control that offers this functionality.

screenshot of pavucontrol showing active applications and a button for each that brings up a dropdown menu with the available soundcards, two in this case

Using plugins for applications

  • If you are already using VLC, you should check that vlc-plugin-pulse is installed. You can then switch between soundcards from within VLC via menu entries Audio > Audio devices.
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  • Thanks. I have one sound card, one bluetooth headset and BT Speakers. I could route Skype to headset, Chrome to system volume, and Rythmbox to speakers. It is pretty cool.
    – Nishant
    Oct 27 '14 at 14:28
  • So will it not work with, for instance, headphones connected via a 3.5mm jack?
    – user423626
    Sep 2 '16 at 15:45
  • Do you by chance know of a way to set this for system notifications? They only play for a really short time, so I can't catch them in this UI to set the sink. Oct 20 '21 at 11:28
  • @PaŭloEbermann I tried to keep the answer simple when I wrote it a long time ago. My best guess is that you may find a PulseAudio configuration file where you can change this setting. Sorry that I can't provide a better answer to your problem, I'd look into if I had time available, but my schedule is very cramped.
    – LiveWireBT
    Oct 20 '21 at 11:41
  • @LiveWireBT No worries, thanks. I've asked a new question: askubuntu.com/questions/1370468/… Oct 20 '21 at 11:57

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