pacmd is not capable of switching the default sinks while there is an actively playing stream to the sink input. However there is a way to still achieve this.
Changing default sink from command line
First we need to determine the index number of the sinks we want to switch. This can be done by calling:
Depending on our system this will give you a more or less lengthy list of sinks and properties that are at present accessible:
>>> 2 sink(s) available.
* index: 0
index or the
name given here is what we need for adressing the sink by command line. The present default sink is marked with an asterix (here
To be able to switch the default sinks from command line we may need to disable stream target device restore by editing the corresponing line in
pacmd load-module module-stream-restore restore_device=false
To change the default output sink to sink
1 we then run
pacmd set-default-sink 1
Sucess can be visualized by opening the Sound Settings menu.
Moving a stream to another sink
Changing the default sink while we have an active input stream playing to a given sink has no effect. This should rather be done by moving this input to another sink.
will tell us the index of the input stream
>>> 1 sink input(s) available.
We now know that we want to move the input stream
5 to sink
1 by calling
pacmd move-sink-input 5 1
or back to sink
0 if we like. This will be done immediately without the need of stopping playback.
Changing default sink while playing
Of course we can combine those two commands to immediately switch default sinks during playback e.g. with
pacmd set-default-sink 1 & pacmd move-sink-input 5 1
A drawback of this method is that the input stream index changes every time we stop and restart the music player. So we always have to find out the current stream index before we can switch using the commmand line.