How to switch to USB Audio on Raspberry Pi (Model B/Raspbian Wheezy September 2014)

Serious beats for the Pi!

Serious beats for the Pi!

February 2016 Edit: The article below does not pertain to the newest February 2016 build of Jessie Raspbian! A lot of improvements where made and you can now switch and set your default audio input- as well as output device directly in the UI. Editing and saving .asoundrc in your home folder also works without any problems if you are using the non UI Lite version.

After publishing our updated Raspberry Pi hardware list, some elaboration is needed on how to use the USB-AUDIO adapter as your default playback device.

This little how-to, should enable you to use the USB-AUDIO as default playback device.

  • To get started, plug your USB-AUDIO into the Pi and run the following command:
    aplay -l

    Within the output you should find: card 0: Device [USB Audio Device], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio], which means the Pi has recognized the USB-AUDIO adapter and we can move on to configuration. If this is not the case, some further troubleshooting is needed (try power cycling your USB hub or plug the audio adapter directly into the Pi and alternatively use the lsusb command).

  • Use your favorite editor to modify /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf (be sure to make a backup of this file before editing in case something goes wrong!)
  • Change:
    options snd-usb-audio index=-2


    options snd-usb-audio index=0

    and also add the following on the next line:

    options snd_bcm2835 index=1

    This is essentially forcing the default sound module (snd_bcm2835) to be disabled while the usb sound module (snd-usb-audio) is enabled; rearranging the hierarchy of the sound modules.

  • Reboot and test for audio output

As the distros get updated and change over the months, this tutorial might not be an exact 1 : 1 representation of what your .conf may look like, or how the audio adapter enumerates. The main point here is to set the audio adapter to 0. The .conf itself has the following comment: “Keep usb-audio from being loaded as first soundcard”. This clue is what you are looking for to set to 0.

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