Setting USB sound card as default without disabling integrated audio - Linux Mint

So, I’m still tweaking and tinkering with the Toshiba Satellite laptop that I mentioned in my previous post, and, something I knew before I commited to purchasing it was that the speakers work just fine, but the audio jack in this little monster is broken. I got it like that, because I didn’t think I’d need it until I did, because my okay-sounding off-brand Bluetooth headphones are kinda old, and kind of not holding a single charge anymore.

Getting a new battery for those is a no go, so all my broke ass could afford was this really cheap USB sound card that works surprisingly well for the price. Problem is, Linux doesn’t love having a generic USB sound card as the default one, so I couldn’t just plug the thing and listen to stuff. Invariably I had to check on sound settings that it was the sound card I wanted to use. Just check this:

$ sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

If you go there, you’ll see options snd-usb-audio index=-2 at least twice. That’s how much Linux doesn’t want to put a USB sound card as default. You see, that number there indicates the level of priority of the sound cards, 0 being default, -2 being I will never let you be default.

There’s a number of ways to figure out which audio devices we have running (or well, the kernels that run them), one of them being just plain old cat:

$ cat /proc/asound/modules

And with this I can also see which device is being used as default, as you can see here from my laptop, that it sensibly grabs the integrated audio as default:

0 snd_hda_intel
1 snd_usb_audio

But I don’t really want to use my headphones like that anymore, so I have to go back to /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf (with sudo, of course) to change the default sound card. So, just to be on the safe side, I commented out both lines containing options snd-usb-audio index=-2 and added this at the end of the file:

options snd-usb-audio index=0
options snd-hda-intel index=1

The second line corresponding to my laptop’s integrated audio. Now after saving and rebooting, my USB sound card is recognized as default, and if I want to I can just use the speakers. Like I said, I didn’t want to just disable the integrated card so this seems like the most reasonable way to go.

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