Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fix unmuting (PulseAudio) on Xfce

Unmuting doesn't work in Xfce?
I had this problem too after installing Debian Testing (Jessie) which now comes with Xfce by default, but you may encounter it on any system running Xfce DE.

Every time I muted the audio using the mute key on my keyboard, everything worked find - the audio was indeed muted. But when I tried to unmute using the same key, the audio indicator showed the unmuted state but audio was still muted.
After some investigation I understood that the only way to unmute my system was entering the command:
in the terminal and then press 'M' to toggle the mute state.
Apparently, the Audio Mixer was muting PulseAudio AND Alsa, but unmuting ONLY Alsa.

If you run the following command, it will list all the properties under xfce4-mixer:
xfconf-query -lc xfce4-mixer

In my case, what I saw is only one mixer under /sound-cards/ entry. It was Alsa, PulseAudio just wasn't there.
Also, in the audio mixer I saw only the Alsa entry and couldn't even control the PulseAudio mixer as you see here:

From what I understood, xfce4-mixer (the Audio Mixer) was missing an optional dependency to be able to work with PulseAudio.
This dependency is: gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio.
After installing the above dependency, using (on debian):
sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio
the Audio Mixer looked a lot better:

But, running:
xfconf-query -c xfce4-mixer -p /active-card
to query the active card used by xfce4-mixer still returned "HDANVidiaAlsamixer".
So the last thing I needed to do is change the "active card" in xfce4-mixer too by running:
xfconf-query -c xfce4-mixer -p /active-card -s PlaybackBuiltinAudioAnalogStereoPulseAudioMixer.

After that, toggling mute finally worked.


  1. Thanks, this helped me a lot!! I had the same problems with unmuting until I applied your fix. KUDOS 2 u

  2. It is funny how apparently a thousand people experience the same difficulties but still a working solution is so hard to find. Thank you very much for this helpful post.

  3. Thank you!. Finally somebody gives a decent solution this problem.

  4. FWIW this can also be done by using the GUI in xfce settings editor > xfce-mixer > active-card. In my setup things have a slightly different name: I ended up running

    xfconf-query -c xfce4-mixer -p /sound-card -s PlaybackBuiltinAudioAnalogStereoPulseAudioMixer

    1. my xfce4-mixer does not have the /active-card property. I tried to create one with no success. When I run "xfconf-query -c xfce4-mixer -p /active-card" thee /active-card property is not listed.

      Any suggestions?

  5. I was able to change the /sound-card to PulseAudioMixer. The Audio Mixer on the main panel still does not unmute. I still have to open the Multimedia --> Audio Mixer to unmute. Any suggestions?

  6. Try right clicking the volume control selecting Properties and changing the selected Sound Card to "Playback: Built-in Analogue Audio Stereo (Pulse Audio). Worked for me.