Saturday, September 10, 2011

How to: Bluetooth Speakers without Pulseaudio

About 3 months ago I have purchased a Bluetooth Speakers set. I chose the Creative Labs D200, which provide me with nice tunes compared to the prices. The speakers worked out of the box with my Bluetooth adapter. Pulseaudio also makes life easier to switch between the laptop's own speaker to the Bluetooth speakers. However, I get irritated sometimes with pulseaudio, and I was looking for an alternative solution.

After researching a few different sources I have come up with my own flavor of solution, which I document here for future benefit of myself and others.



The first step included removing all the components of Pulse-Audio, and installing the bluez-alsa packages:
apt-get remove pulse-audio
apt-get install bluez-alsa
then edit the file .asoundrc:
 linuxpixie@laptop:~$ cat .asoundrc 
pcm.bluetooth {
    type bluetooth
    device 00:02:3C:26:BA:87 # change this MAC address using the command "hcitool scan"
    profile "auto"}
pcm.!default {
   type hw
   card 0
   device 0
}
Now pair your device to the laptop, using hcipair command or gnome-blue-tooth-applet or blueman-applet, what ever you use.
Now you need to tell gstreamer to use the bluetooth device as  the audio sink. This is basically done with the following command:
gconftool-2 -t string -s /system/gstreamer/0.10/default/musicaudiosink \
"alsasink device=bluetooth"
I modified a small script to make the switching to bluetooth sound and backward. This script lies in my ~bin/ directory.
linuxpixie@laptop:~$ cat bin/audioswitcher.sh 
#!/bin/bash
state=`gconftool-2 --get /system/gstreamer/0.10/default/musicaudiosink |  
cut -d\  -f1`
if [ $state == "autoaudiosink" ]; then
    gconftool-2 -t string -s /system/gstreamer/0.10/default/musicaudiosink \
    "alsasink device=bluetooth" 
    zenity --info --title="GStreamer" --text="Switched to bluetooth speakers"
else
    gconftool-2 -t string -s /system/gstreamer/0.10/default/musicaudiosink "autoaudiosink"
    zenity --info --title="GStreamer" --text="Switched to laptop speakers"  
fi
Don't forget to make the script executable, with:
linuxpixie@laptop:~$ chmod +x bin/audioswitcher.sh   
Now you can just call the script use gnome-launcher, a keyboard shortcut or just using the terminal.
One Last thing. VLC is a very popular player which I use too. However, this solution does not work for VLC, since it does not use Gstreamer. So, the solution, is to edit the VLC config file found
.config/vlc/vlcrc
.
[alsa] # ALSA audio output

# ALSA Device Name (string)
#alsa-audio-device=hw:0,0
#alsa-audio-device=default
alsa-audio-device=bluetooth
As a nice bonus, if your Bluetooth adapter is ON and available, you don't need to pair it with laptop when playing with VLC. VLC will hang for about 4 second, waiting for the Bluetooth speakers to turn ON, and will pair automatically, and then the music will be played automatically through the Bluetooth speakers. If the Bluetooth devices is not found, VLC will play the music through the Laptop speakers.

UPDATE (March 2012):
Upgrading from bluez 4.96 to 4.98 broke this setup and I could not find a solution until I reported a bug on that issue. The maintainer send me a solution:

addding following into [General] section of /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf

Disable=Media
Enable=Socket
A more updated version of the script, can be found in my github. This Updated version is also working on mate-desktop.

44 comments:

Charisma Combestra said...

It gives pretty good sound when all the speakers are used together, it sounds like crap if only the front left/right speakers are used.

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What are the best bluetooth speakers for this price range?
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