Unwanted Effects on my Line-in Interface
Shortly after purchasing an xbox360, I wrote a short piece that gave instructions for forwarding your line-in audio through your pc speakers. By using this method and sharing my network connection, I’ve managed to run my xbox as a peripheral to my main computer setup, saving me space and money.
Lately however, the line-in loopback has not been working as expected. At times, it sounds like effects have been applied to the line. In particular, it sounds like somebody has applied a phaser or a delay effect to the input signal.
For the last week or so, I’ve been scratching my head about this issue, trying to figure out what part of my system may have applied effects to my loopback, but not to other audio on the system. Tonight, I was reviewing my original instructions for setting the thing up, and noticed that the module was being loaded on startup after being added to a system config file:
sudo sh -c ' echo "load-module module-loopback" >> /etc/pulse/default.pa '
On a hunch, I took a look at the end of the file, and found the following lines:
### Make some devices default #set-default-sink output #set-default-source input load-module module-loopback load-module module-loopback
It looked like the instruction to load the loopback module had ended up in the config file twice! Because of this, the module was being loaded twice on startup.
So what does this have to do with the effects on the line? Well, if you play two copies of the same sound with a half-second gap between them, your ears will be tricked into thinking that you’re hearing one copy of the sound, but that it’s all echoey, as if a delay effect had been applied. If you repeat the experiment but this time decrease the gap between the two sounds even further, say to a few milliseconds, your ears will hear one copy of the sound with a phaser effect applied.
Essentially, when the module loaded twice, it was capturing the mix from the line-in port twice and playing back two separate copies of the audio. Depending on how close together these instances were, the result sounded normal, phased, or delayed. I fixed the issue by removing one of the lines and then restarting the machine. This time, it started only one copy of the service, and everything sounded fine.
The moral of the story: If you’re loading modules at startup, make sure that you only start one copy of them.
On my home media server, I am running Ubuntu 12.04
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