What governs sound quality / volume?

I'm curious about what(which?) software component in a given Linux distro determines the sound volume and/or quality. Case in point: I had Arcolinux on my laptop(see output below) and the sound was 'mediocre', could barely hear adequately with BT headset. However, now that I've switched to Garuda the sound is sooo much better. I'm not an audio aficionado, so I've not much experience in researching and configuring this parameter, but I thought I'd ask here, and see what those of you that may be more knowledgeable might have to say.

00:00.0 Host bridge: Intel Corporation Coffee Lake HOST and DRAM Controller (rev 0b)

00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation WhiskeyLake-U GT2 [UHD Graphics 620]

00:04.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Xeon E3-1200 v5/E3-1500 v5/6th Gen Core Processor Thermal Subsystem (rev 0b)

00:12.0 Signal processing controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP Thermal Controller (rev 30)

00:14.0 USB controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP USB 3.1 xHCI Controller (rev 30)

00:14.2 RAM memory: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP Shared SRAM (rev 30)

00:14.3 Network controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP CNVi [Wireless-AC] (rev 30)

00:15.0 Serial bus controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP Serial IO I2C Controller #0 (rev 30)

00:16.0 Communication controller: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP MEI Controller #1 (rev 30)

00:1d.0 PCI bridge: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP PCI Express Root Port #13 (rev f0)

00:1f.0 ISA bridge: Intel Corporation Cannon Point-LP LPC Controller (rev 30)

The latest garuda installs use pipewire for the audio server. Infact if you look at your garuda-inxi that would have answered your query right away.

This is my inxi’s audio section.

Device-1: Intel Ice Lake-LP Smart Sound Audio vendor: Lenovo
driver: sof-audio-pci-intel-icl
alternate: snd_hda_intel,snd_sof_pci_intel_icl bus-ID: 00:1f.3
chip-ID: 8086:34c8 class-ID: 0401
API: ALSA v: k6.4.7-zen1-1-zen status: kernel-api tools: N/A
Server-1: PipeWire v: 0.3.76 status: active with: 1: pipewire-pulse
status: active 2: wireplumber status: active 3: pipewire-alsa type: plugin
4: pw-jack type: plugin tools: pactl,pw-cat,pw-cli,wpctl

As you can see pipewire is my audio server. Apart from it I also use easyeffects to increase audio’s loudness on my laptop. Here is my experience with easyeffects.

This software isn’t necessary I just use it because I need it.

PS: Also whenever posting help request in future please always follow the template you deleted and provide the full output of your garuda-inxi even if you feel it’s un-necessary.


Thanks, so Pipewire is probably what makes the difference, I had not heard of Pipewire, only Alsa and Pulseaudio.

I have to say- since switching to Garuda the audio on this laptop is superb, but I'll try out easyeffects . I'll check my other laptop and my two desktops and see what sound server software they're using.

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