How Do I Make My Headset Work

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How do I make my headset work. Before I try it with anything else, I’d like to make it work with arecord and aplay. VLC and movie player can make sounds with my external speakers. though not in my headset yet. I’ve got an insignia NS-PAH5101 headset. As directed, the red connector is in the pink spot and the green connector in green spot in the back of my computer. arecord folloed by aplay just gets me static. To the best of my knowledge, my singing is distinguishable from static.

I’m running CentOS 6
[hennebry@localhost notes]$ uname -a Linux localhost.localdomain 2.6.32-504.1.3.el6.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Nov 11 17:57:25 UTC 2014 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

hennebry@localhost notes]$ arecord -l
**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 0: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 0: ALC883 Analog [ALC883 Analog]
Subdevices: 0/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 2: ALC883 Alt Analog [ALC883 Alt Analog]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

I’m at a loss how to debug this. Any ideas?

37 thoughts on - How Do I Make My Headset Work

  • Actually, I mistook black for green. Green was occupied by my external speakers. Putting the headset’s green plug in the green spot lets VLC and aplay make sounds in my headset. I still have the same issue with recording.

  • The sound preferences widget on gnome says “Input volume” 100%. There is also a row of 15 rectangles labeled “Input level”. None of them are highighted.

  • Also, I tried different settings for connector. All gave me static except for Line-in. That one gave me silence.

  • When I run arecord the applications tab tells me that an alsa plug-in, aplay, is running. I’m aware that aplay is an alias for arecord.

    I need a nap.

  • MM means mute, so turn that up and see what happens.

    Try turning the various input levels up and eventually one of them should start receiving some input. Some of them are related to each other and the relationships seem to vary between sound hardware; you need to have this one and that one both active to get input, but not this other one over here. Experiment with the levels and you’ll find out which combination works.

  • Thanks much.

    After playing around with alsamixer for a bit, I got recognizable sound recorded. I also got some major hum. Should I chalk that up to a shoddy headset?

    I really need that nap I mentioned. Good night.

  • . after you finish your nap, pull “audio city”

    to find out all about it, their home page is;


    it will kick your ass with a ((GBWG)) just playing with it.

    i pulled the CentOS rpm about 4 months ago and i am still having fun checking out all the features.

    it even works great recording important telephone calls using a cheap ass telephone recording controller for cassette tape recorders.

    before anyone says it is illegal to use with out a beep tone, i live in Tennessee where the law says it is legal w/o beep as long as 1 of the parties knows recording is being made.

    “i don’t need no stinking court order”. :-D

  • Try installing, if it’s not installed the pauvcontrol package. Since you’re using pulseaudio, that’s probably the easiest way to work with volume.

  • I just got it from an epel repository, but it caused problems with yum. If I install it, I guess I’ll have to do it from source.

    I’m not really looking to do much interesting with audio. Eventually I expect to install skype. That was the reason I bought the headset. I wanted to make sure that I could make existing software use it before trying to use it with something new and possibly more complicated.

    If the humming is in the headset microphone, I suppose I’ll have to get a different one. Any ideas on how to tell before I buy it whether a microphone will introduce humming?

    First I need to fix my packages.

  • There is a good audacity package in nux-dextop. I use it very frequently for audio production. The repo is at; just make sure you use the one for your particular version of CentOS.

  • Shortly after installing, I got a pop-up notice that security updates wre available. On doing yum update, I got error messages:
    –> Finished Dependency Resolution Error: Package: vlc-1.1.13-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Removing: libupnp-1.6.6-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Updated By: libupnp-1.6.18-2.el6.x86_64 (epel)
    Not found Error: Package: vlc-1.1.13-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Removing: libupnp-1.6.6-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Updated By: libupnp-1.6.18-2.el6.x86_64 (epel)
    Not found Error: Package: vlc-1.1.13-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Removing: libebml-1.0.0-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Updated By: libebml-1.2.1-1.el6.x86_64 (epel)
    Not found Error: Package: vlc-1.1.13-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Removing: libmatroska-1.0.0-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Updated By: libmatroska-1.2.0-1.el6.x86_64 (epel)
    Not found Error: Package: vlc-1.1.13-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Removing: libmodplug-0.8.7-1.el6.rf.x86_64 (@rpmforge)
    Updated By: 1:libmodplug- (epel)
    Not found
    You could try using –skip-broken to work around the problem
    You could try running: rpm -Va –nofiles –nodigest

    I did a rollback, but that did not seem to help until I did a yum clean all. Now yum update tell me that there is nothing to do. Given that I did a yum update before install audacity, that would seem to be the right answer. My packages seem to be ok now.

    Time for a late breakfast.

  • ahhh, mixing rpmforge and epel is hazardous, and ideally you use the rpm priorities thing and install from epel by preference, only using rpmforge for stuff thats not in epel. rpmforge (now repoforge)
    has fallen pretty far behind on things, so I avoid using it entirely if I can.

  • audio city version i have is 1.2.12.

    you do not mention where you pulled from, so i would suggest same site where i pulled it.

    i checked back in history to insure i recalled where i pulled it.

    this is file i have to pull nux desktop rpms.


    name=Nux.Ro RPMs for general desktop use baseurl=$basearch/$basearch/
    gpgkey=file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/ protect=0

    name=Nux.Ro RPMs for general desktop use – testing baseurl=$basearch/
    gpgkey=file:///etc/pki/rpm-gpg/ protect=0


    as for vlc, i have version 2.0.8, so you might need to find a later release. a problem is that it likes to enable screen blanking when playing videos. :-\

    this is what i pulled for it;



  • I had epel last.

    I have 36 packages installed from rpmforge and suspect that it is not easy to change.

  • that depends on where the grounding problem is…

    I dont’ remember if this is a desktop/deskside machine, or a laptop…

    if it’s a laptop, and if the power cord is a polarized 3-prong plug, I don’t think there’s much to be done about it UNLESS the outlet you’re using is wired wrong, or there’s a more widespread grounding/wiring issue in your building.

    if it’s a desktop, I’ll assume it’s already a 3-prong polarized plug
    (unless someone has used a 2-3 prong adaptor, or the building is mis-wired.

    All the above kind of assumes a US-like outlet. I don’t recall where the OP resides/works, so that may be all wrong.

    You can get cheap devices that plug into a 3-prong outlet and have little LED lights that indicate whether the wiring is correct, as regards ground and neutral, or not.

    Also, it’s possible that you’ve got a cheap headset/mic combo that does not have the shielded audio cable wired correctly. It’s also possible that it’s a cheap-a** rig that doesn’t even use shielded cable from the plug to the mic/phones.

    I’ve got one such headset here that injects hum into the microphone feed on either my desktop or my netbook. however, when using the netbook, if I disconnect the AC power, the hum goes away. Go figure. Reversing the
    (2-prong) plug in the outlet doesn’t make any difference in this case.

    So, if I need to record something, I’ll borrow my wife’s USB headset which, as of last usage, worked fine.

  • Correct. North Dakota.

    It’s a desktop in an old house. The outlets have ground-fault protection, but the third prong is ungrounded.

    It’s an Insignia NS-PAH5101
    It does not have a separate power source, just plugs for the pink and green sockets. The cables are pretty thin. If the problem is shielding, is there something I could do to shield the cables?

  • not sure how GFI would function at all without a valid ground, unless the GFI is wired to neutral, which is dangerous on its own.

    you might get a 3-prong-to-2-prong adapter and plug the PC into that, leaving the ground wire floating, and see if that works. As most desktops have the AC ground pin wired to the chassis, floating the chassis might well eliminate the hum.

    also, things like fluorescent lamps can greatly contribute to hum, although that often sounds like a buzz. lamp dimmers too, try switching any dimmers in the general area to either 100% on or totally off.

    not really, the wire itself has to be shielded coaxial wire. if its actually the headset itself, I’d suggest getting another one.

    I’ve had better luck with USB headsets of late instead of analog ones plugged into on-board audio, as the onboard audio microphone inputs are generally of very poor quality.

  • I’ve had pretty good luck with the basic models of Plantronics headsets. They tend to be well made. The Logitech stuff I’ve bought has often broken within a year.

  • i do not mix packages, other than a program that runs with ‘base’

    in that if you pull a program from epel and want addition ‘add to’, get them from epel, not rpmforge.

    same may apply with nux builds.

  • very. it defeats gfi faulting principal entirely.

    no need. as he said “but the third prong is ungrounded”.

    correct. normally, repeat, normally, wiring for outlets and light are different wire runs, but they may be common leg of 240 mains at panel.

    < <>>

    even with usb headsets, quality/cost is to be considered.

    cheap preforms as cheap is.

    low the price, lower the quality of results.

    you get what you pay for.

  • As I understand it, GFI sums the currents going into each prong. If the sum is not close enough to zero, it breaks the circuit.

    No dimmers, but I tried turning off the overhead flourescent lights. No effect.

    More precisely, you pay for what you get. Getting what you pay for is iffier.

  • yes, plantronics is very good.


    sennheiser, klipsch, jbl, bose, Monster, beats audio.

    as for logitech, only in the higher priced. but they still make great mices, especially the ‘marbles’.

  • I thought it monitored the current on the ground pin, and if there is ANY significant ground current, it disconnects the line and neutral pins, shutting the socket off..

  • those are more audio/stereo headphones, and not known as makers of headsets with integral microphones. I’d delete Monster, Beats, and add Sony (specifically the MDR7506) to that list :) oh, and Grado Labs.

  • I should have written “into two prongs”.

    I have a “headset” that works now. I’d forgotten that I bought it and still do not remember why. Apperently it’s a “universal all-in-one stereo earset”. Despite the name, it does have a usable miocrophone.

  • +50 for Sennheiser. They make excellent pro-quality headsets, and mics, for that matter, such as the legendary MD 421. I can’t say about their prosumer or consumer gear, since if I’m going to buy Sennheiser I’m going to, you know, ‘buy Sennheiser.’ But the HME 26 and HMDC 26
    headsets are top-rated, and cost accordingly (with tax, about $500). I
    know of many radio stations who use Sennheiser headsets in heavy RFI
    environments (a 50KW AM with the studio co-located with the transmitter qualifies as ‘heavy RFI’) with no issue. These are of course balanced output mics. The HME is a condenser (with pro-level 48VDC phantom power), and the HMDC is a dynamic. See for the manual.

    Several companies over the years have built excellent headsets around the Shure SM10 and variants, but, like with the HMDC 26 above and any other small-diaphragm dynamic you need top-end high-gain preamps to effectively use them (signal level is directly proportional to diaphragm size). I have an SM10, and the preamp is critical for low-noise performance of that mic. You could probably get a used or NoS SM10 for
    $150 or so without any issue, but the preamp will cost at least that much to bring it up to a signal level your laptop can use.

    For day-to-day use I use an older GE headset with a reasonable electret condenser mic that can be powered by consumer-grade phantom sources like a typical laptop mic input or devices like my Edirol R-09. I used to directly record on my laptop, but I found that using the R-09 and its pro-grade 24-bit converters, then doing production on my CentOS laptop, using Harrison Mixbus, gave me far better quality than using my so-so laptop mic input and sound card.

    Hum can come from many sources, but most PC motherboard sound cards aren’t known for the quality of their preamps, and it would not surprise me if the preamps themselves are the source of the hum. Since you’re using a desktop, you have some really nice options for audio interfaces;
    certain older MAudio Delta cards come very highly recommended; I have one of the Delta 1010LT cards that actually still works with Linux, and it has superb quality. A source for more info on high quality audio interfaces can be found in multiple places, but I’d actually recommend you search the archives of the Rivendell broadcast station automation package mailing lists for recommendations; see