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ViaVoice Outloud, PulseAudio and Ubuntu 11.04

I'll preface the following by saying that this is only an outline of my recent
experiences and others may not have as much luck. Issues, such as sound card
type and manufacturer, ALSA driver support etc, means there can be a lot of
variation in this area. 

A while back, I posted to this list regarding the success I had achieved with
espeak and pulse audio. I reported that I'd found that the emacspeak espeak
driver, compiled with portaudio support did not work well. It was sluggish and
had a tendency to chop off ends of words or skip words. I found that
re-compiling it against pulseaudio rather than portaudio fixed these issues. 

At the time, despite numerous different strategies, I was never able to get
good quality ViaVoice outloud output with pulse audio. In fact, I had never
been able to get good quality outloud output without customizing ALSA via a
.asoundrc file.  

Recently, I have upgraded my system to Ubuntu 11.04. I decided to re-examine
matters and see if I could get a better outcome. One problem I had with the
existing setup was that when running emacspeak and the outloud server, pulse
audio was blocked and so I could not run any app built with pulse audio. 

Given this was an upgrade and had lots of new libraries, my first step was to
remove all alsa and pulse audio configurations. I removed my .asoundrc file and
restored all pulse settings to their default, rebooted the system and then
started playing around to see what I needed to do to get as much working as I

The outcome was surprising. For the first time ever, all my sound related
systems on this desktop are working 'out of the box'. I have Outloud running
via pulse audio, can run multiple sound sources, both pure ALSA and pulse audio
systems simultaneously and have full control over each independently of each

The system I am using is a Dell 32bit desktop with an internal 'on-board'
soundcard from Intel. I'm running Ubuntu 11.04. This system has been running
Ubuntu since 8.04 and has only been upgraded and not re-installed since its
original setup. 

Looks like Linux sound support is really beginning to mature and provide
similar functionality to what is common on other more expensive and locked down

Tim Cross
Information Technology 
University of New England
 Phone: +61 2 6773 3210
Mobile: 0428 212217
   Fax: +61 2 6773 3424
E-Mail: tcross@une.edu.au
   Web: http://www.une.edu.au/itd
Please avoid sending me Word or PowerPoint attachments.
See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/no-word-attachments.html

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a
touch of genius (and a lot of courage) to move in the opposite direction.
                                                           âAlbert Einstein

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