Headset/TRRS audio output issue in Ubuntu 20.04 on Dell XPS 9500

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Answer: 1

8 hours ago

OS: Ubuntu 20.04.1

Hardware: refurbished Dell XPS 15 9500 (2020 model)

Audio device: Intel Corporation Comet Lake PCH cAVS

This PC, like most newer laptops, features a single (TRRS) audio jack that combines audio output (L+R channels) with a microphone input.

Plugging any male TRS (normal headphone) cable into the PC produces normal audio output.

Plugging any male TRRS (headset/combo) cable into this PC produces attenuated, tinny audio output, with almost inaudible, distorted vocals. The headset microphone works, however.

Selecting "Headphone" or "Headset" from the popup menu makes no discernible difference in either case.

This PC's audio output appears to work OK on windows. I have tried every suggested fix I could find so far on Ubuntu forums, but nothing worked. I would return this PC, but the vendor will just say that everything works fine - on windows, that is. If my hardware is OK, then I want to fix this issue in Ubuntu, but I am running out of time vis-à-vis the return period.

This is my very first post to the community. Any suggestion would be much appreciated. Thanks!

Added by: Adolph Krajcik

Answer: 2

34 hours ago

I have run into the exact same issue on a Dell XPS 13 9310 but conveniently I have a working older Dell to compare this to. I don't have a complete fix yet but thought I'd share some relevant info that might help diagnose where the issue lies.

On the older Dell Inspiron 7537 (also running Ubuntu 20.04.2 LTS), these same TRRS headphones work fine.

Differences I've noted on this older laptop:

  • when plugging in headphones, I'm prompted with a pop-up each time to select the type of audio device (headphones/headset/microphone)
  • using PulseAudio UI (requires pulseaudio and pavucontrol packages to be installed), on the Configuration>Built-in Audio section, I have profiles like Analogue Stereo Duplex , whereas on the new Dell the only profile listed is under sof-hda-dsp and the profile is named Play HiFi Quality Music.

I suspect the strange with inaudible vocals is a result of 5.1 Surround audio being sent to over stereo headphones, which is a result of the correct audio profile not being available (and the lack of a headphone prompt is potentially a symptom of the same issue).

Weirdly, I've also managed to occasionally get my regular TRS headphones to produce the same bug on the new Dell (by a combination of swapping back and forth between the TRS/TRRS headphones). Once that happens, I have to follow the reset commands in Step 1 Ubuntu Sound Troubleshooting guide, namely: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/SoundTroubleshootingProcedure

killall pulseaudio; pulseaudio -k  ; rm -r ~/.config/pulse/* ; rm -r ~/.pulse*

followed by

pulseaudio --start
Added by: Maribel Huels

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