Friday, 29 February 2008

Missing Graphic Equalizer in Amarok

I was playing around in amaroK last night when I noticed that sound was actually pretty awful - not particularly loud, but sounding like it was at the limit of what the speakers could deal with. I knew that it wasn't the speakers because I've been using the same ones under Windows and they were fine. I also knew that it wasn't the encoding of my media files, because I'm quite anal about the quality of those.

My first port of call was to try to reduce the pre-amp settings in amaroK. Sadly, the Equalizer menu was greyed out.

Some googling later and I was still not really any wiser; there was talk of support for various engines, but this didn't mean too much to me. Answers within the amaroK forums weren't much help either, littered with ignored requests and blunt dismissals with odd terminology.

I did some more reading, and it appears the crux of my problem is to do with something called aRts. This appears to be some kind of standard or engine - it's not really important what it is - that amaroK doesn't support.

So far as I could tell, the gStreamer engine in amaroK that was enabled by default is something to do with aRts, and aRts not being supported, doesn't allow the Equalizer to run.

The solution, then, was to switch the engine in your amaroK configuration screen to xine.
Immediately, the Equalizer is available and working. Moreover, the sound quality through my system improved immediately meaning that I didn't actually need to adjust the Equalizer to fix my sound issues.

The one significant side-effect of this was that my amaroK no longer had mp3 support. A quick google for "opensuse xine mp3 amarok" or similar, solved that one.

There you have it. If anyone has any more technical clarification of anything I have surmised, then please do send it to me. Likewise if I have made some heinous, erroneous assertions that upset your tech-sensibilities. I hope this comes in useful for someone - hopefully it will save you an evening of googling, reading, tinkering and head-banging - although with linux, surely this is half the fun?

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