Three console audio mixers

I mentioned byobu the other day, and a few days before I mentioned a slew of audio players for the console. Here’s a mis-mash of those ideas, with three audio mixers running inside the Ubuntu version of byobu.

From top to bottom that’s aumix, rexima and the omnipresent alsamixer, which is part of the alsa-utils package in most distros. If you don’t know about alsamixer, you should probably become familiar with it; it’s probably the most commonplace of the three you see there.

And probably the most straightforward. You get a one-to-one series of vertical sliders and toggle switches that correspond to the controls on your audio card. In other words, what you see on your machine is probably going to be slightly different from that picture.

But you can control the audio channels and features of your card through keyboard controls, with help screens and system information accessible at the press of a key. And if you have more than one sound card, you can swap out controls with almost no effort.

To me, alsamixer is another example of a console application that is actually more expedient and better arranged than most GUI equivalents. I can attest to spending time — too much time, considering the task — twiddling the dials in the Gnome audio control trying to get the audio levels correct. In that sense, using the mouse or even the mouse wheel was more of a hindrance. With alsamixer, the same task is about three keypresses, and it’s done.

Both aumix and rexima are valid replacements for alsamixer, but (if this is possible) alsamixer has a more “polished” interface (the ASCII boxes in that image are my fault; usually it is drawn with proper frames). aumix is clean and keeps menu keypresses at the left, and is a worthy second-place finisher to alsamixer. And aumix has an “undo” function, which may come in handy at times.

But as you can see, it lacks some of the prettification that alsamixer has. And as everyone knows, pretty is a feature. 🙄

rexima might be the last-place finisher in that sense, but rexima is also probably the lightest of the three. No graphical demands whatsoever, clean and simple, and totally functional. In that sense it excels quite handsomely.

It’s worth saying that none of these is an equalizer, only a mixer. Console equalizers are harder to come by, although there is a derivative of alsamixer called alsaequal, which is easy to set up and piggybacks on the alsamixer framework. If you’re an audiophile and at the same time a console fanatic, that is probably your best bet.

I still have a huge list of programs to test, but they’ll probably be further spaced out now that the new year holiday is complete. If only I could retire and spend all my time tinkering with Linux. Is there any money in that … ? 🙄

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