I ordered a Creative Xmod USB sound card yesterday. The ear phone jack on my laptop gave out on me a few weeks ago, and I finally let the music withdrawal symptoms get the better of me.
At work today one of the guys told me that he’d had an Xmod and replaced it due to a few hassles. Namely on his 64-bit Windows machine it had caused numerous BSOD’s. That would have been sufficient for him to pass it on, but his other two criticisms were that it required external power to run, and drivers installed to get it operational under Windows.
Suffice to say I got home tonight, less than expectant about my new toy. I figured I’d give it a try on my Ubuntu machine, and if it didn’t live up to my expectation – namely no driver hassles, and power drawn off the USB alone, I’d send it back and pick up a Terratec Aureon instead.
Well, my first impression was good. I liked the packaging and the iPod-esque colouring. I’m not an Apple Fanboy by any stretch, but you have to give them points for style!
First up I connected it to my Windows XP laptop, and sure enough I got the New Hardware dialogue. Not a good sign!
I hooked the unit up to the Ubuntu laptop, and opened up a terminal session to see if the OS recognized the device.
Now I’m not brilliant with configuring sound on Linux – despite my work mates labeling me as the token tree-hugging-sandal-wearing Nix-Fanboy ;) I do however know how to configure Amarok to use a different card, so this is where I started. Under Settings | Configure Amarok select the Engine settings from the left side of the dialogue, as below.
The output from the cat command previously gave us the name of the audio device – Xmod. So this is the name we use.
A quick restart of Amarok, had “Blink182 – Feeling This” pumping down my earphones :)
So far so good, but I still had no system sounds, or any of other other media apps (Totem, or VLC etc). What I needed to do was set the Xmod as the default audio card in the system.
A quick look around the OS, and I found – asoundconf. Typing the command gave us a list of expected switches, of which two looked useful: list and set-default-card
As you can see, stepping through the switches appears to have set the Xmod as the default card. A quick reboot, and, I suddenly have system sound, and all the media apps are playing nicely!
Despite my earlier worries, the device works well with by Ubuntu machine. No extra drivers required, no extra power needed, and it even works with the hardware sound control!
Tomorrow, there shall be music :)