3.5mm jack audio notes

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Over the past several days, I have tried and failed to make my raspberry pi recognize the speakers that I connected to it through the 3.5mm jack. The USB microphone that I plugged in works perfectly well and I believe that my sound card is good as well. I have spent these days looking at everything on the internet and nothing has changed. If anyone has any idea what I should do, I would really appreciate it. Thank you!

EDIT: @goldilocks I am using old analog speakers that use the auxilary port. I read several notices about amplifying the speakers, but I don’t know anything about it and I am not using any amplifiers as far as I’m aware.

EDIT 2: A very important note is that before I started plugging in speakers and microphones and changing the settings, I remember an “Analog” option for the speakers. However it disappeared and I haven’t seen it since.

  • 1
    What do you mean by sound card? – evildemonic Jul 3 at 20:53
  • 3
    Welcome. You should edit in some basic information about the speakers, and how you are amplifying the signal from the jack; there’s no amp built into the Pi. – goldilocks Jul 3 at 22:29

2 Answers



How to tell Rpi to use the speakers connected to the USB sound stick?


I am using Rpi3B+ stretch 9 GUI Desktop’s automatically installed VLC Media Player.

My speaker is connected to the USB hub.

Method 1

GUI Desktop Top Menu > Preferences > Audio Device Settings > Sound Card >

Choose the following USB audio device, make it default, then OK.

USB Audio Device (Alsa Mixer)

NOT bcm2835 ALSA (Alsa Mixer)

Method 2:

VLC Media Player > Top Menu > Audio > Audio Device

You will see a long list 30+ audio devices. Select the following as default:

USB Audio Device USB Audio Default Audio Device


If you select USB audio in Raspberry Config, but then BCM something in VLC Player, or vice versa, Rpi might become crazy. So the best thing to do is select USB in both config menus.

  • After some testing in the terminal and checking the settings, it seems that I do not have an “alsa mixer” at all. Also, when I do it through the second method, I only see one device called “Built In Audio Stereo.” Also, my speaker is connected to my 3.5mm jack and not a USB port. – Osik Brodsky Jul 4 at 18:25
  • @Osik Brodsky, Thanks for clarification. So you have an USB stick/sound card with two jacks (or just one), and a microphone is connected to the USB stick’s mike jack (red), and speaker connected to Rpi board’s built in 3.5mm jack. Never mind what is “alsa mixer” for now, I don’t understand much about it either. My speaker is just an ordinary cheapy speaker used for PC Windows 7/10. NOW 2 QUESTIONS – (1) Can you test your speaker on Win7/10, to make sure it is good? (2) If your USB sound stick has two jackss, can you try your speaker on the speaker jack (green)? – tlfong01 Jul 5 at 2:20   
  • Sorry for the confusion. For the first question, I actually tested the speakers with my phone and they worked fine. For the second question, I think you misunderstood. There aren’t any extra attachments and my speaker is connected directly to the 3.5mm jack of the raspberry pi (my model is Rpi 3 B ). – Osik BrodskyJul 5 at 14:52
  • @Osik Brodsky, Thanks for clarification. Now I know that you have the following setup: (1) USB mike connected to Rpi USB socket, (2), “Speaker” connected to Rpi on board 3.5mm jack. What causes confusion is the following: “The USB mike that I plugged in works perfectly well and I believe that my sound card is good as well, …”. I am not sure is the following: (1) USB microphone is not just a microphone, it has a “sound card” or “half sound card” which Rpi can interface. A USB sound stick has two 3.5mm jacks, one for mike, one for speaker, ie, a “full sound card”. / to continue, … – tlfong01 Jul 6 at 4:45   
  • I am so sorry, I misunderstood. I did not understand what a sound card was in the context of the microphone and it turns out that I do not have one at all. Sorry again for confusing you. – Osik Brodsky Jul 7 at 19:23
  • @Osik Brodsky, Don’t worry. “Sound card” is indeed confusing. In IBM PC days, USB devices not common, “sound card” was a big , perhaps 3″ x 5″ card inserted into the motherboard in computer chassis. Then sound card gets smaller and smaller and hides inside on the computer board, or inside the USB stick. That is why I often say “USB Sound Stick” avoid confusion. Anyway, I tried to do what newbies should do and found there are a couple of traps that newbies can fall into. Now to troubleshoot why you do not have sound output from the Rpi on board 3.5 mm jack, let me list what to do, … – tlfong01 Jul 8 at 7:22   
  • First, to narrow down troubleshooting area: (1) remove the USB microphone, (2) insert speaker into 3.5mm jack, (3) go to terminal text command mode, type sudo raspi-config to start configuration. (4) The aim is to “forcing the audio through the 3.5mm jack”. I know you did try it, but then you also changed the settings of the config.txt file. So there might be contracting config settings there, / to continue, … – tlfong01 Jul 8 at 7:27   
  • (1) In the /boot/config.txt file, make sure there is the statement: “dtparam=audio=on”, (2) when using the text mode “$ sudo raspi-config”, make sure you know how to use the “right arrow” “select”, “ok”, “finish”, <Enter> keys to select and “CONFIRM” your setting. Newbies often don’t know how to use the confusing red options and does not “confirm” their setting. Perhaps you can now try it and see how it goes, … Good luck. 🙂 – tlfong01 Jul 8 at 7:37    
  • I forgot to tell you how I verify the sound comes out of the rpi on board 3.5mm jack. I use the GUI Desk Top VLC Media Player to play a song in MP3 and so far so good (I don’t need to select audio device in VLC Media Player this time. I saw the the VLC audio select menu no longer shows the USB option, because I already removed my USB sound stick!). Of course you don’t need to use VLC player, you can use any audio player you like. – tlfong01 Jul 8 at 7:48   
  • I hope you didn’t post these a while ago because I didn’t even notice them because of the 4 comment limit here. I will definitely try the things you suggested and get back to you, thank you for your help. – Osik Brodsky Jul 8 at 16:15
  • @Osik Brodsky, No hurry at all, take you time and go slowly when doing the configuration. BTW, I was once a IBMPC MSDOS fan, and I knew all the tricks using the terminal text commands (actually I was also rather fluent in UNIX text mode emacs commands/programming). But then I got converted to Win3/98/00/XP … 7/10, I forgot how to use the keyboard, and only know how to click the mouse buttons. Coming back to Rpi terminal mode, I found it annoying to use the hard to remember text commands, not to mention the ugly Nano editor. Rpi-Config user interface is stupid and newbie unfriendly, … – tlfong01 Jul 9 at 1:17   
  • @Osik, just now I replugged my USB sound stick, started VLC player, selected USB… Then I went back to terminal mode Raspi-Config and found the audio selection automatically changed to “AUTO” from originally “Force 3.5mm” So there is no conflict between VLC and Rasbi-Config setting, … – tlfong01 Jul 9 at 7:01  
  • Alright, I think I figured out the problem. Whenever I try to change the setting in raspi-config, it gives me the following error message: “error running option A4 audio” or something like that. I also can’t update the config without getting an error as well. At first I thought this was a technical issue, but maybe it isn’t. – Osik Brodsky Jul 10 at 15:08
  • Another terrifying development: My /boot/config.txt file seems to be gone entirely. I have tried several different methods of accessing it is always empty. On a milder sidenote, my menu bar randomly disappears and it is quite an annoyance since I have to go through my trash can to access any applications. – Osik Brodsky Jul 10 at 15:14
  • Most likely the final update that I will add on here: The curse of the missing config file seems to be a blessing. I went online to replace it, and when I rebooted it my speakers worked! I have absolutely no clue what happened, but my speaker works and I’m happy. Thank you so much for your help! – Osik BrodskyJul 10 at 16:12
  • @Osik Brodsky,How nice to see a weird problem solved, and this might be the root cause: “this /boot/config.txt file seems to be gone entirely”. Of course there may be other conflicting configuring setting else where. – tlfong01 Jul 11 at 3:50   
  • Oh, the problem was there long before the config file was gone. The file disappeared a day or two ago, I don’t think it was related. Nonetheless, the problem is solved. – Osik Brodsky Jul 11 at 14:54


The 3.5 mm jack is an analog output, it doesn’t recognize anything. If you are having trouble getting sound out of it, the first thing to try is forcing audio out to the 3.5 mm jack with raspi-config.

In raspi-config, go to advanced, then audio, then select Force 3.5mm ('headphone') jack.

  • 1
    There seems some confusion. I am not sure if the OP’s speaker is connected to the Rpi board’s 3.5mm jack, OR his USB sound stick’s 3.5mm jack. So perhaps he can try all options in $ sudo raspi-config > Advanced Options (7) > Audio (A4) > Choose any of the following 3 options (0) Auto, (1) Force 3.5mm (‘headphone’) jack, (2) Force HDMI – tlfong01 Jul 4 at 7:36   
  • @evildemonic Forcing the audio through the 3.5mm jack was one of the first things that I tried and was unsuccessful. I also tried setting hdmi_drive=2 in the /boot/config.txt. I have also confirmed that it isn’t an issue with the speakers themselves by plugging them into various devices and seeing that they work. – Osik Brodsky Jul 4 at 18:12

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