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The Answer Guy

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

(?)Sinister 'xmcd' Permanently Disables Right Speaker Channel

From Birger Koblitz on Fri, 24 Apr 1998

I'v got a strange problem with my Toshiba 12X-SCSI-CDRom and xmcd. Since I started to use this program, music from audio CDs is only played through the left speaker, the right speaker is dead. The strange thing is, all this worked well on Windoze before. Now even the windoze player uses only the left channel. This doesend seem to be a hardware problem allthough there now is only one channel available out of the Headphone connector on the front of the device,too, since I tried the progam also at a friend with a Sanyo SCSI-CDRom resulting in the same problem (but both channels available from the front plug there). My friend is now quite angry since evrything worked fine under windoze for him before... It seems that xmcd turns of one of the channels of the CDRom. Sadly using the balance control within xmcd doesnt turn it on any more. Is there a way to get things working again?

Yours, Birger.

(!)That's very odd. I've never heard of any CD's or sound cards with NVRAM in them. I presume you've powered off the affected systems, let them sit for a minute or two and tried again (under the formerly "known working" configuration).

I suppose it would give offense to suggest that you actually check the wires that lead to that speaker?

Traditionally I've been a curmudgeon about "toys" like CD players and sound cards (never used them under DOS, Windows or Linux). My traditional opinion has been that CD-ROM's are for data --- and that there are perfectly good, inexpensive, devices for playing audio CD's --- devices that require no special drivers and have no opportunity to conflict with your other equipment and software. (You don't want to know how I feel about those loathsome bandwidth robbers with their "Internet Telephone" and "Cyber Video Phone" toys either. That's our bandwidth they're hogging).

However, yesterday (by coincidence) I bit the bullet and spent a little time compiling a new kernel with sound support. Then I went into the CMOS and re-enabled the sound support that's on the motherboard of that machine I bought from VAResearch.

So, I slipped in a copy of Aaron Copeland's Greatest Hits, logged into to my virtual console, (I still prefer text consoles for most of my work, especially for e-mail), fired up xmcd (X Motif CD Player) and let it loose.

Strains of "Celebration" are streaming out of both speakers as I type this. (Yes, I [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[F1]'d back to my text console after starting xmcd).

So, it's not inherently a problem with xmcd under Linux. This particular installation is a S.u.S.E. 5.1 running under a 2.1.97 kernel that I just grabbed off of kernel.org yesterday.

So, that leave us with other questions.

Do you have a sound card or are you playing this through a headphone jack on the front of your CD player? (I'm not familiar with the specific CD drives to which you refer, but many of them have built in head phone jacks. Mine is a Toshiba 3801 which I gather is sold as a 15x drive).

Are there any configuration or diagnostic utilities for your CD drive and/or sound card? (Presumably they would be DOS or Win '95 utilities that shipped with the device or that you might get from their web site, ftp site, or BBS).

Have you called your CD-ROM or sound card vendors (or BCC'd their support on this e-mail)?

Did you do an Alta Vista or Yahoo! search? (I used "+xmcd +sound +problem") or check out the xmcd home page:

... which has links to their FAQ (and other useful) info.

There was an FAQ entry about Toshiba drives and "sometimes" getting "no sound." Although it doesn't sound like it matches your symptoms exactly you might read that and try the suggestions they list.

Just off hand I don't know of any newsgroups or mailing lists that are particularly good venues for this questions (which I suspect it why you sent it to me). news:comp.os.linux.hardware might be one. Another might be news:comp.sys.ibm.pc.hardware.cd-rom or alt.cd-rom.

Hope that helps. However, it's still hard to imagine any problem that would match these symptoms and persist through a power cycle (not just a reboot -- a power cycle).

Copyright © 1998, James T. Dennis
Published in Linux Gazette Issue 28 May 1998

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