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How to Fix Temporary Disconnection of Wireless Headset Mutes VLC’s Audio on Ubuntu

  • The blog post explains how to fix the problem of temporary disconnection of wireless headset mutes VLC’s audio on Ubuntu by changing some settings in VLC and PulseAudio.
  • The blog post provides a step-by-step guide with screenshots and commands to change VLC’s audio output module to ALSA and PulseAudio’s default sink to the wireless headset.

If you use a wireless headset to listen to audio or watch videos on your Ubuntu system, you may have encountered a frustrating problem: sometimes, when your headset disconnects and reconnects, VLC’s audio gets muted and you can’t hear anything. This happens even if the system volume and VLC’s volume are both turned up. You may have to restart VLC or reconnect your headset several times to get the sound back.

This is a known bug that affects VLC on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. It has been reported on VLC’s bug tracker and on various forums. The bug seems to be related to how VLC handles the PulseAudio sound server, which is responsible for routing audio streams from applications to output devices.

In this blog post, I will explain how to fix this problem by changing some settings in VLC and PulseAudio. I will also provide some frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to this topic at the end of the article.

The Solution: Change VLC’s Audio Output Module and PulseAudio’s Default Sink

The solution that worked for me and many others is to change VLC’s audio output module from “Automatic” to “ALSA” and to set PulseAudio’s default sink (output device) to the wireless headset. This way, VLC will always use the headset as its output device, regardless of whether it disconnects or reconnects.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Open VLC and go to Tools > Preferences > Audio.
  2. Under Output, change the Output module from “Automatic” to “ALSA audio output”. Under Output, change the Output module from “Automatic” to “ALSA audio output”.
  3. Under Device, select your wireless headset from the drop-down menu. If you don’t see it, make sure it is connected and paired with your system.
  4. Click Save and restart VLC.
  1. Open a terminal and type pactl list short sinks to list all the available output devices on your system. You should see something like this:
0	alsa_output.pci-0000_00_1f.3.analog-stereo	module-alsa-card.c	s16le 2ch 44100Hz	SUSPENDED
1	alsa_output.usb-Logitech_Inc._Logitech_Wireless_Headset_000D44A9F8B9-00.analog-stereo	module-alsa-card.c	s16le 2ch 44100Hz	RUNNING
  1. Identify the name of your wireless headset from the list. In my case, it is alsa_output.usb-Logitech_Inc._Logitech_Wireless_Headset_000D44A9F8B9-00.analog-stereo.
  2. Type pactl set-default-sink alsa_output.usb-Logitech_Inc._Logitech_Wireless_Headset_000D44A9F8B9-00.analog-stereo (replace with your headset’s name) to set it as the default output device for PulseAudio.
  3. Optionally, you can make this change permanent by editing the /etc/pulse/ file as root and adding the following line at the end:
set-default-sink alsa_output.usb-Logitech_Inc._Logitech_Wireless_Headset_000D44A9F8B9-00.analog-stereo

That’s it! Now you should be able to enjoy VLC’s audio without any interruptions from your wireless headset.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers related to this topic:

Question: Why does this problem happen?

Answer: According to some users, this problem happens because VLC tries to restore its previous volume level when it detects a change in the output device. However, when the wireless headset disconnects and reconnects, PulseAudio assigns it a different sink number, which confuses VLC and makes it mute itself.

Question: Will this solution affect other applications?

Answer: This solution will make your wireless headset the default output device for all applications that use PulseAudio, unless you manually change it in the sound settings or in each application. This may or may not be what you want, depending on your preferences.

Question: What if I want to use a different output device for VLC?

Answer: If you want to use a different output device for VLC, you can either change it in VLC’s audio settings or in PulseAudio’s sound settings. However, you may have to do this every time you switch devices, as VLC may not remember your choice.

Question: What if this solution doesn’t work for me?

Answer: If this solution doesn’t work for you, you may have a different problem or a different configuration. You can try some of the other solutions suggested on the VLC bug tracker or on the forums. You can also report your issue to the VLC developers and hope for a fix in the future.


I hope this blog post helped you fix the annoying problem of temporary disconnection of wireless headset mutes VLC’s audio on Ubuntu. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, feel free to leave them below. Happy listening!

Disclaimer: This blog post is based on my personal experience and research. It is not endorsed by or affiliated with VLC, PulseAudio, Ubuntu, or any other entity. Your results may vary depending on your system and settings. Use this solution at your own risk and responsibility.

Alex Lim is a certified IT Technical Support Architect with over 15 years of experience in designing, implementing, and troubleshooting complex IT systems and networks. He has worked for leading IT companies, such as Microsoft, IBM, and Cisco, providing technical support and solutions to clients across various industries and sectors. Alex has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the National University of Singapore and a master’s degree in information security from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also the author of several best-selling books on IT technical support, such as The IT Technical Support Handbook and Troubleshooting IT Systems and Networks. Alex lives in Bandar, Johore, Malaysia with his wife and two chilrdren. You can reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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