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Using liberty-minded opensource tools, and using them well

Getting an PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 to work with a Raspberry Pi

I got new studio monitors for Christmas, and picked up a used PreSonus AudioBox USB 2x2 to drive them. It worked fine with PulseAudio on my Lenovo, but it took a bit more finagling to get it to work on the Pi.

The Current

The first time I plugged the AudioBox into the Pi I heard a popping noise - a rhythmic one, and the lights on the PreSonus were flashing in time to the popping. Looking at /var/log/messages I found:

[  398.499442] usb 1-1-port2: over-current change
[  398.755655] usb 1-1-port2: over-current change

Looking around a bit, this meant that the usb port was trying to draw more power than the OS would allow it. Luckily, since I had a 2A charger, I could afford for it to supply a bit more power to the PreSonus - hopefully enough

What was enough

As a sidenote, I wondered just how much “enough” was going to be. Like I said, it worked when it was plugged into my laptop, so I figured I’d see how much it pulled when it was running. This turned out to be pretty easy.

$ lsusb -v | grep presonus -A 24

This gave me the range that included the setting for “MaxPower” and I was able to see exactly how much I needed. It was reported that 500mA were being drawn from the usb port, but that’s right on the edge, so I’m not sure if I would trust it. Also, the Pi (Model B+) can supposedly put out 600mA per port without any additional configuration. Either way, I did end up needing to append a line to the /boot/config.txt file. It was quite simple:


That did the trick, and now the device was recognized, but had yet to work correctly.


Luckily for me, the driver for the PreSonus was already in the kernel, and it recognized everything right off the bat. (aplay -l showed that card 1 was the AudioBox) However, alsamixer, when I pressed F6 and chose the USB sound card, it displayed the notification:

This sound device does not have any controls.

Which is disappointing. On my laptop, bringing up pavucontrol and setting that works, but that’s because I have PulseAudio on my laptop. No so with my Pi, and I want to keep it that way. I want my options open when I start configuring a mpd server.

Also, running speaker-test does not produce any output either. However, that’s because it’s using the default device. Running it like the following does produce output (white noise in fact):

$ speaker-test -D default:USB

This was determined by looking at aplay -L’s output, especially the line:

    AudioBox USB, USB Audio
    Default Audio Device

And to force mpv to use that audio device, I invoked it straight from the command line:

$ mpv Acid_Wolfpack.mp3 --ao=alsa:device=[default:USB]

It sounds awesome BTW.

The Conf File

In many older tutorials, there is a /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf file that’s mentioned a lot. Only, in the Model B+, that got changed to /usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf. The relevant lines that need to be changed in this updated file are:

defaults.ctl.card <card #>
defaults.pcm.card <card #>

It doesn’t seem that it is able to be hot-swapped by any ALSA program, or at least, I solved it before I tried the one that worked.

The card# is the one that is showing when pressing F6 in alsamixer

And reboot. After that, I got sound coming through loud and clear. I tell you, these things really sound amazing.