Sound Mixer

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Sound Mixer (Change Sound Settings and Volume) Alsamixer.png

Sound Mixer is an application for changing the volume settings for each of the various input/ouput sound devices on the GCW-Zero. The application is based off of the Linux AlsaMixer command line utility.


  • Change the Headphone Volume
  • Change the External Speaker Volume
  • Change the Microphone Volume


Sound Mixer is accessed from the "settings" menu in the GCW-Zero main interface, by default it is the left icon on the middle row (grey picture of sound board sliders). While the Sound Mixer icon is highlighted, press the "A" button on the GCW-Zero to open the application.


Functional Controls:

  • D-Pad Left/Right: Move between Input/Output Hardware Elements.
  • D-Pad Up/Down: Change the Volume or Device Associated with the Highlighted Hardware Element.
  • "Y" Button: Set an input device to "Mute" or Remove "Mute"
  • "L" Shoulder Button: Change View
  • Select: Exit Application

Non-Functional Controls:

  • Analog Stick
  • "R" Shoulder Button
  • A, B or X Buttons
  • Start Button


The Sound Mixer interface is a text based graphical view of a sound mixer application. Based off of AlsaMixer, the application requires you to scroll through various hardware devices and set the sound volume for each device individually.

At the top of the main screen is some informational text. Card: cannot be changed (it will be GCW0) and Chip will be blank. Below that "View" will list "F3" as Playback, F4 as Capture and F5 as All, "Playback" will be highlighted in Yellow. (Ignore the F3, F4 and F5 portions of this). Finally below that is the "Item:" view which gives you more information on the selected hardware element.

At the bottom of the screen the names of hardware elements (such as Headphones, Speakers, PCM, Line In, etc.) are shown with one of them highlighted in red ("Headphon" when you first come into the application) and < >. The highlighted device is the device you can currently interact with. Use the DPad Left/Right to change between devices. Above each hardware element/item are other visual display elements, representing the settings for that hardware element. For instance, above the initially selected "Headphon" is a vertical bar with a box below it and rising through Green to White to Red.

Using the DPad Up/Down you can change the values associated with each of the configuration elements (for instance pressing "Up" on the initially selected "Headphon" will increase or decrease the volume sent to the headphones as shown in the numbers below the vertical bar).

By using the "L" shoulder button, you can switch between the "F3" view (Playback), the "F4" View (Capture) and the "F5" View (All). The first two options limit the devices you have access to on screen (Output and Input devices respectively) while the F5-All View displays all devices (input and output) on the same screen.



The "Playback" View contains the following devices (From Left to Right):

  • (Item 1) - Headphone - Changes the Volume of sound sent to the headphones. Use Up/Down to Change the Volume. The numbers below the bar are the current numeric volume of sound from 0 to 100. The "dB gain:" in the information area changes based upon the volume you set. The box below the vertical bar displays "00" if the Headphones are unmuted or "MM" if the Headphones are muted. Use the "Y" button to toggle between Mute and Unmute Status.
  • (Item 2) - Headphone Source - Set the sound source for the headphones between PCM (Default), Line In, and Mic. This should not need to be changed from PCM.
  • (Item 3) - Speakers - The Small box will display "00" if the built-in speakers are unmuted or "MM" if the built-in speakers are muted. Use the "Y" button to toggle between Mute and Unmute Status.
  • (Item 4) - PCM - This allows for changing the volume of the built-in speakers. Note: unlike the "Headphones" you must change the mute status for the speakers seperately from the volume of the speakers.
  • (Item 5) - Line In Bypass - Unsure what this is for., works with the "Mic" device.
  • (Item 6) - Line Out Source - Unsure what this is for., works with the PCM, Speaker and Headphone Devices.
  • (Item 7) - Mic - Sensitivity of the Microphone. Works with the "Line In Bypass" device.


The "Capture" view contains the following devices (From Left to Right):

  • (Item 1) - PCM - Unsure how this is different from the "PCM" device in the "Playback" Section.
  • (Item 2) - Line In - This is Unchangable.
  • (Item 3) - Line In Bypass - (Same control as "Line In Bypass" in "Playback" Above)
  • (Item 4) - Mic - (Same control as "Mic" in "Playback" Above).


The "All" view contains all of the controls in "Playback" as well as those controls in "Capture". There are several duplicated controls (Such as "Line in Bypass") which will automatically set both of the duplciated controls to the same value when you change one or the other. Conversely there are some controls (Such as PCM) that look to be duplicate controls but maintain different values.

I just want to change the volume of my speakers/headphones!


In most cases, a signficant number of the controls in the Sound Mixer never need to be touched. For instance the headphone source and line out source should never need to be changed from their default of "PCM", and most of the default values are at least somewhat sane.

Q: This is confusing! All I want to do is make my headphones/speakers louder/quieter!

A: Sound Tuning on the GCW-Zero is actually relatively simple, you really only need to modify two controls: PCM and Headphone.

Start with the PCM Vertical Slider, move the DPad Left 3 times on the default screen (Playback View). Set this somewhere around 50 - 80 based upon the loudness of your surroundings and your preferences (somewhere around 70 - 80 should be about right for normal environments, 40 - 50 for quiet environments). Use the Up/Down DPad to modify the numbers. This will set the sound for the ENTIRE system to a good base. If you wish to further modify the loudness of the headphones (say you have noise cancelling headphones and need the headphones quieter than the normal speakers, or if you're playing without headphones it should be fairly quiet but you want to hear something with headphones), shift left 3 times till the first "Headphon" is highlighted and use the Up/Down DPad to modify the volume there as well.

You can test the outcome of your sound settings through the use of the HWTest application or one of the games (I find Dirk Smallwell works well, but you have to start the game to get sound).

NOTE: It's not marked as such/obvious but the GCW-Zero DOES have a headphone jack, it's the "TV-OUT" jack on top of the GCW-Zero. Just plug your headphones into the "TV-OUT" jack and use the "Headphon" and "PCM" sliders to change the volume.

Q: How do I turn off (mute) either the headphones or the speakers?

A: Select either "Headphon" (the first item at the bottom) or "Speakers" and press the "Y" button on the GCW to mute or unmute them. If "MM" shows in the box, that device is muted, if "00" shows in the box, the device is turned on / unmuted.

HOWEVER, the GCW-Zero is intelligent enough to know whether or not you have plugged in or removed a device from the headphone jack and will take action on that. If you plug headphones in, it will unmute the headphone control and mute the speakers, conversely when you unplug headphones it will mute the headphone device and unmute the speaker device. To get both headphones and speakers on or off at the same time (or to have sound play from the speakers when a headphone is plugged in), you will manually have to modify the mute status of the given device as noted above.

In the vast majority of cases, however, you will only need to set the sound settings once and let the device handle it from there.

Q: Why doesn't this device just have a bleeping volume slider! That would be SO MUCH EASIER!

A: For the same reason as your desktop computer doesn't have a volume slider or dial on it's case. Keep in mind the GCW-Zero handheld acts and works more like your desktop computer than your DS or iPod. Just as in windows you set the sound level of your computer through the dock icon or the control panel, so to do you need to set the sound level of your GCW-Zero through the sliders in "Sound Settings". Besides, how many times have you plugged a set of headphones in, turned on a device and almost had your ear drums ruptured because something bumped the sound slider up to "OMG I'm now Deaf!" level? In this case, set it once and forget about it!

Exit Sound Mixer

At any time, press the "Select" button to exit Sound Settings. There is no "Save" prompt so any settings you've changed take effect immediately.