Sometime ago I used this helpful tutorial: How can I use an external USB sound-card and set it as default? to set my external USB sound card as my default. This has been great for me as I use external sound cards in almost all of my projects.

However, for a project I'm currently working on I need to send audio out to a Bluetooth speaker. I can search for Bluetooth devices, find and pair them with my speaker, but I cannot make the final step of connecting to it. When I try I receive the message:

connection failed - use the audio menu to connect to this device

So, I go to the volume control in my panel. However, it is crossed out with a red cross. If I right-click to open Volume Control Settings, I cannot change the Audio Card or Channel to Operate options. I suspect this may all be due to the changes I made to default to my USB external sound card.

These changes included removing pulseaudio. I gather (from a comment on the tutorial I linked above) that doing this may disable Bluetooth connectivity. Here's what the commenter said:

uninstalling pulse audio causes Bluetooth headphones to not work. I had things working (ie recording over USB and playing over Bluetooth headphones) but then uninstalled pulseaudio and headphones are then not available as input devices anymore

I have tried reinstalling Pulseaudio and rebooting. The result was that the volume control icon in my panel was no longer crossed out, and I could access the drop-down menu to choose between available soundcards. However, the Bluetooth speaker was still not an option, and if I tried to connect to it after pairing I received the same error message. I subsequently removed pulseaudio again as it was (as before) frustrating my need to default to my USB external soundcard.

EDIT: I have also tried to connect via bluetoothctl, without pulseaudio. I can locate the speaker, pair with it, and trust it, but when I try the step of connecting I get this message:

Failed to connect: org.bluez.Error.Failed

I definitely still need to default to my USB external soundcard as without this my Pure Data patch defaults to the internal soundcard and the project won't work as I need it to upon booting. With Pulseaudio installed it will persist in defaulting to the internal soundcard.

  • Can anyone provide me with some help?
  • Can I do this without Pulseaudio? How?
  • More (hopefully) helpful info, I am running Raspbian GNU/Linux 11 (bullseye). Apr 27, 2023 at 20:15
  • Are you wedded to Raspberry Pi OS? You might have more success with Ubuntu Desktop, being that it is a more general purpose OS without legacies that RPOS has, trying to cater to its original use cases (hobby/learning). Likely you won't need to do anything custom to get the USB external sound card working, and therefore won't have turfed built-in Bluetooth support.
    – Ashley
    May 3, 2023 at 13:34
  • Hi there, thanks for the response. I have only ever used Raspberry Pi OS, but I don't think I am wedded to it. I am most often running Pure Data patches in my projects, and it seems that PD will work on Ubuntu desktop. I have a few Pis so will back up my SD card, try installing Ubuntu and see what happens! May 5, 2023 at 21:55
  • Good luck! I have a balance between Ubuntu and Raspberry Pi OS on my Pis: I like both
    – Ashley
    May 6, 2023 at 22:07


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