I am trying to get audio input and output with an USB sound card (tested on Windows, works perfectly fine). With help from the Internet, I can record and listen sounds with the card but the quality is really bad. I've tried to play a good quality file : it works fine with analog output but not with the usb sound card.

Here is the card I use (on Amazon). I know this is a cheap card but the quality is really really bad (lot of sizzling).

To record and listen, I use aplay and arecord.

If you have any ideas, please let me know :)

Edit : it only works fine with S16LE

  • You have not given us any real info to use in helping you. What make and model sound card? How are you connecting it to the Pi? How are you powering the card? How are you determing the sound quality? What commands are you using to record and playback thhe sound? Dec 20, 2016 at 10:19
  • Yes, sorry, I just added some details :)
    – kecalace
    Dec 20, 2016 at 10:54
  • You have not answered all of my questions (define bad, how are you determing this, I could go on), but I think I can pinpoint the problem. How much quality do you expect from a $4 soundcard? Dec 20, 2016 at 10:58
  • The sound card is connected and powered via USB. I don't expect a very high quality but there is so much sizzling (?) that you can't really use it
    – kecalace
    Dec 20, 2016 at 11:01
  • I have reopened your question, but please edit and add the above comment, and the rest of the answers to my questions to your question. Again I think this comes down to you get what you pay for. You may want to try connecting the soundcard to the Pi via a powered USB hub. Also have you tried recording on the Pi and playing back the file on a different computer to determine if the noise is from recording or playback. Then doing the reverse plying a good quality sound file (mp3 for instance) on the Pi. Dec 20, 2016 at 11:10

2 Answers 2


Buying cheap stuff like that is essentially a gamble, and you seem to have lost this round. Here's a testimony from a user who have bought a similar soundcard and got lucky. See if you can return your card to the seller and get a refund. If not, you may try to gamble again, hoping for a better luck, or buy a decent soundcard in a shop which lets you try stuff and refunds you if you're not happy.

On a practical note, setting software sound volume to the maximum and reducing the volume via hardware volume controls may reduce the hissing noise, provided it is constant and not proportional to the sound being played.

  • Maybe it comes from the hardware but it works fine on Windows so I want to be sure before returning the card :)
    – kecalace
    Dec 20, 2016 at 13:30
  • @kecalace I somehow missed that point. Try playing with the volume settings: since it works in Windows there should be a combination of settings that works acceptably well. I don't believe sizzling could come from drivers. Using the same sound format may also help, though sizzling is a rather unusual artefact. Dec 20, 2016 at 13:37

If you haven't already I wouldn't recommend returning the sound card like the one answer recomends. I came across this article when doing research on the problems that the pi has with sending usb audio. Today my Schiit fulla 2 came in and that's no cheap dac. When I plugged in I had really bad static and crackling. But when I tried it on my laptop it worked great. No one seems to know why but a theory is that its the way that the pi has the usb wired up through the ethernet port or something. Litterally a 3 dollar usb dac sounded wonders better than my 100 dollar dac from Schiit.

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