Disable the Built-in Sound Card of Raspberry Pi

Introduction: Disable the Built-in Sound Card of Raspberry Pi

About: Systems Administrator and Software Programmer.


Sometimes it is useful to disable the Raspberry Pi's built-in Broadcom sound chip before installing a new USB sound card so as to make it easier to troubleshooting the new USB sound card.


This instructable will cover the following:

  • How to disable sound card
  • How to install Advanced Linux Sound Architecture (ALSA) utilities
  • Use ALSA utilities to test sound card and sound device

This instructables will NOT cover the following

  • PulseAudio
  • Open Sound System (OSS)


My Raspberry Pi:

  • Raspberry Pi 2
  • Rasbian based on Debian Version 8.0 (a.k.a Jessie)
  • Advanced Linux Sound Architecture Driver Version k4.1.10-v7+
  • Pulse Audio and OSS are NOT installed
  • 2 speakers connected to Raspberry Pi's audio/video 3.5mm socket.

Step 1: Test That Raspberry Pi's Sound Chip Is Not Faulty

Complete the "Test sound card and speaker" instructable. This step is to eliminate the possibilty that Raspberry Pi build-in sound chip is not faulty. So that you know sound is not coming from the speaker is due to your configuration and not because of Raspberry Pi's sound card is faulty.

Step 2: Configure Linux to NOT Load Broadcom's Sound Chip

Open terminal

Create a file using vi or any text editor and save in /etc/modprobe.d

cd /etc/modprobe.d
sudo vi alsa-blacklist.conf

Enter the following line

blacklist snd_bcm2835

Save the file

reboot the machine

sudo reboot<br>

Step 3: Test That Sound Card Is NOT Detected by ALSA Native Application

Open terminal:

aplay -l

"...no soundcards found" indicates that kernel module (device driver) for broadcom chip was not loaded and the card has been disabled for all intents and purposes.

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    3 years ago

    Thank you it worked


    4 years ago

    Hi, thanks for the tutorial, it is really good.
    Soo... everything works, I can play sounds via the above external Soundblaster card (I have exactly the same one) but... I am using Spotify and this is the only program that doesn't want to use the external card... when I disable the built-in card Spotify says "This track is not available..." for whatever I'm trying to play. When the built-in card is not disabled Spotify only sends sound to the output specified in raspi-config file so either micro-jack or HDMI. Do you have any ideas how to fix it? Thanks


    6 years ago

    I had trouble at first to with the vi editor. @Brad I. was correct; however, you need to login into (or I had to) the nano text editor as an administrator;

    sudo alsa-blacklist.conf

    Then follow Brad I. 's instructions. Thanks @ Mirza


    6 years ago

    been trying for 3 weeks to get this to work

    sudo vi alsa-blacklist.conf is an empty file and no matter what i do i cannot type in blacklist snd_bcm2835. like you cant type it in. from a fresh jesse image even if you do sudo chown pi: /etc/modprobe.d and sudo chown pi: /etc it still doesnt work. you must have down somthing to your pi before hand or you're missing a step. terrible tutorial


    Reply 6 years ago

    When opening vi, press "i". This sets the editor to edit-mode.

    Brad I.
    Brad I.

    6 years ago

    Like you, I don't have much luck with VI editor. Much better success with nano.

    Try navigating to /etc/modprobe.d

    then run nano alsa-blacklist.conf

    enter the text above.

    hit ctrl-x and choose Y for save

    then reboot.