Linux's USB Audio Driver Aims For Latency Reduction

Written by Michael Larabel in Multimedia on 4 June 2021 at 09:19 AM EDT. 16 Comments
With the upcoming Linux 5.14 cycle, the USB sound driver will ideally exhibit lower latency when starting playback.

Longtime Linux kernel sound subsystem maintainer Takashi Iwai of SUSE has been working on a clean-up to the kernel's USB-Audio driver and with an emphasis on latency reduction during audio playback.

Takashi acknowledges his patches are a bit intrusive but he's hopeful after with good results so far using PulseAudio, JACK, PipeWire, native ALSA, and other back-ends not showing any problems. These patches have been queued into the sound subsystem's "for-next" Git branch ahead of the Linux 5.14 merge window opening in a few weeks.

For those interested in the technical details, this patch in particular covers the attempt at reducing the latency at playback start for the USB audio code. That attempt is reverting a prior workaround and just impacts the playback latency but not capturing.

How's your Linux USB and wireless audio support been working out these days with recent devices and different desktops / audio back-ends? The situation is certainly much improved from in the past, but let us know in the forums if you are still encountering any Linux audio oddities.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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