fix linux mint audio stuttering

With certain Intel HD audio cards, Linux Mint is found to stutter when sound volume is high. The exact threshold of the volume varies with the application/ media being played, but the stuttering is definite and bad enough to the point of being unusable. The issue is similar to what we often get in a sound system when we try to insert a audio jack to a socket, with the speaker volume set high. It may also occur in other Linux systems.

The problem is that in case the motherboard has a front headphone socket, the Linux audio driver tries to send output to that channel also (even though that socket is not connected to any audio jack, and the only output is the speakers connected to the back). If we disable this socket, then the issue is resolved. This is an issue with Linux only, since the same motherboard/ audio setup works fine with Windows.

To resolve the issue, we need to install hda-jack-retask, and override the front audio socket to disable it.

1. Install alsa-tools-gui package, which contains hda-jack-retask:
sudo apt-get install alsa-tools-gui

2. Open hda-jack-retask (Menu > Sound & Video > HdaJackRetask) and scroll down to ‘Green Headphone – front side’. Select ‘Override’ and from the choice list, select ‘Not Connected’. This means we override the front audio socket using a front end of the audio driver.

3. Apply the settings and test whether the audio issues are resolved – e.g. play a Youtube video at very high volume. The stuttering should be gone now.

4. Install boot override (in the same UI) to persist the setting across reboots.

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