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pulseaudio Documentation



This document describes the client API for the PulseAudio sound server. The API comes in two flavours to accomodate different styles of applications and different needs in complexity:

All strings in PulseAudio are in the UTF-8 encoding, regardless of current locale. Some functions will filter invalid sequences from the string, some will simply fail. To ensure reliable behaviour, make sure everything you pass to the API is already in UTF-8.

Simple API

Use this if you develop your program in synchronous style and just need a way to play or record data on the sound server. See Simple API for more details.

Asynchronous API

Use this if you develop your programs in asynchronous, event loop based style or if you want to use the advanced features of the PulseAudio API. A guide can be found in Asynchronous API.

By using the built-in threaded main loop, it is possible to acheive a pseudo-synchronous API, which can be useful in synchronous applications where the simple API is insufficient. See the Asynchronous API page for details.


The PulseAudio client libraries are not designed to be directly thread-safe. They are however designed to be reentrant and threads-aware.

To use the libraries in a threaded environment, you must assure that all objects are only used in one thread at a time. Normally, this means that all objects belonging to a single context must be accessed from the same thread.

The included main loop implementation is also not thread safe. Take care to make sure event objects are not manipulated when any other code is using the main loop.


The PulseAudio libraries provide pkg-config snippets for the different modules:

PulseAudio sound server
PulseAudio, previously known as Polypaudio, is a sound server for POSIX and
WIN32 systems. It is a drop in replacement for the ESD sound server with
much better latency, mixing/re-sampling quality and overall architecture.
These are some of PulseAudio's features:
* High quality software mixing of multiple audio streams with support for
more than one sink/source. May be used to combine multiple sound cards
into one (with sample rate adjustment).
* Wide range of supported client libraries. ESD, ALSA, oss, libao and
GStreamer client applications are supported as-is. Native PulseAudio
plug-ins are also available for xmms and mplayer.
* Good low latency behaviour and very accurate latency measurement for
playback and recording. Ability to fully synchronize multiple playback
* Network transparency, allowing an application to play back or record
audio on a different machine than the one it is running on.
* Extensible plug-in architecture with plug-ins for jackd, multicast-rtp
lirc and avahi, just to name a few.
This package contains the daemon and basic module set.
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