Raspberry Pi single board computers are an exciting technology with a multitude of applications. Pi computers can act as desktop replacements, retro gaming consoles, ad blockers, and so much more. However, some users have the frustrating experience of having no sound when they use their Raspberry Pi.
No audio on a Raspberry Pi is usually due to the computer sending the sound signal to the wrong output. You can change this setting with the Raspbi-Config tool.
It’s so irritating when you get all excited about a new project and then have it not work due a a simple setting glitch. Keep reading for my fully illustrated, step by step guide to solving your audio problems.
What is Raspi-Config?
Raspi-Config is where users change the settings for Raspberry Pi OS. Audio, video, wi-fi, SSH, performance, and localization settings are all available in Raspi-Config.
Matching software with hardware
There are several versions of the Raspberry Pi, but for this tutorial I’ll demonstrate things using a Pi 4. The concepts are applicable to all Raspberry Pi computers. The whole point of the tutorial is to match the physical audio output port on your Pi to the software selection in your operating system.
What problems can this tutorial solve?
No sound in Raspberry Pi OS
The most likely cause of no sound is Raspberry Pi OS is that the computer is sending the audio signal to the wrong port; use Raspi-Config to adjust your settings. Read this guide to find out how to send the sound signal to the correct port.
No sound in RetroPie
If you’re not getting any sound in RetroPie, the most likely fix is to use the Raspi-Config tool to send the audio to the correct port on the Raspberry Pi. You’re in the right place. Keep reading to find out how to fix the problem.
No sound with RetroPie coming out of the headphone jack
The Raspberry Pi doesn’t send audio signal to the 3.5mm headphone jack by default, and you’ll have to change that setting in Raspi-Config. I’ll show you how to solve this problem in the tutorial.
No sound from a Raspberry Pi 4
The Raspberry Pi 4 has three audio out puts options: 2x HDMI ports and 3.5mm headphone jack. Use Raspi-Config to tell the Pi 4 which port to use.
How do I fix the problem of no audio on the Raspberry Pi?
Settings such as audio are changed in the Raspi-Config tool. How to get there depends on your operating system. If you’re using Raspberry Pi OS, the first thing you’ll need to do is open what’s called the Terminal. The Terminal is where you can enter text commands to tell the Raspberry Pi what to do.
Side note: Steps 1-3 will vary depending on your operating system. Choose the appropriate steps for you; I have instructions for both Raspberry Pi OS and RetroPie. The end goal is to end up in the Raspi-Config menu. If you’re using something other than Raspberry Pi OS or RetroPie, you’ll have to figure out how to get to Raspi-Config on your own and then pick up at step 4.
1. (For Raspberry Pi OS users): Open the Terminal.
In Raspberry Pi OS, just click the Terminal button near the top-left corner of the screen. It’s a square button with a blue bar on top and a black screen with white symbols on the bottom.
2. (ForRaspberry Pi OS users): Type in the following command exactly as you see it:
3: Press Enter.
1. (For RetroPie users): If you’re running RetroPie, select RetroPie Configuration.
2. (For RetroPie Users): Highlight RASPI-CONFIG.
Pro Tip: There are many Operating Systems for the Raspberry Pi, and they ALL allow users to open the Terminal. Use Google if you have to to find out how to open the Terminal on your particular OS. After that, follow along with this tutorial.
3. (For RetroPie Users): Press A.
4. (All users moving forward): Select System Options.
4. Select Audio.
5. Choose the appropriate audio output and press Enter.
I’ve included pictures of both the Raspberry Pi 4 board and the Raspi-Config menu. Match up the plug you’re using on the physical board to the selection in the Raspberry Pi OS software. Please look at the photos below.
Keep in mind, each version of the Raspberry Pi will have different output options. For reference, here’s a picture of the Raspberry Pi 4:
The Raspberry Pi 4 has the audio outputs labeled on the board itself in little white letters. I added some text to the picture to make identification easier. The USB-C plug is just for power input; it isn’t used for data transfer or audio.
Pro tip: This screen might look different depending on which model of Raspberry Pi you’re using. I created this guide with a Raspberry Pi 4, and the Pi 4 outputs audio via 2x micro HDMI Ports or a 3.5mm audio output (commonly called a headphone jack). You might have to do a little trial and error to see which output works for your setup.
6. After making your selection, you’ll come back to the Rasp-Config main menu. Press the Right Arrow twice to highlight Finish and then press Enter.
7. If you want to, you can reboot your Raspberry Pi. Simply type in the following text:
8. After that, just press Enter.
That’s it! You’re all done! Enjoy!
Hopefully, I didn’t beat a dead horse too much with this guide. The simple fact of the matter is that many users experience the same problem when using a Raspberry Pi: no sound. The solution is often simple. Users need to go into their settings and tell the Raspberry Pi where to send the audio signal.
Once you’ve mastered the art of science of getting the audio signal to go where you want, you can apply this knowledge to other aspects of using a Raspberry Pi. Most of the trouble shooting you’ll have to do revolves around going through Raspi-Config and figuring out what’s going on with your computer.