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I'm running Debian unstable. My .asoundrc looks like this:

   type plug
         type bluetooth
         device 5A:5A:5A:A6:08:09
         profile "auto"

   type bluetooth

I can play music through the headset, however I cannot control the volume.

$ alsamixer -D btheadset
ALSA lib audio/ctl_bluetooth.c:167:(bluetooth_send_ctl) Unable to receive new volume value from server
ALSA lib audio/ctl_bluetooth.c:161:(bluetooth_send_ctl) Unable to request new volume value to server: Broken pipe
cannot load mixer controls: Broken pipe

daemon.log has this:

bluetoothd[15628]: Invalid message: length mismatch

Any ideas? I suspected this may be some mismatch of binaries, so I tried downgrading bluez to Debian stable. No luck. Maybe I should try the same with alsa libs...

A lot of FAQs and tutorials suggest that PulseAudio should automatically solve this, however I installed it, it pulled down dozens of dependencies I have no interest in, and turned out to be a very user-hostile daemon that refused to play any sound at all. So I am not interested in that as a solution.

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You are invoking alsamixer correctly. Does your headset actually have mixer controls? This might be a bug in the bluetooth plugin. – CL. Aug 28 '13 at 17:08
@CL. - Not sure if the hardware supports it or not, or if it's a bug, but I've just discovered the "softvol" pcm type so now I'm happy. – asveikau Aug 29 '13 at 4:43
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Figured out a workaround. Using alsa's softvol plugin to do volume control in software.

Added this to .asoundrc:

   type softvol
   slave.pcm "btheadset" "Bluetooth"
   control.card 0

Now I tell software to play to the device btheadset_softvol and my main sound card's mixer has a "Bluetooth" option.

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