When adding a USB device to my system (I deliberately run no modern stack for device detection), Pulseaudio can't pickup it without restart (pulseaudio -k; pulseaudio --start).

Is there an option for, say, pactl, which will make pulseaudio to "detect" and start using newly plugged in devices?

  • I'm confused how udev, which has been around since 2005, is too modern, and yet pulseaudio is fine... And given that udev doesn't even do device detection (the kernel does), "no modern stack for device detection" would kinda imply a kernel with no USB support. Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 12:35
  • I'm not sure if I understood your question properly. The matter involving auto detection of audio devices (and possibly selecting the correct profile) seems to be solved once for all in Debian Buster: you simply say what is the default input/output devices you prefer and once connected Pulseaudio switches to those devices. If you are using something a bit older, you can try gist.github.com/pylover/d68be364adac5f946887b85e6ed6e7ae Commented May 27, 2018 at 9:07
  • You may (or may not) find this useful: superuser.com/questions/1324152/… Commented May 27, 2018 at 9:08
  • I know this is a couple years old, but I'm running into similar issues. Does the device show up in /proc/asound? Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 22:02

3 Answers 3


Actually, yes, there is a way to do so without restarting Pulseaudio:

pacmd unload-module module-udev-detect && pacmd load-module module-udev-detect

I use it everytime I plug in my external-soundcard or after waking up my laptop. Pulseaudio cleans up his room and bring back my Spotify music on my external soundcard automatically (as it is my default soundcard).

You will need pacmd to do so; it is included in the pulseaudio-utils package on Ubuntu.

  • Sometimes works sometimes not. I guess it's a fully correct answer anyway. Commented Jun 13, 2017 at 12:00
  • My Ubuntu 18.04 system on a Dell Latitude E5470 rarely loses the audio device after wake-up from suspend, but when it does, this command fixes it. Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 13:19
  • This has been the only thing that has worked after loosing output devices after suspend, without rebooting.
    – Justin
    Commented Apr 17, 2020 at 15:54
  • Also works beautifully on Linux Mint that usually loses my HDMI audio output device upon suspend nowadays, since I added an HDMI switch between my monitor and pc. Anyhow, the command does instantly add it back to the list of devices in "Sound Settings". I saved it in /etc/pm/sleep.d to be executed automatically upon resume, it seems to be working (unless I didn't suspend long enough, will see tomorrow). Commented Jun 12, 2020 at 16:19
  • Interesting. Seems to be working and still valid in 2020 with KDE Neon. I have a question though, is it possible to run this as a command on USB plug/unplug? I have a Corsair VOID Pro Elite headset which goes nuts when I dualboot, so sometimes I have audio, sometimes I don't, but when I ran this command it worked beautifully. I even tried to replug the dongle and it didn't work until I ran this command.
    – DARKGuy
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 8:48


pulseaudio -k && pactl load-module module-detect

worked for me. This will restart pulseaudio and therefore forget existing devices. Afterwards it will rescan for devices. The difference here is not to use udev, maybe there is an issue with the setup that prevents udev support.

This was necessary for me, as I'm using external devices at my laptop, but sometimes internal speakers.

For some reason you might need to add a sleep between both commands.


You're not restarting PulseAudio correctly. The correct way to restart PulseAudio in Ubuntu 20 is with this command:

systemctl --user restart pulseaudio

Restarting PulseAudio will detect new audio devices.

  • 1
    my kubuntu system was not detecting the analog audio output on motherboard. this command made it work. Commented Jun 26, 2021 at 14:18

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