Bluetooth Headset

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This article describes the configuration of a Bluetooth headset.


This article assumes that Bluetooth and ALSA have been previously configured.



Following instructions from PulseAudio and BlueZ 5 should be sufficient to make Bluetooth headsets work (through pavucontrol for instance).

ALSA + Bluez 5

If you do not want to use PulseAudio, you can use bluez-alsa to provide integration between Bluez and ALSA.

  • Make sure you have emerged Bluez 5, not Bluez 4
user $equery list net-wireless/bluez
  • Install bluez-alsa:
root #emerge --ask media-sound/bluez-alsa
  • In your ALSA configuration, /etc/asound.conf (system-wide) or ~/.asoundrc (user-level), specify the parameters of the Bluetooth connection (replace the MAC address with the MAC address of your device)
FILE /etc/asound.conf or ~/.asoundrc
# Bluetooth headset
defaults.bluealsa {
     interface "hci0"            # host Bluetooth adapter
     device "10:4F:A8:00:11:22"  # Bluetooth headset MAC address
     profile "a2dp"
  • Make sure the bluetooth and bluealsa services are started. You probably want to add them to your default runlevel via rc-config.
  • Make sure the device is paired and connected to your computer. See Bluetooth for details.
  • Test with e.g. aplay, passing the PCM device 'bluealsa'
user $aplay -D bluealsa some_file.wav
  • For other applications, the precise option to set the output device may differ.
Changes to ALSA configuration files /etc/asound.conf and ~/.asoundrc are picked up automatically at application start, you don't need to restart the alsasound service.
  • Hardware volume control:
user $alsamixer -D bluealsa

ALSA + Bluez 4

If for some reason, you do not want to PulseAudio nor ALSA + Bluez 5 using bluez-alsa as described above, then you could try the following method.

  • Make sure you have emerged Bluez 4, not Bluez 5
user $equery list net-wireless/bluez
 You will probably need to mask Bluez 5 and then re-emerge bluez.
FILE /etc/portage/package.mask
  • Add one of the following code snippets to /etc/asound.conf (system-wide) or ~/.asoundrc (user-level), and substitute the MAC address with the MAC address of your Bluetooth device.
FILE /etc/asound.conf or ~/.asoundrc
# First try autodetection:
@hooks [
		func load
		files [
		errors false

# Specify your device if autodetection doesn't work for you:

## To redirect ALL output to the headset
#pcm.!default {
#type bluetooth
#device 00:16:44:FD:6B:A0
#profile "auto"

## OR: to create a new, additional output channel
#pcm.bluetooth {
#type bluetooth
#device 00:16:44:FD:6B:A0
#profile "auto"
  • Restart ALSA.


root #rc-service alsasound restart


root #systemctl restart alsasound


  • Play a sound file.
user $mplayer -ao alsa:device=bluetooth filename

If it works, please add your device to the table of working devices.

Working devices

The capabilities of the device are dependent on the Bluetooth controller being used.
Device Headphone Microphone BlueZ Version Notes
Cellular Innovations HFBLU-ST6 Yes No  ?
Dell BH200 Yes Not tested  ?
Jabra MOVE v2.3.0 Yes Yes 5.39 If supported, AAC codec is selected, otherwise SBC
LG HBS730 Yes No  ?
Nokia BH-214 Yes No 4.101 & 5.39
Nokia BH-604 Yes Yes  ?
Parrot Zik Yes Not tested  ?
Philips SBH6201 Yes Yes  ?
Philips SBH9100 Yes Not tested  ?
Plantronics BackBeat GO Yes Not tested  ?
Prestigio PBHS1 Yes Not tested  ?
Sennheiser MM 550-X Travel Yes Not tested 5.27 Microfone tested successfully in 2011 with BlueZ 4.x/HSF
Sony DR-BTN200 Yes No 5.39 All buttons except "Call" work and can be assigned shortcuts in the DE
Sony MDR-ZX750BN Yes No  ? The change track and volume buttons work.
Sony MDR-ZX770BT Yes Not tested 4.101 & 5.25 4.101 requires Enable=Socket in /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf
Sony SBH20 Yes Not tested  ?
Sony SBH52 Yes Yes  ? The buttons work and can be assigned actions in KDE. Supported rate 4800.
Sony Ericsson HBH-DS200 Yes Not tested 4.101 & 5.43 BlueZ 4: software volume control via .asoundrc. BlueZ 5: BlueALSA
Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 Yes Not tested  ? Requires Enable=Socket in /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf.


Audio socket (Bluez 4 only)

The ALSA + Bluez 4 setup needs Socket enabled, if there's no sound.

FILE /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf

Can't open input device

Compile and load the uinput kernel module, when things don't work, and the logs show this error:

bluetoothd: Can't open input device: No such file or directory (2)
bluetoothd: AVRCP: failed to init uinput for 00:16:44:FD:6B:A0
bluetoothd: Unable to select SEP
Device Drivers  --->
   Input device support  --->
      [*]   Miscellaneous devices  --->
         <M>   User level driver support

No audio service is available

After updating to net-wireless/bluez-5.xx it might happen, that a Bluetooth headset is connected, but ALSA / PulseAudio fails to pick up the connected device.

An error message like this might be shown in the output of PulseAudio:

I: [pulseaudio] module-card-restore.c: Restoring profile for card bluez_card.00_16_94_0B_6F_DE.
I: [pulseaudio] card.c: Created 10 "bluez_card.00_16_94_0B_6F_DE"
bt_audio_service_open: connect() failed: Connection refused (111)
W: [pulseaudio] module-bluetooth-device.c: Bluetooth audio service not available
W: [pulseaudio] module-bluetooth-device.c: Service not connected
I: [pulseaudio] card.c: Freed 10 "bluez_card.00_16_94_0B_6F_DE"
E: [pulseaudio] module.c: Failed to load module "module-bluetooth-device" (argument: "address="00:16:94:0B:6F:DE" path="/org/bluez/31716/hci0/dev_00_16_94_0B_6F_DE""): initialization failed.

To fix this, the following needs to be done:

  1. Enable the audio socket of bluetoothd
FILE /etc/bluetooth/audio.conf
  1. Restart bluetoothd by doing one of the following things:
    • Turn the software wireless kill switch off and on again
root #rfkill block bluetooth
root #rfkill unblock bluetooth
    • Turn the hardware wireless kill switch off and on again
    • Reboot the computer
  1. Reconnect the Bluetooth headset

See also

External resources