virtio sound

This document explains the setup and usage of the Virtio sound device. The Virtio sound device is a paravirtualized sound card device.

Linux kernel support

Virtio sound requires a guest Linux kernel built with the CONFIG_SND_VIRTIO option.


Virtio sound implements capture and playback from inside a guest using the configured audio backend of the host machine.

Device properties

The Virtio sound device can be configured with the following properties:

  • jacks number of physical jacks (Unimplemented).

  • streams number of PCM streams. At the moment, no stream configuration is supported: the first one will always be a playback stream, an optional second will always be a capture stream. Adding more will cycle stream directions from playback to capture.

  • chmaps number of channel maps (Unimplemented).

All streams are stereo and have the default channel positions Front left, right.


Add an audio device and an audio backend at once with -audio and model=virtio:

  • pulseaudio: -audio driver=pa,model=virtio or -audio driver=pa,model=virtio,server=/run/user/1000/pulse/native

  • sdl: -audio driver=sdl,model=virtio

  • coreaudio: -audio driver=coreaudio,model=virtio


To specifically add virtualized sound devices, you have to specify a PCI device and an audio backend listed with -audio driver=help that works on your host machine, e.g.:

-device virtio-sound-pci,audiodev=my_audiodev \
-audiodev alsa,id=my_audiodev