Switch between A2dp and Headset pulseaudio profile with i3Blocks

Wednesday, February 3, 2021



I’ve purchased my first nice bluetooth headset a couple of weeks ago. And while I really enjoy the freedom and great quality (as well as good noise cancelling), I found out that when connecting a bluetooth headset (via bluez library and the blueman UI), I had the possibility to use 2 different profiles: A2DP or Headset_head_unit…

I won’t go here into the details of these 2 profiles as there are some info online, but the main thing is that in the end I have to mix between the two multiple times a day.

Why? Because the A2DP provides the best sound quality, but when in that mode, the microphone is not working… Whereas the Headset_head_unit profile provides a poor sound quality but at least the microphone works… Yeah I know… And because I do lots of calls during the day but still listen to music or videos often, I need to switch very quickly between the two modes (because yes, it is bad enough to not want to listen to music in the Headset_head_unit profile… It is fine for calls though.)

Anyway, the first few days, I was opening pavucontrol and then change the configuration as needed and keeping the pavucontrol screen open somewhere in a dedicated i3wm workspace. But I got very quickly fed up with that, so I thought about a way to improve this. Two things came 2 mind: a keyboard shorcut (via i3 keybindings) and a i3blocks block that would toggle the pulseaudio profile when clicked.

(For those who don’t know i3blocks, it is very often used tool with i3wm to display information in the status bar)

i3blocks and a small python script

I created a small python script that can be used with i3blocks and that display nothing when the bluetooth headset is not connected. A green mic icone when connected in Headset_head_unit profile and a red headphones icon when connected in A2DP profile. You can see the icons on the README page.

First, clone the repo (I’ve created public gitlab and github repo for convenience)

    git clone https://gitlab.com/bacardi55/i55blocks.git


    git clone https://github.com/bacardi55/i55blocks.git

To use it, add in your ~/.config/i3blocks/config file:


is the name of your bluetooth card that you can find using:

    pactl list cards | grep bluez_card

You should get something like this:

    Name: bluez_card.4C_87_5D_2B_62_1D

use the full name for the bluetoothcard variable.

Reload i3blocks and you should see either of the 2 icons if your headset is connected, nothing otherwise.

Using a keyboard shortcut in i3wm

Now, as a quick alternative tip, if I don’t have my hand on my mouse, I like having quick i3wm keybind to do the same only via keyboard.

To do so, open your i3wm config file (~/.config/i3/config) and add:

    bindsym $mod+Mod1+p exec --no-startup-id export BLOCK_BUTTON=true && export bluetoothcard="<NameOfYourBluetoothCard>" && /usr/bin/python3 /home/bacardi55/workspace/perso/i55blocks/bluetooth-headset-mode/bt_headset_mode

And voilà, you should reload i3 and be able to use the shortcut (remember to put the correct name of your bluetooth card) :)


If you find any issue or have any question about this article, feel free to reach out to me via email, mastodon, matrix or even IRC, see the About Me page for details.

See Also

Moving away from GlusterFS to a shared folder mounted via sshfs for my cluster storage

Good Bye 2020, Hello 2021