MIDI over Bluetooth

Hi @UnkleSkunky !

Don’t be confused by this screenshot. You can run almost any linux software in zynthianOS because it’s based on RaspberryPiOS, that is based in Debian. But Reaper is not part of zynthian and we don’t have any plans to integrate Reaper or any other DAW in zynthian. If you want to run a DAW, i think you should use a PC with mouse and keyboard. Reaper and most DAWs are designed to be used with a “mouse + keyboard + display” interface. If you want to run Reaper + Linux in a RBPi, i don’t think zynthianOS is the best choice. You should better consider using RaspberryPiOS or any generic RBPi OS.

Zynthian is a “kind of DAW” that is designed to be controlled with a specific hardware interface consisting of encoders, buttons and touch display. There are 3 “official” versions of the zynthian control interface:

  • V1 => 4 x encoders with switches
  • V4 => 4 x encoders with switches + 4 push buttons
  • V5 => 4 x encoders with switches + 20 push buttons

The V1-V4 workflow is quite similar and the 4 extra push buttons can be configured depending of user preferences. V5 workflow has been optimized a lot because we now have a bunch of buttons. The touch display support has improved quite a bit and you can use it quite comfortably for some operations, where it has more sense, but it’s a complement to the encoder + buttons, not a replacement.

Using zynthian with only touch, mouse, keyboard, etc. is suboptimal and probably it will always be suboptimal. We can’t optimize for several control interfaces simultaneously. We must choose a specific control interface and optimize for it, so this is what we do.
You can take a taste of zynthian by running ZynthianOS without the hardware interface, but it’s just a limited experience because workflows are not optimized for this use. Zynthian aims to be a “stage beast”, where most musicians prefer rotaries + buttons, including myself, so this is the path we follow.

Well … jejeje … perhaps i diverged a little bit from the topic, but it seems interesting, so i will post it anyway :wink:


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Hi @ralmond !
Nice to meet you and welcome to zynthianland!
Well, this looks more like the kernel version, not the zynthian version, but anyway, it seems like you are running “stable”, that is not longer maintained because we are totally focused on the next release.
If you (or any zynthian user) are experiencing issues with current stable, i would suggest to try our current testing version, “Oram Bookworm”, that will be released in the next weeks and will replace the current stable version. This new version is a big step forward that improves a lot of things, removes a lot of limitations and fix a lot of issues. it’s still not ready because there are a lot of changes and some details to polish still remain. Also, we want to be fully compatible with older versions. Anyway, you could try and see if it improves your experience and BTW, help us to debug the new version :wink:


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I’m downloading it now. I normally try to stay off the bleeding edge to keep from getting cut, but given that I’m already scraping my knuckles on the stable version :).

Update. Using Oram I’m now seeing the midi controllers.

However, I’m having lots of problems getting the network interface to work. (The default password doesn’t work for the Zynthian-ap, and even through I can enter the password for my wifi network, it is not connecting. I’m also missing a step with getting the internet link to work.)

The midi connection interface is an obvious improvement, though.

Default password is now “opensynth”

I have done a major overhaul of Bluetooth in Oram. It is working well for me but I invite users to test.

There is a menu item in the admin menu called, “Bluetooth”. This takes you to the Bluetooth configuration view.

The first option “Enable Bluetooth” toggles the Bluetooth service. When the service is running, more options appear. The state of the service is remembered between restarts.

An entry for each Bluetooth controller is listed. By default this will be just the builtin / onboard RPi adapter but you can add another USB adapter and that will also show. Only one adapter may be enabled and they may initially all be disabled. Select an adapter to enable it. The selected controller is remembered between reboots. You can bold press on a controller to rename it. By default they are called the same as the Zynthian hostname.

Whilst the Bluetooth configuration view is open and a controller is enabled, the Zynthian will be scanning for Bluetooth devices. Each device will appear below the menu divider, “Devices”.

If a device checkbox is unchecked, the device is not trusted and will not connect. If it subsequently goes out of range or is switche off it will not reappear in the list.

If a device checkbox is checked, the device is trusted and should connect. When it is connected a Bluetooth icon appears between the checkbox and the device name. A trusted device will remain in the list even if it is not in range or turned on. (Each controller holds its own table of enabled devices, i.e. you could enable a device on the internal controller but it won’t necessarily be enabled on the USB adapter.)

Short select a trusted device to disable and remove it. It will disappear from the list. If it is in range it will reappear, unchecked.

Connected devices will provide their functionality if supported by Zynthian. HID (mouse, keyboard, etc.) should work.

BLE MIDI devices will create a MIDI input and output port that can be configured in MIDI Input and MIDI Output admin menus and can be connected / routed in chain option menus, like any other MIDI port.

Be aware that the onboard Bluetooth adapter has poor signal strength. It can be challenging to get a Bluetooth device to reliably connect, even at very short distances. It may be useful, especially if you have a custom build with the RPi positioning more sympathetic to this. This is why an external device may be advantageous.

Some possible enhancements that are not currently implemented:

  • Ability to rename devices
  • Indication of RSSI level
  • Indication of device type (HID, BLE MIDI, etc.)
  • Indication of battery level
  • Ability to block devices
  • Pairing authentication - currently authentication is disabled and any device can be trusted at Zynthian end only