New Zynthianer with doubts

Greetings to all

I learned about the Zynthian in a Reddit post and I am very interested in working with the project. This is the first real raspberry pi-based synth that looks amazing (the Organelle by Criter and Guitari is also very cool but too expensive in my opinion). This looks like a good community and the device is being updated very frequently

The main use I will have for the device will be to use it as a synth module for my electric piano (Korg SV-1) and as an effect processor for some other things.
My plan is to buy the kit without the Pi and then buy locally the Pi so I can start playing with it while the kit is shipped to me.

I have some questions regarding the synth

  1. Even for a module, the 3.5 screen looks small. If I get tired of it, ¿can buy a larger screen, design a new case and use it with the components of the kit? (I suppose the answer to this is “yes”)

  2. What kind of Pi hardware is best? Is 8GB RAM too much or can it be useful? How big is the OS with all the engines?

  3. How is the support for PureData? I want to build my own effects for processing of external instruments. This post says that Pure Data can’t be used as an audio FX unit, that it must be loaded inside a synth layer. I don’t know if its possible

  4. Is it possible to have the kit shipped not by mail but by a tracked courier service (DHL, UPS, Fedex)? I live in a country with bad mail service and It can take up to 6 months for my package to arrive (or it can even be stolen)

I am very excited to take part in this project. Thanks to all in advance for their answers.

Hi @choforito84 ! Welcome to our community. We are quite friendly and suffer fools suspiciously gladly!

Your questions:

  1. Yes! Check out the forum for lots of user experience. The 3.5" screen is fine for many things but some features benefit from a larger screen. Some have 5" whilst others have 7". Some take it to extremes but we tend to let them play by themselves :wink:.
  2. Zynthian runs on a 32-bit version of Debian GNU/Linux which can only address 4GB RAM so 8GB is currently overkill. We are working on a port to 64-bit but it may not be here for some time. There is no harm in getting the larger RAM. It costs more and you won’t notice any benefit for at least many months (years) but if you can afford it then you add some future proofing in. (General rule of computers is to buy what you need now because Moore’s Law dictates that you will get twice as much processing power in 18 months time (although that is tailing off a bit now).)
  3. Sorry - I haven’t played with this much but there are others who have experience and should be able to answer you. Maybe @ronsum might have some wise words.
  4. I will let @jofemodo answer definitively but I got mine shipped by DHL.

You can certainly start to play with Zynthian with just a Raspberry Pi, micro-SD card, HDMI monitor and keyboard and/or mouse. Search the forum for how - it is a very commonly answered question.

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Hi @choforito84. Zynthian uses PureData Vanilla 0.49.0 and it works quite well for me. I think you can create a PD effects patch and use it to process external instruments as long as your Zynthian audio card has audio input, but I haven’t tried it myself. Give me some time and I’ll test it out and let you know for sure. In the post you referenced, I didn’t say Pure Data can’t be used as an audio FX unit, I said you can’t load PD as an Audio-FX layer. To explain further, currently PD can only be loaded using the Zynthian’s Special Layer. Zynthian Layers are explained in the Zynthian UI Users Guide Zynthian UI Users Guide - ZynthianWiki.

Hi @choforito84 !

Nice to meet you. Welcome to zynthian!

If you intend to use the unit as a keyboard expander for your SV1 (I really love the SV1, specially the electric pianos!!!), the official 3.5" would be enough.

I wouldn’t waste my money on the 8GB version if you only want to use it for zynthian. Unless you plan to use really huge soundfonts (SF2 or SFZ), you wont be able of pushing zynthian to use more than 2 GB. Believe me, 4 GB is really enough :wink:

You can use PD for audio processing on zynthian, of course. Both, internal and external sources are supported.

The info on the shop is outdated. From the “covid19 event”, we are using DHL, UPS, etc. for all shippings. If you tell me what company is the best for shipping to your country, we will ship with them.


It see while I was away testing a Zynthian PD effects patch to process an external synth, @jofemodo has told you both internal and external sources are supported. My test only confirms what he has already told you. You can also use midi cc messages sent from the Zynthian encoders and/or midi controller keyboard controls to change parameters in your PD effects patch on the fly.

Thanks for all of your replies. I am now even more enthusiastic about being part of this community.

@riban I didn’t knew that It could only address 4 GB RAM due to 32 bit. I might still get the 8 gb version just for the possibility of using the Pi in other project.
About the 5’’ screen, do you know if a case for that size has already been designed?

@ronsum thanks for the info about PD, sorry for not reading well about the usabilty. As soon as I can try stuff there I will ive you more feedback regarding my exprience

@jofemodo the largest SFZ I have are around 250 MB (a SF2 conversion of the sonimusicae harpsicords).On the other hand, I was wondering if the 8 GB would be better for addressing resource-intensive synths such as the LV2 plugin of Vital by Matt Tytel

I live in Mexico, so I think DHL for shipping would suit me best. I don’t know when will I place my order, most likely in around 7-10 days. Is there any kind of special procedure that I must endure to ensure