Reliability for live performance

First of all let me say that I am impressed with what has gone into Zynthian. Thank you to the developers and community who have made such an advanced tool.

I have downloaded the software and run it on a raspberry pi 3 using the web page page interface. I have not hooked up any specialized hardware to actually use it as a synthesizer. One again good job.

Before I add more hardware, I would like an opinion from those who are experienced with the device. I would like to interface Zynthian to the midi output of a pipe organ. The purpose is to augment the sounds of the organ. From what I have read, zynthian should do a fine job of this. There are several synthesizers to chose from and a lot of samples included with flexibility to add more samples. My question has to do with the reliability of the system.

I would like to install it in an organ and never have the organist think about it. The organist would just snap on the power to the organ and everything would work. This means

  1. When the power comes on, it will comes up ready to go. All of the channels and samples and synthesizers will be as desired. No configuration needed.
  2. Zynthian will tolerate random power outages without a problem.
  3. It will run for months and years without a hiccup. The connectors will not lose connection.

Can Zynthian do all of this?
Thanks for your reply.

As far as just plays goes I have a zynthian connected to a Roland A-88 keyboard and I do a lot of development on it, but when shut down it just comes up, and plays a GM piano. It’s run for literally weeks and is just treated as a piano not really much more to be said.

Raspberry PI’s because of their use odd SSD’s can be a little bit sensitive to power outages but the zynth is designed with this in mind, it doesn’t right log files etc so it’s as reliable as it can probably be from the point of hardware. If you are really worried use two of them! ( that’ a joke…) but perhaps keep a clean ssd image around just in case.
I would certainly describe it as more reliable than a windows PC if that’s a recommendation.

Thank you so much @wyleu for your reply. I would like to review your reply just to make sure I understand it properly.

If I set up Zynthian to use a trumpet on channel 13 and an oboe on channel 12 and then I lose power, when the power comes up again it will be playing GM piano. Is that right?

Would it be a lot of work for me to change the default so that it would come up playing trumpet and oboe?

I really appreciate your comparing the Zynthian with Windows. That does put a good perspective on it.

Thanks again Chris for you kind answer to a newbie!


At the moment the machine will start up with whatever is set up as the default snapshot. This can be anything you want. GM piano is just what I have set as my MIDI channel one, I happen to have an organ on MIDI channel 2 as default but there is some on going discussion about changing the default mechanism.

Snapshot screen

My zynthians are generally built from a Raspberry Pi 3B with various Audio cards and an all in one module for the encoders with an standard raspberry pi 7" touch screen.

It would probably be a good idea to buy a pi & all in one encoder board and an audio board and give it a go.with an hdmi terminal. That will answer many of your questions and give you an idea of whether or not it will meet your requirements. From what you are describing you are dealing with equipment that would make such an outlay acceptable.

An even simpler configuration to test is just a RaspberryPi and the official RaspberryPi 7" touch screen and a cheap ($7.50) USB audio interface such as this one:
I guess you’ll need a USB MIDI interface as well, since you want to connect it to the organ.
Here is one for $16:
Or you can test with an inexpensive USB MIDI keyboard, to start.

That is all you need to try it out. You do not need the encoders, the touchscreen is sufficient to try and see how it works. The USB audio interface will have a slight latency (delay) but will still sound pretty good.
Upgrade later to a high quality audio interface. so there will be very little latency

No encoders are needed as you do not need a user-interface in your situation. You can even do without the screen once it is installed in the organ.
As to reliability, I have no idea how reliable it is with no user interaction. Should be as stable as any other computing device.

Don’t use a USB audio interface the latency is pretty terrible.

I disagree, The latency is not terrible on the inexpensive USB audio interface I suggested. The delay is definitely discernible, but not an impediment for just testing and messing around.

You definitely need something like a HiFiBerry DAC+ for actual performance usage.

Without revealing a zynthian secret the USB implementation was … flaky…

So please forgive my prejudice. With all the other audio options ( I use direct connection to hifiberry amps on my main zynth) I do tend to discount the USB option.

Or one of these little nice devices. It hosts two cards, and has a switch to choose the one to use. You can keep a second card as a backup, or have a “production” card and a staging/test one.
Or you can install RetroPie on the second card and play with MAME when you’re tired of playing music, and this is exactly why I have it :wink:


What are they called or better still an amazon link :smiley: ?

It’s called, with little immagination, dual TF adapter, and I’ve bought them from Aliexpress (or BangGood, I’m not sure) …

Just regarding the power supply, I didn’t like the idea of a flimsy bump-prone usb-c connector so I’ve wired in this 9v->5v converter so that it can be powered from standard guitar pedal power supplies. It has worked out well so far.


Thank you to all the kind people that replied. I ordered hardware, made progress, and ordered more hardware. I am pretty sure you will hear from me again.