Sending USB-Midi data to Zynthian, from an external DAW/Computer

Hi everybody,

I am new to the Zynthian community, having recently received and built (with lots of fun!) an official kit v4.

So far so good, with the small ingenious machine: slowly wrapping my head around the slighlty different engineering concept and workflow of the Zynth, as compared with the other hw and sw synthesiser systems that I own.

Sorry if I am possibly arising a subject which might seem obvious, especially to the more seasoned practitioners of the platform, but I seem not to be able to address Midi tracks via USB to the Zynthian, from my DAW (Cubase 10.5 Pro) both on Win 10 and OS Catalina.

Midi through DIN connectors works perfectly from my computer, as well as playing Zynth via USB with a keyboard controller. Nevertheless, I cannot manage to send Midi-USB tracks from Cubase to the unit, because Zynthian does not show as a selectable output destination within the app, nor it appears to be connected to the computer as a recognised USB peripheral.

I have linked Zynth and my iMac with an A-A male-to-male USB 3.0 cable.
I guess that in this fashion an external computer like Zynth-RBPi4 (sort-of-slave), hooked to the main workstation’s (sort-of-master) USB board, may not show up as an available plugged-in device (since it is in fact a second PC inside a dedicated musical enclosure, rather than a secondary appliance), unless:

  • 1] There exist already Zynthian USB-MIDI drivers for Win and Mac, somewhere I have not been clever enough to spot them (quite possible!);


  • 2] Some sort of local Midi-over-USB network must be implemented manually, between the computer with the DAW and the Zynthian (equally possible, but how?..).

Many thanks in advance for any kind of advice/help/troubleshooting in this matter.

Nice to be on-board, and greetings from Tuscany!

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Sorry @Aethermind, but you can’t connect zynthian to a computer in such a way, in the same way that you can’t connect a computer to another computer using a USB A-A type cable. Regarding USB, zynthian is like a computer …

So, you should consider using RTP-MIDI over ethernet (or WIFI, if you like).

Anyway recently, with RBPi4, perhaps there is an open door, as the power type C connector has data pins connected. Some users has already managed to configure RBPi4 for OTG mass-storage, so there is some hope …


RTP-MIDI protocol adds a noticeable delay to the midi … moreover, it can change over time …
This feature becomes noticeable when recording track-by-track from midi format in wav format in Cubase …
I do not exclude that this is a feature of Cubase’s work with midi data …

The best option for today is the “classic” midi connection … although I didn’t plan it, because I don’t find this solution elegant, I had to add a DIN midi-input and a strapping on a separate board to my Zinthian …

Thank you @jofemodo for the prompt feed-back :-).

I thus see that my general assumptions on the computer-Zynthian USB relationships were correct.

I will look into the Midi network page, of the Zynthian wiki, and experiment a bit in that area before getting back to this thread, to let you know whether my attempts with RTP-MIDI have been successfull!

I am not even sure if the results would be worth the trouble of not using a classical 5-pin DIN Midi connection - in terms of lesser latency, or greater stability of data flow with a complex multi-track orchestration - but the subject seems promising to investigate per-se, anyway.

Best regards,

Hello @Roma,

thanks for your suggestions, and for sharing your personal experience with RTP-MIDI.

For the kind of music I write, and its specific workflow, I don’t mind very much potential sync misalignments in Cubase, between audio and Midi tracks, because it is a technical approach which I resort to very seldom, composing almost everything as Midi, or data imported from music notation apps. At the time of rendering the Zynth Midi parts to audio, the failsafe solution would/will probably be to record them track-by-track, into the inputs of the computer audio interface.

Anyway, your advice about possible time lags, while using RTP-MIDI, is certainly useful and to be taken into account!

I will investigate a bit the Midi network application, but it really sounds like adding a DIN-Midi port to my computer setup, for driving Zynthian, might be the most practical and convenient work-around!

All best wishes,

Hi @zynthianers!

I’ve very good news! I just tested the OTG mode on one of my zynthians with RBPi4 and it worked like a charm. First try!! I was capable of sending MIDI from my laptop to my zynthian with a standard USB A-C cable!!

I’m really excited because this opens a lot of doors …

  • Zynthian as USB-MIDI device
  • Zynthian as USB Mass Storage
  • Zynthian as USB-Audio device (yes, this too!!)
  • etc.

Probably we will have to use some kind of “Y” adapter for injecting enough power, but it looks really promising …

So … give me some hours/days for integrating all this on master, so you can simply update & enjoy …

The best!


Just what I need :partying_face:

Is this RPi4 only or should it work on RPi3 too?

Edit: reading closer, RPi4 only, time to start planning an upgrade I guess…

us probably need a usb3 “A to A” cable that has a cut off the power bus?

I recently replaced the DC input jack with an aviation jack, which solved the xruns problem on the RPi4… device is powered directly to the gpio connector.

No. AFAIK the only USB connector that we can use for OTG is the type C power connector, so what you need is an USB A-C type cable, what is really easy to get :wink:

This only work for RBPi4. The RBPi3’s micro-USB connector have disconnected the data pins, so there is nothing we can do with that.

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Hello @jofemodo

This is huge news indeed!

Kudos on your prospectively promising idea, of exploiting the existing USB-C power port for Midi (and potentially also audio?) data transmission.

I have browsed quickly the web, for the required power + data contraption:

USB-C Y cable + OTG adapter to USB 3.0 (or directly an USB C to USB 3.0 type A cord).

As far as I am been able to detect, it seems that an USB-C splitter (Y cable or little hub), providing both charging and data transmission capabilities to each connector, is not (yet?) an easy thing to find on the market (but I can be wrong here).

Unless I have misunderstood your proposed cable scheme, what we should guarantee is both an USB-C input for the RBPi4 official PSU (5.1 v, 2.5 A) and an USB-C data port for USB-Midi.

The other alternative - maybe technologically cleaner (as @Roma seems to suggest) - would be to modify the kit v4, adding a separate DC input for an external supply of adequate (or even also redundant) power. However, I guess that for those who, like me, aren’t capable of decent DIY electronic tinkering and soldering that would be beyond the available skills!

All the best :slight_smile:

PS @jofemodo

Thanks for your current work, of implementing the new USB-C Midi function, for a coming Zynthian update and us to enjoy!


OK @zynthianers!

I just commited the changes that make this feature available to all of you.

Simply update your zynthian, reboot and enjoy …

Those of you wanting to learn more or try other “gadget” modes, you will find more details on this page:



Pi4 - 3A…
And a small current reserve for connecting keyboards and controllers… at least 0.5 A…

I just want to mention another possibility: an USB MIDI interface which can run standalone (host)
I use an IConnectivity Interface (with the IMidiConnect4+ you would even have 2 USB connections for 2 computers), but there are others (Retrokits and others…), which can be configured to route the midi connection.

Do you think a powered USB hub would work?


Yes, of course: 3A! (just going from memory, about the official USB-C PSU bought for RBPi4 :wink:).

However… that extra 500 mA for controllers and keyboards happen not to be in the package sold around…


Exciting news then: many thanx for this!

There are alternatives … i am using a 4A power supply with aliexpress…

I know this isn’t exactly directly related but I feel it may contribute to the idea possibly…

Here they trick the otg into thinking it is a usb camera.

I know that’s on a pi zero, but I’m sure the idea is the same on a pi 4?

Do we think it might be possible to present a pi 4 as both usb midi and usb audio?

[quote=“You can also combine a few of the above (up to 3 at a time) using the g_multi module, although Windows and Mac have difficulty handling it then”[/quote]

Windows maybe be a bit better now. I have a combined serial and MIDI interface on a single USB device working with Windows 10. Looking forward to @jofemodo performing more magic and presenting all these interfaces… :tophat: