USB / HDMI Audio Output

Hi there,

I would like to build a zynth box with a lean ramp up just with raspi and stuff I already have… I have in mind to bring it to a synth workshop for young people and would adress this solution as a cheap jump into synthesise just with a raspi and standard midi keyboard.

So, in my first setup - Raspi Pi 3B+ + Samsung HDMI Display with integrated Sound (like a TV) - To get Zynthian started, I used generic hdmi, dummy wires and dummy soundcard. It works, I also get Midi Input with an Artuoria Keystep but I can not hear any sound - hdmi to TV doesn’t work and there is also no output to a headphone connected to the Raspi 3,5 Jack.
Which settings should I choose to get sound from internal Pi without a soundcard?

My second choice is a Presonus Audiobox USB which should be class compliant and works fine on MacOS without drivers.
I turned sound settings to generic usb, but zynthian doesn’t start.
Any ideas for configuration? Is there a chance to read out some settings via mac/terminal/ssh?

And third, if nothing works… I will buy a Hifiberry DAC+.
Is the Pifi DAC+ woth to wait for? On ebay shipped from China it is 1/3 of price as Hifiberry and should have the same chip. Will Pifi works with zynthian as well as Hifiberry?
Are there any DAC alternatives to Hifiberry, preferably shipped from Germany?

Thanks in advance for your replies
Best, BbJack

You can use the HDMI, in the webconf I think you need to set it to PiSound. It’s pretty rubbish though as there is a gate that means it will quite often do a good audio thump when you start playing and again when you stop.

Have a look at this for terminal access

If this is for serious audio, use the Hifiberry DAC+. I tried HDMI, and built-in 3.5mm in my lean ramp up, and they had horrible latency. Every other “non-official” solution I tried ended up causing me more trouble than it was worth.

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Also Raspberry Pi’s have notoriously odd USB. The USB adaptor you mentioned will work, and with reasonable latancy, but you’ll get odd stuck notes unless you put the rpi into USB 1.1 only mode. Stuck Notes

Onboard RBPi sound devices (HDMI or mini-jack) are not supported because you can’t get anything useful for a real-time synthesizer. Latency is huge and quality (mini-jack) is horrible. You should use a decent audio device.

I didn’t test it, but probably yes. This kind of devices are so cheap because they didn’t develop its own software. Instead they deploy a compatible hardware design and use the already developed and well-tested driver :wink:


If you don’t mind a bit of soldering and can find a way to connect to the RPi header then these I2S DAC from eBay (or similar) work fine. I use one but watch out for long data connecting cable which may cause clicks. Keep them short or be ready to experiment with capacitors.

Thank you so much for your replies. I think I will upgrade to the Hifiberry to have the best experience.

Next stop… Touch Display
Any suggestions in 5“ or 7“?

Well some have done things in 7" but the major issue is not so much the making it work but making it robust enough to work in the kind of environment that musical stuff happens. The zynthian standard is a 3.5" screen in a zynth case, and given one of the listed tests for the new release is pour 500ml of water over the case and make sure it suffers no adverse reaction you begin to realise that getting it to work on a bench and getting it to do musical stuff are steps on a path.
It’s really how you mount it … Have a look here . . .

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