Using Zynthian as a sound module

Hi guys.

I am using a Rpi4, iQAudio DAC Pro and a Waveshare 7" screen as my first project. I have looked around a bit but haven’t been able to find a solution to this problem

I am trying to use the setup as a sound module for Ableton. I dont have DIN midi ports on my Zynthian and only use the USB ones that come with the RPi board. I am able to play it using my AKAI MPK Mk II but would like to route the DAWs MIDI OUT from the laptop’s USB ports into the Zynthian, then carry the Audio OUT from Zynthian into Ableton through my MTrack Duo.

Wondering if it is even possible to use my Zynthian to this intent. I am very new to this but of all the midi devices I have owned, there is only a USB B port that I have found on devices that are to act as slaves to a host. Unfortunately, the RPi board doesn’t have one. Any workaround without having to buy another board/HAT with MIDI ports?

Apologies if this has been answered before. Happy for moderators to take this down and redirect me to a thread that has this answered already.


Hi @lsq23! It is great to see you here. A warm welcome from all of the Zynthian community.

We tend not to take posts down, even if they stray off topic. (Unlike some less friendly forums who may ban you for the slightest digression from the rules! Yes I’m looking at you Lines!!!)

You can do what you want but you will need a special cable. Zynthian can act as a USB MIDI peripheral by plugging its USB C power connector to the host computer but it is very unlikely that the computer will provide enough power from its USB port. You can either use a splitter cable that allows injecting power into the device or use a powered USB hub.

The splitter cable is tricky because it isn’t compliant with USB rules and most cables of this sort are not wired correctly. Search this forum for posts on this subject. Maybe they mention “gadget mode” or OTG.

USB hubs may also fail to prove sufficient power. I would hope there is a hub that works work but I don’t know for sure.

Good luck and keep us updated with your progress.


Hi @lsq23,
here are a few options, I’ve ranked them according to my favorite, having tried them all:

  1. connection over network by rtp-midi - you need a network switch, you connect both the zynthian and the laptop to the network using a cable. On zynthian, in the admin menu, select Enable RTP-MIDI (AppleMIDI network). Then, depending on the operating system, you install the rpt-midi software on the laptop. For linux and win, I can give you further advice.
  2. connection by USB - USB - you need special cable with a special converter. You can find the construction here New USB midi to midi USB converter or MIDI Routing and interfacing - #2 by ToFF
  3. connection over OTG USB port on zynthian - As @riban already mentioned, you need a special cable, I described my experience with such a cable here Zynthian from scratch made by ToFFmashines - #10 by ToFF

I personally recommend the first method via rtp-midi


Thank you that did it!
Funny enough, I just managed to use rtpMIDI after pulling out the last strand of hair off my head today and came back to find your answer sitting here all pretty!

Thank you for your help :))

1 Like

Thank you for this. Going to incorporate this in later projects. Looking forwards to build a synth within my AKAI MPK MINI II. Can see some space inside the casing that I can probably slip in an RPi 4 into, albeit with some carpentry. :stuck_out_tongue:


Be sure to make space for a heatsink, even if that requires a power bulge in the lid! Zynthian will throttle the CPU quite quickly when running audio engines.


Hello !
A USB to USB midi convertor exist, you may found it here :