Fates vs Norns Shield?

New to this forum and still trying to get to grips with some of the jargon. What’s the difference between “norns shield” and “fates”? I’m researching both but I don’t quite understand the difference.

I have a good understanding of Norns vs Norns Shield, and it seems more apt to compare Norns Shield to Fates since both are DIY. I’m not finding much info distinguishing the two, so I have some questions around Fates.

I think that Fates…

  • runs essentially the same software as Norns (but a fork of the main software?)
  • is compatible with all norns apps.
  • can run on newer Raspberry Pis than Norns Shield
  • has more processing power when running on a newer Raspberry Pi

Any other differences I’m missing? Trying to decide between the two and that’s challenging when I don’t quite know the differences. Thanks in advance!


Fates is, essentially, the same as Norns Shield but:

  • using a Raspberry Pi 4 (which necessitates a fork of the software)
  • runs ORAC and other things, which Norns Shield does not
  • is no longer manufactured

Amazing @NoraCodes , and thanks for the quick reply! The fact that it’s no longer manufactured – should I take that to mean there are likely compatibility concerns in the future?


I don’t think so. @okyeron seems quite good at keeping things up to date, and there is much discussion in this thread. The codebase is maintained here; it was last modified 14th April to keep it up to date with the mainline Norns codebase and I believe the plan is to continue doing that.


FYI the added processing power is of no consequence. we aim to maintain compatibility with all existing norns systems, so the upper limit is set. if some scripts crash existing devices then the community is effectively split: sharing becomes a hassle and support issues multiply.

the only reason you should want a fates is if you want to run ORAC with the third encoder. there is absolutely no benefit otherwise, unless you’re developing your own scripts which you’re not intending to share. for norns support you’ll be perpetually dependent on @okyeron to release updates (who has been good about it, but just to say, it’s effectively a fork of the project).


Some might find the form-factor of Fates a little more comfortable to use that the Shield, which can be a bit “fiddly”, being so compact.

Not a criticism, just an observation. I have both.


Exactly what I needed to read. Thanks @tehn for the reply and everything you’ve done for this community – was very pleasantly surprised to see you reply to a simple question like mine!

I own both the shield and fates and would add two more differences that are minor, but may matter to some folks:

-In/out jacks: You have single 1/8”/3.5mm stereo jacks for i/o on the shield and dedicated 1/8”/3.5mm l/r i/o jacks on the fates (along with a headphone jack)

-Power connection: On the shield it’s a micro-USB on the fates it’s a USB C

Neither of these affect performance, but one might fit into your workflow more comfortably. I love both. That said, shield will be around a long time and is the easiest way to get a DIY norns as the fates isn’t being made anymore. Hope that helps.


Headphone jack! First point that is maybe tipping the scales towards Fates, but I don’t know if that tradeoff is enough to warrant potential compatibility issues in the future. Good point though; thanks for that.

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apologies— i was typing quickly and neglected these other points. absolutely true re: form factor, audio jacks, power jack. fates also has a separate headphone (like the original norns… though different driver/etc).


Yeah was about to say one you can get easy and is supported the other is unobtainium
I had a fates but it died a horrible death by coffee (yes coffee, I’m an idiot) but I’ll be getting a norns shield ASAP - miss it sooo soo much

What are the adc/dac differences between fates or the norns diy and norns og?

I’ll just point to awesome-monome-norns - hardware.


  • norns and norns shield use the same codec chip.
  • norns relies an additional circuit for headphone output. fates uses a different codec that provides a headphone output natively.
  • both norns and fates have a filtering stage for the audio path. norns shield doesn’t, making it slightly noisier (especially on its input).

Regarding the last point, see DIY: norns shield - #1429 by Jonny and DIY: norns shield - #1433 by zebra for more measurements.

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forthcoming batch of norns shield has an updated clean audio path (more on this next week)


Looking forward to the update!

Debating dwindling down to a sole norns piece. Which would you part with?

one thing to keep in mind is that fates is dependent on someone (most likely on this forum, most likely okyeron) porting the new norns updates to work with fates. if you want tight integration with the monome ecosystem/want a more supported product then shield might be move. that being said, fates has the addition of dedicated l/r jacks, larger form factor, and orac w the fourth encoder. if i were you, i would just keep both :wink:


I have 48 hrs of available tape on my fates
Compared to a paltry 1:30 on Norns
So right there alone is a HUGE difference

Not to mention my Norns crashes often
Never had that problem with fates
From my stand point having owned both
I sold my Norns