opinion on upgrading from norns shield

hey all, i’m curious as to people’s thoughts on upgrading from my diy shield. i have been having tons of fun with it but am starting to get a bit annoyed by the ground loop noise i can’t seem to get rid of. i have tried to follow some suggestions posted on here and got a portable usb power bank, which took away a small amount of noise but it’s still extremely noisy.

i see that the new shield is supposed to have better audio isolation, and am wondering if it is worth the upgrade, or should i wait for the full norns when it is released in a couple months? if the noise on the new pre-assembled shield is still noticeable, i think i will just keep using my current diy shield. having 2 audio jacks would be nice though. i’m curious if any owners of both think it’s worth it to upgrade to the full norns for the sake of 2 audio jacks and if the ground loop noise is still noticeable on it? or is the new pre-assembled shield isolated enough to make that worth the purchase?


I have both a norns and the new shield. The new shield sounds great, no noticeable noise. The audio jacks on the norns are nice so if your setup lends itself to that, it may be worth it. Both are great and you couldn’t go wrong with either tbh, it just depends on your setup. The norns has a battery as well so it is portable and would play well with other things that are portable. Hopefully this helps.


I have a newer Shield and it has not had an issue with noise. Also, I use 1/8" stereo to dual 1/8" mono breakout cables on the Shield but if you wanted dual 1/4" mono I’m sure you could find or make adapters like that as well. It’s definitely far less elegant than the proper Norns, which is a beautiful and refined design, but it works well for me.


Using the correct power, does make all the difference.

I’ve found noise when not using a pi usb psu. Other than that, no fidelity issues

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perfect, thank you all for the input!

Is there a noticeable difference in audio quality between Norns and Shield, do they use different hardware?

the newest shield edition is identical except that there is a separate headphone driver on the norns


My issue was noise on the input of my previous Shield.

New Shield has got rid of all noise and sounds amazing whether using battery pack or mains power.

Sounds amazing, def recommended in my experience! :slight_smile:

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I love my shield. The noise issue seems to be mitigated when I turn off or tweak the controls on the system compressor to taste.

With that being said I just ordered a second, newer shield and am very excited. From what I understand the sound issues have been resolved and I’m very excited at the prospect of running parallel scripts and feeding audio + sequencing between the two shields.


You will now be able to compress the living hell out of stuff. Its glorious :slight_smile:

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When powering shield (2021) with a usb battery pack I get crackles in certain scripts (grandchild, buoys) that disappear when using official Pi psu. Also using a 2021 grid. I’ve tried several batteries. Only tried one cable. 0.5m, seemingly nice quality but unsure of gage. I’m going to source a couple of at least 24awg cables and hope for improvement. Some scripts (most ? So many I’m not familiar with) sound great, no crackles, including cc2, Otis and mx samples. I see upthread @spamula
and elsewhere folk are succeeding with shield on battery power. Have you tried grandchild or buoys? Are you constrained to certain apps?

SSH to Norns and check CPU usage and frequency. Maybe your battery gives it too little voltage so the CPUs throttle to low-power mode?

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sorry what is SSH? Is this so that I can diagnose what’s up? that would be most helpful

edit: i know how to get the extra screen up by hitting k2 on script select screen. Not sure how to interpret the flickering cpu value. I do see top right a 43c?

I was wondering what the difference in audio quality is between Norns and Shield. Is it better by 10%, 20%, 30%?

it’s exactly 42% better.

real answer:
on paper they are the same
(as was said just above, my dear)
but the shield is part of a bigger system
which is not even very well isolated from the outside world
noise appears sometimes in the raspi
its mostly gonna be on the inputs
its level varies wildly
the v2 shield rejects more noise
(i’m sorry, we lack the resources to measure
a statistically significant sample
of raspi noise in the wild
but most people never have an issue)

but ultimately there are other reasons
more important i think
to have monome build you an excellent box
that sounds good, travels good, feels good, looks good
hard to measure ergonomics

@DegradedEcho if you have problems with the battery system that disappear with the official PSU, it seems like a pretty clear issue of getting the battery system to behave exactly like the PSU. that means providing 5.25V (not 5V) over a 24AWG or lower cable, full stop. (cables can be high quality / nicely shielded / robust etc, but the gauge is the gauge. thinner gauge means lower voltage arrives at the sink. surprising for 0.5m but <shrug>)