Pisound (Raspberry Pi Audio/MIDI interface) is here!

I figured this is now probably worth its own thread, so here we go.
My Pisound card arrived yesterday! Since many people seemed interested in it, I thought I’d write about my first impressions. Keep in mind that I’m not a Linux/Rpi wizard and that I just got the thing, this said, here’s my first impressions.

Everything seems pretty well designed and manufactured. The audio/MIDI board fits nicely onto the Rpi (model B) and does not cover any important stuff, I can’t comment on the quality of the components, but to me it all seems very solid. Mounting the card onto the Rpi was quick and easy, just screw in the provided standoffs, done.
I also got the plexi case with the board. It’s a standard, laser-cut PMM thing, nothing fancy, but it does the job and all the cutouts are in the right place (which is not always the case). My only gripe with it (but it’s a very minor one) is that you have to dismantle the case to change the SD card.
I was surprised about how tall the thing is once you have it in the case. I was expecting it to be a bit more shallow…

The button thing is a bit of a mixed bag for me. I wonder why they didn’t add a couple more buttons. All the double, triple clicking thing is a bit weird, though I’m sure I’ll memorize it quickly. It’s just that maybe I’ll quickly feel like “hey that additional button would have been handy now”.

Setting up the driver was really easy. You just copy paste a command into the terminal and that’s it. Everything worked perfectly from there. Haven’t tested MIDI yet though, but the interface appears in all applications so it should work as well.
The only issues I see with this thing don’t depend on the Pisound card, to name a few:

  • most software packages lag a bit behind their “normal” version. For example the Pd version in the Raspbian repository is still 0.46 (not 0.47), Ardour is still v3, etc.
  • You get all the fun and frustration of having to use linux and/or Jack
  • As long as I don’t figure out how to get X over SSH I’m stuck with having another computer (with screen, mouse and keyboard) taking up space on the desk
  • For purely software-related reasons, I don’t see this really replacing a macOS-based music laptop… but I guess that’s stating the obvious, but I need to check out Tracktion Waveform

My plan was to just use it for Pd, as a headless thing that I could set up to play and live-tweak field recording and other sampled sounds. I guess this will do just fine for that (except, the project I had initially planned to use this for, might not happen anymore… but we’ll see).


Oh cool! Yeah I am grabbing one of these next payday to run PD automationism modular system patches on it.



that is certainly an interesting use for it! Hoping that Automationism is compatible with 0.46, because I already found some vanilla patches that needed to be tweaked due to missing objects.

Mine is in the mail.
My hope is to replace my laptop for live performance. I’ll need it to do:

  • Process my drum machine’s output:
    • Simple looper
    • Compressor and three band EQ
    • Reverb
  • MIDI over USB routing
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It should work I guess. Are you planning to carry a display with the Rpi, or will you use it headless?

When developing for it: connect via ssh & VNC
When playing live: nothin’ but the butt’n!

btw. I was wondering: how do you get X over SSH between the Rpi and MacOS?

my arrived a couple of weeks ago…
I haven’t done much with it, as it arrived just after my Organelle :wink:
… pretty much just tested the hardware worked.

hardware seems nice, and the software was easy to install (takes quite a long time for it to much its way thru all the packages)

and it fits nicely onto my rPI3 which was already attached to a small LCD display, so all good.

I’m a bit surprised at how quiet the community is, but perhaps many are only just getting theirs.
also the instructions are fine in you know Linux but I’m surprised there is a more ‘canned’ version/distro where you can just get it to use PD headless ‘out of the box’

finally the KS mention an iOS app to interface with PD? is this released?

(for me this is just laziness, as I know linux, just I don’t have a lot of time to play with it… but for others, that might be their expectation)

X is simple for osx, I explained it for the Organelle, but its the same for PI


You can do X as Technobear suggests, running the X server on your Mac (after you install XQuartz)

OR, you can run VNC on the Raspberry Pi: The X server is on the Pi, writing to an in memory graphics buffer, and VNC is sending that to the Mac. OS X already supports VNC directly! You can use screen sharing app, the Finder’s Go… menu, or Safari w/ a vnc://192.168.x.y/ style url!

Advantage is you get to see exactly the R.Pi desktop environment. Whereas with X you get the PI’s windows from the apps running there, but no desktop (at least not without more work and hiccups.)

Raspberry Pi’s VNC instructions are here.


It’s coming, they did say it takes a couple more months though.

Thanks a lot both! I got it now! I was just missing the fundamental logic of how this was supposed to work.
I’ll probably give VNC a try though even if SSH -X does work for me for now. For now Pd is probably all I need anyway.
It’s cool that you can just triple click the button, connect to the Rpi via wi-fi and then use it from the main computer, much easier/convenient as I had expected and works in any situation even without a router.

I also gave Ardour (v3) a go and it seems really usable. I miss some of the improvements of v5, but maybe that’s coming sooner or later. I don’t think you can do super complicated projects on it anyway, but for basic recording and playing back, with a bunch of tracks, it should work.

Mine arrived today. Here it is processing the Digitakt through some simple processing built from Automatonism, and controlled via the UC44 over USB MIDI. Along with tiny pbmix-3 mixer, my rig is gettin’ pretty nice and small!


Yeah, MODEP is also pretty cool for that. I only lack some more interesting sound generators (synths and maybe a sampler), but the effects are pretty nice and varied and mapping them to a midi controller is really quick and easy!

Update: Phase 1 complete!

Get to gig…

  1. Plug devices into PiSound: USB from synth & controller
  2. Power on PiSound
  3. Triple click - starts WiFi hotspot
  4. Other band members connect their device to this WiFi, start their Link enabled software
  5. Single click - starts my pd patch, connects MIDI ports up to it

Now Link sync’d to other band members, can control tempo from my controller, and control my synth from my controller.

The pi is running w/o display or keyboard, and no need to ssh/vnc into it at the gig. I can gig now without a computer!

I had to compile abl_link~ for the pi myself, and I fiddled with the pisound click scripts, both for my own needs, and to make it headless (-nogui FTW).

Now onto Phase 2: Audio effect processing of the synth…


I am about to get one of these this sounds exciting for my raspi project

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That’s pretty rad! I bought a Pi a few months ago in hopes it would work as a Plex server (too many transcoding issues for the wee cpu), but maybe this might be a fun second life for it.

It was quite a struggle to figure out what was preventing Pd to run via the one-click script. Fortunately the cool guys over at the Pisound forum (well mostly @thetechnobear) solved that for me. In case somebody has the same problem: https://community.blokas.io/t/solved-not-working-anymore-single-click-to-launch-pd-patch-from-usb/196/12


I remember reading somewhere here on lines that somebody had figured out how to use the touch screen along with pisound? I am confused about this since pisound appears to use all the GPIO pins and the screen needs four of them. Any pointers?

EDIT: Ah, just realized why I couldn’t find this raspberry pi thing, it was posted in the Organelle thread! and it appears that the screen @TheTechnobear is using is not the official RPi touchscreen, so that might explain why it doesn’t need any GPIO pins.

If you are looking for an alternate touchscreen that doesn’t use pins, I’ve gotten good mileage out of my Waveshare screen which runs over HDMI and USB for the touchscreen info.

EDIT: just checked the other thread and it looks like this is exactly the screen which @TheTechnobear is using, so no pins just HDMI/USB.

On another topic (well, another pisound topic) there seems to be some confusion about how to run supercollider scripts via the single click script, if anyone on this forum has gotten this working with Stretch Lite, it would be great to hear from you!

here’s the thread over on the blokas forum


yes, mine is a waveshare 7" so its over hdmi & usb.
its a pretty good screen, though Ive had difficulty getting it to work with other hardware (which is why I wanted an hdmi lcd), I think because its an odd aspect ratio… but overall I’m happy with it.

btw: the pisound doesn’t use all the gpio, it actually has a separate GPIO header pin, which breaks out tthe remain ones including - uart, i2c, 7 other gpio, 3.3v 5v and gnd .
its funny, this was something I half remembered blokas talking about during campaign, but couldn’t then find the details, but they are here

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Thanks for that pinout. It works!