PiSound, The Audio Card For The Raspberry Pi

Kids today are being loud with their ‘drum machines’ and ‘EDM’. Throw some Raspberry Pis at them, and there’s a need for a low-latency sound card with MIDI and all the other accouterments of the modern, Skrillex-haired rocker. That’s where PiSound comes in.

Of course, the Pi already comes with audio out, but that’s not enough if you want to do some real audio processing. You need audio in as well, and while you’re messing around with that, adding some high-quality opamps, ADCs, DACs, and some MIDI would be a good idea. This is what the PiSound is all about.

[Pranciskus], the guy who has been working on the PiSound for a while now, developed this multitool for audio on a tiny Linux system. One of the killer features on the PiSound is ‘The Button’, a simple tact switch that runs a script if the button is pressed, another script if the button is held down, and two more if the button is pressed two or three times. This is actually a pretty nifty UI, and we wouldn’t mind seeing this on a few more Pi accessories.

If you’d like to see some example projects using the PiSound, there example MIDI controllers, networked audio players, and some goofing around with LV2 plugins over here.

40 thoughts on “PiSound, The Audio Card For The Raspberry Pi

  1. The first sentence… when did EDM become a thing that kids do all of a sudden? Also, accoutrement?

    The last sentence…. “If you’d like to see some example projects using the PiSound, there example MIDI controllers, networked audio players, and some goofing around with LV2 plugins over here.”

    Just going to leave that there. There? Neat project though.

      1. Not true, 10 pcbs for 10$, and you can have them assembled for 3$ each if >= 100 units.
        But these guys need to feed their family, and i respect that.
        So good luck, but I prefer to spend my 80$ for the Beaglebone blue,
        I’ll stay with my 2$ USB audio i/o, and for Midi,it is just serial from the UART with a 0.5$ driver

    1. you can buy half of it (USB to PCM5102A to audio jack mystery chinese box) on ebay at half the price, so even I(!) dont think its a ripoff, plus you get something build by a person that actually cares about sound quality. If you dont care you can always buy $2 USB “sound” card with free shipping.

      I have to admit I LOLed when I spotted “button” label on the pcb before reading the writeup.

      >Kids today are being loud with their ‘drum machines’ and ‘EDM’

      That was 10-17 years ago, you are showing your age ;P

      1. I run optical to the box that drives my speakers so the DAC on the computer doesn’t matter much, except that processors are noisy so best to keep analogue away from them, yes?

        1. processors are noisy 3-4 orders of magnitude away in frequency, its the power supply that usually kills analog audio quality
          I still remember almost every single PC sound card up to ~2005 squeaking in sync with PCI bus interrupts and CPU load (bad 5V supply filtering).

          uncompressed digital to the amp is always the best option, and you get it for free in hdmi, worst case scenario $5 PCM2704 USB SPDIF dongle.
          Of course Dolby cant let you have that, so they work really hard at squeezing their proprietary lossy expensive garbage codecs in every single modern media transmission standard. Dolby True HD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus etc, because 8 channel uncompressed PCM at 192kHz 24 bit is BAD for consumers!!1 :(

          1. Processor are noisy everywhere, it’s not the cpu clock that matters, but the slower process involved,for example the block read clock of an SD card is just in the middle of audio range. And pumping data from the SD card add very bad noise on your supply rail.

  2. Finally i can start with EDM too, i mean trowing cakes, firing pyros, jumping around, no problem. But i always got distracted by all those blinky buttons. No with just ‘The Button’ things became way easier.

  3. Kids don’t need this thing. A standard PC with its built-in soundcard and a copy of LMMS are enough. For serious stuff you can add a MIDI keyboard (connected over USB, no adapter needed).
    The Button™ can be made with any USB microcontroller (either native USB or bit-banged), like those $1 Digispark chinese clones. Just wire up one or more buttons and write some code.

      1. I pretty much agree it is an answer to a problem that no one has.
        There are a lot of ways to do electronic music. I haven’t looked but cringe that many folks seem to learn thru uc projects that midi ports don’t need to be opto isolated (as they were designed).
        Might as well just use a beater smartphone. You get a lot of the same hardware and software and a handy carrying case :)

  4. If you do some experimental board, which normally wouldn’t need buttons, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to add The Button. It WILL be handy. But there is also a Murphy Law for those buttons: “After some testing you will find that your board should have one more button, but you can’t add it anymore”. This happened on all of my boards.

  5. You’re all missing the point; the PI is an SBC and it would have been inconceivable that anyone other than corporates could have owned one let alone started developing a product using one. This board is being offered so you don’t have to make one yourself; either because you’re too lazy or don’t have the skills. The PI is not supposed to be for real-world applications, it’s for prototyping. Any add-on boards are also for prototyping. Release a product that incorporates a PI and you will be laughed out of the industry. My View TM.

    1. I heard that people weren’t _supposed_ to name their Arduino shields and tools and kits and things something that would clearly associate it with that platform, like fooduino and barduino, because it had nothing to to with the way the original was named and it sounded just silly to the original namers. But everyone did anyway. Guess some things can’t be helped.

    2. I’m certain the right project involving a pi can make the inventor/creator laugh all the way to the bank. Wouldn’t be part of your stuck up industry anyways I suppose if you use a pi ;)

    3. And yet for five years the Pi continues to be a perfect fit for thousands of real life applications, and cheaper than the alternatives. I bought a mutilichannel card (not this one) for a Pi because the resulting quality and price beats any existing multitrack recorder. I can’t make it for less, I can’t buy it for less, and that’s fine.

      Why the hell do people get their panties in a twist when they see stuff like this?

    4. A Pi or Pi module is probably the perfect tool at very small production numbers. Probably like many of the cases in which an FPGA would be used instead of an ASIC. Speaking of which I want to see an Arduino style FPGA board one of these days: no switches, 7-segments, or VGA out; just power, clock, and programming support parts and a bunch of GPIO pins.

      1. There are dozens; the reason I hesitated to grab one is I’m guessing the FPGA would often be counterfeit. I considered buying the same FPGA from e.g. Mouser and swapping them out (as long as it’s not BGA) just to have one with 0.1″ headers :P To try your luck just ebay “spartan 3 board” or whatever.

        IIRC that one electronics hobby site/shop had a FPGA board–can’t remember the name of it– which was trying to be almost exactly that, and was probably genuine, and could optionally reimplement an AVR core inside the FPGA and represent a regular Arduino.

    5. Actually, Pis are a great fit for many commercial products, mainly due to the ongoing support and new kernels you’ll get, which you won’t get for many other SBCs.
      If more kit was based on standard boards with ongoing support, we’d not be left with loads of insecure unpatchable IoT etc devices.

  6. $80 is about average for a 2×2 audio and 1×1 midi with a name brand. This fits the form factor for table top, guitar pedal, and maybe eurorack modular. The 1/4 inch plugs are standard for line line level audio. The chips are know quality and all the specs are published. It is the no fuss right tool for a lot of people. $120ish for a low profile audio black box multi tool! The $17 HiFiBerry is line out only on RCA, hdmi is also only line out. $2 usb dongles have terrible SNR for both playing and recording and sound like $2 chips if you listen to them through anything better than headphones or computer speakers. A FPGA FM synth is an entirely different product. A laptop and audio interface are bulky and more expensive.

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