Music Software: Pure Data


Goal: Set up Pure Data (Pd) with Pisound

Difficulty: Easy

Required Hardware:

  • Pisound
  • Raspberry Pi


Pure Data (or just Pd) is a visual programming system for multimedia. It has been around for decades. It is most similar to Max (is sort its cousin), but is open source, and a bit more “bare bones”.


Install with:

sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends puredata gem

Note: This is a much smaller install than what the pisound-config installs. For some unknown reason, the package for gem recommends pulling in a full PDF rendering system! Hence, the --no-install-recommends.


Pisound button & control mobile app

The Pisound button feature, and the Pisound control mobil app both have built-in support for Pure Data, and launch it correctly set up for Pisound.

Command Line

If you are going to run Pure Data from the command line - either from scripts you write, or from a shell in the desktop, here are the options you need:

  • -alsa -audioadddev pisound
    use Pisound via ALSA

  • -audiobuf 10 -channels 2 -r 48000
    proper settings, for Pisound
    You may need longer audiobuf depending on your system.

  • -alsamidi -mididev 1
    add a port to ALSA’s MIDI system.=
    You can have more than one, for example -mididev 1,2,3,4 creates 4.

So, for example:

puredata -alsa -audioadddev pisound -audiobuf 10 -channels 2 -r 48000 -alsamidi -mididev 1,2,3,4 

Visual Desktop

If you are working in the Raspberry Pi desktop environment, launch Pure Data from the toolbar:

  • Raspberry menu > Sound & Video > Pure Data

Then, in Pure Data’s window, from it’s menu bar:

  • File > Preferences > Audio Settings…

This will open a dialog, which you should set as so:


Depending on your system configuration and patch complexity, you may need a larger block size.

Make sure you Save All Settings, then "OK*. Once you save these, then just launching Pure Data on the command line with no arguments, will use this configuration.

Now the audio in and out blocks in Pd will connect to the Pisound.


sorry, linux noob here
what if i want to install the most recent version of pure data from its creators site:
(i need to work with pd 0.48-1, because of its improvements e.g. in the text object)
miller gives an rpi.tgz for download, but i don´t know, where to put it to override the 0.47 version installed with apt-get and have 0.48 access the pisound

thanks in advance

Good morning,
I just installed pisound-config on my raspberry 3. Now I want to connect a microphone to the Pisound in the input port and record the sound. Do I need to install Pure Data in this case ?
Thank you in advance.

PD could be used for processing the input, or even writing it to files, but most likely you’re interested in Audacity or simply command line arecord.