New to sound projects! Help me understand what it would be like *without* pisound?

I can clearly see that pisound is a helpful tool for working with sound on a raspberry pi… but I have so little experience working with the sound architecture on Linux, I don’t feel like I have any sense for what it would be like to do a MIDI project without one.

Like… does it improve the sound when you play your MIDI keyboard? Or maybe it’s same quality sound, but with less delay between key hit and audible sound? Or maybe it’s that you would have to buy a bunch of adapters and hook into GPIO to be able to do what pisound does by itself?

My ideal answer here would be a description of what the experience would “feel like” if I tried to do a MIDI project using JUST a stock raspberry pi.

In case it helps:

  • I’m building a dedicated MIDI keyboard station in my home that, when played, controls my arduino-based lightbulbs along with high-quality sound.
  • I’m a software developer and raspberry pi enthusiast
  • I’ve written code before that reads MIDI input and does stuff with it
  • I’ve read a good chunk of Ted’s Linux MIDI Guide


better sound quality is the main thing - the stock codec is the rPI is not very good :wink:
so, better codec and amps in pisound.
latency, well cpu can be an issue with the stock codec, so that leads to increased latency.

decent audio input with gain.

you could use an external audio interface with a rPI, but those are mostly more expensive, and then introduces another ‘box’ to connect and lug around , and usb has its disadvantages too.

(id personally, never use the pi without some kind of additional audio interface/codec, be it pisound or something else)

DIN is useful if you have other midi devices requiring DIN

the all in one nature of the pisound is very convenient

Pisound provides a high quality audio sound card capabilities to Raspberry Pi. As it uses the dedicated I2S hardware interface for streaming audio data to DAC and from ADC, it allows for lower latency, compared to using an external USB audio card, or even the built-in analog output.

From software point of view, it appears just as a standard ALSA audio card with stereo input and output, and MIDI in & out ports, so it works with virtually all Linux audio software.

You could even develop your project using an external USB audio card (if you have some available already), and once it’s ready, switch your project to use Pisound, simply by reconfiguring which audio card to use.

The built-in analog output of Raspberry Pi produces a lot of digital artifacts, as it is PWM based, so it’s utility in music is limited.