Daisy versus Raspberry Pi

Hi, all. First post here. So …

I’ve recently become enthralled with the idea of DIY MIDI controllers, sequencers, sound modules, etcetera. I blame the Polyend Tracker, which is awesome as a MIDI brain, but which almost immediately had me hungry for a multi-track/channel sound module/generator external to the Tracker itself.

I’m now learning PureData, and I have my eyes set on three perhaps-related projects: 1) a 16-track/channel (or more) synth/sound generator that responds to MIDI, 2) a bass/guitar multi-effects unit with pedalboard control, and 3) an Open Stage/Sound Control (OSC) approach to controlling that generator and the effects unit(s).

Having just typed all of that up, it sounds like madness, BUT I’m currently torn between investing in Daisy Seed or Raspberry Pi — potentially with a focus on Pi-Sound from Blokas if I steer towards RPi.

Any thoughts? Advice? Any obvious alternatives or options that I’m missing?

Thanks in advance.

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You might find Zynthian to be a good match. It is open source software and hardware:

It generally runs on an RPi, although I’m working on a project to port it to RISC-V.
You can run it on standard RPi 3 to 5 without any special hardware, and adding the custom hardware kit makes it nicer.
The community forum is:

I don’t want to hijack this thread, but…

Is there a SBC that uses a RISC-V microprocessor?

Edit: yes.

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@tunagenes … Thanks. I came across Zynthian recently, but I haven’t had a chance to look into it enough to know how well it would serve my needs. I was initially scared off by the hardware costs of the Zynthian-specific build kit, though I suppose I might spend as much trying to build/develop such a thing on my own. I’m kind of hoping to leverage and grow my front-end web skills to develop GUI approaches that eliminate the need for some/all hardware controls, hence the OSC angle. This is all pretty new to me,though, so I’m really just trying to decide what to commit to for hobbyist-level experimentation moving forward. Cheers!

Sorry, @tele_player, is this your way of saying it doesn’t really matter what I use? Just pick something and move on? If so, I get it, but I’m also pretty new to all of this and am hoping for some pros/cons input from folks who have likely gone down this road before in much the same way I’m hoping to. Thanks.

I just hadn’t heard of single board RISC-V, but now I realize there are several.

Ah, I see. A bit beyond my present knowledge and skills, but I have something new to research if nothing else. Cheers!

I see you already answered your own question, so I’ll just add, yes, lots. The one we’re currently working with is the VisionFive2 board by Starfive. It uses the JH7110 SOC which has on chip high quality stereo audio out, so no need for a ‘HAT’ or USB attached audio.

The Zynthian Mini is a lower cost option:

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@tunagenes Interesting re: the Zynthian Mini. Thanks again for the input and advice. I’ve done a bit more research, and Zynthian itself is starting to come into better focus for me. Sounds like a great RPi-friendly option that could be a productive next step towards eventually attempting something more custom. :beers:

The best options, in my opinion, are these:

  • Daisy Seed - I’m new to Daisy Seed, but it looks very powerful for audio. I plan to build a delay unit with it.
  • Teensy - I’ve used Teensy boards quite a bit and they are great devices. Some of them have an SD card built in, which is great. But their biggest strength is in their speed: 600 MHz, overclockable to 912 MHz. Older Teensy boards had a built-in DAC, newer boards do not. I typically use a DAC that I control via i2c. Teensy is a little bit expensive, similar to Daisy Seed, like $20-$30 USD. I am trying Daisy Seed instead of Teensy because it looks like it supports things like an audio delay line better right out of the box. I could totally build my project with a Teensy, but it would take longer and I’d be reinventing the wheel a bit more.
  • Raspberry Pi Pico - I have only attempted to use the Pico with a kind of hybrid Arduino/C++ environment based on the open source Arduino-Pico library, and my opinion is that it kind of sucks. I’ve had a ton of trouble getting an external SD card to work properly. My guess is that the Pico works better if you are programming in straight C++ or Python, and not attempting to leverage the Arduino ecosystem. Pico has some real strengths, however: small size and very cheap.


  • Arduino Nano - these are great, simple, cheap devices well suited for MIDI operations or other simple tasks like gate signals. Not well suited for audio.
  • Raspberry Pi - I sometimes use these for video processing (version 3b or 3b+) but this seems like overkill (and also overly large in physical size) for audio. Also a bit expensive compared to other options.

Thank for the input, @bfisher. The more I learn about all of this, the more I realize how much MORE there is to learn.

Teensy came to my attention a little while ago, but I didn’t quite “get it” and moved on. At this point, it seems I need a better understanding of what kinds of projects are best suited for a microcontroller – Seed? Teensy? – and what kinds of projects are best for a microprocessor (RPi?). I’m not even sure I’ve got that right haha.

Ah, well. I think I’ve decided from feedback here that I’m going to grab a RPi and some kind of audio hat to try out Zynthian for a music-making “quick fix.” Meanwhile, I can continue learning and prototyping things in PureData while learning more about basic electronics.

Sounds like there are utilities out there to turn Pure Data patches into C, which could then enable me to build some devices with something like a Teensy or Seed if they are focused enough. Not sure how my Web UI aspirations fit into all of this yet, but all things in time.

Thanks again!

Sounds good. Zynthian supports PureData in two ways - as a “program” - in which case there can only be one instance running, and as an LV2 plugin via Chamomile:

In which case you can have as many instances as you want, subject to the performance limitations of the RPi you’re using. With a Pi5 that’s quite a lot.

Ah, nice. Really good to know. Adding LV2 and Chamomile to the learning list. I assume that one “instance” of PD in Zynthian would still let me use sub-patches and abstractions? But that Camomile would let me, for example, run multiple separate instances of the same patch? Sounds useful. Thanks again!

Yes, I think that’s correct. But I am not Joe PureData, so do confirm my ideas with reality before investing a lot of time based on them!

Here’s the section on Pure Data from the Zynthian wiki:

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Took another look at Teensy this morning. Makes a lot more sense now than it did when I first ran eyes across it. I will keep what you said above in mind moving forward. I’m guessing I’ll eventually be back here to post a “Daisy versus Teensy” question haha. Thanks again!