Zynthian Raspberry Pi Synthesizer Update Adds More Power, More Controls

Developers of Zynthian – an Open Synth Platform – have announced version 4 of their DIY synth kit.

The Zynthian is a hardware synth, based on the Raspberry Pi minicomputer, that can run multiple synth engines, filters and effects.

Zynthian Kit v4 keeps all the good things from the v3, but integrates the Raspberry Pi 4, which substantially increases the Zynthian’s processing power.

The RBPi4 allows to run all the synth-engines without reaching the limits. No more “clicks” (XRuns) when playing Pianoteq, OBXd or ZynAddSubFX. You can also play simultaneously more layers, which comes in handy when using the ntegrated step sequencer, ZynStep.

Here’s what’s new in Zynthian Kit v4:

  • More CPU power than ever: Designed for the Raspberry Pi 4
  • Zynductor Passive Cooling: 100% silent
  • 4 x extra push buttons, totally assignable to functions or programs.
  • 2 x Balanced Audio Inputs with adjustable gain (-12db to 32dB)

Pricing and Availability

Zynthian Kit v4 is available now for 325.00 €.

17 thoughts on “Zynthian Raspberry Pi Synthesizer Update Adds More Power, More Controls

  1. Seems like their website might’ve crashed. The little rPi web server probably couldn’t handle the throngs (like me) wanting to find out more! 😉
    Will try again later…

  2. This just might be one of the biggest “hidden gems” that are currently out there…

    For comparison, in a somewhat chronical order:
    – Muse Receptor (2004) was unobtainable for alot of people, quite bulky though the most promising.
    – the V-Machine by SM Audio (2008) tanked due to lack of CPU-power.
    – Use Audio’s Plugiator (2008) was limited to a certain handful of plugins.
    – Peavey’s MuseBox (2010, developed in cooperation with Muse) sadly never took off properly.
    – Seelake’s Audiostation (2012) was way to exotic to gain much popularity.

    There were quite a few dedicated products which only ran manufacturer-specific software:
    – Clavia NordModular (1998)
    – TC Powercore (2003)
    – Roland VariOS (2003)
    – Avid Eleven (2007)
    – Arturia Origin (2009)
    – Universal Audio UAD Apollo (2012)
    – Roland System 1 / 1m / 8 (2014)
    – …and a whole lot more which I’ve probably missed completely…

    So in short the concept isn’t exactly new to begin with as you can see. And here’s hope on my part that it will be *this* product, Zynthian, to pull it off the right way. In a small, powerful and affordable package. To *finally* bring the concept to a larger group of everyday musicians.

    1. There’s also Elk audio, which is technologically comparable, though their business model is different in that they sell dev kits, and license their platform b2b, rather than as an end-user product. It is Rpi4, ultra optimized for audio, so very low Latency.

      And then there is the Mod Duo, and whatever that modular synth pedal/eurorack is called…

    2. PiSound is another option and works great. It also runs puredata, modep, orac – the same linux based open source stuff. It doesn’t seem much different capability wise to this – but has no interface and fewer buttons/knobs. But since you can control it in a bunch of other ways which includes adding a touch screen yourself, it doesn’t seem like a problem. It seems to me like these DIY linux based kits will be adding buttons, sliders, inputs, etc and seem better, but it’s all just software. Often the same software. Organelle is yet another option. That said, I can’t more highly recommend getting any one of these kits and diving in. Super rewarding!

        1. Virtualization isn’t a new thing, for sure. In computers too. But there’s a tipping point where it starts to work well enough and be cost effective. My PiSound cost about $200 total (pisound, rasp4, case, memcard, wall wart…) and I can load up a pedal board of 50 effects boxes and save an infinite # of combinations. And I can add open source stuff, easily update it, or write my own PD and build my own stuff, easily. It’s actually at the point where it can save money and be future facing. It blows away the likes of Plugzilla.

    1. Think of it as a more open source MOD DUO. This would probably beat the ZOIA in terms of flexibility and versatility, but the ZOIA I think may feel more like a professional product.

  3. Carefully review all the software that has been integrated into the Zynthian when comparing to other available DIY devices.

    All these features are available from the same hardware user interface:

    – Multiple Emulations of Classic Instruments: Grand piano, rhodes, wurli, pipe organ, hammond organ, combo organ, minimoog, DX-7, oberheim OB-X, JX-10…
    – Multiple Virtual Analog Synthesizers: ZynAddSubFX, helm, NoizeMaker, AMSynth, synthV1, padthV1…
    – Rompler: SoundFont support: SF2, SF3, SFZ and GIG formats are supported. A 4GB collection of soundfonts is included.
    – Effects: reverb, delay, echo, chorus, distortion, EQ, compressor, wahwah, flanger, phaser, granulator, vocoder, auto-tune…
    – MIDI filters & tools: map, chorder, arpeggiator, quantization, split, …
    – MOD-UI & Pure Data
    – Step Sequencer, Audio & MIDI recorder/player,

    1. Exactly!
      ZynAddSubFX in itself is already a pretty versatile hybrid synth beast …and that’s even before you tap into the sample-player possibilities and all the other synth engines available here.

      Sure, ZynAddSubFX has a pretty ugly GUI by today’s standards (same has always been true for classics like Synth1), but this all becomes almost moot once you fire it up through Zynthian’s very own interface.

  4. Ok, please don’t flame me, but is there anything like this that runs commercial VSTs, like Arturia, Korg, Roland etc?

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