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RPi HAT add-on does 192kHz 24-bit audio and MIDI too

Apr 5, 2017 — by Eric Brown 3,832 views

The Pisound is a sound card HAT add-on for the Raspberry Pi with 192kHz 24-bit stereo I/O, classic MIDI In and Out ports, onboard knobs, and a user button.

A Lithuania-based Pisound project has tripled its funding goal on Indiegogo, with 23 days left. You can buy the Pisound audio and MIDI card for $89 with shipments expected in July. The 100 x 56mm HAT add-on works with any 40-pin Raspberry Pi board, communicating via SPI, as well as a translator microcontroller for the MIDI interface. The board draws under 300mA @ 5.1VDC, and is powered directly from the Raspberry Pi.

Pisound, front and back

The Pisound provides 192kHz 24-bit stereo I/O via high-quality BurrBrown chips combined with low dropout regulators (LDOs) for filtering out digital interference. The stereo input offers wide-range gain control, enabling connection to a wide range of sources, from a bass guitar to a CD player, and the stereo output connects to mixers, speakers, and headphones.

MIDI features include 2.105ms loopback latency. You get classic MIDI In/Out DIN-5 sockets, as well as a USB-MIDI connection via the Pi’s USB ports. You can also call upon a WiFi-MIDI connection when hooked to a WiFi-enabled Pi.


Onboard knobs control volume and gain levels, and a clip-LED that lights up whenever the signal at the ADC input is too high. One user-controllable button is monitored by a pisound-btn background daemon that lets you trigger shell scripts via single, double, or triple clicking, or holding down the button. The default scripts include starting a Pure Data patch from a connected USB drive, as well as safely stopping the patch and preparing the USB drive for removal, toggling the WiFi Hotspot mode, and safely shutting down the device.

Pisound audio specs (left) and Pisound in a recording setup
(click images to enlarge)

The system ships with an ALSA audio and MIDI driver integrated in mainline Raspbian Linux kernel (4.4.27+). With the help of LV2 plugins, SuperCollider, Pure Data, Sonic Pi, or other Linux compatible audio applications, the Pisound can be used to create a custom instrument, such as a digital synthesizer, effects unit, groovebox, or sampler.

The developers especially call out the Pure Data real-time graphical programming environment for audio and video, which provides pre-made patches on PatchStorage. You can also create your own patches.

With the help of Volumio/RuneAudio, the Pisound lets you build a Hi-Fi network player, and together with the open source Audacity audio software, you can do multi-track recording and editing, say the developers. You can also create your own Internet radio station with the help of darkice and icecast.

Further information

The Pisound is available on Indiegogo through April 28 starting at $89 with volume discounts. More information may be found on the Pisound Indiegogo page.

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