How to Synthesizer on Raspberry Pi with Akai MPK49 in 5 minutes

Have you ever wanted a low-budget, easy to use Synthesizer that produces ambient Retrosounds without lacks in sound quality? Then this guide will show you how to achieve this in no time and only with the use of affordable equipment.

This solution really works out of the box and is very easy to implement. What you’ll need is:

  • Raspberry Pi (preferably 3+) or Banana Pi M2 *
  • Monitor (with HDMI), Keyboard and Mouse
  • A MIDI-Keyboard, in this case I used the Akai MPK49
  • The binaries of SunVox

Make sure you have Raspbian – I am using Stretch – installed on the Raspberry Pi and all the installed packages up to date. Connect the monitor, keyboard, mouse and MIDI-Keyboard to the Raspberry.

How to install

Copy the ARM binary folder of SunVox to the Raspberry Pi and change to the folder of the Raspberry Pi executables:

cd ~/sunvox/sunvox/linux_arm_armhf_raspberry_pi

Then launch the executable with the command:

./sunvox

The grafical interface of Sunvox should now be up and running and the default screen shows a setup with sound generator blocks including filters on the output like reverb and compressor.

Configure MIDI & latency

The MIDI keyboard usually gets recognized by the time you plug it into the USB port. To configure the keyboard for the use in sunvox simply open the Preferences menu in the left upper corner and select the MIDI device in the MIDI settings

Sunvox MIDI preferences

On Raspberry Pi the sound quality produced by Sunvox can appear scratchy or with an annoying latence – especially using a MIDI input. For this reason you’ll have to adjust the Audio buffer size from Auto to 1024 in the Audio preferences:

This value may differ from hardware to hardware but for me using a Banana Pi M2 Berry, it resulted in a clear sound and nearly no delay when I was playing the MPK49.

Have fun

Now you can use Sunvox with your MIDI keyboard. Just click on a source generator (in the standard example: Keys, Drums and Bass) and press the keys. It even is sensitive to the velocity parameters of the keys which makes the playing of the synthesizer very intuitive. Enjoy experimenting around with the setups, different waveforms and filters.


2 Replies to “How to Synthesizer on Raspberry Pi with Akai MPK49 in 5 minutes”

  1. Don’t forget to map the Preferences | Shortcuts to MIDI buttons so that you can switch back and forth between modules and change instruments with buttons on the fly. Especially headless!

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