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I'm currently using an old Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz laptop, running Lubuntu 18.04, as a synthesizer (technically, sampler) for a USB MIDI controller. It's not great—the processor seems to be too slow to provide low latency without clicks in the sound. It's good enough for practice but far from suitable for performance.

I'm looking into setting up NAS on a Pi 4 and it's occurred to me that I might be able to also use that device as a superior replacement for this antiquated piece of hardware, but I'm not sure if it will handle the workload any better than does my current machine.

My current setup uses linuxsampler (via qsampler) to generate audio using the Maestro Concert Grand sound bank.

How does the capacity of the Pi 4's CPU compare to that of a Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz?

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    what OS do you run on the laptop?
    – jsotola
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 22:10
  • googled linux bare metal midi synthesizer and came up with this .... wiki.analog.com/resources/tools-software/sharc-audio-module/… ... and this ... hackaday.com/2013/01/22/…
    – jsotola
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 22:15
  • @jsotola: I don't think that's super relevant to my use case—running a stripped-down synth written in C for the bare metal is likely going to be orders of magnitude more efficient than what I need to do, which is to run a sampler on a ~1GB data bank to produce a realistic piano sound.
    – intuited
    Commented Apr 27, 2020 at 22:31

2 Answers 2

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It's difficult to make an objective comparison between CPUs here - the Pi 4 is an ARM-based chip, while the Core 2 Duo is x86, so just comparing the frequencies and core counts of the processors won't give a complete answer.

The Core 2 Duo scores about a 1761 for multi-core on Geekbench, while the Pi 4 scores a 1768. Geekbench isn't a perfect way to measure CPU performance - "real" programs will perform differently on different processors - but it shows how similar the Core 2 Duo and Raspberry Pi 4 are in terms of computing power.

It might be worth trying the Pi 4, to see if having more cores helps with the latency issue. But the Pi 4's CPU is similar in terms of power to the Core 2 Duo, so your results might end up being the same. Or they might end up being worse, due to the architecture difference between the processors. However, if you want something that's significantly faster in processing power, you're going to have to look elsewhere.

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  • Cool, that's quite helpful! The clipping sounds occur [mostly?] when multiple notes are being played concurrently, so if linuxsampler uses more than 2 threads the Pi 4 processor should get better performance, depending on how relevant the Geekbench benchmark is to this application.
    – intuited
    Commented Apr 28, 2020 at 16:39
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Both are capable of doing it in theory. We've had live synth capability on PC's since before Gigasampler back in the early 2000's. If you're getting clicks and latency issues during performance, then depending on your OS, it's usually a driver issue. In Linux, you need to have the real time kernel, and associated drivers/applications to support it, like JACK, and whatever updated stuff since i've applied this knowledge. In Windows, you need to use asio drivers whenever possible, and asio4all if necessary. On raspberry PI, I know i could set up a whole distro based on this concept, but I also have the PI 4, and I'd like to use something simple like samplerbox, but can't find anything about making it work hence finding your 7 month old post. Hopefully this helps someone in some way.

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