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I have a Alesis V49 MIDI keyboard, it only has a USB type-A output. In order to use it as a synthesizer, I currently connect it to my PC via USB and use specific software to produce sound.

I want to do the same but using a Raspberry Pi instead of my PC, for a more lightweight setup. Is Pi's hardware sufficient to be able to run a simple synth program and output the sound to HDMI (ideally, spdif optical)? I don't need CPU-hungry effects, just a simple piano sound.

What version of Raspberry should I get and what software/drivers is necessary to put on top of, say, Ubuntu?

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Yes.

People have reported the successful use of fluidsynth, amsynth and qsynth on a Pi 2 B with Raspbian. Even a more complex zynaddsubfx works, even though it seems to require some tweaking.

Sound via HDMI is possible. Some seem to prefer an additional hat for sound though.

If you don't have your Pi yet, buy a Pi 4; then you should not have to worry at all.

There are a number of howto's and wiki's available to help you (disclaimer I do not own a keyboard for music):

http://jacquespi.blogspot.com/2013/07/synthesizer.html FluidSynth Wiki on https://www.fluidsynth.org/

http://sandsoftwaresound.net/rpi-soft-synth-get-started/ https://amsynth.github.io/

http://sandsoftwaresound.net/qsynth-fluidsynth-raspberry-pi/

And your friend Google might produce an even larger/more recent set of references.

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