Turn Your Raspberry Pi into a Retro Music Player Using a RetroWave OPL3 Sound Card
Many of us plan to turn Raspberry Pi or a similar single-board computer into a retro music player. There are several projects that we discussed using Raspberry Pi as a controller to build an 80s style music player. However, these projects use bulky hardware, which may not be as portable as this one. Chinese designer SudoMaker has introduced a Raspberry Pi Zero-sized hardware, RetroWave OPL3 sound card that lets you use any SBC with a compatible 40 pin header, like Jetson Nano and OrangePi, to name a few.
Looking at the detailed internal hardware used by the designer, we can see that there is Yamaha YM262, which is an FM sound source that can be controlled through software. This integrated circuit has the capability to support five different rhythm sounds, including the bass drum, snare drum, tom tom, top cymbal, and hit hat cymbal. Also, there is a D/A converter that helps the setup to convert digital data streams into analog audio signals and is widely used in all music players. Along with these essential integrated circuits, there is a 14.3181 MHz standard clock oscillator.
“It can be difficult or expensive to set up a working retro computer that supports old sound cards that are even harder to find. So we come up with this solution – works with modern hardware, without compromising the sound, and remaining at its full potential,”
the designer justifies. With the compact form factor, the hardware uses SPI, a modern high-speed bus that lets you control pins and chip registers.
When it comes to the software part of the setup, the manufacturer has provided support for “free software and cross-platform driver libraries, reference VGM player, and a modded DOSBox-X.” You can also expect VST3 software MIDI port driver for interfacing with DAW software very soon.
The provider has confirmed that there will be more such RetroWave boards that can be stacked together to increase performance. If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi Zero-sized RetroWave OPL3 Sound Card, then head to the product page on Tindie, sold at $30.98 with options for audio capacitors and operational amplifiers.