Currently I use Ableton on my main system, which is great but you need pretty high specs to run and needs a few minutes at least to boot up. Which is fine but my free time is much more restricted these days. I'm looking to set up a small footprint/low power DAW or app so I can "jam" more readily when the mood strikes.

I have a Novation Launchpad Mini an LPD8 that I would love to be map instruments to and play without all the necessary space/hardware that Ableton requires. Even if it's just a basic piano and 808s that would make me very happy.

There are some Android apps that have MIDI input support, but they aren't the most user friendly and are usually ad supported. Also, there's not really a reliable way to hook up multiple MIDI devices to a phone--or charging concurrently while using other inputs (even if you have a split dongle).

My first choice would be a solution using Raspberry Pi or Chromebook (small footprint/low power/multiple ports), but I would also be interested in any low spec DAWs/MIDI controllers for PC. I'm willing to pay, I just haven't had any luck finding a good setup on my own. I don't need to be able to compose or save projects, just want to jam in real time. Thanks.

  • Things have developed a bit since I last tackled this issue. It looks like the softwares "Non" and "LMMS" are rasbian supported. I'll check these out and report back. May 11, 2022 at 17:35
  • Why not just get a hardware sequencer and/or controller? May 11, 2022 at 21:39

2 Answers 2


As far as I know, you just need a VST Host application in which you place an instrument VST plugin and then use the midi controller to manipulate the instrument.

VST Hosts are not DAWs but all DAWs seem to have VST Hosting functionality: often the "effect plugin" you apply to a track is the hosting functionality. So you may already have working VST instruments you can host in another application if you are using them with Ableton (assuming the Ableton ones are not a proprietary format)

One light-weight, free application (Windows binaries) that I know launches nearly instantly is called, oddly enough VSTHost , and I see that Novation has an intrument VST called "Novation Bass Station Plug-In".

I know there are some linux hosts which I experimented with on a VM a number of years ago.

You will want/need an ASIO driver for your audio chipset.


The best solution for my application was the Raspberry Pi using the Reaper DAW. I first tried to install LMSS and Non (other linux DAWs) but there seemed to be compatibility issues with my OS. Reaper installed without any issue and I was able to plug and play with my MIDI keyboard.

Yorik's solution for PC with VSTHost sounded like a good way to go but ultimately the Raspberry Pi better addresses my size, power, and cost needs.

If anyone else goes this route, you'll need a Raspberry Pi compatible soundcard. The latency is fine but you get a bit of crackle when playing anything more than 2 notes at a time.


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