Musical Instrument Shield

Replacement:DEV-10587. The new revision fixes the voltage regulation problems present in the previous version. This page is for reference only.

Do you ever wish your Arduino was more musically talented? Or maybe your project could use some cool sound effects. The Musical Instrument Shield is an easy way to add great sounding MIDI sound to your next Arduino project. This board is built around the VS1053 MP3 and MIDI codec IC, wired in MIDI mode. Simply connect a speaker/stereo/pair of headphones to the 1/8" stereo jack on the shied and pass the proper serial commands to the IC and you'll be playing music in no time!

The VS1053 contains two large tonebanks including various piano, woodwinds, brass, synth, SFX and percussion sounds. The shield is also capable of playing several tones simultaneously (maximum polyphony of up to 31 sounds!). Take a look at our example code to get an idea of how easy it is to add musical zest to your next Arduino gadget.

Note: The 3.3V regulator on this shield isn't properly loaded, so you may see 3.9V at the VS1053, which is not ideal. This should not cause any issues and we've found the board to work just fine under these conditions. We will be changing this for our next revision.

  • [Schematic]( Music Shield-v10.pdf)
  • [Eagle Files]( Music
  • Example Code 1
  • Example Code 2
  • Datasheet (VS1053)


Looking for answers to technical questions?

We welcome your comments and suggestions below. However, if you are looking for solutions to technical questions please see our Technical Assistance page.

  • Member #220012 / about 13 years ago / 2

    After several hours of trying to find any info on this shield I couldn't. I did find a few things out that should be very helpful to anyone trying to use this as a midi shield. First the code examples looks like they were originally written for the previous midi board but will still work, it is just the pin out descriptions are a little off. Which brings me to the helpful part. To get midi working without actually connecting the shield to the Adruino board you need to connect (Arduino board->Music Shield); Rest->RST, 5v->+5v, GND->GND(I used the GND next to the VIN but any should work), RX->RX, D03->3, D04->4. Once you do that and load the example code, plug in the headset and you should hear the midi notes. The example code also uses a library called NewSoftSerial and that folder needs to be unzipped to the Arduino libraries folder. The file can be found here: While you can rewrite the code to just output to the midi serial port (just delete all serial. references and change all mySerial. to Serial.) and not use the NewSoftSerial library I find it useful to have one port sending the midi commands and the other sending test data that you can view using the serial monitor.

    • Hi - I'm sorry you spent hours looking for information. The example code was written specifically to get people up and running with this board. It should 'plug and play'. You are correct - you will need NewSoftSerial library installed. We tend not to include the support libraries because either they are super common (NewSoftSerial for example) or change often enough that we would like the user to download the latest version (sdfatlib for example).

  • Member #220012 / about 13 years ago / 1

    I can't find any examples on using this board. Can it be used to process midi commands and output through the 1/8" jack?

  • WilliamK / about 13 years ago / 1

    Still can't find any mp3 examples of the thing. Also, nowhere to mention the size of the soundbank. :-(

    • Just to be clear, this board is designed to play MIDI commands, not MP3s. Are you looking for a recording (MP3) example of what the shield can do?
      Soundbank: RTFM my friend. Page 33 of the VS1053 datasheet. There are ~128 different instruments. Each instrument can play the full keyboard from A0 to C8 (22 to 108 = 86 notes!). There are also 60 sound effects.

  • SKvSG / about 13 years ago / 1

    It seems you have RIGHT and GBUF broken out to a lineout type output. The GBUF (around 1.23 V) is appropriate for headphones but I'm concerned about connecting it to the amplifier ground since it would have to source enough current to set the amplifier's ground potential to a 1.23 V. Is it safe to assume that the load on the IC will be minimal/safe?
    I was working on a project involving the VS1053 and an amplifier when I saw this video, previously I had planned to use bypass capacitors on the LEFT and RIGHT channel and set the amp ground potential to analogue ground but it seems this may be unnecessary and I could just use GBUF instead. Have you experienced any problems in doing this?

  • bobski / about 13 years ago * / 1

    Judging from the pics, digital pins 2, 3 and 4.

    What pins does the shield take up?

  • Ogre Lawless / about 13 years ago / 1

    What pins does the shield take up?
    I'd just been about to pop on a Fluxamasynth shield too (and heck who couldn't use a few more instruments flopping about?)

    • There's a schematic PDF up there if you need it. D3 and D4 are required. D2 (MIDI TX) is not needed and will be going away on the next version.

  • Finnishguy / about 13 years ago / 1

    Any wav/mp3 files on the tonebank sounds?
    This chip is designed in town where I live, funny. And I would be purchasing it breakout-board'ed from other side of earth :D

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