This technique is not suggested, see previous page for a better working method!!!

You can add mono or stereo I2S microphones to your Raspberry Pi, too!

This will work with Raspberry Pi B+, 2, 3, Zero and any other 2x20-connector-Pi

This guide is largely based on this great git repo

Wiring For Mono Mic

  • Mic 3V - Pi 3.3v
  • Mic Gnd - Pi Gnd
  • Mic SEL - Pi Gnd (this is used for channel selection. Connect to 3.3 or GND)
  • Mic BCLK - BCM 18 (pin 12)
  • Mic LRCL - BCM 19 (pin 35)
  • Mic DOUT - BCM 20 (pin 38)

Wiring For Stereo Mic

Raspberry Pi i2s Configuration

Start by logging into your Raspberry Pi via a terminal, we recommend ssh so you can copy + paste the many commands.

Turn on i2s support by editing /boot/config.txt with:

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Uncomment #dtparam=i2s=on

Next, we'll make sure sound support is enabled in the kernel with:

sudo nano /etc/modules

Add snd-bcm2835 on its own line, to the modules file as shown below

Now reboot your pi with:

sudo reboot

Once rebooted, re-log in.

Enter the following to confirm the modules are loaded

lsmod | grep snd

Kernel Compiling

Ok now its time for the fun part! You'll manually compile in i2s support.

Start by updating your Pi:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rpi-update
sudo rpi-update

Then reboot!

Install the compilation dependencies:

sudo apt-get install git bc libncurses5-dev bison flex libssl-dev

Download kernel source & compile:

sudo wget -O /usr/bin/rpi-source
sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/rpi-source
/usr/bin/rpi-source -q --tag-update
rpi-source --skip-gcc

On a Pi 3 this will take many many minutes, so don't worry if its taking 15 minutes. On a Pi Zero it can take an hour or longer!

If the script pauses at this prompt:

Code coverage for fuzzing (KCOV) [N/y/?] (NEW) 

Just press enter to accept the default and continue.

Prepare to Compile the i2s module

Now you're ready to compile i2s support:

sudo mount -t debugfs debugs /sys/kernel/debug

This may already be done - mount: debugs is already mounted  - in which case keep going

If you are using Pi 3 or Pi 2 - make sure the module name is 3f203000.i2s 

If you are using Pi Zero - the module name is 20203000.i2s

Run rpi-i2s-audio

Download the module, written by Paul Creaser

git clone
cd rpi-i2s-audio

Pi Zero Only

If you are using a Raspberry Pi Zero, edit my_loader.c with nano my_loader.c and change the two lines

.platform = "3f203000.i2s",


.name = "3f203000.i2s",


.platform = "20203000.i2s",


.name = "20203000.i2s",

If you aren't using a Pi Zero, continue on!

Compile the module with

make -C /lib/modules/$(uname -r )/build M=$(pwd) modules
sudo insmod my_loader.ko

Verify that the module was loaded:

lsmod | grep my_loader
dmesg | tail

Note that on the Pi 2/3 you'll see asoc-simple-card asoc-simple-card.0: snd-soc-dummy-dai <-> 3F203000.i2s mapping ok on the last line and on Pi Zero you'll see asoc-simple-card asoc-simple-card.0: snd-soc-dummy-dai <-> 20203000.i2s mapping ok

Auto-load the module on startup

Now you can set it up so the module is loaded every time you boot the Pi

sudo cp my_loader.ko /lib/modules/$(uname -r)
echo 'my_loader' | sudo tee --append /etc/modules > /dev/null
sudo depmod -a
sudo modprobe my_loader

And reboot!

sudo reboot

Test & Record!

OK that was a lot of effort but now you are ready to rock!

Use the following command to list the available input devices:

arecord -l

you should see a snd_rpi_simple_card

You can record a wav file in mono with this command:

      arecord -D plughw:1 -c1 -r 48000 -f S32_LE -t wav -V mono -v file.wav

Or, if you have two i2s mics installed, record in stereo with this command:

arecord -D plughw:1 -c2 -r 48000 -f S32_LE -t wav -V stereo -v file_stereo.wav

If all is working correctly, you should see the VU meter react at the bottom of the terminal window

Test Playback

If you have speakers hooked up to the Pi, you can play the file back directly on the device:

      aplay file.wav

Or, you can copy it over to your computer for playback :), just insert your Pi's IP address below:

scp pi@<local-ip>:/home/pi/file.wav ~/Desktop/file.wav

Adding Volume control

You can add volume control to your mine via alsamixer and alsa config. (Hat tip to RickTracer)

Run sudo nano ~/.asoundrc

and put the following in:

#This section makes a reference to your I2S hardware, adjust the card name
# to what is shown in arecord -l after card x: before the name in []
#You may have to adjust channel count also but stick with default first
pcm.dmic_hw {
	type hw
	card sndrpisimplecar
	channels 2
	format S32_LE

#This is the software volume control, it links to the hardware above and after
# saving the .asoundrc file you can type alsamixer, press F6 to select
# your I2S mic then F4 to set the recording volume and arrow up and down
# to adjust the volume
# After adjusting the volume - go for 50 percent at first, you can do
# something like 
# arecord -D dmic_sv -c2 -r 48000 -f S32_LE -t wav -V mono -v myfile.wav
pcm.dmic_sv {
	type softvol
	slave.pcm dmic_hw
	control {
		name "Boost Capture Volume"
		card sndrpisimplecar
	min_dB -3.0
	max_dB 30.0

Now before you can change the volume you need to use the device once (this is an alsa thing)


arecord -D dmic_sv -c2 -r 44100 -f S32_LE -t wav -V mono -v file.wav

And cancel with ^C once  it starts recording.

Now you can run alsamixer - press F6 and select the I2S simple sound card

It will complain there are no playback controls (because its for recording only).

Press F5 to change the volume.

Then you can record with the i2c mic device using

arecord -D dmic_sv -c2 -r 48000 -f S32_LE -t wav -V mono -v recording.wav

and playback with

aplay recording.wav

This guide was first published on Feb 22, 2017. It was last updated on Feb 22, 2017.

This page (Old Kernel Install Method) was last updated on Feb 22, 2017.

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