The Piino Portable Synthesizer – A Mobile Music Sketchpad

Designer Jack Marple shared these images of the Piino Portable Synthesizer – a synth designed to be a mobile music sketchpad.

He doesn’t share any info about it, but it appears to be a design concept, created as a student at Arizona State University.

Would you be interested in a Piino mobile synth? Share your thought in the comments!

About the Piino:

Piino is a portable synthesizer that allows electronic musicians to create music on the go. Designers and artist have ways to record thoughts and ideas by sketching it in a sketchbook. Musicians have no such thing.

Piino is the solution to this problem; it helps musicians express and compile musical ideas while they are traveling. It is a synthesizer and workstation that includes a 10 key range, customizable effect knobs and sliders, an interactive touch screen, and a trackpad for extra sound manipulation. Piino folds up and becomes a portable device that can go anywhere with you. Piino makes creating music on the go finally possible.

via Yanko Design

29 thoughts on “The Piino Portable Synthesizer – A Mobile Music Sketchpad

    1. I thought the same thing. Like did you draw the 3d prototype out of rapid prototyping materials and a pencil. They may need to change that tagline. I thought the concept was awesome until I read that. The synth might be built like a guy building a house with no blueprint.

    2. Yea, that was spew beverage out the nose funny when I read that line. I even selected & copied it, ready to launch off on some tirade, but folks were already there.

      I am very interested in portable “sketchpad/workstation”; partly because I just don’t like touch screens very much. I like the OP-1 idea, and I think that gets pretty close. Another one that looked fascinating to me is the KDJ-ONE. Ultimately, with any of them, I’d want to have the option of connecting a velocity sensing USB keyboard (like a microkey).

      But yea, this person was using his/her knowhow to make something “cool” but forgot to check what was already available.

  1. The funny thing is in the “related” entries below the main post there is a link to a 2011 post “Does mobile music making matter?” when the ipad was becoming a good tool for exactly that. I suppose this designer doesn’t know about, lets say.. korg gadget and the like?

    This is a design concept for something that already exists and claim to solve a problem with many solutions already available. It looks hipster though (wooden trackpad?), maybe that is the appeal.

    1. well, the appeal would be the physical controls – ipads have zero tactile response and It is one thing that has always annoyed me about touchscreens in general (gaming can be the same way especially with FPS games), something like this would be cool if it had some sort of connectivity and output so that you could plug into something or transfer work that you have done – though what I really want is a more modern equivalent of a yamaha QY70/100 that would do say ableton exports and have some kind of additive or fm synthesis engine in it that you could use rather than just GM sounds but in the same form factor roughly as a QY70/100.

  2. 4 knobs. Some keys. Built-in speaker. A screen. Precious-to-twee design characteristics.

    Looks like a Teenage Engineering OP-1.

    (Not to slam it…I own two and love them, but this has been DONE.)

    Oh…and +1 on the iPad.

  3. The appeal to me over an iPad are the possibilities and limitations of physical controls. It sounds like the intention is for an OP-1 style fixed architecture, but even with Organelle or Pd-like patching options under the hood, you could see becoming very facile with the interface. Maybe it’s more for the composer than the sound designer?

    1. I hear what you’re saying but playing on a one octave using cheap plastic buttons isn’t that much of an improvement. At least on an iPad you also have the ability to instantly share your ideas with your band or import it into any number of DAWs.

      On the go it’s plenty for playing/taking notes. Using bluetooth midi (or dongle midi) you can also add any number of physical controllers.

      Sounds like this toy is just a design concept anyway. What we really need is a precise and speedy haptic feedback screen for iPads where app designers can create ‘touch and feel zones’

  4. The op-1 has speakers and this one does as well. Why even try. Save money on the parts since the speaker is pretty pointless. Nothing wrong with portability and headphones. Headphones are still in and there nothing more awesome than that guy rocking his iphone with no headphones, blasting music in public.

  5. I think the industrial design looks nice. A little on the mid-century retro hipster side, but functional. I immediately though of an iPad when I read the description. Hipsters don’t really like iPads I guess because it feels too much like a generic computing device (?). However an iPad pretty much can do it all, notation, recording, looping, jamming. As a thesis project in industrial/product design I think it’s pretty cool though.

  6. LOL! Looks like something for make-up supplies. At least us musicians finally have a portable sketch pad for ideas. Totally uncharted territory. Can toss it in the bag with the iPhone, micro recorder, iPad with music apps, OP-1, notebook/pen, Circuit, laptop, etc.

    But in all seriousness – How do you get your ideas out of this thing? What kind of synth is it? What does it offer over any of the above options? What’s it run? How about connectivity? Firmware open source? Where’s the secret sauce? Think it’s a skip until it proves it’s worth it.

      1. Its a 3D-printed design concept for an empty case, with no details on usage or electronics. It has no actual function, like a 3D printed chess set and ‘lots of things’ do. Why does Synthtopia publish an incomplete student project?

  7. Hard to fault a design student for trying something out, but it’s easy to dismiss any hype about a design concept which doesn’t pay much attention to what already exists or how the object would be used. In terms of User Experience, this is unlikely to be very satisfying. And in terms of the internals, it could be pretty difficult to fit the components you need in a functional way.
    So, not only is it “form over function”, but the form isn’t necessarily about musical affordances.

  8. Perhaps we should stop manufacturing shit for things we can easily do on the computers and devices we already own. This thing, Roland’s encased software instruments, the yamaha reface line… It’s just more junk on the wastepile of plastic crap we can do without but will never get rid of.

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