Synesthesia Intros Pipes Compact Sound Module At The 2018 Winter NAMM Show

2018 NAMM Show: Synesthesia today announced Pipes, a powerful compact sound module.

We talked with Synesthesia founder Vince De Franco, who gave us a hands-on demo of a prototype of the new module.

Pipes features 48KHz 24bit stereo sample playback and is WAV, AIF and MDA compatible, with up to 20,000 samples always loaded and ready to be triggered. It also offers “Tweaker” onboard Pure Data patches, which can be used to modify and transform MIDI, creating many possibilities for new and custom sounds.


  • 5” full color touchscreen
  • 64 max stereo voice polyphony
  • 4-millisecond latency from MIDI trigger input to analog audio output
  • Massive onboard instrument and sound library
  • Multiple USB MIDI inputs
  • Multiple assignable internal stereo channels (which are called “pipes”)
  • Introducing ‘Tweakers’: onboard Pure Data patches for MIDI manipulation, User patches welcome!
  • Effects per stereo channel: Slicer, Panner, Pitch, Compressor, Equalizer (4 band), Reverse, Delay, Flanger, Reverb, Filters, Distortions
  • Master Effects: Stereo Compressor, Equalizer (4 band), Reverb
  • Effect and Tweaker parameters controllable in real time
  • Introducing MDA instrument files, including position, velocity, and round robin samples with associated trigger data
  • MIDI signal input record and playback capability
  • Analog audio output x 2: L(mono) + R
  • Stereo headphone output
  • Stereo digital audio output: S/PDIF optical TOSLINK
  • USB memory port (recognizes thumb drive for file transfers and firmware updates)
  • Open Source User Interface/Front-End allow full customization

Technical Specifications:

  • 48KHz 24bit stereo sample playback, WAV, AIF, MDA compatible
  • Up to 20,000 samples always loaded and ready
  • 5” full color touchscreen
  • Enclosure dimensions 5.72″ x 4.77″ x 2.06
  • Multiple USB MIDI inputs
  • Analog audio output x 2: L(mono) + R
  • Stereo digital audio output: S/PDIF optical TOSLINK
  • Stereo headphone output
  • USB memory Port (recognizes thumb drive for file transfers and updates)

Pricing and Availability

Synesthesia expects Pipes to be available in mid-2018, priced at US $399.

31 thoughts on “Synesthesia Intros Pipes Compact Sound Module At The 2018 Winter NAMM Show

    1. If it had a sequencer I would be super interested since it would be a daw in a box – as it is, it seems like a fun but not at the top of my list as far as things to get

  1. Where have you been all my life!! I have been looking for a portable stand alone sample playback unit like this for what feels like decades. I am extremaly keen to know when this is released. Thank you.

  2. The mock up looks a lot better than the black box device. Maybe its building up to that. Looks interesting but a pretty unappealing interface and device.

      1. Written in PureData so I’m not sure what options they have for making it look more slick. Every puredata UI I’ve seen looks like Windows 3.1 era graphics.

  3. I was impressed when he said it would accept EXS files, which is Logic’s sampler food. I’d love to see how the production model holds up over time… which is what you can’t know until/unless it flies well enough in the market. Catch-22. I have to give thumbs-up for the depth, though. I can see this as a good partner for Mainstage or Cantibile. I also don’t see this as calling for a sequencer; its a potent adjunct TO one from outside. Sheesh, you can all but wear a small studio around your neck now, huh? Unlike some goofier Kickstarter offerings, this one seems sensible and appealing. Good luck, Vince!

  4. It seems like an impressive lil sample player. Will there be even modest synthesis capability–e.g., amp env? filter env?) If so, might it be assignable per sample, or per key/velocity range, or per instrument?

    1. Thanks, stub! We are listening to everybody’s input and finalizing specs now that the basic concept of Pipes technology was previewed at the show. While maintaining our latency level goal and the ability for all samples in memory to be loaded and triggerable at all times (and keeping starting price at $399) we are planning on incorporating as many of the popular suggestions as possible. Amplitude and filter envelopes would be assignable per file (whether it’s a single sample or a digital container of a lot of samples) or per pipe, which is essentially a key range.

  5. Insta-purchase in my book! I’ve been looking for a modern sample playback device that’s small and powerful. The MIDI effects and multitambrility make this a powerful alternative to current options. Seems like a killer companion for their multizone drum pads as well.

  6. Well, the sound is what you’d expect for that price, given the massive quantity of sound banks. Still, this could be an amazing sampler for a more than fair price.

  7. “48khz out-powers a laptop”… maybe one from about 2005. Most laptops nowadays pump out 196khz easily.

    Nothing here my laptop can’t do, with more storage, faster, better ergonomics and easier to use on a proper sized screen with a free copy of Reaper and a cheap midi interface.

    Nothing here out-powerforms a laptop, no matter how many times this guy shouts this out.

    1. My laptop (with a 2.6 GHz i7) can’t get anywhere near a 4 ms roundtrip latency. If I get it set at that level, I get glitched audio.

      Also, the way he was loading 2 GB sounds in 3.5 ms isn’t something my laptop can go near. If I’m using Kontakt, it has to read the samples into RAM, and even with my SSD, isn’t going to happen that fast.

      My laptop cannot “pump out 196kHz easily” it works harder at that rate and has more glitches– but I guess it is not a brand new laptop.

      I think he makes his point pretty clearly.

      A laptop will be more powerful, more versatile, and more expensive. This will do some things more quickly, and it will do it all more cheaply.

      I hope it succeeds.

    2. You must have a magic laptop. Mine can’t load 128GB of samples immediately when I turn it on. Even if I have my DAW up and Kontakt open loading up a sample a large pack takes several seconds.

    3. In our research we have found it is very difficult if not impossible to replicate Pipes trigger to audio output latency on any computer or computer audio interface combination without digital glitching. We’ve been exploring that field with an oscilloscope for some years as we optimize setups for pro drummers that play Synesthesia Mandala Drum pads, and that’s a big part of why we set out to create this sound module. Another aspect of Pipes which is unique is the ability to switch between large sample sets and instruments instantly because all your samples (up to 20,000) are loaded and triggerable at all times. For example, with Pipes a player could switch from a 20GB instrument to a 10GB sample set to a 30GB instrument with 0ms load time for each while performing.

    1. We went with the old 5-pin for the smiley on the demo unit to show that we’re onboard with the MIDI protocol (and even MPE actually). Any 5-pin MIDI to USB converter/adaptor is compatible with Pipes.

    2. If Pipes can host class compliant USB interfaces– that’s not a big deal. Direct USB will be faster, and the ability to connect a MIDI interface makes it a very reasonable compromise, IMHO.

  8. Can you create PD patches for more than MIDI transformation? Would be epic to have 3 or 4 pipes of sample play back and another couple of pipes of weirdo PD synthery.

    1. The heart of Pipes technology is a proprietary audio engine circuit/firmware, but there’s also a separate circuit which is an embedded running PD solely for the UI.

      For anyone who wants to dig deeper they can modify the Pipes PD UI or even create their own because we will be releasing the command list for the functionality of the audio engine (sample triggering parameters, effects settings, etc.). While there will be no audio output from the UI we fully intend to get ‘ weirdo synth’ functionality into the audio engine either at first or with an update soon after. Either way you could always get those synths going on the UI as is and translate their output into control signals for the audio engine circuit.

  9. I have to echo the desire for MPE above.
    I can’t believe I missed this in the NAMM stream until tonight, two weeks later.

    Very, very excited about this, Vince & company. I’ve been vocal for years on the lack of hardware midi samplers (or at least sample playback devices) *for keyboard players*, and don’t talk to me about all those one-shot DJ toys. I want polyphony, key mapping, and velocity layering… and here we are!!!

    Will it have cross-fade looping? or back-n-forth looping?
    and last question… seems you’ve already thought it out by way of your website but I’ll ask anyway:
    Any chance you could put at least one oldschool 5-PIN DIN MIDI IN port on there?
    That would be ideal, honestly. One 61- or 88-key controller and one Pipes, good to go at that point.

    Looking forward to this!

  10. This looks really great . I would like a 5 pin port or at least some easy MPE connect thing , I use a Linnstrument and prefer trad midi connections, they don’t change much. and strain relief and wear on small USB connectors are a pain, especially micro USB. A screen reconfiguring or sizing option would be cool. Mirroring the screen and controls on a tablet or touch display option would be really nice.

  11. i’ve been waiting for a new standalone sampler for ages. Pipes looks like the real deal and at a great price.

    take my money!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *