Pipes Kickstarter Reaches Funding Goal, Adds Stretch Goals

Synesthesia has passed its funding goal for the Pipes Kickstarter project, and they have added two new stretch goals: multiple audio outs and analog in.

The Pipes is a new audio platform that they say “out-horsepowers a laptop, outperforms any sample player, and is built to get even better over time.”


  • Choose between two versions with the exact same specs and functionality, the ONLY difference is the amount of onboard storage, either 32GB and 128GB.
  • Pipes comes pre-loaded with a large onboard library of pristine, original, high-quality instruments, loops, and sounds. Getting started is simple-plug in your USB MIDI or 5-pin MIDI device and start.
  • Pipes is created for musicians of any skill level or experience. Professional sound designers, bands, DJs and performers will love the power and flexibility of Pipes. At the same time, those just beginning their journey will enjoy how easy it is to get started simply by exploring all the onboard instruments.
  • Import, manipulate and play your own samples. Pipes supports ALL major formats including these: WAV, AIF, MDA, EXS, NKI, SFZ, GIG. Pipes is fully MPE compatible as well.
  • Pipes’ entire sound and instrument library loads at startup and can be triggered instantly, thanks to a patented audio engine powered by Parallel Access ZDL technology. Parallel Access means your entire library is always loaded and ready to play. Switch between huge multi-GB instruments or sample sets immediately or play them at the same time. ZDL stands for ‘zero discernible latency’ which means the time between triggering the sample and hearing it play back feels instantaneous without any lag or delay.
  • Pipes comes pre-loaded with custom Tweakers which allow you to manipulate audio before it triggers. Advanced users can build their own custom Tweakers using the open source Pure Data visual programming language.
  • Pipes is pre-loaded with effects which can further manipulate your audio.
  • You can operate multiple internal pipelines (pipes) at once, each with their own sounds, instrument files, Tweakers and effects. You can split them or stack them to create rich, complex, original sounds, or use them separately, allowing multiple players to connect and trigger sounds and instruments at the same time.
  • Pipes is compact, portable, durable and designed to be on stage. Pipes is housed in a steel + aluminum case which means that it’s the right balance of durability for rugged conditions without being too heavy.
  • 100V – 240V external power supply for world-wide use. Backers will receive the correct plug adaptor for their territory based on where the unit is being shipped.
  • Backers get free updates for life which includes Pipes firmware, software and content.

Pricing and Availability

Production of the Pipes is being funded via a Kickstarter project, and it’s available to project backers starting at US $399. The project has already met its funding goal.

22 thoughts on “Pipes Kickstarter Reaches Funding Goal, Adds Stretch Goals

  1. The stretch goals are: additional audio outs ($475k) and audio in ($750k).
    Apparently audio in would let PIPES act as an effects box.
    So I am confused about this, does PIPES have the potential to be an interesting Kyma-like DSP supercomputer or is it a sampler?

    1. It would be cool if you could use samples or the audio input interchangeably. Use effects and other aspects on the audio input (a la Kurzweil Live Mode).

    2. It’s a Raspberry PI and some custom DSP that reads samples and optionally does some Open Sound Control (OSC) stuff on them. When they say it “out horsepowers a laptop” they are talking about how fast it can load samples (or something to that effect, it’s not entirely clear). It won’t be doing stuff to samples that your laptop can’t do today faster.

      Audio In will allow it to sample audio in instead of transferring samples with USB. It won’t be a real time effects box, just a way to get samples in for tweaking/playback.

      At it’s heart this is a sample player. The last article here had lots of interesting comments to consider.


      1. You’re off about the main features. It’s all on the Kickstarter page. Pipes uses a dedicated SoC as an audio engine. The Pi does nothing audio related and its only used for the interface. One new thing about it is that the Pipes audio engine loads all samples (no RAM limitation) when you turn it on. You can add your own library (or use theirs) and combine huge instruments and sample sets into new sounds along with the internal effects and applied Pure Data patches. There’s no beach ball when switching instruments or sample sets either no matter how big they are. Also, it says if they reach the analog input stretch goal it will not only include sampling capability but also the capability to be a real time effects box for connected instruments. Another plus is that latency from trigger to audio is less than 4ms. For what I do I’m ditching an interface and laptop for live shows. Looking forward to additional functionality that they add to this platform as well.

        1. Hi Franklin! Later on in a separate post you said: “What’s so ambiguous about a 48kHz/24bit 64 voice sample player…?”


          “Pipes uses a dedicated SoC as an audio engine” – Do we know anything about this except for some very basic specs? We do know they talk a lot about ZDL aka “zero discernible latency” but that doesn’t tell us much. Using a word like “discernible” sounds like it’s no better than what I get with my current laptop. As far as the 4ms quoted latency figure: New Thunderbolt interfaces are even faster than that and offer more flexibility. They do cost more but you’ll know exactly what you’re getting (and you probably have the laptop to run it already). Just to clarify the point I was making originally – the Pi may not be doing audio work but my statement is still correct: It’s just a Pi and some other custom(?) chip. I have my doubts about it being anything custom due to the low price point and lack of DSP experience on the team.

          “The Pipes audio engine loads all samples” – They refuse to talk about their “secret sauce” (red flag #1!) but I’m confident it does not load anything. There’s no way you’re getting 64GB or 128GB of RAM in the unit at that price, so there’s no place for it to “load” the samples to. It would also add on at least a few minutes (!) of start up time if it was loading everything to RAM. The more likely scenario is that they’re using an SSD, which your laptop probably already has anyway, and it loads samples as needed. Or maybe they’re rolling their own custom SSD, which would be even scarier. Engineering block storage like an SSD is not a process for the faint of heart. Either way, having to speculate about these things is not confidence inspiring. There aren’t many “black box” technologies today and for good reason. The days of medicine men pedaling magic cures are (thankfully) long gone.

          “…but also the capability to be a real time effects box…” – Careful, it very clearly says it “Opens the door” to that kind of thing. The original design and architecture of Pipes did not include real time effects processing so this will be a major change for them. We don’t even know how much or what kind of effects processing it’ll be able to handle (since we know NOTHING about the custom audio engine).

          As far as beach-balling when switching around in a DAW – you have to remember that your DAW was not designed to be a real time instrument. DAW developers don’t even try to be efficient with things like loading VSTs, they only need to worry about playback. If you use software that IS designed to be an instrument you’ll probably find much better performance (Mainstage, Cantabile, etc.). Plus you can use any VST you want for instruments or effects.

          I’m sure this is a perfect solution for some people out there, sounds like it might be for you. Heck, the fact that I wrote all this means I have some interest as well. But the price and lack of specs mean it’s probably not as powerful as some people think it will be. Wish they’d be more open on the technical specs….

          1. Too disconcerting to let misinformation float about the web, or personal opinion be presented as fact (claiming to know who makes up the full Pipes dev team and their experience level?), so on that note…

            What does it matter what the specs of the dedicated SoC are? If Pipes can produce pristine sample playback in less than 4ms after a MIDI signal is received it is beating any combination of computer plus software sample player plus thunderbolt (or otherwise) audio interface on the market in that regard. They’ve run the tests and I discussed their results with them at NAMM because I was running similar tests. Maybe post a screenshot of a scope with a MIDI signal on one channel and a triggered audio signal on another channel showing the time between them less than 4ms as well as an audio file of that triggered audio with no clicking and what gear you did it with to back up your statement. Maybe you’re thinking of a different spec, which is the latency between real time audio in and audio out for a computer plus audio interface system. The Pipes spec is referring to the incoming MIDI signal to audio out latency for a system. Also, what is your basis for claiming to know the DSP experience of the Pipes team? Do you have any idea who makes up the full team? If so, tell us all the involved parties and how you know that information before making such a statement.

            Now let’s move on to sample access. You keep referring to wanting to know their secret sauce. Why would they tell you what their secrets are? Would they really want to give potential competitors a head start or compromise their patent process? What matters is what the device can do. If I can switch from something like a 20GB sample set to a 30GB sample set instantly (or play them concurrently) then what does it matter how they utilize available RAM and if the device uses SSD or some other kind of memory? Because you can’t figure out how they do it or because they don’t reveal their process doesn’t mean the device can’t do it. I played with Pipes at NAMM and it did exactly what they claim.

            Regarding the capability to be a real time effects box, they clearly state in their materials that Pipes is a platform and there will be ongoing functionality updates. A machine that can already do what is stated in the two paragraphs above easily has the power to be a real time effects box. If Pipes can apply effects to samples as they are playing back from memory it also has the power to do it to a digitized stream of incoming audio, and if they can engineer what they’ve already engineered I believe they can manage to implement this functionality as well.

            Who ever mentioned beach balling when switching around instruments in a DAW? They’re talking about stuff like loading instruments in Battery or Kontakt or EXS24 (within Mainstage), and especially during a performance. After all, they do call Pipes a performance machine. It’s not a DAW and isn’t ever referred to as a DAW replacement. Wise to cover your statement above with the word “probably” about finding better performance in software instruments, because it’s not the case. Again, any chance you played with Pipes at NAMM? That was just the old version and in terms of the features discussed in the first two paragraphs above Pipes beats out any available software plus computer plus audio interface system.

            1. Hi Franklin. Regarding real time effects, would they be able to ultimately release an update that acts like (say) a Roland VT? Not knowing anything about the internals, I have no idea.

              I was initially excited by the mention of PureData programming, but in PIPES this seems to be just for rearranging MID, not audio.

            2. 🙂 Wow!

              “claiming to know who makes up the full Pipes dev team and their experience level?”
              Sorry this is so disconcerting and bothered you so much but yeah, it’s public knowledge. The information is on their about page, check it out for yourself: https://www.pipes.rocks/about/ I base my claims on the information they make available. If they don’t list everyone, that’s their problem. So I stand by my accurate statement that there’s no DSP engineer on board.

              “A machine that can already do what is stated in the two paragraphs above easily has the power to be a real time effects box.”
              You sound pretty confident about this. Unless you can back that up with real facts that’s just what you think (or what you’ve been told). They don’t even have the UI done and you’re positive about it’s future development and performance. OK. It kind of sounds like you’re expressing opinion as fact (or at the very least speculating or worst parroting) since we don’t know what it can do except sample playback and some simple effects.

              “I played with Pipes at NAMM and it did exactly what they claim.”
              How exactly do you know that? What kind of tests did you perform at NAMM? Can you hear 4ms latency? Or is that really more of an opinion stated as a fact too?

              If anyone should be backing up their claims it should be THEM, since this is their idea and they’re trying to get funding for it. If you’re OK with investing in something that “feels” good then good on you. It’s your money and I hope it turns out well for you. There’s an entire audio cable industry that depends on people not vetting things…

              You don’t seem to be too technical but the reason I’m curious about the “breakthrough parallel ZDL technology” is that it’s the most interesting part of the project. If they applied for a patent then it’s not going to be secret for long (can’t find one yet though). Once you make sensational statements like they are you can’t blame people for being curious. No one is trying to steal their business. They already have a 5+ year head start anyway. I have my theories but in no way am I “trying to figure it out”. I’m an engineer it’s really just intellectual curiosity at this point.

              It’s way too much effort to break down the rest of what you wrote. It’s mostly demanding proof that I support my claims. Which is kind of funny because that’s what *I’D* like to see from Pipes. Oh, and a lot of nice-n-safe “If it can do this” statements. The only reason it’s a bunch of “If’s” is that we’re missing specs, though I understand this doesn’t concern you at all. If you really want to defend Pipes then come back with some technical info from them.

              To be Frank you’re trying way too hard to sell these. Wish you the best of luck on your adventures. I’ll meet you at the next Synthopia article when it’s announced that Pipes is delayed (it is a Kickstarter after all).

  2. I’ve seen this multiple times now and I’m still confused as to what it is. Seems like a standalone Kontakt-like sample player with audio interface in one box. What are Pipes sample libraries like? A lot would depend on that. If they aren’t as good as some of the bigger brand Kontakt libraries then I’m not really seeing the advantage of this over a laptop to be honest

        1. Really? What’s so ambiguous about a 48kHz/24bit 64 voice sample player with pre-loaded sounds, effects, presets, space for your own library, and the ability to stream any sample direct from its entire memory with low latency? Oh yeah, also with the ability to hack the front end to control its audio engine by way of your favorite programming language? Pretty straightforward I’d say. It’s in the video, on the Kickstarter page, and on the website.

  3. they should team up with the french company squarp in order to implement a pyramid sequencer into pipes. make a cutting-edge groovebox.

    1. At $399 I doubt they’re grabbing any cash at all. Anything that has even the basic features of this, like instant sample access/64 voices/4ms latency costs more than twice as much for a reason. It’s because those other companies have massive overhead and they have to grab cash. I’d say get this while you can. Truth is, there isn’t anything else that does some of the things Pipes does, not unless you start combining gear like laptops and interfaces, and not just the cheap ones.

      1. Exactly, the benefits from having an economy of scale starts to ramp up quickly once cost recovery is achieved. The profit builds up with the numbers sold.

  4. This is a amazing product that will be made even greater if it can get the 6 additional outputs for the same price. With the entry price of $399, you really can’t go wrong. Would way rather take two of these on tour with me to play back Kontakt library sounds than a laptop/interface rig.

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