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Pipes is a new audio platform which out-horsepowers a laptop, outperforms any sample player, and is built to get even better over time.
Pipes is a new audio platform which out-horsepowers a laptop, outperforms any sample player, and is built to get even better over time.
Pipes is a new audio platform which out-horsepowers a laptop, outperforms any sample player, and is built to get even better over time.
311 backers pledged $133,436 to help bring this project to life.

About

The ultimate music performance machine for studio and stage. project video thumbnail
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The ultimate music performance machine for studio and stage.

$133,436

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Welcome to Pipes on Kickstarter! Start here:

If this is your first time learning about Pipes, please be sure to watch the video above, then scroll down past the updates to learn about everything Pipes can do, and how we'll grow this into an awesome community!

UPDATES! 

We've been putting Pipes through its paces using our developer user interface. Please note that we are using Kickstarter primarily to work with our backers on creating a well thought out user interface with high level of design and architecture.

VIDEO: Pipes Jumps through Sample Libraries

No matter how big your sample file is, 10 megs or 20 gigs, your samples are always loaded and ready to go. Here we demonstrate auditioning a bunch of various sounds on demand.

VIDEO: Building Split Sounds with Tweakers and Effects

With Pipes you can trigger multiple sample libraries by spreading them out across your instrument. Each pipe can have its own Tweakers and effects if you choose.

VIDEO: BeatMaker Tweaker

Tweakers are programs built in pure data that alter the sound by making changes before the sample triggers, unlike effects which change the sound after the sample triggers. Tweakers can be very basic like an arpeggiator, or they can be very complex, almost like "mini apps". Pipes will ship with loads of Tweakers, and anyone who enjoys programming in Pure Data will be able to make their own and share with our community if they choose.

Here is an example of basic step-sequencer which many people will be familiar with, what's unique about ours is the ability to change out sounds and tweak everything in real time. 

VIDEO: From the Lab

In addition to all the functionality we have planned for Pipes, we're always experimenting to see what else we could include. This is another area where we'd love our backer's input. What would you like to see built? Please comment, we're listening. 

For this demo, we wondered... What does it sound like to whip through 20GB of samples by triggering the next one every 10 milliseconds? AND, while applying effects and adjusting their parameters? Meet the new Memory Whip Tweaker

Imagine the audio quality of a high-end audio interface combined with the fastest and most powerful sampler engine ever created. That’s Pipes in a nutshell, but it’s only the beginning. 

Based on groundbreaking core technology, Pipes is a new category of machine for creating music and performing live. It has the convenience of a touchscreen tablet style interface, the flexibility of an open source software platform, and the durability for going onstage night after night. Best of all, it’s priced at half the cost of the latest smartphones and updates are free forever!

Scroll to learn more!

Top image: Photo by Nick Reynolds on Unsplash & Bottom image: Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash
Top image: Photo by Nick Reynolds on Unsplash & Bottom image: Photo by Spencer Imbrock on Unsplash

There's a lot to love about Pipes. Pipes has many options for connections, and a wide array of features big and small. This is about as short a list as we could make without leaving something important unsaid!

  •  Choose between two versions with the exact same specs and functionality, the ONLY difference is the amount of onboard storage, either 32GB or 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. Tons of presets included!
  •  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 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.
  •  Pipes’ entire sound and instrument library loads at startup and can be triggered instantly, thanks to our patented audio engine powered by our unique 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. Even the world’s greatest drummers can’t tell, because ZDL was developed with their help! 
  •  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. And we’ll be adding more and more effects via updates, which are free for life! All effects parameters are controllable in real-time by MIDI or LFO's.
  •  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.
  •  Roll your own with Pipes. An open source GUI, a full list of Audio Engine OSC commands (Open Sound Control) and features like internal resampling offer you the ability to hack Pipes into your own personal sonic invention.
  •  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.
  •  Pipes is an instrument, not a gadget or a toy. We want our users to enjoy many years of making music. We won’t be releasing a “new version” that requires you to buy new hardware to keep up. 
  •  Backers get free updates for life which includes Pipes firmware, software and content. Eventually we will open Pipes up to third-party developers, creating a marketplace for users to buy and sell their own original content and software.
  •  All backers get lifetime support, which includes updates and tech support. Read about our warranty policy here.
  • Designed and built in California

We realize you may have a lot of questions. Be sure to read the FAQ section on this page where we’ve tried to answer every conceivable question, and we’ll continue to add more answers as fresh ones come in!

A note about the touch screen

Some music makers like touchscreens and some don’t. If you are one who doesn’t, please be aware that:

- All Pipes user interface controls are mappable to MIDI controller knobs and faders. This is done automatically with Pipes conditioner Tweakers which are predesigned templates for most popular MIDI controllers. And you’ve always got Pipes’ MIDI Learn feature as well.

- Pipes’ user interface will be browser-based and can be operated from anything that runs a browser and has WiFi, so you can set up Pipes without even touching it or being in the same room!

Real prototype and real inventor Vince DeFranco! Again, this is the actual device but the screen content is simulated as we are in the midst of designing the final UI. We have a functional UI at the moment, it's just not as pretty as it will be by launch!
Real prototype and real inventor Vince DeFranco! Again, this is the actual device but the screen content is simulated as we are in the midst of designing the final UI. We have a functional UI at the moment, it's just not as pretty as it will be by launch!

Pipes is brought to you by Synesthesia Corp’s founder and inventor Vince DeFranco along with a core team of designers, programmers and support staff. This is the same crew that brought you the Mandala Drum, the Eyris and the Dimension Beam (acquired by Roland and renamed the D-Beam). It’s also the team that brought you Synapse, launched successfully on Kickstarter in 2013.

Now we are back with our most ambitious and exciting product to date. We started five years ago dreaming up the ultimate module to power our Mandala Drums. After lots of research and development, our technology has caught up with our best ideas and supplies are available at a much lower price point. This has led to the most amazing device that doesn’t just support Mandala Drums, but every type of USB MIDI and 5-Pin MIDI instrument. Keyboards, drum pads, wind controllers, stringed instrument MIDI controllers are all perfect for Pipes.

As musicians, we’ve all wished that our laptops were more stable and less delicate because they are a convenient, portable way to bring a lot of power and flexibility to the stage. We’ve all dealt with the frustration when our laptops interfere with our ability to perform or create due to a variety of issues. We’ve felt nervous wondering if all of our hardware and software will play well with each other, as well as hoping that no one accidentally knocks over our laptop or tablet on stage! 

Finally, you have an option that has never been available before. A platform with the power and flexibility of a computer, but streamlined just for music performance. Keep your laptop or tablet safe at home or in the studio, and help us continue to make Pipes the ultimate music performance device.

Visit our site to learn more about the team and technology behind Pipes.

Visit our YouTube Channel to see prototype demos of Pipes features.

Our user interface design is in process, this is our "welcome" screen draft which greets users upon powering up.
Our user interface design is in process, this is our "welcome" screen draft which greets users upon powering up.

We knew early on that the only way to create a real game-changer of a device was to get lots of user input. As we continued to refine our concept, we realized that the community aspect of Pipes is foundational. We chose Kickstarter because it’s full of like-minded innovators and music lovers, and it’s the ideal platform to launch Pipes with our user’s voices baked in to the final product.

Pipes will be able to do so much at launch, but it’s important to know that this is just the beginning. The patented hardware engine and interface are capable of doing so much more, and our users will help determine what comes next and how it can work.

Our goal is to use the time between our Kickstarter launch and the first shipping dates to refine our User Interface and User Experience. Our design team has launched hundreds of successful enterprise-level websites, mobile apps and software apps. We all believe that the best user interfaces are realized with a lot of user input, thus we are excited to be able to work with our backers to achieve this goal!

Rendering of Founder's Club badge placement. Final placement and design may change. And of course it will have Vince's real signature!
Rendering of Founder's Club badge placement. Final placement and design may change. And of course it will have Vince's real signature!

 The first 250 backers to back Pipes on Kickstarter will receive a very limited edition 128GB Founder's Club edition of Pipes. We are making only 300 of these. The first 50 belong to our team and our collaborators who have already supported Pipes prior to our launch. The remaining 250 are going entirely to Kickstarter backers!

The Founder's Club edition is a badged, hand numbered and signed version of the 128GB Pipes unit that will be available to all. 

We are offering this very limited edition for just $399, which is nearly half off the $699 retail price! 

That's the lowest anyone will ever pay for Pipes, and you also get a lifetime of bragging rights. If that's not enough, you will also be the very first people to receive Pipes, a month in advance!

We are so excited to see these get into deserving hands! We believe they will go quite fast, so please don't miss the boat because when they are gone, they are gone!

The very first Pipes prototype. We've come a long way baby! This is from the last NAMM show in California.
The very first Pipes prototype. We've come a long way baby! This is from the last NAMM show in California.

Fortunately this is not our first rodeo. We’ve developed, built and shipped several products. This means our supply chain is solid and our core technology has already been tested and refined for some time.

The hardest part is already done. The prototype hardware you see on this site and in the video is, for the most part, exactly what will be shipping. We’ve tested it in a variety of situations with a wide variety of devices and we’re so excited to be able to say it performs as advertised.

First working prototype debuted in January 2018 at the NAMM show in California as shown in the above video.

The primary area of focus between now and when we ship the first Founder’s Club edition of Pipes is the user interface and user experience for the touchscreen. We want Pipes to be easy to use even though it can be a complex and very powerful device. We have to make sure it's easy for first time users to start exploring and learning, then we also need our advanced users to be able to access deeper functions with similar ease. The right interface makes complicated functions much easier, so we’ll be looking to our users to give us feedback as we develop this.

We’ll also be creating custom tweakers for popular MIDI controllers so that you can map all functionality to your device simply by loading its associated tweaker. For example if you have an M-Audio Axiom 49, which has 49 keys plus an assortment of pads and sliders, you would load that tweaker and all of your controls would be mapped and connected. Of course you can modify or change these at any time, but this is an amazing way to fast track your connection. We will continue to test more popular (and boutique!) MIDI controller devices to make sure they behave as expected. 

We will also be developing as many Tweakers, effects, and presets as possible to include at launch. We already have quite a few! Whatever is not finished by launch will have no bearing on usability and will be available in subsequent software updates. Target dates are at the bottom of this very long timeline!

Most importantly, what does Pipes sound like at full resolution? We've recorded 24bit/48Khz demos and posted them to Soundcloud. These are recorded directly out of Pipes, everything you hear from instruments changing to effects are happening inside Pipes!

First, a look ahead, then read on to learn how the last 25 years led to Pipes!

Post-Launch Timeline

Nov 2018 - All components ordered / Begin designing the user experience and user interface

Feb 2019 - Enclosure manufacturing complete

March 2019 - Assembly begins

Apr 2019 - Primary UI/UX functionality complete

May 2019 - Sound Library/Tweakers/Effects complete and titles posted

Jul 2019 - Preset creation complete / Memory duplicated and installed

Aug 2019 - Unit testing

Sep 2019 - Founder’s Club editions start shipping (250 available)

Oct 2019 - Super early bird 32GB Pipes start shipping (50 available)

Nov 2019 - Early bird 32GB and Early Bird and Late Riser Bird 128GB start shipping (100 available of each)

Dec 2019 - Late riser bird 32GB (100 available) and full priced 32GB and 128GB start shipping

Pre-Launch Timeline

Jan 1994 - Vince starts scheming up circuits that play back sampled audio to support his Dimension Beam technology, but settles for existing clunky hardware samplers instead.

Vince working at The Record Plant where he first started dreaming about a circuit that plays back sampled audio.
Vince working at The Record Plant where he first started dreaming about a circuit that plays back sampled audio.
Silly picture of Vince and the first Dimension Beam that eventually evolved to become Roland's D-Beam
Silly picture of Vince and the first Dimension Beam that eventually evolved to become Roland's D-Beam
Shipping the first Dimension Beams...it felt like Kickstarter 20 years before there was a Kickstarter!
Shipping the first Dimension Beams...it felt like Kickstarter 20 years before there was a Kickstarter!

1998 - Vince DeFranco and Ryeland Allison in their 2-man project performing live with laptops. The band was Engine Ear and Ryeland remains connected today as an advisor and much more for Pipes! 

Engine Ear's laptop powered live show at The Palladium in 1998. #trendsetters
Engine Ear's laptop powered live show at The Palladium in 1998. #trendsetters

Aug 1998 - Vince DeFranco's break-thru smash. While opening for Melvins and TOOL at Santa Barbara County Bowl on August 29, 1998, his laptop fails and the only logical rock and roll thing to do... is smash it to pieces. The audience went wild. This was the first inkling of a wish - what if there was a better way?

"YOU WILL NEVER MALFUNCTION AGAIN" : )
"YOU WILL NEVER MALFUNCTION AGAIN" : )

2000 - The first Mandala drum pad and hardware interface are realized. Computer still required!

Checking under the hood of the first Mandala brain, the device that led to Pipes!
Checking under the hood of the first Mandala brain, the device that led to Pipes!

2005-2006 - Vince continues dreaming about a circuit that plays back sampled audio to support his Mandala Drum technology, but designed around a wavetable audio chip instead.

Let's see if we can make the brain smaller without giving up functionality.
Let's see if we can make the brain smaller without giving up functionality.
Now we have an external box that is a lot more portable!
Now we have an external box that is a lot more portable!

2006 - Started a long and arduous period of relying on desktops and laptops with audio interfaces to get desired sample playback results. Our users really wanted a laptop version because using laptops in live performance has become commonplace. 

The first iteration of the GUI which ran as stand-alone software on Mac and PC
The first iteration of the GUI which ran as stand-alone software on Mac and PC

2007 - Luke Henderson, an early investor in Synesthesia, comes on board as a partner to build a business that would employ people and support artists. Luke's business and financial background brought important stability along with logical and creative solutions for manufacturing, development, operations and marketing. Thanks to his experience and hard work, we are able to deliver Pipes at an incredibly affordable price! Eleven years later, he continues to be at the helm steering confidently around melting icecaps, international tariffs and minotaurs.

No joke - Luke is qualified to helm companies and boats!
No joke - Luke is qualified to helm companies and boats!

2007-2012 Vince takes a 5-year long deep dive doing R&D optimizing circuitry, firmware, and software after stopping production of wavetable based standalone sound module and releasing a Mandala Drum (V2) fully dependent on a computer running Virtual Brain software as a sound module.

v3.0 of the Mandala Brain GUI
v3.0 of the Mandala Brain GUI

2012 - Vince and Cosmo work together to create a modern user interface for the Mandala Mk 2, and while it's a big step up, we are still relying on a laptop to power our system. (Cosmo is a partner at The Boathouse, an agency who is partnered with Pipes. Cosmo and Vince have been friends and collaborators for 20 years and Cosmo jumped at the chance to bring his team in to help launch Pipes.)

Jun 2012 - Best Mandala Drum technology (mk2.9) to date is released, including optimized Virtual Brain software, but still limited by computer capabilities. 

USB achieved!
USB achieved!

2013 - Our first successful Kickstarter! Vince launches Synapse, a device which converts drum and guitar pedals to USB MIDI to control audio software and plugins.

2014-2016 - Still not happy with the limitations of laptops, it was time to see if technology had caught up to Vince's creativity. Unfortunately the answer was no. Okay, so how do we deliver a truly phenomenal piece of hardware that stands on its own? Let's ponder that for a couple more years...

June 2016 - Moonshot R&D to achieve desired sampled audio playback gets underway.

Sept 2016 - Moonshot breakthrough is achieved for Parallel Access ZDL, Pipes core technology! Three months doesn't sound that long but when you account for the previous two decades of research, it makes a lot more sense!

Jan 2018 - Pipes prototype premieres and is well received at Winter NAMM. The "MIDIotic" icon and Pipes branding from Cosmo debuts as well. The icon's meaning should be obvious to most - it's a 5-pin MIDI connector merged with a smiley. After 25 years, nothing has made us as happy as the first time we showed Pipes to someone and they "got it". That always ends in a smile.  

The 3D prototype. The final version is not far off this. The cost of creating molded grip edges, and including a complex light array around the rotary encoder would have made the end price higher than we wanted. It's more important to us that Pipes is affordable for musicians of any level. We also moved the power switch to the back plate. Down the road, we may add the side panels as an accessory as our build would allow those to be attached without modification.
The 3D prototype. The final version is not far off this. The cost of creating molded grip edges, and including a complex light array around the rotary encoder would have made the end price higher than we wanted. It's more important to us that Pipes is affordable for musicians of any level. We also moved the power switch to the back plate. Down the road, we may add the side panels as an accessory as our build would allow those to be attached without modification.

Apr 2018 - The 3D design of what the future prototype could look like is designed by Cosmo. And https://pipes.rocks goes live!

Jun 2018 - To help raise awareness, we made shirts! Our first backer reward lets you choose from any design, size and style of t-shirt.

<you are here!>

Oct 2018 - Pipes with Parallel Access ZDL technology launches on Kickstarter!!!

Risks and challenges

We’ve been building complex instruments and computer-based music hardware for well over a decade with tens of thousands of customers comprised mostly of professional musicians. Now we are creating a product which is designed for a much larger user base, and we're also depending on our users to help us make the best decisions as we roll out new features and functionality.

The following are legitimate risks that may affect the completion of the Pipes Kickstarter project:

1. "Force Majeure" - Conditions beyond Synesthesia Corporation's control including but not limited to, acts of God (including earthquakes and tidal waves), government restrictions (including the denial or cancellation of any export or other necessary license), wars, insurrections and/or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of the party whose performance is affected.

2. Supplier risk - Synesthesia has worked previously with all involved suppliers in producing finished products for the mass market. Synesthesia has also taken the precaution of having more than one supplier for each component. However, there is always a possibility that the production plan will be affected by any trouble that arises in connection with the procurement of components.

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    T-SHIRT

    Show off your Midiotic style and support for PIPES with your choice of three different shirt designs. U.S. shipment only and free shipping is included!

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    Show off some Midiotic sneaks... One-of-a-kind PIPES designed Bucketfeet shoes, both mens and womens sizes available. U.S. shipment only and shipping is included!

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    128GB Founder's Club Special Edition!!!!

    Be one of the first 250 to back Pipes and get the 128GB Founder’s Club model which has a custom Founder’s club badge on the back of the enclosure, hand numbered and signed by Vince. It’s the biggest discount off our $699 MSRP for the 128GB model! Plus you’ll be the first to receive Pipes!!!

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Funding period

- (30 days)