Not so long ago, making music magic would likely involve taking weeks or months out and bedding down in a dedicated recording studio until everyone in the band was happy with the result. Now, a quiet room in a house can serve a similar purpose thanks to music production software running on a laptop and hardware interfaces for instruments, MIDI gear and microphones. Pipes from the Synesthesia Corporation essentially merges computer hardware and production software for an all-in-one music creation machine that's said to start a whole new music creation product category.
Designed for "stage musicians, sound producers, and audio fanatics" and the result of years of research and development, Pipes is reported good for studio and/or stage use. And its makers reckon that the technology at the heart of the Pipes device can "out-horsepower laptops, outperform samplers, and get better over time."
To the top of its road-ready steel and aluminum housing, you'll find a 7-inch touchscreen, tablet-like user interface and control dial. Pipes runs on both open source and proprietary software – the interface and MIDI input are the domain of a Raspberry Pi running Linux while the audio engine runs on another computer as a closed system.
The device can be had with either 32 GB or 128 GB of internal storage, which is home to a vast library of instruments, loops and sounds, with the company saying that something it's calling Parallel Access Zero Discernible Latency Technology means that the whole library is always loaded and ready for action, so no waiting around for sounds to load.
The Pipes system supports 24-bit/48 kHz native audio with 64 stereo voices, and users can import their own samples (all major audio formats are supported) before playing them as is, or further manipulating them using built-in custom Tweakers. Creatives can cable external devices to the Pipes box over USB, and there's support for USB-MIDI and 5-pin MIDI, so hooking up MIDI hardware shouldn't be a problem.
Analog and digital outputs are also present for plugging in headphones, speakers and more, and there's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth too, for wirelessly transferring files, connecting wireless I/O peripherals and downloading free firmware updates to keep the system relevant.
"I created this for musicians of any skill level or experience," said Synesthesia's Vince De Franco. "We believe creators deserve a powerful instrument they can use immediately in any environment. We don't plan to release a new version every few years. Instead, we hope users take advantage of free lifetime software updates and use their Pipes for many years to come."
Synesthesia debuted the first working prototype of Pipes at NAMM in January and has now launched on Kickstarter to fund production. Pledges start at US$399 and, if all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in September 2019. The video below has more.
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