The Flash Synth is a 16-voice instrument that's the size of a DIN plug and an audio out jack

Are you frustrated with the sheer weight of your hardware synthesizer? Of course not! But wouldn't it be fun to carry one around in your pocket? Probably! That's exactly what you can do with the Flash Synth, a new creation from Tim Alex Jacobs (7'11), via his website, Mixtela.

This tiny synth is capable of 16-voice FM patches, and it's polyphonic too. All this within what is, frankly, a pipe with a MIDI input on one end and a jack output on the other. Oh, and there's some synth electronics housed (uncomfortably, you'd imagine), within that pipe. Here's what they're capable of…

Synthesis Specs (via Mixtela)

  • Fully polyphonic, meaning 16 voices for the standard patches. More complex patches could also be added at a reduced polyphony, but the main algorithms are aiming for 16.
  • Full support for pitch bend. This means respecting the full 14-bit value (something most keyboards don't even send) and also working with the RPN pitchbend range adjustment messages. The synth is designed to work perfectly with the Tonal Plexus – Aaron's microtonal MIDI keyboard, which sends a pitchbend range of 1 semitone, to get the most accurate detuning of notes.
  • Powered by MIDI. Pulling its power parasitically from the plug. This is the real stickler.
  • High quality sound output. This means stereo and full audio bandwidth: I aimed for the standard samplerate of 44.1kHz.
  • Produces as many "bleeps and bloops" as possible. Some people criticised my original Smallest MIDI Synth for only producing a square wave with no envelopes or filters. This synth needs to produce a repertoire of sounds big enough to silence such comments.

If you're looking to get your hands on this particular synth, it seems like it'll be possible. Jacobs says that, "This project was built as a commission for Aaron Andrew Hunt. A production run is under way and the finished units will be sold on his site, H-Pi Instruments."

We've covered Tim's Stylophone Business Card in the past, and a glance at Mixtela's list of previous hardware projects shows other ludicrously tiny designs such as the Etch-a-Sketch USB Mouse and Bluetooth Hip Flask, as well as many synth-tastic novelties.

There's also a whopping (ironically) write-up by the man himself, detailing exactly how he made the Flash Synth.

The Flash Synth is due to ship in December, and is available from the H-Pi Instruments website for €130 (that includes a €30 pre-order discount).