Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds
Acoustic & Electronic Instruments, Musicians, News, Tutorials, Videos & Interesting Finds

Chompi: the quirky handheld synth shown off, release date approaching

Ever since Chompi appeared on Kickstarter and vastly exceeded expectations by raising over $1m in funding, excitement for the quirky, colourful little synth has been growing. As we approach a possible launch date and the initial backers get their hands on the instrument, the creators have been sharing more videos showing how the device works.

For the uninitiated, Chompi is a “magical tape music instrument” which works on the principles of samples, loops and buffers. Of course, it’s all digital and has no tape inside (in fact, many of its eventual users may have no concept at all of what ‘tape’ is). It is primarily designed to be fun and encourage experimentation, but with enough features to keep even seasoned synthesists entertained.

It has no status screens of any kind, so uses a clever system of multicoloured LEDs to show the status of sound banks, prompt the user for selections, and so on. Initially it may seem less intuitive or give the impression that the user will ‘miss’ something, particularly for those used to DAWs, control panels, deep diving menus etc., but even the initial demos suggest it will soon become second nature to record, manipulate, loop and layer sound.

Its key features are:

  • Fun & Inviting User Experience
  • Flexible Hardware DSP Platform with an Ever-Evolving Firmware Library
  • Quirky, One of a Kind, Stereo Sampling Engine
  • Sophisticated Tape-Style Looper
  • Powerful, yet Minimalistic Multi-FX
  • Plays Nice with Other Devices
  • Unique Screenless Workflow
  • Customizable Mechanical Keyboard, Encoder Knobs, & Enclosure Colors

The four modes are cutely named, to fit the overall theme, but don’t be fooled that these are not powerful work engines. CHOMPI mode is like a sound sketchpad where samples can be captured from microphone or line in. Pass this to JAMMI mode where a single sample is played across the range of button keys, changing speed and pitch as you go (echoes back to early Casio sampling keyboards). Alternatively, use CUBBI mode where 24 individual samples with their own playback settings are mapped to individual keys; great for percussion or for resampling and storing loops. Finally, MIDI mode lets you swap the internal sampling engine for an external synth voice using MIDI control.

Hardware features include a microSD slot for managing samples, USB-C for power and MIDI, built-in microphone, 3.5mm audio input and master/headphone output, and 3.5mm MIDI in and out.

CHOMPI is built on the Daisy platform which means easy firmware updates and customisations. This means additional features could be added in the future, after launch. CHOMPI can be programmed with Pure Data, Max/MSP Gen~, Arduino and C++.


One of a kind sampling workflow:

  • ? 6 hours of dynamic stereo sampling time (16 bit / 48kHz .WAV files)
  • Utilizes temporary recording buffers for non-destructive experimentation until you choose to store your samples
  • Built-in reset protocol: instrument boots up into CHOMPI Mode every time the power is cycled, encouraging endless exploration without fear of “making mistakes”
  • Capture samples with the on-board microphone, stereo line input, or resample the final output
  • Easily transfer your stored samples both to and from your computer using the micro SD card

Streamlined Sound Design Engine:

  • 7 voice polyphony
  • 14 slots to save/recall chromatic presets
  • 24 slots to save/perform resampled loops &/or one-shots
  • Sample playback speed & direction controls
  • Sample start & end point controls
  • Attack & Decay envelopes

Expandable & Powerful Multi-FX Engine:

  • Stereo lowpass <|> highpass filter
  • Tape FX: saturation & stability
  • Magic Wand FX: granular reverb & delay
  • Additional effects planned for future release

Sophisticated Tape Style Looper:

  • Sound-On-Sound, stereo looper (w/ record decay control)
  • Iconic transport knob provides control over: loop playback speed / direction, manual tape scrubbing (when loop is paused), as well as other additional easter eggs to be discovered by advanced users

You can see the Kickstarter page and CHOMPI site. Availability is expected in late 2023 or early 2024, depending on any final manufacturing challenges.