Prophet 8 Special Edition Analog Synth from Dave Smith

The Special Edition Prophet 8 synth from Dave Smith features a hand-signed nameplate and glowing red pitch and mod wheels.

Who says progress is bad? Synth designer Dave Smith’s Prophet ’08 synth is a new instrument inspired by his legendary Prophet series, but there are a number of clues that indicate it’s not 1978. First, driven by Internet buzz, word-of-mouth preorders are already taking off. (DSI hasn’t yet added the Prophet ’08 to their price list because they’re scrambling to fill the early orders.) That means, ironically, the Web generation is better able to support “boutique” synths now than even synth customers of a few years ago. Second, I expect a lot of these Prophet ’08s will happily become outboard analog gear complimenting computers. (It’s a good thing Dave Smith was a driving force behind MIDI.) Lastly, the Prophet ’08 has some great features we take for granted now that were harder to come by in 1978.

The Prophet ’08 is analog to the core: it boasts a 100%-analog signal path and a “sonic character” not surprisingly modeled on the classic Prophets. What’s new:

  • Velocity and aftertouch: If this spoils the “vintage” experience for you, go see a doctor.)
  • Mo Modulation: “Extensive modulation routing capabilities”, making the Prophet ’08 essentially a semi-modular synth; it’ll be interesting to see what this lets programmers cook up.
  • Splits and layers:Four-on-four splits and layers with separate stereo outputs for each layer.
  • Arpeggiator and sequencer: Arpeggiator, gated 16 x 4 step sequencer, and LFOs. Everything is syncable, as well — thank you, MIDI.

There’s onboard MIDI (even with “Poly Chain”), and CV input, as well. On the analog side, you get 2 oscillators and 1 lovely filter per voice:

  • 2 digitally controlled analog oscillators (DCOs) per voice with selectable sawtooth, triangle, saw/triangle mix, and pulse waves (with pulse-width modulation), and hard sync.
  • White noise generator

Prophet 8 Analog Synth Up Close

The standard model, up close.

I have heard some complaints about the new models: some would prefer the pitch and mod wheels next to the keyboard rather than above, though the payoff is a full five-octave keyboard in a compact space.

I have to say, I’m a sucker for the Dave Smith philosophy of “un-nostalgic” analog. But, really, who would expect anything else: Dave Smith’s earlier instruments all progressed with technology, and he continues to do so. There’s a clear resonance with the modern Moog synths, like Minimoog Voyager and Little Phatty, down to special editions with colored wheels. (Dave Smith has the much cooler red glowing wheels, which is great if you’re tired of blue.) But the Dave Smith Instruments are also unique takes on how to reinterpret analog.

Detailed specs and descriptions are on the mercifully redesigned Dave Smith site:
Dave Smith Prophet ’08 Page

And via news you’ll find more on the limited edition, videos of Dave, and other news, as well as further reassurances that the BoomChik drum machine really is progressing:
Dave Smith Instruments News

So, who’s getting one? And anyone have smart money

  • Dr. BS

    now just gimme a Pro One '08..!

  • Yes a rackmount version would make me cream my jeans

    For that matter, a rack mount mono evolver would too.

  • yay, it's not blue!

  • Jon

    I'd be curious to see a demo of how it sounds against a pro5 as well how it differs against a polyevolver…

  • I don't see why the wheel placement should be an issue for anybody. It's still just as accessible; you would just have your left hand a few inches further up from where it would have been otherwise; you wouldn't have to re-learn your technique or anything. Maybe some kind of cushiony hand-rest just to the left of it would be nice, but I don't know of any synths that have that.

    Ah, typing useless comments is such an… adequate… distraction from the fact that I can't afford a new instrument of any kind at the moment. 😉

  • fatlimey

    Excuse my ignorance, what's "Splits and Layers"? I'd get "four on four" whats exactly?

  • dead_red_eyes

    Didn't Music Thing say it was going to be $2,000? If so … count me in!!!

  • Adrian Anders
  • Glenn

    One wish: OSC

  • Adrian Anders

    One other wish: Unison

  • poopoo

    @Adrian There are controls for "Unison Mode" and "Unison Assign" and a "Unison" button so I think it has that covered.

    The expression pedal input can accept CV as well which is cool. There is a mysterious "Poly chain out" connector so I wouldn't be surprised if a rack mount version does appear.

  • poopoo

    That "four on four" thing is confusing for an eight voice synth. There are four output connectors so perhaps they mean four part multi-timbrality, each with a seperate mono output.

  • Adrian Anders


    You're right… you would think with the popularity of unison sounds these days they would make it a big selling point for this synth.

    Now I REALLY want it!

  • BirdFLU

    I'm not desiring the P 08, but that's just becasue I'm not in the market.

    A modern AND affordable AND analog synth and people will still bitch about something. It's worth the money just for the modern componenets that you know aren't going to fail anytime soon. I've got a Moog Source and Yamaha CS-15, both in perfect shape, that stay in a climate controlled, surge protected environment. They both have had little problems to be fixed in the last year or so because they're 25-30 years old.

    A P 08 captures that analog synth sound and will be good for decades to come.

  • Alex

    Special editions are marketing tricks to suck peoples money! Moog did it, and now DSI too. How pathetic.. No one serious musician cares about stupid glowing leds under the pitch bend and mod wheel (which make the synth ugly IMO!) and the totally ugly Dave Smith signature (Hey people, call a graphics artist, or put the bloody signature at the back!). And as i can see from the photos, this synth doesn't even compares to an original prophet 5 from the aesthetics view. It seems cheap compared to the original, as it has much less wood around it, and the text seems printed on a surface sticker!!! I wouldn't expect such a thing if i was a collector. The original had text printed directly on it. I would never pay more money for this cheap implementation of special "eye candy features". I would prefer to pay 200 or 300$ more and buy one that is made exactly or with the same quality and aesthetics as the original.More wood please! No sticker printed text please…no special edition bullshit please…

  • Peter Kearney

    The surface is not a "cheap" sticker but a fairly complicated (and expensive) plastic laminate which includes the graphics, the lcd window and a textured surface.

    But I do a agree.. he should really hire Axel Hartmann or similar experienced interface designer and Dave's taste in fonts is remedial at best.

  • jdm

    I bought one, sight unseen, and while it sounds better than any of my v-synths, I'm really really really annoyed by the continuous encoders – you really need LED rings with those, ala Nord Lead 3, or have regular pots, ala P5 or even Moog Voyager (which I have, too). The Voyager is unquestionably a more solid machine and sounds a lot better, but as Dave points out, it's not really fair to compare a $2000 8-voice with a $3500 mono synth. That said, I don't think normal pots or LED rings on the encoders would have added that much $$, nor would more buttons – I don't like having to dial an encoder to select Osc waveforms – esp since you have to dial all the way from 0-50% to get a square wave. Worse, you can't get saw + pulse. Since the LCD can only display one param at a time, you have to remember each value to understand the patch – you can't just look at the position of the pots you've touched. Worse, you have to mentally map the range of the param (usually 0-127, but not always – eg. the filter cutoff is 0-164) to 0-100%

    In short, it sounds pretty good (VCAs are very noisy) but the interface leaves a lot to be desired.

    I haven't decided whether I'm keeping it….

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  • dude

    umm, still no oscillator FM (or osc as mod source) wtf?

    like when DSI said that the evolver is like the Pro One…uhh, nope, no FM.

    same thing here, it seems.

  • wave

    Dave Smith is genius, but I'm love in my P5….

  • chris

    well my music style is so far digital. i bought the prophet 08 one week now,and i m fascinated with that toy.i even prefer it from the virus ti i also i believe that if anybody wants wood he can just go buy some furniture for his house. i believe that musical instruments are not made to decorate only it s what inside that maters dude.

  • chris

    was not for the dude above..

  • PARC

    still in 2010 its a great synth, the pot-version works very well, feels good and give a good feedback. The software edittor is a very good tool for managing files and settings. wenn you play its hard to stop, its also hard to stop turning the pots to hear what is happening.
    the service is perfect: lost parts are send immediate…….