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
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