There is absolutely nothing like the feeling you feel when you hear the sound of a synthesizer. Listen.

“Hi, we’re at the 2017 NAMM show in Anaheim California, and I’m here with –”

Wait. No. That is definitely not why I love synthesizers. Nor am I particularly enamored with the hum of a convention show floor with the apparent adjacent guitar booth blaring over the top of someone reading a product sheet. (As I write that, I realize I’ve just dared some CDM reader to make an eerie, ambient 5-hour version of an Akai demo using paulstretch.)

Here’s what you really want. You want German site Bonedo.de‘s beautiful “no talking series” – which also hones in on two of the instruments we most care about. That includes Dave Smith Instruments’ REV2:

and the Pioneer TORAIZ AS-1, made in collaboration with Dave Smith.

Okay, now back to some talking. I talked with Dave Smith of …erm … Dave Smith Instruments. I was particularly curious because Pioneer said that the AS-1 was “based on” the Prophet-6. How “based on” was it? Well, here’s Dave:

The AS-1 came out really well; quite happy with it. The voice is exactly the same as the Prophet-6, same VCOs and filters. Much easier that way. And it sounds great as a monosynth! Effects are basically the same as the P6/OB6.

So wait a minute: forget for a second that this says Pioneer on the tin. Getting everything that’s brilliant about a Prophet-6 as a little monosynth is actually fantastic. And frankly, the fact that it borrows liberally from the form factor and touch screen of the AIRA TB-3 is also a plus. (A few intrepid synth lovers had put together side-by-side comparisons. Let me also emphasize, with apologies to Roland – it features 100% less neon green.)

In other words, to anyone griping that the Pioneer AS-1 is for EDM DJs who don’t know any better, well … maybe I should start producing EDM. I hear they’re fairly well paid.

I actually really want this thing. It’s time for a new Dave Smith monosynth, after all … even if it’s just a Prophet-6. (Prophet-1? Uno?)

This is way up on my review list for 2017, as I think it may be on yours.

  • yunginter.net/

    100% would be happy with this even with neon green on it, and its a dope new piece from dave smith… but now that second is over, I’m still wondering why it says Pioneer… is this just to say you can add any synth to the SP-16? Original i was very excited that pioneer was gonna sneak synths into the DJ booth, but all the onboard sequencing isn’t useful if i have to program on the SP-16 to bring an arrangement with me… that cool touch strip needs a preset to tell it to control the cutoff and resonance together. Id do with a link cable so i could at least buy into these features.

    it should have its own usb stick input so if the SP-16 isn’t the thing, these could still be in every dj booth in the world.

    • Because it makes economically sense for Dave Smith to distribute the risk of introducing new synth hardware to the market. With the AS-1, he made a deal with Pioneer, gave them the architecture of a Prophet-6 voice, and let them build a box around it. Now, Pioneer has the commercial risk if this thing doesn’t sell.
      At the same time, he can go full monty on the new (awkwardly labelled) REV2 under his own name and brand and production.

      I can fully understand why he would do such a thing: He’s got the technology, the experience, and all the R&D has been done when they conceded the P-6. Now, he harvests some more fruits without having to build a DSI labelled mono version of the P-6.

      • I think that explanation is correct, except you have to reverse it – this is why Pioneer came to DSI. (And we should be clear that’s not just “he,” but a team at Dave Smith Instruments. Dave is a guiding force, but – this isn’t a one-person operation.)

        • yunginter.net/

          im sorry yall spent time on this tangent… i totally understand the collaboration… This is branded TORAIZ, like the SP-16, i was hoping it was a full system where i didn’t need to bring this part to the gig because up until this unit, the toraiz functioned like a CDJ this way, and even in their marketing explain how this will be at the venue.

          • Alex Keegan

            Learn how to IMPROVISE buddy!

          • yunginter.net/

            @alex my point is, there ins’t going to be analog synths for you to improvise on in every dj booth in the world because i can’t bring my presets…

          • What exactly do you want to do? Write and record parts at home and bring the recordings inside your SP-16 to the gig? Well, I guess that is definitely possible. But remember that you’d then have either rendered parts of your synth as samples in the SP-16, or you’d bring the AS-1 along and get it controlled via MID from the SP-16’s sequencer. In the latter case, you won’t need to program the melodies on the AS-1, but only in the SP-16. Or you just sync the AS-1 with MIDI clock to the SP-16. What is the problem?

          • yunginter.net/

            https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e869a1ba832163e606c5a0918769979dc0c8dbdf2004408b29e80405339ffda0.jpg the idea with the SP-16 is you have one at home and one at the venue, much like the CDJ system. It has a USB stick and you can carry all your files with you to any SP-16 in the world and you can play your set. It carries the pioneer name, TORAIZ branding and i find the functions i expect with that system.

            The AS-1 clearly is just an option to use on the right of this suggested workflow. I was hoping that because its branded TORAIZ that like the SP-16 it would be designed to become a standard piece in the DJ booth. unfortunately the very cool and modern sequencer and touch strip function become useless if i dont wish to bring my own AS-1 to the venue… the venue is less likely to adopt them and im less likely to get one, where i might chose SP-16 over akai’s offerings if every venue in the world has a SP-16 next to the CDJs… it would be cool to have a sampler next to ever CDJ, even cooler to have 1 or 2 analog synths… but in this case probably choose a minitaur if i have to bring a bag.

          • yunginter.net/

            insert joke about sysex librarian here, don’t even get me started.

          • Now I see your point. I am not so sure, however, that the Toraiz devices will be as ubiquitous in DJ booths across the world as 1210s or CDJs… So, I would not count on that vision becoming reality just yet…

        • I am aware that Dave Smith is not equal to Dave Smith Instruments. Sorry for the confusion, I just wanted to shorten my long read and thought that would be implicitely clear.

    • Also, there’s a 64 step sequencer on the AS-1, which is double as much as you would get on the original P-6. And four times as much as you get on many other contemporary analog synths – mono or poly. And, if that wasn’t enough, the sequence can be played in pitch on the “keys”, which it cannot on many other… You get the point.

      • Carson Day

        Just an FYI that the P-6 has 64 step sequences as well…The AS-1 is not double the number of steps.

        • yunginter.net/

          why am i the only one who understand if you can save a sequence you could move that to a removable piece of memory?!?!?

          • Yanakyl

            It would make it quite more expensive and most people probably don’t care about that.

        • Thanks! I obviously remembered that detail wrong.

      • yunginter.net/

        This is my point… i can’t program on that sequencer at home and use the one at the venue… that is all i am saying.

        • I’m sorry, maybe my English is too limited, but I don’t understand what you mean?

    • Not sure how stick input would work on a monosynth!

      My understanding is that Pioneer approached DSI. (That’s what Dave told us last year at the launch.) I think now that they own the deck in the form of the CDJ, they’re aware that they need to look further. And this was a smart move. (The SP-16 really isn’t like any DSI product, either…)

      But as for how this relates to the SP-16, I hear that there is some sort of integration that goes beyond just connecting two MIDI instruments in the normal fashion. Trying to find out more.

      • yunginter.net/

        I hope the SP-16 at least can spit out the same data you would to flash the user step sequencer over midi… but my point is the SP-16 has to be successful is this is the solution. having its own USB, Sync cable input, or both would of given it its own shot in the DJ booth.

    • Also, just to clarify: this was a *collaboration* with Dave Smith, not just a Pioneer-branded DSI instrument. The voice architecture and DSP chip are from DSI, but Pioneer designer the rest of the hardware – and things like the enclosure and touchpad are not in fact small amounts of work. (I would have to confirm the exact details of that collaboration.)

  • Doug

    Sorry but I think “99% less neon green” is more accurate. Did you see the color of that sequencer play button? 😉

    • Haha, compared to the entire Aira line of products, I find that *quite* bearable!

    • Play buttons are allowed to be that color green 😀 (plus, isn’t that technically just bright green, but not neon? Sort of stoplight-colored green…)

      • Doug

        Truth!

        My gut reaction when looking at this box is not so good…but wow it sure sounds lovely.

  • Sarmad Berlin

    Fun in a sandwich box. But in this demo the filter sounds coarse and inferior to my P06. Still…a real P01 could be a good idea.

    • Heh, that says something about demos — because I think the filter is literally identical. 😉

      • That’s what Dave Smith said in the official introduction video.

  • heinrichz

    Hmm, tempting and very impressive sound demos of the AS-1. Nicely portable too.

  • Polite Society

    Is it just me, but the prophet 8 always sounded kind of thin and lacking bottom end, and even though the rev2 is quite lust inspiring, the sound, at least in that video, seems lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

    The AS-1 sounds great though!

    • Petteri Valtiala

      At leats the demos don’t manage to evoke that irrational “ok I need this” feel in me that for example the OB-6/Prophet-6 do fairly easily. It seems like the rational choice for an analog poly, and probably sounds very nice w/ effects applied, but on its own it does nothing for me.

      • Polite Society

        Small mercies, right? 🙂

        • Petteri Valtiala

          Could you tell my wife that I’ve been extra merciful and saved us a ton of money?

    • I guess, it will be best to hear it “live” in your local music store when it becomes available. Youtube videos are never really great for this kind of evaluations.

      • Polite Society

        I played with the original 08 at a friend of a friend’s place and was quite disappointed, but it always takes a while to come to grips with controls on a synth, even though a subtractive is a subtractive.

  • Spankous

    Hmm no Audio In. Bit of a bummer with such a beautiful Prophet filter. Wish i could use it on outboard gear

    • Yanakyl

      Totally agree! Plus with the effects it would be really worth it.

  • baju-baju

    Does it look like Roland built it, or what?
    The buttons are from Aira gear and the design has that very Roland lack of beauty.

  • The AS 1 Sounds nice, looks like they took Design ques from the AIRA series. the Rev2 (8 voice ver) has seriously put a crimp in my plans to get System-8 or a Deepmind. (and that’s OK by me I’m lover not hater unlike most here it seems). the touch screen is nice (Love it on the TB3) this looks and sounds cool which really is the the important bit right?

  • Another extensive “no talking” video of the AS-1’s sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBYYbQHfhxM I am almost sold on it.