Who better to revisit Prophet history – and its latest iteration – than the synth legend and Sequential founder himself, Dave Smith? Dave’s got a six-part series on the instrument, and… I’m writing this right next to one of the 1978 original designs if anyone has an idea for what to do with it in the next couple of days!
There’s always something calming about listening to Dave talk synths. Maybe that’s the west coast cool of the company, in contrast to my coffee-wired Berlin-New York-Kentucky hyperactive staccato.
But in case you’re wondering why Dave really likes this “rev4” Prophet-5/Prophet-10, that’s simple to answer. Basically, you get the best of all possible prophets by getting all the filters – genuine Curtis, genuine new Dave Rossum filters, and a switch that not only selects filters but adjusts the shape and response of the envelope.
That’s not just to get obsessive about synth design (okay, maybe a little); those filter designs are what make the character of an instrument in a way that’s obvious to folks
Anyway, while we’re inundated with cut-rate gear and plug-ins for the next couple of weeks – also a good thing in many ways – it’s still nice to take a brief break with Dave. Plus the last 12 months has felt like about 12 years, so now feels like a major landmark.
So here’s Dave talking about why this mattered to him –
The instrument steering you – and the admission that we “don’t know” why synths sound the way they do. (Well.. we kinda do. But yeah, the feeling you get is something else.)
If you ever wondered what happens when Dave jams on his instrument, he’s … just like a lot of you, actually. Oh, and he takes the P-10 over the P-5:
Polyphony has been a weirdly hot-button discussion in synthesis and history. (Proof that people will argue about anything, yes.) Here’s your chance to get Dave weighing in on it.
Now that we have a choice between monophonic and polyphonic creations at our disposal – with reasons to choose each – it’s interesting to hear the creator of one of the defining polyphonic instruments talk about the moment that synth makers made the leap. It’s like hearing the creator of stereo talk about stereo. (Oh … we should do that another time, actually; they did have something to say.)
Part 5 is when this gets really interesting, though, in reflecting on switches, controls, mechanical design, and even the wood – maybe at the right moment, as all of us in the industry wrangle with scarcity and supply issues and do a lot of thinking about how we piece together hardware:
And finally – which is your favorite of your children, Dave? I mean – of your filters?
After all that, I could use some music. Let’s turn this over to ExperimentalSynth for that. This is just a gorgeous bit of music. Thanks to Chris Stack, again.
Plus, in case that P-5 isn’t in budget, here’s sound designer James Terris playing some patches they created for the Take 5. It’s exceptional to have this choice, I think.