Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12

Prophet 12, Hybrid synthesizer from Dave Smith Instruments.

public price: $2,999
Mr Kay 09/21/2013

Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 : Mr Kay's user review

« I modulate, then I am »

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- Hybrid Synthesizer, 61 keys, polyphonic (up to 12 channels) and bi-timbral
- Four + oscilloscope through a sub oscillator (sine wave one octave below the oscillator 1)
- "analog" waveshapes (sawtooth, square, triangle, sine), wavetables, three noise generators
- FM / AM
- High-pass filters and analog low-pass
- Four configurable LFOs, four loopable envelopes, two assignable
- "character" section (EQ, overdrive, bit reduction), delay, feedback, distortion
- Modulation Matrix
- Arpegiatteur.
I watch at the DSI product line for several years and there is serious progress in built quality. Following the unfortunate experiences of the P'08 and Poly Evolver, they've directly issued a "pot edition", leaving encoders only on some parameters, the power supply is internal.

The overall design is homogeneous with beautiful wooden sides and front.


Such as construction, ergonomics has been greatly improved over previous models and the perfection we frieze, I only watched the manual once or twice.
The relationship between the knobs and the screen provides quick access to all settings very smoothly, without getting lost in the menus / submenus, a feat considering the wealth of the engine.
As if that were not enough, the key benefits from the input of the Tempest, two touch sliders that can be assigned to have what you want and equipped with a "latch" button to freeze the value.
We also appreciate the "hold" button that can be sustained indefinitely an agreement, a loop of arpégiatteur, leaving both hands free to turn the knobs and work fine textures.
Another significant point is that leaving pressed a button on a tilt, a LFO or delay, can individually change a setting or four at once saw.
The multi-timbralité is limited to two voices (but enough for me, the last time I checked, I still had two hands!). We can split the keyboard or stack two sounds. The two layers can be configured separately and can be copied from one patch to another, very convenient to recombine sounds, experimenting ...


It is a synthesizer, so for the "realistic" sounds, forget it.
Some will moan that the DSI's usual DCOs are still present but inhibited to make way for Sharc DSPs (apparently the same as on Solaris). But the use and comparing with my little Mopho Kb next, the reasons seem obvious to me:
- Having a sine waveshape (for soft tones and deep bass)
- The "slop" parameter (simulating the behavior of a VCO) is much more efficient and by individual oscillator, it can also be applied to the wavetables.
- the PWM is no longer limited to only the square waveshape
- The wiring of DSI's usual DCO forbids FM
This technical choice also solves the famous problem of "filter Bleed" (sound passing the filter even when totally closed), I did some tests at the request of some users, there are still a little bleed, but at absurd volume and it is insignificant compared to my Mopho Kb (where the bleeding is imperceptible in my normal use).
Quick tip, pay attention to the master before pushing frankly feedback or activate the unison mode!
Upon arrival, there was a chameleon, can make good his big fat well, tablecloths majestic, the suspicious sounds typically "prophétiens" sound more right than I could have on my Nord 2X and other things crazy we can get by stacking the oscilloscope, layers and modulating all in all directions (DSI synths are known to be modulatory orgies).


I have this machine for the past month and a half, it is likely that I come back later, I would have explored more and some updates to the OS have been made, correcting the last residual small bugs and adding features .
I make "cold" music (post-punk, industrial), I've a long time used the duo MS2000/Nord2X and I was for some time looking for a machine to replace them, I loved the Poly Evolver, but four voices were too limitating for my needs, I haven't enjoyed the Prophet'08, prefered the Nord Wave I tried the same day, but it had some limitations too...
More recently, I tried a King Korg, but I would not have sold my MS-2000 for it due to the stripped down interface. I felt by the Nord Lead 4 overpriced and would have prefered a Nord Wave II improving it predecessor.
And that day, there was a Poly Evolver in the shop, remembering that among the synths I've tried so far, this one was by far my favorite. Knowing that the Prophet 12 keeps most of the concepts, I took the risk to order one without trying.
If I have any regrets, it is the lack of the sequencer, but changes in the OS to enrich arpegiator seem planned, and then we can consider using a Doepfer Dark Time, more intuitive sequencer usually built in on the DSI. I would also have appreciated the opportunity to put the two filters in parallel to get me a notch filter.
The machine is not given, but it is very reasonable for a synth of this caliber and manufactured in small series in the U.S. (incorporating inflation, the price of a Roland Juno 106 at its release). So if I were doing, it would without hesitation.