Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 – 2013 Gear Of The Year – Synths Over $1000
Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 has been selected by FutureMusic as the 2013 Gear Of The Year for synthesizers over $1000. The hybrid digital/analog architecture is a first for Mr. Smith, a industry veteran of 35 years. The result is one of the most flexible and enjoyable synths that DSI has produced in its storied career.
With twelve voice polyphony, streamlined design, dynamic workflow and insane, big sound, the Prophet 12 was an easy choice for our Gear Of The Year selection.
The Prophet 12’s hybrid voice features digital oscillators followed by an all analog signal path output. Each voice has five high resolution digital oscillators, a digital character effects section, a resonant Curtis low-pass filter, a high-pass filter, a tune-able feedback circuit, a four-tap delay line with feedback per line, four loopable five-stage envelope generators, four syncable LFOs with slew and phase offset, an arpeggiator, and a sixteen slot modulation matrix with 26 mod sources and 97 modulation destinations.
The digital oscillators can be frequency and amplitude modulated by each other with accuracy unprecedented for a Dave Smith synth. They can be freely assigned in whatever operator and modulator configurations you would choose. You can even assign each of the oscillators to modulate LFOs, envelopes, and filters. Every parameter is fully programmable and editable from the front panel. The controls are laid out in a coherent and logical fashion allowing quick and precise access in the studio and on stage.
—Five DSP-based oscillators per voice (including one sine wave sub oscillator)
—Four classic wave shapes (saw, square, triangle, sine) per oscillator
—Twelve selectable complex shapes per oscillator
—Three noise types per oscillator: white, pink, violet
—Oscillator cross modulation: frequency modulation (FM) and amplitude modulation (AM)
—Hard sync on each of the four oscillators
» Character Effects
—Five high-quality digital effects. Thicken the signal and add harmonics or completely destroy the signal pre-filter.
—Girth and Air are high and low shelf equalizers with harmonic excitement. Useful for thickening and/or adding air to the signal.
—Hack and Decimate are sample and bit rate reduction algorithms which can add subtle grit or completely destroy the signal.
—Drive is a soft saturator for adding soft distortion and harmonic content to the signal
—Famed Curtis 2- or 4-pole resonant analog low-pass filter (self oscillates in 4-pole mode) per voice
—2-pole resonant analog high-pass filter per voice
» Feedback and Delay
—Four-tap syncable multi delay with feedback and amount per delay per voice
—Four Delay + ADSR envelopes (LPF, VCA , and two Auxiliary envelopes)
—Auxiliary envelopes 3 and 4 freely assignable to multiple modulation destinations
—All envelopes can repeat/loop
—Four syncable LFO’s with phase offset and slew per LFO
—16 x 2 modulation matrix with 26 mod sources and 97 mod destinations
—Modulation assignment buttons enable quick and easy modulation routing
—Sophisticated programmable arpeggiator with up, down, up+down, random, assign modes
» Programmable Distortion
—Independent programmable stereo analog distortion per layer.
—More than 50 knobs and 50 buttons enable deep and comprehensive editing with little to no menu diving.
—Backlit pitch and mod wheels are easily visible in low light situations and have a smooth yet precise feel and response.
—Independently adjustable upper and lower pitch wheel range.
—Two assignable position- and pressure-sensitive latchable touch sliders for enhanced interactivity and control.
—Full-sized, 5-Octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch
—396 user and 396 factory programs
—Direct program access using numeric keypad and dedicated User, Factory, and Bank buttons
—Playlist mode for generating easily accessible setlists of your favorite programs. Create four play lists with up to forty programs each!
The Prophet’s full-sized, five-octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch is rugged without sacrificing feel and playability. Two backlit, smooth and precise pitch and mod wheels are accompanied by two location and pressure sensitive touch sliders. The Prophet offers a myriad of controls for creation and performance of its innovative sounds.
While some may balk at the blasphemy of Smith using digital oscillators, the reality is that it provides much more flexibility for dialing in super sonic sounds, and the analog “back end” warms things up enough to make this hybrid, the future of music. We particularly loved the tunable feedback, which allows for some truly “mental” results, as well as the Slop feature that mirrors VCO pitch drift.
At $3000, the Prophet 12 is not cheap, but it really is one of those Jack Of All Trades synths that can pretty much dial in whatever sound you’re looking for…from soft, fluffy pads, to mind-melting sonic mayhem. Smith says: “The Prophet 12 is the most cutting edge hybrid synthesizer on the market and defines what a modern polyphonic synthesizer is.” We wholeheartedly agree!