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Prophet 08

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A polyphonic analog synthesizer produced by Dave Smith Instruments. The "08" in the name is a numerical pun; it refers both to the 8 voices, and to the fact that the instrument was introduced in 2008.

Dave Smith was a co-founder of Sequential Circuits, and was instrumental in the development of the Prophet-5. He decided to develop a modern follow-on, using the latest available technology while maintaining an all-analog audio path. Among the improvements that the Prophet 08 adds over the original are:

  • 8 voices vs. 5
  • Velocity and aftertouch sensitive keyboard
  • Built-in arpeggiator and step sequencer
  • Improved editing controls
  • Built-in MIDI with a very complete implementation
  • More patch memory
  • A small alphanumeric display for displaying patch names and parameter values

The Prophet 08 also uses software capabilities to add considerably to the modulation options. Thanks to modern microprocessors, it can offer 3 envelope generators and 4 LFOs per voice, as opposed to the one each that the Prophet-5 had. Another decision, which has been somewhat controversial, was the decision to go with DCOs instead of VCOs. Some claim that this makes the Prophet 08 sound harsh or aggressive compared to its ancestor, but it also eliminates some of the stability problems that the old Prophet had, plus it allows for things such as separate portamento for each oscillator in a voice.

Physically, the Prophet 08 only somewhat resembles the original. Knobs and switches are different from the original types. The layout is more organized; the Prophet-5's control layout became a bit random after several revisions, and DSI obviously re-thought this area. The 08 does reproduce the orignal Prophet logo, and it does have nice wood side panels (Sequential was noted for the woodwork it put on its high-end models).

Early production units suffered from troublesome rotary encoders used for many of the parameter knobs; users had problems with spontaneous edits and parameters changing in the wrong direction when a knob was turned. Eventually DSI began offering the "PE" version of the Prophet 08 (as well as the keyboard versions of the Evolvers), which replaces most of the rotary encoders with potentionometers. DSI also made available a kit to convert existing units in the field to the PE standard. The PE is now the definitive article and the rotary-encoder version has been discontinued.

In 2013 DSI introduced the Prophet 12.  As the name suggests, this version expands polyphony from 8 to 12 voices.  However, the Prophet 12 also incorporates many of the features of the discontinued polyphonic versions of the Evolver

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