SCI Prophet 5 vs DSI Prophet 08 Test
INHALT goes hands on comparing two classic synths, details below:
This is the comparison I think most of our friends have been interested in. Our Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 is a revision 3.2 and has factory midi. It’s in incredibly good condition and has been calibrated fully, thus the tuning tends to be a lot more stable than on unserviced Prophet 5’s. Because of the MIDI interface we have been able to send the same MIDI sequence from the MPC 2000XL to both the Prophet 08 and the Prophet 5 simultaneously. Both synths were recorded straight into Pro Tools HD via a Precision 8 mic pre and a 192 HD IO audio interface.
Unlike the Oberheim OB 8 comparison, getting patches to sound similar between the Prophet 08 and the Prophet 5 was a lot more work. It felt many times like chasing a moving target–you would modify one synth a little and then bounce to the previous one to get it closer … so on and so forth. However, we were again surprised by the Prophet 08’s ability to get remarkably close to the general tonal characteristic of the infamous Prophet 5.
A couple of observations became apparent during the comparison: it’s very very obvious that the Prophet 5 uses analog components. The VCO’s move around a lot more, especially on held chords and it’s not a linear movement. Even with programming, the Prophet 08 has a more predictable frequency movement. We used the slop function set to the max and it still wasn’t quiet enough to get it close.
Also, this can be observed with envelope times as well. The Prophet 5 feels like each voice is somewhat discrete and exhibits slightly different envelope times for each stage (i.e. ADSR). I’ve simulated this somewhat by routing sample and hold to modulate the envelope stages on the Prophet 08 but it still feels somewhat “obvious” as a programming trick rather than the true discrete voicing as on the Prophet 5. That is not saying anything bad about the Prophet 08, but rather, that the 08 is a lot more precise (digital envelopes vs CEM3310…) in this department than the 5.
The UNISON mode on both synths is very very different. On the 5, it sounds a lot more dialed in especially considering gain staging whereas on the Prophet 08, provisions have to be taken to bring the VCA envelope modulation down so as not to create internal clipping. It also feels like the envelopes work differently on the 08 when in UNISON mode than on the Prophet 5. This is not a comment regarding legato/non legato modes but rather the “feel” of the envelopes themselves. However, I have heard commentary that the 08 unison is like the unison mode on the Roland Juno 106, and as a former user of a 106, I can safely say that it is nothing like that. It’s just a different feeling unison mode that requires a little bit more work on the programming end.
We hope you enjoy this comparison. It was a lot of fun to record and program this.