One of the first fully programmable polyphonic analog synths, the Prophet 5 is the most classic synthesizer of the eighties! It is capable of a delightful analog sound unique to Sequential’s Prophet series in which the P5 was King! Five voice polyphony – two oscillators per voice and a white noise generator. The analog filters, envelope and LFO all sound great and are extremely flexible. The P5 had patch memory storage as well, which scanned and memorized every knob setting for storing and recalling your sounds – a desperately needed feature at the time!
The P5 lacked MIDI (a feature that came later on the P5 spin-off, the Prophet 600). But it is still loved even today for its great string sounds, analog effects, and punchy analog basses. Unfortunately the P5 is not immune to the dark side of vintage synths – it has its fair share of analog synth problems such as unstable tuning, it’s difficult to repair, lacks MIDI, etc.
There are basically three versions of the Prophet 5:
Rev 1 P5s are pretty unreliable, if you find one; they’re also quite rare. These were all hand-assembled in the ‘garage stage’ of the company.
Rev 2 uses SSM chips, and has some differences in its control logic capabilities from the final version. It can’t be retrofitted for MIDI, but is considered by most to be the better-sounding of the two ‘common’ P5s.
Rev 3 is the final version, and subsequent Rev 3.1, Rev 3.2 and Rev 3.3 each are capable of taking a MIDI retrofit. They’re also capable of microtonal tuning. The audio quality of the Rev 3 is different, however, as it uses Curtis chips instead of Rev 2’s SSMs; many people think the Rev 3 units sound ‘thinner’. The Rev 3, however, is considered the most reliable of all of the different versions and they had 120 memory patches.
This week your hearing the immense sound of the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 being processed through a Roland RE-301 Chorus Tape Echo.
Moog Voyager OS, Prophet 08, Juno 60, Yamaha EX5, Hollowsun Drumbox
“It could be me but doesn’t the Tardis engine look like some sort of old Con Brio synth with a couple of MC-500s on the dashboard and a massive vintage KerPlunk set in the middle?
Anyway…..He’s coming to get you!! – HIDE UNDER YOUR BED (unless you’re like my better half and I and have a divan, in which case you’re done for).
Imagine if Tom Baker had gone head-to-head with ultimate Master Roger Delgado. That would have made for a cracking watch. Obviously, I liked Anthony Ainley but he always seemed like a very hammy Zod with a bit of Kenny Everett thrown in for good measure.”
Video description: Just having fun with the Prophet 08, Moog Little Phatty and Reaktor Neewscool. All recorded in HDV to provide the image and sound quality that this demo deserves.
About the Newscool:
Newscool is a REAKTOR classic. The sound engine consists of a tone generator and a multi-effects unit. The innovative sequencer is based on the Life model developed by John Conway in the 1970s.
A two-dimensional pattern is processed in steps: An element of the pattern becomes alive in the following step if at least three of its eight neighbors are alive in the current step.
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.
Mitchell Sigman compares the King Korg’s modeled Prophet-5, Oberheim SEM and Moog filters to the real instruments. Opening sound montage created with King Korg. Watch for the full King Korg review in the June 2013 issue of Keyboard!
A demo with the SC Prophet 600. Drumcomputer Roland TR 808.
As usual a multitrack recording with some FX.
The first commercially available synth to implement MIDI!! It’s a fun synth. Its big brother is the legendary Prophet 5. The P600 is very affordable today and is a great buy. Models with the newest software will enjoy polyphonic MIDI implementation and up to 100 memory patches to store their own sounds! The sound of the Prophet 600 is brighter and harsher than that of a Juno 106 but still just as funky.
The P600 has two oscillators per voice with sawtooth, triangle and variable pulse waveforms. The oscillators can be individually tuned or synced together. Similar quality VCF and VCA sections from the Prophet 5 can be found here too! The P5’s Poly-Mod section has also been passed onto the P600.
The P600 is extremely versatile and easy to use! Its best functions include the onboard arpeggiator, 2-track sequencer and poly-modulation. The P600 is great for creating analog effects, swells and drones. It has a cool glide effect and has very flexible modulation possibilities!
An epic, cinematic, melancholic electronic song based on my life experience and a few composers / bands who have influenced me in my youth years – Ennio Morricone, Joy Division, Propaganda / Trevor Horn (with a dash of Goldfrapp thrown in for good measure).
Prophet-5 ver.3 through Electro-Harmonix Clone Theory (original ’70s model)
Jupiter-8 through Roland M-10DX reverb
Oberheim DMX drum machine
Korg Triton trumpet through Eventide H3000-D/SE reverb
Numerology 3 Pro and analog step sequencers in the modular. A real-time studio recording in Cubase 6. Synths used were the modular synths, Waldorf MWXT, MicroQ, TX816, Nord Lead 2X, Prophet 8, DX7II and Korg ES-1. Using a Novation Launchpad to control the Numerology tracks. Step sequencers are dotcom Q960, Q119 and STG Soundlabs Time Suite. The opening and closing sound is a new SSL1130 DDVCO through a CGS01 harmonic sequencer and back into the DDVCO exponential and linear modulation inputs. Video editing in Final Cut Pro X.
Prophanity – http://www.vstplanet.com/News/2012/Prophanity
Chris Roberson (a.k.a. Blu Gruv) has released Prophanity, a freeware VST instrument which aims to clone the Prophet 5.
- Oscillator A: Frequency, Osc Waveform (Saw/Square), Pulse Width, Sync
- Oscillator B: Frequency, Fine, Osc Waveform (Saw/Triangle/Square), Pulse Width, Low Freq, Keyboard
- Mixer: Osc A, Osc B, Noise
- Poly-Mod: Sources – Filter envelope, Osc B; Desinations – Freq A, PW A, Filter
- Wheel-Mod: Source mix (LFO/Noise)
- LFO: Frequency, Waveform (Saw/Triangle/Square)
- Filter: Cutoff, Resonance, Envelope Amount, Keyboard, ADSR
- Amplifier: ADSR
- Volume, Velocity, Master Tune, A440, Glide