Vintage synthesizer demo track featuring two classic synths
pad, fx and lead sounds: Sequential Circuits Prophet VS (1986)
bass: Sequential Circuits Pro-One (1981)
drums: Roland TR-707
recording: multi-tracking without midi
fx: reverb and delay
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.
A slow piece with Sequential Circuits Drumtraks & Six-Trak, and Roland Juno-60.
This week your hearing the immense sound of the Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 being processed through a Roland RE-301 Chorus Tape Echo.
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.
Demo of the drum machine Sequential Circuits Drumtraks from 1984.
It is a great American drum machine. It is very flexible – for every beat and every sound in a pattern you can set volume and pitch to your needs, similar to the E-mu SP-12. It has a groovy sequencer! One of my favourite drum machines.
It is a studio machine with single outputs for drumsounds, MIDI, Clock IN/OUT and more…
The DrumTraks is a very programmable classic drum machine from the eighties. While its electronic drum kit sounds may not be as popular today as the TR-909 or TR-808, the DrumTraks exceeds them with superior editing capabilities. Thirteen drum sounds all with programmable tuning and level control. Extensive editing with copy and paste ability. There’s even a mixer section for individual sounds, six individual outputs, one mono mix output, and cassette in/out for offline memory storage.
Pretty basic and easy programming, record a couple patterns and link them into a song. The DrumTraks can output a 24PPQN clock signal and is also fully MIDI capable. This makes it very easy to use with old analogs and new MIDI synths and sequencers. If your looking for classic eighties electro beats and the vintage instrument that generates them then look no further than the DrumTraks.
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!
Vintage synthesizer demo track by RetroSound
all sounds: Sequential Circuits Pro-One Analog Synthesizer from the year 1981
drums: Roland TR-808 synced with the Pro-One Arpeggiator
recording: multi-track without midi
fx: a little bit delay and reverb
for me one of the best monophonic analog synths ever. perfect for basslines and fx sounds.
more info: http://www.retrosound.de
The Pro One was basically Sequential’s attempt at taking their legendary Prophet 5 poly-synth and packing it into a compact, inexpensive, monophonic analog synth! It has two VCOs, a great 4-pole lowpass filter, two ADSR envelopes (one for filter), and a compact three-octave keyboard. With a Pro-One, you can easily create punchy analog bass-lines and leads or quirky analog synth effects.
The Pro One is an extremely flexible synth with lots of modulation possibilities (ie: the filter, VCO B and LFO can modulate VCO A or B frequencies or pulse widths, or the VCF). There’s also an onboard sequencer, something common on many Sequential synths but not often found on other monosynths of the time. It is very basic, however, storing only two patterns and up to 40 notes max. Also, only pitch info is recorded (and in step time only); you can not assign a note duration to any notes. So it’s basically a short melodic sketch-pad…but useful. Also onboard is an arpeggiator which has UP and UP/DOWN patterns.
All you can eat vintage synths on this nice Sunday morning, featured gear listed below:
MOOG Minimoog / ARP Odyssey / KORG MS-20 / E-MU Modular System / MOOG System 55 / Sequential Circuits prophet-5 / Oberheim SEM / Oberheim OB-1 / RML ElectroComp 100 / Roland-SH-2 / KORG 800DV / EMS Synthi AKS / YAMAHA CS10
The Prophet VS uses Vector Synthesis as its revolutionary new means of sound creation. It uses a total of four oscillators per voice with 127 waveforms (32 user) and dynamic waveform crossfading via the joystick. This was Sequential’s first digital synth, and it was also their final synth unfortunately. But after Sequential was gone, Vector Synthesis technology went into the popular Korg Wavestation and Yamaha’s SY-22 and TG-33.
Synthesizer demo track by RetroSound “1986”
all sounds: Sequential Circuits Prophet VS Vector Synthesizer from the year 1986
drums: Roland TR-707
recording: multi-track without midi
fx: a little bit delay and reverb
this track at my soundcloud channel: http://soundcloud.com/retrosound-ii/sci-prophet-vs-1986