Exploring the Prophet-5 with Dave Smith


Sequential is celebrating the one-year anniversary of Dave Smith’s modern classic, the Prophet-5 (and Prophet-10) Rev4! As part of the celebration key artists like Kenny Larkin, Richard Barbieri and others asked Dave for the inside scoop on the vintage Prophet-5 and the Rev 4 — one year on.

The Return of a Legend

Before the Prophet-5 was released in 1978, analog synthesizers such as the Moog Modular 55 system were stationary behemoths and far too expensive for the average person. Even if you did have access to one, the fragile and expensive patch cords to create the infinite number of sounds were often unstable. And once did find a sound you loved, you had to separately document what you patched. If that documentation was lost, that sound would be lost forever.

So Prophet-5 was one of the first fully programmable polyphonic analog synths, and also one of 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!

When Dave Smith started Sequential Circuits, he dreamed of creating a fully programmable synth. Smith was originally a computer programmer and had built a popular sequencer, so when no one seemed to be working towards this obvious next step in synth development, he decided to do it himself. When Smith brought the prototype Prophet-5 to its first trade show, a crowd of people had already gathered to see if the rumors about the synth were true. The Prophet-5 exploded in popularity almost immediately after the show, and Smith was soon getting calls from the most famous musicians in the world.