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The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped

The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« on: October 10, 2017, 02:09:15 PM »
I bought my first Prophet '08 synthesizer in 2008.  Since then, I've owned four keyboard units and two module units (not to mention a Mopho Desktop and a Tetr4).  I presently have two of each.  Having worked for so long and so much with the instrument, I naturally developed a short list of improvements I wanted to see in the future, and I often posted about it here and elsewhere.  This list included:

- First and foremost, four DCO's, rather than only two
- Hardwired stereo oscillators, adjustable by degrees between stereo and mono
- A high pass filter with a dedicated parameter; resonant or non-resonant
- Substantially longer envelope times (attack, decay, and release)
- Onboard delay assignable to each program
- A greater refinement in parameter steps (perhaps a fine tuning knob for the LFO Amount)
- The ability to synchronize an LFO across all the voices
- An option for the more traditional type of polyphonic glide/portamento
- Keypad entry for programs, rather than scrolling
- The ability to determine the number of voices in each layer
- A greater total number of voices
- An improved keybed
- A more refined aftertouch

The last thing I was expecting was a revision of the Prophet '08.  I had been hoping for an all-new synthesizer, but one related to the Prophet '08.  Dave had repeatedly said he no longer did revisions of older instruments as he had with the Prophet 5, so I presumed that was the end of that.  Then the Rev2 appeared, out of the blue. 

Obviously, the Rev2 incorporated some of these improvements, but not others.  I'm fine with that, because what the Rev2 does is maintain into the future the classic Prophet '08 sound, but in a substantially improved and expanded form.  In my opinion, this is ideal, and it's much better than going out, as I had intended, and buying two brand new Prophet '08 Keyboards, in the expectation that they would last longer than my somewhat aging units.  But the instrument I had imagined was not a revised Prophet '08; it was a different instrument altogether.  This means that my old list is still relevant. 

I don't know if DSI will ever produce another DCO instrument.  They said they wouldn't, but then the Rev2 showed up.  Regardless, I would love to see more freedom taken in developing another all-analog synthesizer, yet one that clearly stands in the Prophet '08 tradition - something bigger than the Rev2 and obviously having many more additions than I've mentioned above.  There are enough features that folks have discussed here, such as polyphonic aftertouch and a keybed that could respond to it, as well as tri-timbrality.  These could help to distinguish the instrument from the other synthesizers in the DSI line.

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2017, 03:14:50 AM »
The whole idea that DSI said they wouldn't do another DCO product or a revision of an older instrument and then suddenly they end up doing both of those things in one unit...sort of gives me hope we'll see another Analog/Digital synth from DSI. I'm not sure what else they can do in the analog world except for multitimbrality and there seems to be a lot of scoffing at that idea on this forum from members and no huge interest from DSI themselves in regards to that.

Honestly I think it would be as simple as to take the concept of the Tempest's synth engine (Two analog oscillators, two digital oscillators) and put it in a keyboard version except instead of the drum samples it has Prophet 2000 samples. Make it blue and black like the VS and also have the joystick like the VS. Seems fairly straightforward.

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2017, 04:44:25 AM »
I bought my first Prophet '08 synthesizer in 2008.  Since then, I've owned four keyboard units and two module units (not to mention a Mopho Desktop and a Tetr4).  I presently have two of each.  Having worked for so long and so much with the instrument, I naturally developed a short list of improvements I wanted to see in the future, and I often posted about it here and elsewhere.  This list included:

- First and foremost, four DCO's, rather than only two
- Hardwired stereo oscillators, adjustable by degrees between stereo and mono
- A high pass filter with a dedicated parameter; resonant or non-resonant
- Substantially longer envelope times (attack, decay, and release)
- Onboard delay assignable to each program
- A greater refinement in parameter steps (perhaps a fine tuning knob for the LFO Amount)
- The ability to synchronize an LFO across all the voices
- An option for the more traditional type of polyphonic glide/portamento
- Keypad entry for programs, rather than scrolling
- The ability to determine the number of voices in each layer
- A greater total number of voices
- An improved keybed
- A more refined aftertouch

That would basically be a sort of feature mix of the Poly Evolver (hardwired oscillators and stereo-mono adjustment), the Prophet 12 (keypad entry for programs, analog high pass filter, and delays), the Prophet-6 and OB-6 (global LFO for all voices), and the Rev2 (improved keyboard, greater number of voices, and delays in the effect section), plus further features. Substantially new would be longer envelope times, a greater resolution of parameter steps, a different portamento mode, the ability to determine the number of voices for each layer, and optionally polyphonic aftertouch and enhanced multi-timbrality.

It is my understanding that the latter two are pretty much off the table. The rest would be a neat reconfiguration of already existing functions for a super flagship analog poly synth and then some. I still don't quite understand what you mean by a more traditional type of polyphonic glide as opposed to the glide function that exists in the current line of DSI instruments.
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Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2017, 04:52:26 AM »
The whole idea that DSI said they wouldn't do another DCO product or a revision of an older instrument and then suddenly they end up doing both of those things in one unit...sort of gives me hope we'll see another Analog/Digital synth from DSI. I'm not sure what else they can do in the analog world except for multitimbrality and there seems to be a lot of scoffing at that idea on this forum from members and no huge interest from DSI themselves in regards to that.

I'm also not quite sure what else could come in the analog poly synth domain, except for the points that have already been made. At this year's Moogfest, Dave only teased the audience with the statement that DSI would be working on a "Prophet something," whereby the brand "Prophet" was only used for the lack of a different name, which he said he'd prefer. So given that Dave would like to avoid the "Prophet" name for the next product, I would expect something that differs from the past offerings, which would make sense after three different nods to the past (Prophet-6, OB-6, Rev2).
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2017, 05:22:35 AM »
The whole idea that DSI said they wouldn't do another DCO product or a revision of an older instrument and then suddenly they end up doing both of those things in one unit...sort of gives me hope we'll see another Analog/Digital synth from DSI. I'm not sure what else they can do in the analog world except for multitimbrality and there seems to be a lot of scoffing at that idea on this forum from members and no huge interest from DSI themselves in regards to that.

I'm also not quite sure what else could come in the analog poly synth domain, except for the points that have already been made. At this year's Moogfest, Dave only teased the audience with the statement that DSI would be working on a "Prophet something," whereby the brand "Prophet" was only used for the lack of a different name, which he said he'd prefer. So given that Dave would like to avoid the "Prophet" name for the next product, I would expect something that differs from the past offerings, which would make sense after three different nods to the past (Prophet-6, OB-6, Rev2).

You know what does have Prophet in the name? Evolver ;)

Honestly though Prophet has a legacy to it. And even before DSI started Sequential had a bunch of different Prophets that all did different things. I think the issue is the current line of Prophets aren't drastically different from each other compared to a Prophet 5 (Analog), Prophet 10 (Dual keyboard), Prophet VS (Pure digital) and Prophet 2000 (Sampler).

The Prophet 6, REV2 and 12 are essentially designed to get a similar result even if each of it's methods are different.

I think a Multitimbral four voice Pro would be nice. Four individual VCO based mono synths under one hood. Each with it's own sequencer and effects...sort of like 4 AS-1s together.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 05:34:09 AM by LoboLives »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 06:30:18 AM »
That would basically be a sort of feature mix of the Poly Evolver (hardwired oscillators and stereo-mono adjustment), the Prophet 12 (keypad entry for programs, analog high pass filter, and delays), the Prophet-6 and OB-6 (global LFO for all voices), and the Rev2 (improved keyboard, greater number of voices, and delays in the effect section), plus further features. Substantially new would be longer envelope times, a greater resolution of parameter steps, a different portamento mode, the ability to determine the number of voices for each layer, and optionally polyphonic aftertouch and enhanced multi-timbrality.

It is my understanding that the latter two are pretty much off the table. The rest would be a neat reconfiguration of already existing functions for a super flagship analog poly synth and then some. I still don't quite understand what you mean by a more traditional type of polyphonic glide as opposed to the glide function that exists in the current line of DSI instruments.

Such a "feature mix" of an instrument sounds good to me, since it would be a sort of best of the best configuration; and that, if done tastefully, could still produce and instrument with a distinct personality. 

The longer envelope times is an Evolver strength.  It's envelopes are much longer than those of the Prophet '08/Rev2.  I had early on asked DSI about this - if the Rev2 had longer envelope times - and they said they're the same as those on the Prophet '08, the reason being that they wanted the cross-compatibility between those two instruments.  Oh well.

Some will suggest that the instrument should go all the way and have analog oscillators.  That would be great, but it would immensely add to the price.  I'm actually happy with DCO's.  I think they sound decent, and I appreciate their stability.  Plus, they would keep the instrument in a more reasonable price range.

As for the polyphonic glide/portamento idea - I know, Paul, that you've played many synthesizers with the "other" type of glide.  I'm not aware of technical terms for each; they wouldn't be linear or exponential, or normal or keyed.  It doesn't have to do with the curve or rate of the glide, but with the uniformity of a cluster of notes.  Anyways, the classic example would be the type the old Rolands had.  You play a chord down low, and then a chord up high, and the gradual sweep of notes from low to high is smooth and together.  DSI uses an altogether different type of glide.  It's much more unpredictable and awkward to use, although even that tends to make it at times useful and pleasingly unique.  The individual notes of a chord seem to react differently to it, and it even responds differently to legato or staccato playing.  My suggestion is that, with this imagined instrument, there be the ability to select between the two types of glide.  Both types are useful.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 06:58:17 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2017, 07:26:10 AM »
As for the polyphonic glide/portamento - I know, Paul, that you've played many synthesizers with the "other" type of glide.  I'm not aware of technical terms for each; they wouldn't be linear or non-linear, or normal or keyed.  Anyways, the classic example would be the type the old Rolands had.  You play a chord down low, and then a chord up high, and the gradual sweep of notes from low to high is smooth and together.  DSI uses an altogether different type of glide.  It's much more unpredictable and awkward to use, although even that tends to make it at times useful and pleasingly unique.  My suggestion is that, with this imagined instrument, there be the ability to select between the two types of glide.  I find both types useful.

Ah, so you mean a glide option that behaves exponentially instead of linear? - I'm not too sure about me having played many synths with another type of glide. Honestly, the only synth I can currently think of is the Sub 37, which offers an exponential glide option on top of the fixed time and fixed rate settings. In that case the glide rate follows an exponential curve that begins with a fast rate and slows down as it approaches the target note.
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Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2017, 07:32:32 AM »
I'm not sure if "exponential" and "linear" are the correct terms.  Perhaps Robot Heart could solve the mystery for us. 

Have you ever played a Roland Juno or Jupiter?  That's the type of glide to which I'm referring.  It's very different from the type DSI uses.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 07:34:16 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

chysn

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Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2017, 07:56:35 AM »
I think the ideal glide is like this. This song contains one of my favorite keyboard solos, played by Bobby Sparks on a (pre-reissue) Minimoog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gD-jD5f84w

I've always found the glide on my Little Phatty to be extremely musical, whereas I hardly ever used it on my Mopho. I always felt that the timbre of the sound had a lot to do with it, maybe even more than the taper or speed of the glide itself.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
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GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 08:04:15 AM »
If you take a typical polyphonic string patch on the Prophet '08, play a chord in the lower octaves, turn up the glide to 127, and then play a chord in the upper octaves, you'll get the classic glide effect.  But if you then begin to repeat individual notes from that upper chord while sustaining the other notes, or if you play a melody in addition to the chord, the behavior of the glide can only be called erratic.  Based probably on the number of voices you have available, new notes that are played glide from directions that seem to make no sense, such as from a higher register in which you've not played any notes.  Why do they glide down from a pitch that has not been triggered?  For this reason, I would suggest another capability in my imagined new instrument:

- The ability to control the glide depth of all voices simultaneously through the use of the modulation wheel

This way, you could cause one chord to smoothly glide to another, immediately turn off the glide for normal playing, and then instantly turn it on again when you need it at another point.  Or else, you could adjust the depth, and therefore, the speed of the glide, even while a note or chord is in the process of gliding. 

Personally, I really like the glide effect and would use it much more if it could be more easily controlled.  As bizarre as it can sound at times, I think it can also be tastefully applied to a musical passage, but you need to ability to control the amount across the entire instrument.  I'm not aware if the Prophet 12 has this ability, but I think its time has come.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 08:10:58 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2017, 08:15:22 AM »
I think the ideal glide is like this. This song contains one of my favorite keyboard solos, played by Bobby Sparks on a (pre-reissue) Minimoog:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gD-jD5f84w

I've always found the glide on my Little Phatty to be extremely musical, whereas I hardly ever used it on my Mopho. I always felt that the timbre of the sound had a lot to do with it, maybe even more than the taper or speed of the glide itself.

Yes, the Minimoog uses a type of glide which I've always liked, too.  But since it's a monophonic instrument, it's a different case.  It's the behavior of glide with multiple voices that concerns me here.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 08:36:34 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2017, 08:54:31 AM »
Have you ever played a Roland Juno or Jupiter?  That's the type of glide to which I'm referring.  It's very different from the type DSI uses.

I only played a Juno-60 once as a live synth surrogate for a gig in Scotland to which I couldn't bring my Wavestation (which was my main synth at the time) and I rated it by the latter's standards, which obviously didn't end up in favor of the Juno-60. So apart from this quick rather pragmatic encounter, I've never used any Junos or Jupiters.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2017, 09:45:58 AM »
And I've never played a Sequential, but I'm supposing that Dave Smith has always used this unique type of glide.  It would be an interesting forum poll to ask how many DSI owners use a lot of glide on polyphonic patches and are satisfied with its behavior.

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2017, 10:09:35 AM »
And I've never played a Sequential, but I'm supposing that Dave Smith has always used this unique type of glide.  It would be an interesting forum poll to ask how many DSI owners use a lot of glide on polyphonic patches and are satisfied with its behavior.

What would be cool as part of a universal solution is if one could assign the glide function as a modulation destination, so you could have its time and rate behaviour modulated by an envelope for example.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2017, 11:11:21 AM »
Yes, that was my general thought.  Put the glide into the general mix and allow it to be controlled and modulated by the usual means.  Honestly, I was quite surprised, way back, when I first realized the glide depth could be controlled only one oscillator at a time, and without the help of a wheel.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 11:13:55 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2017, 11:33:57 AM »
On the glide topic.    I've never been able to decipher the glide on my PEK quite honestly.  Always seemed erratic, and for years I just assumed it was perhaps broken.  Just recently I happened to play around with it a bit, and still, it seems to be either on or off, with no incremental changes while adjusting the numerical adjustment.  I just don't use it on this instrument because of that.  The other DSI's I own the glide is certainly better, and closer to a traditional I'd say.   I guess the PO8's glide does have a somewhat different behavior than lets say a Nord Lead 4 for example- which seems linear or predictable.  Is it a fault or is it just different as planned?  The OB6 glide works wonderfully as I could wish for and is very easy to trigger on and off. 
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

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Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2017, 11:47:19 AM »
The OB6 glide works wonderfully as I could wish for and is very easy to trigger on and off.

Ah, I didn't know that.  Is the glide on both the OB-6 and the P-6 different from that on the P'08, PEK, and P12?

Here's an example of the so-called erratic nature of the glide on the Prophet 12.  You can hear the different notes of a chord receive different amounts of glide:

https://youtu.be/-_HhpoZW838?t=1m48s
« Last Edit: October 11, 2017, 11:51:14 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2017, 01:09:04 PM »
The glide on the Prophet 08 works separately for each voice. So a perfect glide between two cords is only possible if you play an 8 note chord followed by another 8 note chord (or 4 note chords when in stack/split mode). I'd also like a more musical glide on the Prophet 08. All my other polyphonic synths do it nicely (albeit digital).

Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2017, 01:34:22 PM »
That sounds like a rational explanation.  The difficulty is that the glide behaves differently from note to note and chord to chord because you're always at a different point in your voice count, in the number of voices you've used and the number you have remaining.  Then there's the effect of the envelope release on past notes that are still ringing.  It all gets very complicated, so that you can't control it or predict very well how it will react.

Razmo

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Re: The Instrument For Which I Had Hoped
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2017, 02:29:13 AM »
To understand why DSI poly synths have this "chaotic glide" you need to see them not as true polysynths, but rather like several monosynths, connected together in a polychain manner.

None of the voices (which is in essence a single monosynth, with it's own processor) know what the other voices is doing, or what state they are in (this goes for the pitch too)... they work independently and on their own.

To make a useful glide, you must know the last note you played, so that you can glide from that, into the new note... this is easy with a monophonic synth, since the voice knows it's last played pitch... in fact it usually knows exactly what pitch it is at, so a monophonic glide is easy to make.

But with a polyphonic glide, this is different... here you want to know what the last played voice's pitch is, and reset the pitch of a NEW voice to the same before you start any glide on the new voice... the pitch of this new voice could be ANYTHING if not reset, since it was last used from 1 to 8 keypresses ago (if it is an 8 voice synth).

So in a DSI polysynth, say a PEK, you have in essence, 4 completely standalone monophonic evolvers, being controlled by a Main CPU, telling them what to play... but none of the four synths know about each others pitch states, so they have no way of initializing the pitch correctly... so they just work as a standalone monophonic synth, using their own last used pitch setting when doing glides... this result in glides that start from whatever the voice was at (in pitch) the last time it was triggered, and that will vary from 1 to 4 keypresses old.... that is why the polyglide sound like it fires in all different directions.

You would get the exact same effect with any other monophonic synth that has polychain capability... it's that simple... DSI synths are simply internally "polychained" monophonic synths.