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The Prophet '08 Among Prophets

The Prophet '08 Among Prophets
« on: February 16, 2016, 02:31:47 PM »
Listening to so many video demonstrations on YouTube and recordings on Soundcloud, I've been convinced of one thing: the best string sound comes from the Prophet '08.  Yes, it needs reverb, but it doesn't need chorus or any other effect.  I dare say, the same is true for many other types of sounds, such as brass and various pads.  This has occurred to me since the early Prophet 12 demos appeared, it was strikingly apparent in Starsky Carr's videos, and the latest from Synthetic Things makes it painfully clear.  I think one of the main reasons is the P'08's abundance of modulation.  In my opinion, it generally sounds more natural to produce modulation with LFOs than to try to compensate for a lack of modulation with an effect such as chorus.  If you feel the need to add chorus, something is wrong with your instrument.  Effects make a synthesizer sound excessively electronic and unnatural.  Some folks like this, but I definitely do not.

In spite of the instruments that have come out since the Prophet '08 was released in late 2007, I haven't heard anything that substantially surpasses what I'm able to create with my P'08 Keyboard/Module pair, or even with a single unit.  Which is only to say that each instrument has its strengths and weaknesses - of course.  But the musical excellence of the Prophet '08 has not faded one iota beside the newer DSI synthesizers.  I think it shines all the more these days.   
« Last Edit: April 25, 2016, 11:07:21 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2016, 07:20:21 PM »
Thinking more about this and trying not to offend anyone, I would say, if you're looking for a synthesizer, then consider the entire DSI line, but don't overlook the Prophet '08 just because it's "old".  It's always more exciting to buy the latest instrument that's getting all the attention, that everyone is talking about.  But this is a sensational and imprudent approach that's prone to mislead. 

To be extremely brief, what the Prophet '08 offers over the Prophet 12 is a decent analog sound that requires little or no effort to produce.  There's no need for a Character section.  If the Prophet '08 may be called a tad thin-sounding as far as analogs go, still, this can be advantageous in producing pads and mixing it with other instruments.  What it offers over the Prophet-6 is the 2-pole filter, and over both the Prophet-6 and the OB-6 it offers a full-length keyboard and 4 LFOs.  From my simple perspective, these are the most substantial differences, and they are worthy of being the basis of a decision. 

I would say the Prophet '08's primary shortcomings are its somewhat short envelope times and the absence of a high pass filter.   However, I can certainly live with these.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 06:18:19 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2016, 12:01:33 AM »
I still consider the Prophet'08 to be the best analog polyphonic synth I own. I'm constantly evaluating how it plays together with the Prophet-6 and still often siding with the '08. The pads and strings it produces are so much more interesting and textured than I get from anything else.

As a standalone synth, the P-6 is perhaps more of an all-rounder. It can do great bass and leads as well as the expected pads and poly sounds. But I've been spoiled by the abundance of modulation on the '08 and I hit against the single LFO limitation again and again on the P-6. It's often not only the single source but the single amount to all destinations that limits its usability. More often than not, it takes the chorus/phaser/delay effects to compensate for that. I never really find that to be the case with the P'08. Reverb is all it needs.

I was amazed, and a little horrified, by the haste with which some people ditched their P'08s for the P12 and P-6. It was a path I considered when I first had a P12 but I quickly realised that one did not replace the other so easily. The differences in sound and approach are even more marked with the P-6. The only limitation I feel with the P'08 is my own imagination.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2016, 06:08:33 AM »
Well put, Fuseball, but we're definitely in the minority here.  This is very much the "NEW" DSI Forum, and posters are generally enthusiasts for the latest DSI synthesizers.  I didn't give this much thought when this forum was being put together, but it's obviously the case.  Hence, the Evolvers and Prophet '08 threads generate minimal activity, as is true also with the Mopho and Tetra threads. 

Nevertheless, I've heard nothing that has made want to sell my P'08 in a rush, and I've heard quite a few things that have made me appreciate it all the more.  The same with my Poly Evolver.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 10:25:16 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2016, 07:07:58 AM »
We should probably also take into account that the older synths have been discussed at great length over a number of years. The newer instruments haven't received that level of scrutiny yet. That said, you mentioned using the 2-pole filter with the resonance maxed out recently, which was something I had actually never tried... and of course it sounds great and a little like an Oberheim. So there's still plenty of discussion mileage to be had with the P'08 and Evolvers.

There's a lot I want to say about the P-6 but it's hard to be critical without appearing overly negative. It's a synth that enchants and frustrates in equal measure. I will write about it sometime but I fully expect to shot down for it. ;)

With the P'08 I fully accept its limitations as the character of the instrument. There's nothing I would change and the UI and playing experience is as good as anything I've come across. Even changing something obvious like the filter wouldn't necessarily improve the instrument. The way the Curtis filter behaves is absolutely perfect for some sounds and I prefer its audio rate modulation to that of the P-6.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2016, 07:35:00 AM »
Hi guys, interesting discussion about the P08...
I don't know if you are aware of / need an editor for your P08 but if well, please have a look at the P08 Ctrlr panel made by Carl http://ctrlr.org/power08-editor-for-dsi-prophet08/ .
I did myself a Sub37 one but I'm now busy with a Pro2 one (this is also a fantastic synth much better sounding than P12 mainly thanks to the filters).
DSI Pro 2 | Moog Sub 37 | Waldorf Blofeld |  Korg Radias x2 | Yamaha Motif ES8 | TC Electronics M350 | Behringer Xenix X1622USB

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2016, 08:10:53 AM »
We should probably also take into account that the older synths have been discussed at great length over a number of years. The newer instruments haven't received that level of scrutiny yet. That said, you mentioned using the 2-pole filter with the resonance maxed out recently, which was something I had actually never tried... and of course it sounds great and a little like an Oberheim. So there's still plenty of discussion mileage to be had with the P'08 and Evolvers.

There's a lot I want to say about the P-6 but it's hard to be critical without appearing overly negative. It's a synth that enchants and frustrates in equal measure. I will write about it sometime but I fully expect to shot down for it. ;)

With the P'08 I fully accept its limitations as the character of the instrument. There's nothing I would change and the UI and playing experience is as good as anything I've come across. Even changing something obvious like the filter wouldn't necessarily improve the instrument. The way the Curtis filter behaves is absolutely perfect for some sounds and I prefer its audio rate modulation to that of the P-6.

These are refreshing comments.  Yes, it's true that the Prophet '08 had already been deeply discussed and posted about on the old forum.  Then again, it's still a popular instrument and continues to sell well, so, I had expected more continued discussion on it here.  So be it.  Obviously, now it's all about the latest newest instrument, and DSI, having grown in size, seems to put more marketing into their new instruments than they did in the Prophet '08's early days. 

Yes, one of my most frequent set ups for strings and other similar patches is to set the filter to 2-pole, turn the resonance to 127, and use this with regular filter sweeps.  This is the Oberheim-ish patch I've used a hundred times - not because I wanted to imitate something, but purely because it gives it a uniquely rich and ethereal character.  At this point, I would be hesitant to buy a polyphonic instrument without this 2-pole capability.  It's become standard for me, so that I turn to it constantly.  And it works just as satisfactorily on the Poly Evolver as well. 

The videos below were meant primarily to demonstrate this patch.  The first is the Prophet '08 and the second is the Poly Evolver Keyboard.  This is a sound I would not want to be without.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Hww1cMoiM&list=PL-CSFEgC2tTydFcvrBITryRPZHg4tUde5&index=17
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIDhhLgmwiI
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 10:30:46 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2016, 08:13:59 AM »
Hi guys, interesting discussion about the P08...
I don't know if you are aware of / need an editor for your P08 but if well, please have a look at the P08 Ctrlr panel made by Carl http://ctrlr.org/power08-editor-for-dsi-prophet08/ .
I did myself a Sub37 one but I'm now busy with a Pro2 one (this is also a fantastic synth much better sounding than P12 mainly thanks to the filters).

Thanks, Goodweather.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2016, 08:45:13 AM »
There's a lot I want to say about the P-6 but it's hard to be critical without appearing overly negative. It's a synth that enchants and frustrates in equal measure. I will write about it sometime but I fully expect to shot down for it. ;)

I want to hear it anyway!  :P   Post it here or PM me.

You could find a tactful way of doing this - perhaps columns of pros and cons for each instrument, together with a text explaining the most important points.  Surely we're allowed to make comparisons.
« Last Edit: February 17, 2016, 09:35:08 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2016, 10:34:32 AM »
The German online magazine Amazona.de did a comparison between the Prophet-6, the Prophet '08, and the Prophet-5 that followed their review of the Prophet-6. Basically, it confirmed the significance of the Prophet '08, which turned it into the secret star of that comparison. I would say, it depends on what your setup looks like. As a standalone synth, the Prophet '08 beats the other two in terms of flexibility, price, and features.
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: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2016, 04:07:47 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91Hww1cMoiM&list=PL-CSFEgC2tTydFcvrBITryRPZHg4tUde5&index=17
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIDhhLgmwiI
Wonderful pieces, both of them. I'd not heard that first one before. Such a beautiful expressive sound.

I think we both know that the P'08 responds best to subtle modulation. So often I'm using single digit amounts of LFO, envelope and noise to shape any number of parameters. This is one of the things I struggle with on the P-6. It's a challenge to sculpt the sound subtly. Many of the parameters have wide ranges and the smallest of movements can change the sound drastically. The bipolar controls are particularly tough to dial in small increments. I recall Carson, I think, saying that the poly-mod range was 5x that of the original Prophet 5. Couple that with also now being bipolar and you're trying to finesse the same range with only 1/10th of the control's travel. This is also where I really miss the value display for parameters. I get the whole 'use your ears' argument but when the ranges are so wide that tiny increments make a big difference then it's tough working without them for some sounds. Sometimes I even hook it up to the editor just so I can see the values I'm setting.

What it means, in practice, is that I hit the sounds I like more by luck than judgement. I tend to program less subtle sounds with the P-6, using the LFO in a more percussive way, often tempo synced. I think it's naturally a much wilder synth, encouraging bold modern sounds. Perversely for such a hands-on synth, with a proper 'manual' mode, it's often easier for me to start from one of the preset programs that has already stumbled upon a particular timbre and adapt it, which is something I never really do on the P'08.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2016, 06:39:35 PM »
And I already find the increments on the Poly Evolver and Prophet '08 to be too large for fine and precise designing!  This is especially true in the PEK's Env 3, which can only produce a vibrato that is deeper than I want..
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 06:22:34 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Jason

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Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2016, 11:38:32 AM »
Other than the perceptions about VCOs possibly sounding better, I think the Prophet 6 is getting more love because it has much more instant gratification. Millennials aren't the only generation who are getting shorter attention spans; our cell phones, internet speed, and high tech lifestyles make most of us struggle with it. With the Prophet '08, the message is essentially: "This isn't going to blow you away right out of the box; it's going to require a major commitment from you. Regardless of how much programming experience you have, you're going to have to spend a lot of time experimenting, digging, programming, setting up external effects, etc... But eventually, you will be very happy." That's just not what most people want to hear; they don't think they have the time. For those playing covers, many other keyboards offer huge selections of third party programs to imitate classic tracks, and so many players aren’t used to programming. Many stopped programming when the DX7 came out. With most workstations, the most we do is set up layers and splits of the sounds that others programmed.

Having done some research, I was confident in my recent purchase of the ’08. Even though what I had read suggested that I would be disappointed with most of the presets… Still, I was surprised to be… disappointed with most of the presets. If I had been comparing the ’08 and a Prophet 6 in a store, my ears may have suggested that I buy the 6, which I think would have been a mistake for me. I've learned a lot over the last few months but still have a way to go. I especially want to get a better handle on how to use multiple LFOs.

In addition to it being a bit challenging to program, the ’08 also isn’t an easy synthesizer to share patches on. After spending a few months programming patches I love, I was terrified of losing them by accidently writing over them with the patches that are available online. (I recently bought a Tetra, in part to act as a way station for downloading other people’s programs. I’ll probably comment more on that another day.) Learning how to better program the ’08 is the most exiting information I get from this forum. In order to share patches without the fear of a nasty glitch, what if we were to share some the old fashioned way?

To that end, I typed out most of the parameters below so that we can (fairly) easily go through and write down the values. Feel free to copy and edit in a Word document or other. Copies could be sent as personal messages. If I could respectfully make a request, it would be for the PWM Brass and Sawtooth Solo patches used by Sacred Synthesis on his last two videos. They’re killer.

Prophet ’08 Patch Name/Description

Env 3 Dest.            Amount      Velocity      Delay
Attack               Decay              Sustain      Release

LFO 1 – Frequency      Amount      Shape      Destination      Sync
LFO 2 – Frequency      Amount      Shape      Destination      Sync
LFO 3 – Frequency      Amount      Shape      Destination      Sync
LFO 4 – Frequency      Amount      Shape      Destination      Sync

Misc Parameters    
Volume      Name         Osc 1      Osc 2      Slop      Glide Mode
Pitch Wh. Range   Unison Mode      Unison Assign      
Notes:

Modulator  1   Mod Source         Mod Des.         Mod. Amount
Modulator  2   Mod Source         Mod Des.         Mod. Amount
Modulator  3   Mod Source         Mod Des.         Mod. Amount
Modulator  4   Mod Source         Mod Des.         Mod. Amount

Unison         Sync
Osc 1 Freq.      Fine      Shape      Glide      Mix      
Osc 2 Freq.      Fine      Shape      Glide      Noise

Filter Freq.      Res.      Env Amt        Vel.        Key Amt          Aud Mod.
Pole      Delay      Attack      Decay      Sustain      Release

Amp VCA         Env Amt       Velocity         Pan
Delay      Attack      Decay      Sustain      Release

Notes:
« Last Edit: February 18, 2016, 11:41:13 AM by Jason »

dmfs

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2016, 03:53:45 PM »
Nice to see a P08 Love Thread!
I love my Prophet 08 and Im no programmer...
I expected to sell it (and a Juno 60) to help fund a P6 when it first came out...
However I spent time with the new machine a few times in stores but wasn't blown away by it...
Don't get me wrong - if I hadn't already owned the P08 it would be a no brainer-  it sounds lovely but to me it still had that DSI sound and I already had that in the other synth...
And  I couldnt  imagine selling the P08 for it...I was lucky enough to score a Special Edition model and couldnt let it go...

 Ironically I think the Prophet 08 will get the love it deserves when its discontinued....
I am lusting over the OB6 though!!!...
Prophet 12 Prophet 08 SE Tempest

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2016, 09:28:14 PM »
Other than the perceptions about VCOs possibly sounding better, I think the Prophet 6 is getting more love because it has much more instant gratification. Millennials aren't the only generation who are getting shorter attention spans; our cell phones, internet speed, and high tech lifestyles make most of us struggle with it. With the Prophet '08, the message is essentially: "This isn't going to blow you away right out of the box; it's going to require a major commitment from you. Regardless of how much programming experience you have, you're going to have to spend a lot of time experimenting, digging, programming, setting up external effects, etc... But eventually, you will be very happy." That's just not what most people want to hear; they don't think they have the time. For those playing covers, many other keyboards offer huge selections of third party programs to imitate classic tracks, and so many players aren’t used to programming. Many stopped programming when the DX7 came out. With most workstations, the most we do is set up layers and splits of the sounds that others programmed.

Without wanting to contradict any of the points you were making, I'd like to add some thoughts:
When the Prophet '08 came out, it was of course compared to the classic grandfather model, the Prophet-5 - that was something couldn't be avoided. And most people hoped for a recreation or reimagined version of that. Of course it wasn't, which is not a bad thing, because the Prophet '08 is quite a potent synth on its own. But the Prophet-6 sort of filled the gap for what people expected the Prophet '08 to be. In a way it's a further step back: certainly in terms of historical reference as well as in terms of complexity.
Yet, the instant gratification that goes back to the simpler design is an important factor - whether you have a short attention span or not. The thing is, it saves time, which is always a good thing when you're in the middle of a process and don't want you're creative energies to be sucked up by some overly complicated tweaking issues. For such purposes that which sounds great right out of the box will always win. On the other hand I don't think that the Prophet '08 is an overly complicated synth. It's certainly a bit more complex than the Prophet-6 in terms of modulation options, but its single elements are still very simple and basic. It's just the sheer quantity of LFOs and modulation paths that can make things complex in an uncomplicated way.
But I've also read a couple of comments about the limitation of the Prophet-6 being a true challange insofar as it forces you to do more with less, which some find to be equaly rewarding as practicing a meditative exercise. And that's something that shouldn't be forgotten either: What sounds like instant gratification on the one side can require a lot of patience and experience on the other side.
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: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2016, 09:37:17 PM »
If I could respectfully make a request, it would be for the PWM Brass and Sawtooth Solo patches used by Sacred Synthesis on his last two videos.

It sounds like we need an old-fashioned patch panel sheet for the Prophet '08, an editor page that could be filled in and posted.  My computer is nowhere near my synthesizers, so giving a detailed description would take some effort.  Perhaps later.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2016, 03:23:39 AM »
It sounds like we need an old-fashioned patch panel sheet for the Prophet '08, an editor page that could be filled in and posted.  My computer is nowhere near my synthesizers, so giving a detailed description would take some effort.  Perhaps later.
If you are ever in a position to write up patch panel sheets, I would love to know the settings you use for the Oberheim-ish 2-pole sound you play. Just the oscillator and filter-related values would be fascinating. It's such a sweetly balanced sound.

dmfs

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2016, 03:51:40 AM »
If I could respectfully make a request, it would be for the PWM Brass and Sawtooth Solo patches used by Sacred Synthesis on his last two videos.

It sounds like we need an old-fashioned patch panel sheet for the Prophet '08, an editor page that could be filled in and posted.  My computer is nowhere near my synthesizers, so giving a detailed description would take some effort.  Perhaps later.

Yes they Are Killer Patches , and I would respectfully love to know how you achieved them too!
Prophet 12 Prophet 08 SE Tempest

Jason

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Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2016, 04:57:28 AM »
Regarding patch panel sheets, while a much better looking template could be developed, the text version above can be copied and pasted into Word (or another text document) and then printed. The larger spaces left on the original were compressed when I pasted it here, so there isn't as much space now. Still, most of the values are only going to be a two digit number, and more space could easily be added before printing. It's organized left to right across the top panel, followed by left to right across the lower panel. I probably missed some things.

Re: Prophet '08 among Prophets
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2016, 05:08:48 AM »
Thanks for the appreciation, guys.  Without getting into the numbers, I can say that, whatever PWM patch I create, I use the same few standards.  First, I use two LFOs for the PWM, each having the same depth but slightly different rates.  A third LFO is used for vibrato, which is delayed using Env 3.  (This is the reason the single LFO issue with the Prophet 6 and OB-6 is seemingly a deal killer for me.)  Second, I set the PWM depth by playing the lowest notes I'll be using and making the depth as extreme as will still sound musical and properly tuned at that lowest note.  Actually, I go just slightly beyond this point.  This guarantees me a full five-octave range on the keyboard.  Third, I set the modulation wheel to control the filter cut off frequency for dynamic changes, and I use this a lot throughout the music.  Fourth - and here's the catch - the patch has to have a deep stereo field.  Since I use a P'08 Keyboard in conjunction with a P'08 Module, I dump the patch from the keyboard to the module and then pan each instrument to opposite sides at the mixer.  This is essential to the overall sound and gives it a spacious depth that a mono signal could only envy.  Of course, you could do a four-voce imitation of this using the B Output jacks.  I use this option on my other Prophet '08 Keyboard, even for mono sounds. 

Without having the numbers, this will get you to the patch.  Note that the recordings are all done live.  I'm playing keyboards and bass pedals, mixing, and recording all at the same time.  I actually think this contributes something very important to the music, which is somewhat simple, direct, and uncluttered as a result.  And because I DON"T USE NO STINKIN' DRUM MACHINES, you get an excellent opportunity to fully enjoy the gorgeous sound of the synthesizer.

One more thing: the bass.  Sorry, but the playing of bass on a pedalboard is essential to the overall sound.  It completely frees up the left hand and guarantees a rich deep rumble throughout the music.  I use five different bass patches for this, and I use them in accord with the dynamics of the music.  It's one of the challenges of the performances and the reason I have to locate everything within reach.  Since I usually end strong in the music, I usually finish with the biggest bass patch.  I use an Evolver Desktop, which is controlled by a set of Hammond XPK 200L pedals.

Incidentally, there's an INHALT Youtube video that attempts to imitate the Oberheim sound with a Prophet '08.  It's...okay...but when it comes to imitating a PWM patch, the effort just falls apart.  It's a terrible patch.  This mystifies me, because, in my opinion, the P'08 excels in this very sonic area. 

And by the way, who's the inspiration behind my brass patch?  It's Robert Schumann.  In his Fourth Symphony, there's a brass section that has left a permanent impression on my musical mind.  It's the very definition of "massive".
« Last Edit: February 19, 2016, 06:06:07 AM by Sacred Synthesis »