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Dave Smith Instruments Prophet ''08 (Bonus)

March 12, 2008
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This online bonus material supplements the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet ''08 review in the April 2008 issue of Electronic Musician.

Five Will Get You Ten

As someone who''s been actively using analog synths for 35 years, I''m not overly impressed by the mystique of analog synthesis. Analog, virtual analog, physical modeled, sampled, FM, additive, hardware, or software—I love ''em all. I judge a synth on two criteria: sound and functionality. As my review emphasizes, the Prophet ''08 scores high on both counts.

Certainly the Prophet ''08''s greatest advantage over buying an older analog poly synth is that you get brand-new circuitry that hasn''t suffered the ravages of age. But you also get digital functionality—notably, the gated sequencer, modulation matrix, and access to additional programmable parameters—that you would not have gotten 25 or 30 years ago for anywhere near the same price.

I''m especially amazed that when you account for inflation, analog electronics have gotten so much cheaper since the ''80s. Two thousand dollars still buys about as much synth now as it did then. If you go back to the very first issue of EM (June 1985), you''ll see that I reviewed a polyphonic analog synth that sold for about the same price: the Chroma Polaris. But when you consider what that same synth would have cost in 2008 dollars, there''s no comparison; the Prophet ''08 is an outstanding bargain.

Dave Smith, Instrumental Innovator

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The Prophet ''08''s designer, electronic-instrument pioneer Dave Smith, also gave birth to the first commercial software synth, vector synthesis, wave sequencing, and an idea that grew to become the MIDI standard. More recently, he developed the Evolver series of analog-digital hybrid synthesizers and is actively collaborating with Roger Linn on the LinnDrum II and LinnDrum II Analog.

Mel Bay Publications has produced a DVD highlighting Smith''s contributions to music technology. Instrumental Innovators Episode 3 - Dave Smith: Synthesizer Pioneer ($24.99) is available from Dave Smith Instruments (www.davesmithinstruments.com). Over the course of more than 1.5 hours of video, Smith explains the fundamentals of electronic music and the origins of MIDI. In casual living-room conversations, he and fellow legendary instrument designers Tom Oberheim and Roger Linn reminisce about their careers. They talk about the development of their respective companies and the groundBREAKing products they produced. This DVD presents a fascinating retrospective on the growth of the electronic-musical-instrument industry.

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