A notable upgrade to Steinberg/Native Instruments' previouslyreleased Pro-Five plug-in, Pro-52 makes a greatcase for going virtual the second time around. Among theimprovements offered by the new Pro-52's toolbox are aneasy-to-use, great-sounding effects section; a standalone mode; andthe ability to process external audio signals. Now you can alsoname and number an extensive list of 512 patches per library, andanyone with a MIDI-fied Prophet-5 can send sound patches stored inits memory (system-exclusive data) right into the standaloneversion of Pro-52 for the ultimate in old-schoolauthenticity.
Pro-52 provides a very impressive and accuratere-creation of the Prophet-5's warm strings, deep basses, piercingleads, and snappy bell tones. It includes enough sounds to play andtweak for years, and anyone with even a modicum of sonicadventurousness may want to consult a marriage or relationshipcounselor before getting too deep into its powerful yeteasy-to-understand front panel. You can turn off the authenticpitch-mod wheel and keyboard display to save CPU resources. Thedevelopers even duplicated the Prophet-5's original A 440 tuningwaveform. And though hardly organic, Pro-52's simulatedwood casing doesn't look so bad onscreen.
Pro-52 is available for the Mac (requires at least aPowerPC 120, 32 MB of RAM, and Sound Manager) and PC (Pentium 133,32 MB of RAM, and a sound card) running VST 2.0-compatibleprograms. As always, the more processing power the merrier when itcomes to polyphony and running other effects plug-ins. With noother plug-ins opened, my G3 could play 22 voices in unison (mono)mode with Pro-52. That's 44 oscillators under one finger— talk about sick bass and lead lines! It's even better tokeep the Voices window set to six notes per patch and run up toeight separate Pro-52s on separate MIDI channels to createProphet-heavy soundscapes and melodies. Try layering a few detunedsounds on the same channel to really fatten up a rhythmicarpeggiator line. The aforementioned sys-ex capability is amindblower for any longtime Prophet owner. You'll never look atmusic-making quite the same way once you've used Pro-52'sfront panel to process a vocal track or guitar part in CubaseVST/32's standalone mode, using Pro-52 as a VSTinsert effect patched into the channel mixer.
The well-written manual comes in English, German, and French andincludes some “try this at home” tutorials that reallyshow off what Pro-52 can do. Its glossary makes learningmore about do-it-yourself synthesis a snap. Using the included MIDIContinuous Controller chart to tweak and twist Pro-52 froma real synth's controls is time well spent — you can avoidthe hassles of tweaking the rather small onscreen equivalents.Simply dialing through the extensive library of included patchesand adjusting a filter or envelope here or there provides hours ofsonic satisfaction.
Randy Alberts is a musician, writer, and audio engineerexploring music and recording technology in his studio in Pacifica,California.
PROS: Incredible range of sounds. Adds external audioinput, program naming, and the ability to import original soundbanks to faithful Prophet-5 reproduction.
CONS: Small onscreen knobs.
Overall Rating (1 through 5): 4.5