The Official Sequential/DSI Forum

Future of X

Future of X
« on: October 09, 2018, 04:24:46 PM »
A friend of mine bought Prophet X a month ago and despite we both like some features (Dave Rossum's stereo filter, sonic character of the instrument, hardware design... ) we see some serious lack of features in the digital part. The whole synth idea obviously looks very promising, but unfinished and weak although the instrument claimed as the "breakthrough". We see the "sample playback + analog filter" conception just not innovative enough to call it the most ground-breaking evolution of the Prophet. So we want to find out if some updates planned and what is the future of the X project.

Taking into the account hardware specs of the synth are there plans to implement those functions in upcoming updates:

1) Warping or Time Machines on samples. At the moment there's no such a simple feature to let play samples at various pitches while keeping the sample length the same. Without warping it's impossible to work with phrases, also chords sounds dirty when the pitch varies from the original value. Without this, the sampler part looks just outdated.

2) Better crossfade on samples. There's no way to avoid clicking while working with very short sample parts. Some kind of fix needed.

3) What will be the functionality of the computer software which is coming in December? Is it only for sample transfer or more advanced function planned such as user waves, wavetables, drawing your own waves on the screen, spectral resynthesis from audio? Basically, is some kind of symbiosis of computer and synthesizer possible as part of X project (like it was realized in Fairlight 40 years ago for example )?

4) Any developments on granular synthesis implementation planned? At the moment there are no real granulator functions in X (even if you compare it with basic free plugins or iOS apps ).

5) Dave Rossum recently released Assimil8tor eurorack sampler module with really cool phase modulation, control over sample rate, bit depth, aliasing, and generally extensive sample manipulation and looping capabilities (for example - making LFO's out of samples and use them as mod source). Maybe it's a chance to improve X and invite Dave Rossum to work on X engine and share his inventions. 

6) Yes, it's good to have 150GB of quality samples as a nice addition to the synthesis part, but the variety of instruments isn't so great (do we really need so many types of clarinets or pianos? There are other instruments and sample libraries which do this part better and what is also important - for less money ). So future sample packs plans look not so exciting.

What we want to see is a futuristic synthesizer with unique features rather than a hardware sample player with outdated specs. Strong digital sound design tools + great warm sounding Sequential analog part could be a winner on the market. At the moment, unfortunately, the competitor's products look more advanced.

In other words, please let us know what we should expect out of future developments of X? Any major updates planned or the synth concept is finished and won't change any longer?

Re: Future of X
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2018, 04:36:02 PM »
I don't think you are going to get what you want. Looking at Dave's interview with Paul Dither he basically was like "The problem with samplers is it never ends. The constant demand of features is ongoing." I think Sequential is mostly going to worry about firmware updates for the Prophet-X and leave everything else up to 8Dio as far as libraries, sound packs, software, editors, etc.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2018, 04:49:53 PM »
Well, 8dio participation in a Prophet X project is more like a "fuel" for the "engine" which is developed by Sequential. I guess they are not engineers, they do libraries, but we are talking here about innovations in synthesizers and Prophet line, not in sampling techniques. However, maybe we will contact 8Dio directly and ask to explain their point of view.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2018, 02:46:59 PM »
Well, 8dio participation in a Prophet X project is more like a "fuel" for the "engine" which is developed by Sequential. I guess they are not engineers, they do libraries, but we are talking here about innovations in synthesizers and Prophet line, not in sampling techniques. However, maybe we will contact 8Dio directly and ask to explain their point of view.

Sequential simply built the body and took the basics of their approach to subtractive synthesis but instead of using only oscillators they are using sample content provided by 8Dio. All the samples, soundpacks, editors, user sampling, keyboard mapping...thatís all on 8Dio. Sequential has done their part and other than a few basic things like beat sync, transposing Unison sequences on the fly and stuff thereís not much thatís going to be added to the PX on their end. The ball is in 8Dios court now. For me...Iíve scored 4 films this year with two more in the works and they all had the PX on them. So Iím fine if 8Dio takes their time.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

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Re: Future of X
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2018, 07:06:17 PM »
I'd say that your first point (Sample Stretching) of course would have been nice, but when you have that immense amounts of sample memory available, you should be able to simply throw a single sample on every key that you yourself have prepared any way you want it to... including time stretching them... there are plenty of audio editors that will time stretch samples so you could in theory use that to prepare your phrases, and then create an instrument for them... when the user sample option is available that is... I'm aware that this will not give you full live control over a sample with timestretching, but it'll be a bit closer to it.

In other words; many sample editing functions COULD be done offline... this is where the software that DSI will deliver would be extra handy, if it could do these simple tasks automatically for you (say; import a single sample, and place it on all keys, sample stretching them along the way)...

But I must admit that I doubt we'll see that... it'll probably be a simple basic import program with the most basic settings available like velocity layers etc... we'll just have to wait and see what that software will offer...

Also please remember, that Dave pointed out that the X never was meant to replace a real sampler... it is a sampling synthesizer, meant to give sound designers an option to create synthesized sounds with the use of sample oscillators... if you think of the X as you do older samplers (like the E-MU Emulators for example) you'll probably be very disappointed.
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Re: Future of X
« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2018, 08:56:41 PM »
I'd say that your first point (Sample Stretching) of course would have been nice, but when you have that immense amounts of sample memory available, you should be able to simply throw a single sample on every key that you yourself have prepared any way you want it to... including time stretching them... there are plenty of audio editors that will time stretch samples so you could in theory use that to prepare your phrases, and then create an instrument for them... when the user sample option is available that is... I'm aware that this will not give you full live control over a sample with timestretching, but it'll be a bit closer to it.

In other words; many sample editing functions COULD be done offline... this is where the software that DSI will deliver would be extra handy, if it could do these simple tasks automatically for you (say; import a single sample, and place it on all keys, sample stretching them along the way)...

But I must admit that I doubt we'll see that... it'll probably be a simple basic import program with the most basic settings available like velocity layers etc... we'll just have to wait and see what that software will offer...

Also please remember, that Dave pointed out that the X never was meant to replace a real sampler... it is a sampling synthesizer, meant to give sound designers an option to create synthesized sounds with the use of sample oscillators... if you think of the X as you do older samplers (like the E-MU Emulators for example) you'll probably be very disappointed.

I don't think we'll ever really see a modern day Emulator. I mean I suppose a lot of workstations could be considered similar but no real dedicated sampler with analog filters and VCAs, 8-10 track midi sequencer. But with Novation coming out with their new midi controller with a built in 8 track sequencer...who knows.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

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Re: Future of X
« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2018, 09:51:06 PM »
Could the Prophet X be the Prophet VS of its day? I see a lot of derisiveness towards it online. I think the main obstacle aside from price has been the lackluster marketing. Had I not heard some of the beautiful sounds Nick displayed in the Sonic State review, I'd undoubtedly not think much of the X. Obviously the sales figures could be surpassing expectations for all I know, but perhaps do a soft [re]launch when the user sample function is finally ready. Start putting out some in-depth videos from the Sequential team.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2018, 10:42:17 PM »
Could the Prophet X be the Prophet VS of its day? I see a lot of derisiveness towards it online. I think the main obstacle aside from price has been the lackluster marketing. Had I not heard some of the beautiful sounds Nick displayed in the Sonic State review, I'd undoubtedly not think much of the X. Obviously the sales figures could be surpassing expectations for all I know, but perhaps do a soft [re]launch when the user sample function is finally ready. Start putting out some in-depth videos from the Sequential team.

I think two things did a disservice in representing the synth: The demonstrations by Gerry Basserman who admittedly said he didnít know much about the synth before demonstrating it and the presets themselves which focused a lot on the oscillators as opposed to the samples or buried the samples under loads of modulation which ultimately resulted in more drone and soundscape patches rather than playable ones.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

Sleep of Reason

Re: Future of X
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2018, 11:41:08 PM »
buried the samples under loads of modulation which ultimately resulted in more drone and soundscape patches rather than playable ones.

Perhaps, but I see more of the flip side being the issue. People think it's simply a rompler because they see videos with "subtle" modulation. They correctly point out that they can accomplish the same and then some at a fraction of the price with their VST libraries that are aimed at doing that task. Furthermore, they can use their MPE devices and accomplish way more expressive realism. When the real magic of this instrument comes from successfully blending the synthesis aspects with rather unique samples to produce beautiful sounds that cannot be accomplished solely with standard instruments that have been around for centuries. This seems to be a fine art that like you say, may not have been pulled off to the highest degree within the presets.   

So sure, it's well capable of doing what you personally want with it. However, I think it's potentially capable of so much more.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2018, 04:04:23 AM »
Sequential simply built the body and took the basics of their approach to subtractive synthesis but instead of using only oscillators they are using sample content provided by 8Dio. All the samples, soundpacks, editors, user sampling, keyboard mapping...thatís all on 8Dio. Sequential has done their part and other than a few basic things like beat sync, transposing Unison sequences on the fly and stuff thereís not much thatís going to be added to the PX on their end. The ball is in 8Dios court now. For me...Iíve scored 4 films this year with two more in the works and they all had the PX on them. So Iím fine if 8Dio takes their time.

I see... So this looks even more strange since 8Dio make libraries for Kontakt and of course, they familiar with its functionality and know what features should be implemented in a modern sample-based instrument.

We've written a letter to the 8dio support, so let's see how they see the situation and if there are plans to develop X software part.

Could the Prophet X be the Prophet VS of its day? I see a lot of derisiveness towards it online. I think the main obstacle aside from price has been the lackluster marketing. Had I not heard some of the beautiful sounds Nick displayed in the Sonic State review, I'd undoubtedly not think much of the X. Obviously the sales figures could be surpassing expectations for all I know, but perhaps do a soft [re]launch when the user sample function is finally ready. Start putting out some in-depth videos from the Sequential team.


Yes, 100% true. Just for example, compare it with how Moog promotes their new polyphonic synth: online demonstrations every single day, support by the top artists, every single feature is deeply explained, all functions work since the launch, and so on. There is something to learn here for other companies. 

As for the "modern VS" - yes and yes. We don't really get here why all these technologies invented to animate and customize waveforms from the 80s (as in PPG, VS, Fairlight ) couldn't be realized 40 years after on a new level with much more powerful DSPs and gigabytes more of memory.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2018, 04:19:30 AM »
Don't get me wrong, X is a nice sounding machine, but the situation is a bit strange - it doesn't have serious polyphony, multitimbrality or multi outs so it's really not a competitive sample player (or it should compete with archaic technology at quite a high price). At the same time, X doesn't really take a chance to be synthesizer since there are no so many things to do with sample manipulation (just a static sample with modulated sample start is obviously not enough ).

In other words, why we should be trapped inside 150GB of "All Kinds Of Crazy Shit" (as stated by 8dio... ) at the time when with such an engine we can get much more sonic variety just by working with user waves. Everything is already inside the machine, the only thing needed here is an os update with normal modern day sample manipulation tools.

We don't want to blame Sequential or 8dio. It's just a shame to lose such a chance since almost everything is already implemented and all we need is a more clever software implementation.

Is X an instrument for serious synthesis and sonic innovations or it's just for people who want to play a piano sample thru the analog LP filter?

Re: Future of X
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2018, 05:44:14 AM »
buried the samples under loads of modulation which ultimately resulted in more drone and soundscape patches rather than playable ones.

Perhaps, but I see more of the flip side being the issue. People think it's simply a rompler because they see videos with "subtle" modulation. They correctly point out that they can accomplish the same and then some at a fraction of the price with their VST libraries that are aimed at doing that task. Furthermore, they can use their MPE devices and accomplish way more expressive realism. When the real magic of this instrument comes from successfully blending the synthesis aspects with rather unique samples to produce beautiful sounds that cannot be accomplished solely with standard instruments that have been around for centuries. This seems to be a fine art that like you say, may not have been pulled off to the highest degree within the presets.   

So sure, it's well capable of doing what you personally want with it. However, I think it's potentially capable of so much more.

The problem is they never did a walk through with taking a recognizable sample and then manipulating it. They simply showed the final result and people werenít sure what they were hearing. I donít even think Gerry did half the time.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2018, 05:47:44 AM »
Don't get me wrong, X is a nice sounding machine, but the situation is a bit strange - it doesn't have serious polyphony, multitimbrality or multi outs so it's really not a competitive sample player (or it should compete with archaic technology at quite a high price). At the same time, X doesn't really take a chance to be synthesizer since there are no so many things to do with sample manipulation (just a static sample with modulated sample start is obviously not enough ).

In other words, why we should be trapped inside 150GB of "All Kinds Of Crazy Shit" (as stated by 8dio... ) at the time when with such an engine we can get much more sonic variety just by working with user waves. Everything is already inside the machine, the only thing needed here is an os update with normal modern day sample manipulation tools.

We don't want to blame Sequential or 8dio. It's just a shame to lose such a chance since almost everything is already implemented and all we need is a more clever software implementation.

Is X an instrument for serious synthesis and sonic innovations or it's just for people who want to play a piano sample thru the analog LP filter?

The X is whatever you put into it. Itís a synthesizer that has VST quality samples as oscillators. Thatís what it was advertised as.
Prophet 6, Prophet X, Moog Sub 37, Tempest Drum Computer, Roland V Piano, Fender American Stratocaster, Roger Linn Adrenalinn iii, Origin Effects Cali76 and SlideRig compressor, ASUS Zenbook Pro Computer, Soundcraft MTK 22 Mixer, Mark Of The Unicorn Digital Performer 10 Software.

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Re: Future of X
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2018, 06:15:01 AM »
Will be interesting to see if Prophet X will see the same kind of development as Prophet 12 did: initial doubt but years later people just love it for what it is. Even I want a Prophet 12 (module, if I could afford it). So what I am looking forward to see is how the Prophet X features and sample import develops over the next few years and how the users reacts to it. Because that is what matters: completed instrument usefulness.

As for the "modern VS" - yes and yes. We don't really get here why all these technologies invented to animate and customize waveforms from the 80s (as in PPG, VS, Fairlight ) couldn't be realized 40 years after on a new level with much more powerful DSPs and gigabytes more of memory.

One have to realize two things here:
(1) Sequential makes constrained designs with a set of carefully chosen features that they think will work well for the user.
(2) The amount of resources it takes to realize an instrument with more features as they generally makes one instrument each year.
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Re: Future of X
« Reply #14 on: October 11, 2018, 07:52:23 AM »
Will be interesting to see if Prophet X will see the same kind of development as Prophet 12 did: initial doubt but years later people just love it for what it is. Even I want a Prophet 12 (module, if I could afford it). So what I am looking forward to see is how the Prophet X features and sample import develops over the next few years and how the users reacts to it. Because that is what matters: completed instrument usefulness.

As for the "modern VS" - yes and yes. We don't really get here why all these technologies invented to animate and customize waveforms from the 80s (as in PPG, VS, Fairlight ) couldn't be realized 40 years after on a new level with much more powerful DSPs and gigabytes more of memory.

One have to realize two things here:
(1) Sequential makes constrained designs with a set of carefully chosen features that they think will work well for the user.
(2) The amount of resources it takes to realize an instrument with more features as they generally makes one instrument each year.

I think the same is true for the Tempest. When it was initially released it didnít have the features it has now with the final firmware.
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Re: Future of X
« Reply #15 on: October 11, 2018, 08:12:43 AM »
I really do not think that 8dio will have much say in the engine specifics, i bet they did not have any influence at all on this during development... they are simply just a source SCI chose to work with to get some quality samples into their new product, and if I'm guessing right, 8dio simply had to work with what they got from the Prophet X...

So contacting 8dio and asking them about their future involvement in the engine of the X is probably a bit enthusiastic... if you want to change something about the X, you should go directly at SCI... not 8dio.

There is a dedicated "Feature Request" thread here for just that... but I have to warn you... very little of all those ideas and requets are actually implemented... in general, with DSI devices these days it's "what you see is what you get"... look at what the device does BEFORE you buy... don't expect it to be able to do much more than that, because it'll likely never happen anyway.... i think that the only major feature request I've ever seen implemented was on the Prophet 12 when they implemented linear FM capabilities... all and everything else has just been small bells and whistles.

Hoping for sample stretching is only going to be self torture.... really! ... even though I'm no psychic, it won't happen... such a feature would no doubt put a strain on the sample playback engine... also imagine how it would add up when you have all the other things like granular stuff going on in realtime... it may require a complete rewriting of the sample playback code to implement something like that... I'll advice you to look at a V-Synth instead for that sort of thing.
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Re: Future of X
« Reply #16 on: October 11, 2018, 10:13:53 AM »
We've written a letter to the 8dio support, so let's see how they see the situation and if there are plans to develop X software part.

As I understand it, Sequential is responsible for all of the firmware development for the Prophet X.  8Dio provided the raw samples along with the software that prepares them for import into the system, and doubtless there was significant discussion and feedback in both directions.  If you want more content or have feature requests for the forthcoming user sample software than runs on your Mac or PC, ask 8Dio.  If you encounter bugs or want new features on the Prophet X itself, ask Sequential ... but theyíve made it very clear that they consider it a synthesizer capable of integrating samples, not a full-fledged sampler.  I expect theyíll stick to that vision.

Quote
Yes, 100% true. Just for example, compare it with how Moog promotes their new polyphonic synth: online demonstrations every single day, support by the top artists, every single feature is deeply explained, all functions work since the launch, and so on. There is something to learn here for other companies.

8Dio had daily videos for about a month leading up to the launch of the Prophet X.  They were of a very different style than Moog, but they were incredibly effective and some did dig in and illustrate how specific features worked.

Saying that ďall features work since the launchĒ for the new Moog is patently absurd.  It hasnít shipped at all, and theyíve specifically mentioned numerous features that wonít be available and launch as well as several that theyíre still scrambling to finish in the next couple of weeks before the first unit ships to a paying customer.  Iím enjoying their rollout a great deal, no question, but I also learned a lot and got very excited leading up to the Prophet X launch.

If youíre looking for examples of a botched launch to learn from, I think Waldorf currently holds all the cards with the Quantum.

Sleep of Reason

Re: Future of X
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2018, 10:34:16 AM »
I can see the issue folks have with the practice of releasing a synth a year and moving on. Look at other competing synths in the price range of the PX such as the Montage for example, which has gone through major revisions every year. Not only that, but when you finally get your synth and realize it's missing major features that most products these days have even at a fraction of the cost. I'm just not sure Sequential is built to handle such demands. I keep banging this drum, but if you're going to release these types of cutting edge/high end instruments, which demand sophisticated UI, then some more programmers should be hired. I see Tempest owners still complaining about major missing features that were promised.

Updates like the linear FM added to the P12 and Pro2 should be only one of many major feature updates.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #18 on: October 11, 2018, 11:51:12 AM »
I see Tempest owners still complaining about major missing features that were promised.

I see lots of claims that features were promised, but whenever I dig into them all I can find is generic responses along the lines of ďweíll consider it.Ē  If you have a more definitive statement from DSI reps at the time, Iíd welcome seeing it, but I couldnít find any.  It looks much more like a case of people who read non-committal, friendly responses as a promise and wind up placing the blame on someone else for their own unrealistic expectations.

Re: Future of X
« Reply #19 on: October 11, 2018, 12:15:06 PM »
What I really like to hear is the comment from the official DSI/Sequential support team no matter here or in my email (actually, this topic was started after I sent an email to the support ). It's interesting to know what they really think of X future and perhaps their vision has changed a bit after the release.

We've got a response from 8dio crew. I will not post it here, but the good chances are that they listening and going to try to come out with something soon. However, I guess more requests, opinions, and discussion will only encourage both teams to work on X.