The Official Sequential/DSI Forum

Pro 3 Review

Pro 3 Review
« on: February 21, 2020, 11:17:33 AM »
I posted this over on Gearslutz but I thought I'd share it here for those who don't go over there. Pym replied with a correction and some extra feedback so I've tried to include that info here!

First of all, let me say I love this thing. There will be some criticisms below but most of them are minor gripes or mentions of things that would have been nice. Overall it's a beast of a synth and one of my favorite Sequential synths I've had. (And I've had several--Evo, PolyEvo, Tetra, Tempest, and Rev2, which I still have.) The combination of complex sequencer, mod routing, and flexible VCOs checks so many boxes for me and the wavetable just takes it above and beyond...


LAYOUT: Very well designed front panel--easy to find everything and logical. There's a good balance between knob-per-function and a couple of things being available only on the screen through soft knobs, which are all set-and-forget parameters. My only gripe about the layout is that the effects knobs don't correspond the order on the screen. Having them all lined up left to right like on the screen would have been less confusing.

HARDWARE: Excellent keyboard. Solid overall feel but light enough to carry about. The plastic end caps don't feel cheap but they do remind you that you didn't splurge for the wood.

Most pots are pretty stiff which takes getting used to. The Filter pot is easier to turn. Knobs are semi-rubbery with a hard cap. Not sexy but comfortable. Pitch and Grunge pots have a center denent, which is useful. There's some clicking when using encoders to change some parameters, which I've found is fairly typical--not a big issue since encoder values are set-and-forget whereas you want the play with the knobs and switches.

DISPLAY: Crisp screen that is similar to the Tempest's. Having the rotary encoders in addition to the dedicated knobs is useful for fine-tuning. The display also shows the wavetable oscillator name so you can find the one you want.

SOUNDS: Lots of them. On the analog side it really is like having souped up versions of a Pro One, minimoog, and SEM all in one unit, especially when using things like filter drive to find the sweet spots. And the digital waveforms take it into all sorts of new sonic realms. There's a huge amount of bass available but you can tame things right down for nice evolving pads or flutey bits.

To me the distortion amount seems to be preset and the level knob acts as a blend. But Ext Audio in the mixer can act as a feedback source if no audio is present, which is cool.

Some gripes about sound:
  • Fairly loud pop when turning the unit off
  • Only the Prophet filter seems to track across the keyboard

SEQUENCER
This is one of the things making this a world-class instrument. If you know the gated sequencer from the Evolver and Prophet 08 lines this will be very familiar to you. But @ Pym and co have taken this to the next level by making programming as easy as possible. You can program all sorts of things by just recording the notes on the keys then hitting record and turning a knob to record modulation--similar to Elektron p-locks or DAW automation. Very intuitive. But then you can dig in a bit further to tweak amounts, set slew on for some modulation lanes but not others, change velocity, etc. and that all is very straightforward. Muting a single lane is super useful for performative changes to the sequence. I'll also point out that it's possible to have 2 tracks with the same destination, e.g. cutoff on Track 4 and 5. This can be useful if you want, for example, half of your sequence to have stepped modulation and other half slew limited.

A couple of additional features would be nice:
  • Recording modulation without having to hold record would be nice, for example by hitting Record + Play. Recording would start the next time step one is reached and stop on the last step.
  • The sequence changes from A to B as soon as you hit the B button. A "Change At End of Sequence" mode would be nice, e.g. user would hit B and A would finish the sequence before changing to B.

And Pym mentioned those are already on his to do list!

EFFECTS
Soundwise some of them sound lovely like the reverb, others are fairly generic like the chorus--good for stereo-izing the signal but don't expect a Juno. The screen doesn't show the parameter number and the soft knobs are in a different order than the dedicated ones which isn't straightforward. Unfortunately the effects LFOs can't be synced. If that's not possible it would be nice if we could at least disengage the LFO and modulate just through the sequencer and 3 independent LFOs. But having them available in the mod matrix and sequencer is super useful.

Overall, I'm really happy with this thing. I'm in the process of paring down my stack of synths and this will easily replace a couple of them.

Razmo

  • ***
  • 2166
  • I am shadow...
    • Kaleidoscopic Artworks
Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2020, 12:03:20 PM »
People should just shut up talking about this synth, until mine has been delivered, it borders on torture  >:(  ;D

No... Seriously, everything I hear people say about it, of those who actually tried it, seems to fit perfectly with my own conclusions from listening to demos and reading specs.

It seems that the only thing left for me to worry about is any present bugs along with MIDI specs, though the later seem to be the standard Sequential way which is always good (as long as eventual bugs is fixed, but no worries... I will report every single one I may find, and the first thing I will do is create a MIDI editor for SoundDiver, so I WILL find them 8))

I have this intuition that this synth may be my favourite Sequential synth ever, and that without ever having laid my hands on one yet... If I am right, anyone smirking at me for paying so much for the SE version can smirk all they want because I will never regret getting that version, even if it is only wood and angle... It is by far my favourite Sequential design ever, and I actually see it as a welcome addition, that it has a new type of knob caps... Was getting a bit tired of the all silvershiny Prophet knobs to be honest... The rubbery grip is very welcome, and a comfort I think too few manufacturers take seriously... I HATE smooth and slippery knobs (think waldorf pulse 2, blofeld etc.)

I will say that if I had to choose one thing I could change about the PRO3 it would be the obvious waste of allways having two dormant filters... It is a waste, and as on PRO2 I would have liked routing options, and most importantly, the option to direct an oscillator to any or all filters, and also bypassing them... I really think this is the biggest let down, especially because the PRO2 does allow for some routing options. It makes the omission feel like an obvious setback.

Just think about this in paraphonic mode... Then it would almost be real polyphonic, since each oscillator would have had both a VCA and VCF... This is really a missed oportunity.

Somehow I feel this omission is intentional, to make the PRO2 unique still... Dave's synths seem to never rule eachother out except for maybe the PROPHET 08...all the rest has something attractive that none other have... I actually think he does this on purpose or even unintentionally  ;D
« Last Edit: February 21, 2020, 01:33:49 PM by Razmo »
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2020, 12:36:20 PM »
People should just shut up talking about this synth, until mine has been delivered, it borders on torture  >:(  ;D
Maybe the Pro 3 forum isn't the best place to be to avoid Pro 3 talk.  ;)

I've not used MIDI with it yet. I have encountered some strange behavior but I've not reported it yet since I want to identify if it's reproducible first.

But yeah...It's awesome but filter routing would have made this next level super awesome. One VCO to the ladder, the other to the Prophet filter, Wavetable osc modulating all 3, signals panned for stereo. Mmm...Would have been nice.

Razmo

  • ***
  • 2166
  • I am shadow...
    • Kaleidoscopic Artworks
Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2020, 01:25:21 PM »
People should just shut up talking about this synth, until mine has been delivered, it borders on torture  >:(  ;D
Maybe the Pro 3 forum isn't the best place to be to avoid Pro 3 talk.  ;)

I've not used MIDI with it yet. I have encountered some strange behavior but I've not reported it yet since I want to identify if it's reproducible first.

But yeah...It's awesome but filter routing would have made this next level super awesome. One VCO to the ladder, the other to the Prophet filter, Wavetable osc modulating all 3, signals panned for stereo. Mmm...Would have been nice.

Yeah... But I do understand that it may have required quite a bit of analog switching curcuitry to cover all the possibilities... With Pro2 it was at least restricted to routings between only two filters. Still... Would have been nice.
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2020, 04:55:41 PM »
I can add that the pop when turning off is a problem, it sometimes does it when turning on as well. Its not a subtle pop either(at least not on mine), and it occurs on all outputs (headphones as well).

Best way to describe it is like someone turning off an amp without going into standby first.

-MSTM

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2020, 11:38:30 AM »
I can add that the pop when turning off is a problem, it sometimes does it when turning on as well. Its not a subtle pop either(at least not on mine), and it occurs on all outputs (headphones as well).

Best way to describe it is like someone turning off an amp without going into standby first.

-MSTM

Yep kind of annoying. Best to turn volume down on the mixer, interface just in case.

By the way I found that both the Prophet and ladder filters can track for using them as a sine wave but are only useable for about 3 octaves. After that the oscillation gets sharp or flat so the filter would need to be retuned.

Razmo

  • ***
  • 2166
  • I am shadow...
    • Kaleidoscopic Artworks
Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2020, 11:41:57 AM »
I can add that the pop when turning off is a problem, it sometimes does it when turning on as well. Its not a subtle pop either(at least not on mine), and it occurs on all outputs (headphones as well).

Best way to describe it is like someone turning off an amp without going into standby first.

-MSTM

Yep kind of annoying. Best to turn volume down on the mixer, interface just in case.

By the way I found that both the Prophet and ladder filters can track for using them as a sine wave but are only useable for about 3 octaves. After that the oscillation gets sharp or flat so the filter would need to be retuned.

There must be some sort of filter calibration utility?
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2020, 11:46:14 AM »
There must be some sort of filter calibration utility?
Yep I calibrated it a few times. Iíve also tried both the dedicated Key>LPF Parameter as well as using Note Number to Cutoff in the matrix.

Razmo

  • ***
  • 2166
  • I am shadow...
    • Kaleidoscopic Artworks
Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2020, 12:34:48 PM »
There must be some sort of filter calibration utility?
Yep I calibrated it a few times. Iíve also tried both the dedicated Key>LPF Parameter as well as using Note Number to Cutoff in the matrix.

Hopefully an OS update can fix it, otherwise it is kind of a bummer, especially because the synth has a dedicated key to lpf parameter... It will be quickly discovered, and people will surely complain about this.
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Razmo

  • ***
  • 2166
  • I am shadow...
    • Kaleidoscopic Artworks
Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2020, 12:37:42 PM »
Did you wait with the calibration untill the unit had obtained working temperature?.. Otherwise that may be the answer... If you calibrated it cold it would certainly get out of tune as it warms up I think.
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2020, 12:46:30 PM »
Did you wait with the calibration untill the unit had obtained working temperature?.. Otherwise that may be the answer... If you calibrated it cold it would certainly get out of tune as it warms up I think.

Yup. Maybe another Pro 3 owner can check and pipe in?

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2020, 01:44:58 PM »
I'll check this evening and report back!

Re: Pro 3 Review
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2020, 02:26:28 PM »
I'll check this evening and report back!

So any conclusion about it ?