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Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?

timboréale

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Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« on: January 13, 2021, 06:36:22 AM »
Hello all,

Long time Rev2 user, but I just found a brand new (is that new-old-stock, I guess?) Prophet 12 keyboard on sale at a local music shop. I know you can get them fairly cheap on the used market, but I'm not in the US so the cost difference was negligible for lower risk, so I chose that option slightly on impulse and mostly due to watching workflow videos where the sound design workflow of this synth seems miles ahead of the Rev2, whose cramped interface is annoying the heck out of me for a while now.

Aside from being concerned that I'm slightly crazy for paying anything but bargain basement prices for a discontinued synth, I'm hoping I gel with it (it hasn't arrived yet, at the moment of this post). So I thought I'd ask you all a few questions regarding synthesis with this monster. I'm comparing it to the Rev2 because they're, in a sense, the most similar of the synths I have - but mostly because I'm reasonably familiar with standard subtractive synthesis architecture (I have/had everything from Moog monosynths to Nords) and have no real idea what to do with all of the extra stuff the Prophet 12 has or how to really get the best out of it.

I bought it because I love my Nord Lead 3 and that's a fully digital synth with an incredibly wide range of timbre and a ton of depth, and I have no problem equalling or even beating the Rev2 in nearly all cases on sound, quality, and richness with it, with some care (I keep them both for totally different reasons, naturally). So I fully expect the Prophet 12 to be warm, rich, deep, intriguing, and capable of strikingly organic sounds (just like the DX7, though hopefully with a much easier editing workflow!). To me the big features of the Prophet 12 are the tuned feedback, the larger mod matrix compared to the Rev2, the individual delay lines, and the much larger screen and better workflow.

I'll preface this by saying I don't need this synth to "sound like" anything else - I've got all the synth strings, lush pads, bells, brass, EPs, etc. I could ever care for already - but I do want to create sounds that could be described as "organic" - stuff that doesn't immediately scream "synth!" or "digital" (but doesn't have to scream "analogue" either... I mean digital in the sense that it's obviously a computer making the noise or some similar interpretation). That means sounds that hit that human psychoacoustic sense of physical, tactile, and potentially made using materials found and worked by hand. This could include everything from war drums to string-like sounds to sea shells to... well, you get the point. The Rev2 strikes me as slightly "brash" and I'm hoping the Prophet 12 has a bit more of a tamed brashness to allow for more control over the warmer timbres.

Question 1: Is this a reasonable expectation for the Prophet 12?
Question 2: What in the heck can I do with wavetables? I "get" them - they're basically just oscillators with different timbres/spectral complexity, but they seem... gimmicky? Are they more than just a gimmick on this synth? Are they well chosen and musically useful? Any tips for using them other than the obvious use cases?
Question 3: I've read through the tips and tricks page (and am watching Caley Kelleys vids, which were what sort of sold me on the workflow to begin with), but do you have any further words of wisdom for me as I approach this synth?
Question 4: Is it possible to sync the envelope repeats to MIDI clock (like you can with the Sub 37)? Any tips for keeping these in sync if not?

Thanks all for this great forum, lively discussions, and fascinating banter. I'm looking forward to enjoying my second Dave Smith/Sequential synth, and definitely hope for more to come.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

LPF83

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 09:18:11 AM »
Hello all,

Long time Rev2 user, but I just found a brand new (is that new-old-stock, I guess?) Prophet 12 keyboard on sale at a local music shop. I know you can get them fairly cheap on the used market, but I'm not in the US so the cost difference was negligible for lower risk, so I chose that option slightly on impulse and mostly due to watching workflow videos where the sound design workflow of this synth seems miles ahead of the Rev2, whose cramped interface is annoying the heck out of me for a while now.

Aside from being concerned that I'm slightly crazy for paying anything but bargain basement prices for a discontinued synth, I'm hoping I gel with it (it hasn't arrived yet, at the moment of this post). So I thought I'd ask you all a few questions regarding synthesis with this monster. I'm comparing it to the Rev2 because they're, in a sense, the most similar of the synths I have - but mostly because I'm reasonably familiar with standard subtractive synthesis architecture (I have/had everything from Moog monosynths to Nords) and have no real idea what to do with all of the extra stuff the Prophet 12 has or how to really get the best out of it.

I bought it because I love my Nord Lead 3 and that's a fully digital synth with an incredibly wide range of timbre and a ton of depth, and I have no problem equalling or even beating the Rev2 in nearly all cases on sound, quality, and richness with it, with some care (I keep them both for totally different reasons, naturally). So I fully expect the Prophet 12 to be warm, rich, deep, intriguing, and capable of strikingly organic sounds (just like the DX7, though hopefully with a much easier editing workflow!). To me the big features of the Prophet 12 are the tuned feedback, the larger mod matrix compared to the Rev2, the individual delay lines, and the much larger screen and better workflow.

I'll preface this by saying I don't need this synth to "sound like" anything else - I've got all the synth strings, lush pads, bells, brass, EPs, etc. I could ever care for already - but I do want to create sounds that could be described as "organic" - stuff that doesn't immediately scream "synth!" or "digital" (but doesn't have to scream "analogue" either... I mean digital in the sense that it's obviously a computer making the noise or some similar interpretation). That means sounds that hit that human psychoacoustic sense of physical, tactile, and potentially made using materials found and worked by hand. This could include everything from war drums to string-like sounds to sea shells to... well, you get the point. The Rev2 strikes me as slightly "brash" and I'm hoping the Prophet 12 has a bit more of a tamed brashness to allow for more control over the warmer timbres.

Question 1: Is this a reasonable expectation for the Prophet 12?
Question 2: What in the heck can I do with wavetables? I "get" them - they're basically just oscillators with different timbres/spectral complexity, but they seem... gimmicky? Are they more than just a gimmick on this synth? Are they well chosen and musically useful? Any tips for using them other than the obvious use cases?
Question 3: I've read through the tips and tricks page (and am watching Caley Kelleys vids, which were what sort of sold me on the workflow to begin with), but do you have any further words of wisdom for me as I approach this synth?
Question 4: Is it possible to sync the envelope repeats to MIDI clock (like you can with the Sub 37)? Any tips for keeping these in sync if not?

Thanks all for this great forum, lively discussions, and fascinating banter. I'm looking forward to enjoying my second Dave Smith/Sequential synth, and definitely hope for more to come.

As a relatively new owner of a P12 module, I'm not yet qualified to go into depth on some of your questions, but I can tell you that "warm" is not really the trait that comes to mind with the P12, although it CAN sound quite warm (and there are ways to warm up the sound if that's not enough).   By and large, your Rev2 will sound warmer by default.

However, don't be surprised if you fall in love with the sound of the P12 anyway, because analog filters have an impact on harmonics that produces a lot of the characteristics that are usually described as warmth.
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

timboréale

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2021, 06:25:38 AM »
As a relatively new owner of a P12 module, I'm not yet qualified to go into depth on some of your questions, but I can tell you that "warm" is not really the trait that comes to mind with the P12, although it CAN sound quite warm (and there are ways to warm up the sound if that's not enough).   By and large, your Rev2 will sound warmer by default.

However, don't be surprised if you fall in love with the sound of the P12 anyway, because analog filters have an impact on harmonics that produces a lot of the characteristics that are usually described as warmth.

Thanks for this - I will summarize by saying that I am certain that we have different definitions of warm, but that might be true for most folks! I mean, I find classic FM synths without any filters to be capable of warmth, it's all in the programming. And no, I don't expect the P12 to be warm without trying, but neither do I expect it to be anything specific without trying. :)

I'm a little surprised at the radio silence on this forum though - I thought the P12 was a hidden favourite and that I'd have a lot of people responding to help me appreciate this beastie.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2021, 07:08:14 AM »
Hi,
 i will try :)

Question 1: Is this a reasonable expectation for the Prophet 12?
Overall yes but it is deeper then you can imagine from Rev2 perspective ( i dont have Rev 2 but Evolver)

Question 2: What in the heck can I do with wavetables? I "get" them - they're basically just oscillators with different timbres/spectral complexity, but they seem... gimmicky? Are they more than just a gimmick on this synth? Are they well chosen and musically useful? Any tips for using them other than the obvious use cases?
I dont know your obvious cases but you can pick a center, left and right and morph between them, they are a very good source for Frequency modulation, for sure more then a gimick but not on Waldorf level.
 
Question 3: I've read through the tips and tricks page (and am watching Caley Kelleys vids, which were what sort of sold me on the workflow to begin with), but do you have any further words of wisdom for me as I approach this synth?
When tweaking the sound use Chords or more then one note it really shines with more then one voice.

Question 4: Is it possible to sync the envelope repeats to MIDI clock (like you can with the Sub 37)? Any tips for keeping these in sync if not?
Envelopes are not syncable but you got 4 LFO to sync.

Hope this helps to shorten the time until arrival,

Martin


LPF83

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 07:35:34 AM »
As a relatively new owner of a P12 module, I'm not yet qualified to go into depth on some of your questions, but I can tell you that "warm" is not really the trait that comes to mind with the P12, although it CAN sound quite warm (and there are ways to warm up the sound if that's not enough).   By and large, your Rev2 will sound warmer by default.

However, don't be surprised if you fall in love with the sound of the P12 anyway, because analog filters have an impact on harmonics that produces a lot of the characteristics that are usually described as warmth.

Thanks for this - I will summarize by saying that I am certain that we have different definitions of warm, but that might be true for most folks! I mean, I find classic FM synths without any filters to be capable of warmth, it's all in the programming. And no, I don't expect the P12 to be warm without trying, but neither do I expect it to be anything specific without trying. :)

I'm a little surprised at the radio silence on this forum though - I thought the P12 was a hidden favourite and that I'd have a lot of people responding to help me appreciate this beastie.

Yes, FM synths are certainly capable of the definition of warmth I've used here, and I would categorize the P12's "default warmth" as being somewhere in between virtual analog and FM.  It sounds like neither one unless programmed to do so, in which case it can.  It can also sound similar to the Rev2 for many types of sounds -- one important differentiator is that the Rev2 has more FX choices.  The four delay lines on the P12 are unique and can be used to give chorus and reverb-like characteristics to the sound.  I sometimes color the sound using transformer plugins which can warm the signal substantially.

The relatively low number of responses in the thread is likely only because the P12 is a mature product in the line, thus doesn't have the momentum of lots of recent YT or other social media activity buzzing around it. 

Side note about the wavetables -- I don't find them gimmicky at all, they are a valuable tone shaping tool that I enjoy especially when creating experimental sounds (something the P12 excels at).
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

timboréale

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 08:10:31 AM »
I dont know your obvious cases but you can pick a center, left and right and morph between them, they are a very good source for Frequency modulation, for sure more then a gimick but not on Waldorf level.

Hi Martin3, thanks for chiming in. Good comments. Regarding the wavetables, my obvious cases were, yeah, pick wavetables and morph between them for oscillator base sounds, then do various subtractivey things from there. The idea of using them for the FM is good, can you elaborate (or provide some examples?) of using them for/with FM specifically?

It can also sound similar to the Rev2 for many types of sounds -- one important differentiator is that the Rev2 has more FX choices.  The four delay lines on the P12 are unique and can be used to give chorus and reverb-like characteristics to the sound.  I sometimes color the sound using transformer plugins which can warm the signal substantially.

Yeah, the lack of "effects" in specific is not an issue for me. I have plenty of outboard for that, and I often prefer to use a common reverb, so I don't really value 'verb as part of the patch. Delay is the main effect that I like having as part of the sound, and the P12's four lines are a huge value to me for this.

This reminds me, is there a ring-mod-like ability?

Side note about the wavetables -- I don't find them gimmicky at all, they are a valuable tone shaping tool that I enjoy especially when creating experimental sounds (something the P12 excels at).
I'd also love to hear some further elaboration on this too, if you don't mind!
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

LPF83

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 01:48:29 PM »
I dont know your obvious cases but you can pick a center, left and right and morph between them, they are a very good source for Frequency modulation, for sure more then a gimick but not on Waldorf level.

Hi Martin3, thanks for chiming in. Good comments. Regarding the wavetables, my obvious cases were, yeah, pick wavetables and morph between them for oscillator base sounds, then do various subtractivey things from there. The idea of using them for the FM is good, can you elaborate (or provide some examples?) of using them for/with FM specifically?

It can also sound similar to the Rev2 for many types of sounds -- one important differentiator is that the Rev2 has more FX choices.  The four delay lines on the P12 are unique and can be used to give chorus and reverb-like characteristics to the sound.  I sometimes color the sound using transformer plugins which can warm the signal substantially.

Yeah, the lack of "effects" in specific is not an issue for me. I have plenty of outboard for that, and I often prefer to use a common reverb, so I don't really value 'verb as part of the patch. Delay is the main effect that I like having as part of the sound, and the P12's four lines are a huge value to me for this.

This reminds me, is there a ring-mod-like ability?

Side note about the wavetables -- I don't find them gimmicky at all, they are a valuable tone shaping tool that I enjoy especially when creating experimental sounds (something the P12 excels at).
I'd also love to hear some further elaboration on this too, if you don't mind!

Unless it's a hidden feature (which is not unheard of with Dave's synths, just smack the side of a P6 or OB6 on spring reverb to see what I mean! :))...   The P12 doesn't feature ring modulation per se, but between FM (linear or exponential), AM and the wavetables and modulation possibilities, you'll have some fun, and there's a video here that might interest you:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnLejOuLkRE

About wave tables -- there aren't a lot of them but you have not only the shape mod to morph between the base waveform and the wavetable, but you can combine them with FM for a huge range of sounds.  4 oscillators but each can be a modulator and carrier at same time.

Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Toraiz AS-1, Moog SlimPhatty, Hydrasynth desktop, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2021, 10:46:01 AM »
Using the number of existing P12 waveforms factorial x 4 osc factorial x the number of possible settings on each wave form factorial makes for a big big number.   I have been able to make so many different wave shapes  of a certain shape I desired by using aid of an an oscilloscope.  Start w with a square or sine, then and adding or subtracting  one osc set to one of the digital shapes till the shape resembles something  you want.  After a while you learn what combonation you need to get to a tiny bell or a reed or whatever.  Its not as immediate as have a whole ton of canned wave shapes  at your disposal but its doable.  For example, make a sine with a sharp point on the side or a square bottom is all doable.   

 The lfo slow morphing between a few shapes is very nice and more useful to me that just cycling between waves in a table with abrupt shape change for example.

Studiodc: Ultimately, and obviously, the best thing you  can do is just play with it and read the entire P12 section of this forum too.  It's not a hard instrument to get started on.  But there's depth to it which allows for continued learning.
Sequential Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop,   Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

timboréale

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2021, 11:24:23 AM »
Great ideas from all three of you, thanks! I think I have some great places to start now. Neat idea to get custom waveshapes through that sort of deliberate combining - I am used to thinking more spectrally with the basic shapes and oscillator mixing, but this is a neat idea I hadn't really considered too.

I'm getting pretty excited about this synth.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2021, 03:43:36 PM »
Hi again,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGyPc8OY4QA and the videos from the series above "prophet sundays" gives you info.

you can check very old basic demos on my soundcloud. Eventually will make newer ones. Those Wavetable oscs dont have to be heard, you can frequency or amplitude modulate your wave with it. The flow is 4>3>2>1 so imagine one  rather basic wave audible at 1 and the WT Osc at Slot 2 phecking with the first. If he gets to freaky one could pick a simpler waveform on slot 3 to tame down the one on 2, or maybe from an octave above bring back harmonics.

In linear FM (i dont use that to much on the P12 but the exponential very often) often 2 modulators with sines are used to get things going, this can sometimes be simplified by using these advanced waveforms and their shaping.

Hope this helps,

Martin

edit: soundcloud link https://soundcloud.com/martin2-2/sets/prophet-12-basic-waveforms just fooling around :)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2021, 03:51:56 PM by martin3 »

timboréale

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2021, 04:00:53 PM »
Awesome, yeah I saw those videos (they are by @standingwave, yeah?) and they inspired me a lot.

Nice demos of the flexibility of the basic waves in your soundcloud, thanks!

So the synth just arrived, and I was really bummed to find out that it was a rental unit and a floor model and it was sold as new, it has heavy wear on the knobs (the black colour on the top is worn to a green or copper colour on many of them!), some pots are clearly worked harder than others, and the keybed is really uneven. The store was really contrite and offered me a modest rebate and extended warranty to cover any hidden or unexpected damage, so I decided to keep it but it was definitely an unpleasant experience. I'm hoping my time sound designing on it goes better, and I'll probably take it in for keybed service if it's more than a simple cleaning and lubrication job. The velocity on a few keys is REALLY uneven compared to the others (I can play pianissimo on most, but these keys drop out entirely around mezzoforte, and one doesn't return to the top of the stroke quickly, as if it were sticky or something).

I'm going to try out the FM suggestions this evening, in fact.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Mr Kay

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2021, 04:50:13 AM »
For me the strong point of the P12 is its osc section :)

And it's a very versatile synths, It replaced in my rig a Korg MS 2000, a Nord 2X and I sold the Waldorf Streichfett I bought after since the P12 was able to make bigger strings  :)

Here's a collection of sounds
https://soundcloud.com/thedisease/sets/synth-sounds

timboréale

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2021, 06:12:29 AM »
Hi Mr. Kay,

That's quite a statement - I definitely don't see myself giving up my (two) Nord Leads for the P12 - the 4x multitimbrality and general usefulness is such a big aid in my studio workflow. But the P12 brings a new level of complexity to the sounds I can make, and I prefer it's workflow to that on my Rev2. I expect the Rev2 to become the "classic Prophet" in the rig, covering more of the classic vintage sounds while the P12 will probably get up close and personal with the Nord Lead 3. It has a more direct sound in comparison to the supremely glossy NL3 palette - both of which I love in equal but different measure.

Of course, I'm now waiting to find out what the support and replacement process will be for my audio board first... so sad to see my P12 just laying against the wall with a pout on it's face in the meantime...
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Mr Kay

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Re: Prophet 12 synthesis approach - any different from Rev2?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2021, 11:19:53 AM »
'tried the NL3 a long time ago, one of the best UI ever made, but I prefered the rawer sound of the 2X at the time.

And the Nord which impressed me the most was the Modular G2X, too bad an editor was needed to fully use it...

But of the machines of those years, for me, the closest machine in the spirit of the P'12, except of course the PEK, was the Waldorf Q ;)