The Official Sequential/DSI Forum

Prospective buyer questions - Keybed

Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« on: February 13, 2021, 03:39:21 AM »
Hi all,
I am considering buying a P12 which would be my first Sequential/DSI
I'm looking for a knobby 5 octaves Poly Analog or Hybrid as I have mostly VAs now like Virus and Nord and Z1 (bar a Matrix 1000).
I've considered the Rev 2 and P12 but somehow the P12 attracts me more in terms of look and design (wheels on left, larger screen, better look overall which is important to me) even though in some parts it is less specified than the Rev 2 (no sequencer, less effects etc.)
However, reading various posts I am a bit concerned about the quality if the keybed which seems substandard...
How many people have had problems with theirs, and since it since Chinese made rather than Fatar, how is it to source parts? Is it not a bit of a time bomb? I replaced some keys no problems on my 20 y/o Z1 but will it be the same for the P12?
Also, in the UK I can buy a brand new Rev2 8voice for less than a second hand P12 so should that not be the safest option?

Thanks

LPF83

  • ***
  • 713
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2021, 04:26:04 AM »
Hi all,
I am considering buying a P12 which would be my first Sequential/DSI
I'm looking for a knobby 5 octaves Poly Analog or Hybrid as I have mostly VAs now like Virus and Nord and Z1 (bar a Matrix 1000).
I've considered the Rev 2 and P12 but somehow the P12 attracts me more in terms of look and design (wheels on left, larger screen, better look overall which is important to me) even though in some parts it is less specified than the Rev 2 (no sequencer, less effects etc.)
However, reading various posts I am a bit concerned about the quality if the keybed which seems substandard...
How many people have had problems with theirs, and since it since Chinese made rather than Fatar, how is it to source parts? Is it not a bit of a time bomb? I replaced some keys no problems on my 20 y/o Z1 but will it be the same for the P12?
Also, in the UK I can buy a brand new Rev2 8voice for less than a second hand P12 so should that not be the safest option?

Thanks

Since you're in the shopping stage and haven't committed to anything yet, I would suggest also considering a P12 desktop module paired with a MIDI controller of your choosing.  I have no knowledge of the quality of the P12 keyboard, but the module is fantastic, cheaper than a used P12, the front panel is WAY more immediate than the quantity of knobs would lead you to believe, without the keyboard there is far less than can ever go wrong, and you will really appreciate how little space it uses in your studio setup.
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: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2021, 04:33:16 AM »
Thanks, yes a module is a possibiliy.
I was more considering investing in a whole instrument that would be my main poly though.
I love my Nord Lead 2 for that as it is integrated, very immediate, well built.
The main shortcomings is the 4 octaves, the short keys and limited modulation and no effects.
That's why I thought I'd treat myself to a nice poly that would last me a few years :-)
I guess the second nearest thing (besides the Rev 2) would be a Novation Summit (i.e 5 octaves, 3 osc, Hybrid/analog filter, good voice count) but somehow I don't care much for its looks and... its not a Prophet! 😂
« Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 04:50:42 AM by LarsUk »

LPF83

  • ***
  • 713
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2021, 05:03:37 AM »
Thanks, yes a module is a possibiliy.
I was more considering investing in a whole instrument that would be my main poly though.
I love my Nord Lead 2 for that as it is integrated, very immediate, well built.
The main shortcomings is the 4 octaves, the short keys and limited modulation and no effects.
That's why I thought I'd treat myself to a nice poly that would last me a few years :-)
I guess the second nearest thing (besides the Rev 2) would be a Novation Summit (i.e 5 octaves, 3 osc, Hybrid/analog filter, good voice count) but somehow I don't care much for its looks and... its not a Prophet! 😂

I can't speak for how the P12 is in this regard, but my general impression is that Dave designs his keyboard instruments to be played as they are rather than a controller for something else.  I have 4 Sequential keyboards and I use them only to control their own sound and I'm quite happy, but I see a lot of others with wish list items or complaints about them as master controllers.  For general control over modules and plugins I'm not sure I can ever get away from a dedicated 61 key midi controller. 
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: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2021, 05:48:02 AM »
Agree. I don't intend to use it as a controller.
My point is that there is a sort of cohesiveness to a keyboard synth that I think you don't get with a module equivalent.
I have various modules and is it practical from a space saving point of view but I don't get the same enjoyment than with my Nord Lead keyboard for instance. I guess (and its just my point of view) that a module never quite feels like an instrument. In that particular instance I want to treat myself to a nice instrument that will last me years :-)

timboréale

  • **
  • 168
  • MIDI nerd
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2021, 06:48:58 AM »
So the first question is what you plan to use the synth for. I would say the P12 is a programmer's synth - many but narrower sweet spots for traditional sounds but massive total sonic possibility and an incredibly fast workflow - they feel Nord-like to program. The P'08 and Rev 2 are much more of a player's synth - fatter sweet spots for traditional sounds, much more narrow sonic capabilities, less convenient workflow. Commensurately, the Rev 2 (I cannot speak for the P'08) has a very nice keybed, almost superlatively nice for a synth. The P12 has an "adequate" keybed, which is perfectly fine and works well - unless it doesn't, as the one I got from a floor model indicated. However, Sequential have repaired that problem (and a few others) and I hope to be reporting back in a month or two when the synth is fully back in my hands as to whether that's been solved correctly or not. They definitely do still support those units just fine. The P12 keybed to me feels a lot like those in Moogs, faster but more plasticky. It's nicer than in the low- and mid-market MIDI controllers, but not as nice as a Fatar. I really can't say if it's "nice enough" for you, because the important qualities vary from player to player. It's playable, but not thrilling to play, if that makes any sense. For that matter, I don't like the keybed in my Nord Lead A1 for similar reasons, and that's a Fatar.

But would I get a Rev2 over a P12 for the keybed? Not remotely - they're not close to similar in synthesis capability.

IMO, choose the synth you want for the sound engine and workflow. If you'll be doing largely classic synthesis with a focus on analogue-like sounds and would rather play than program, the Rev2 is likely a more satisfying long term choice. If you're interested in deep sound design or need to go into the more textural aspects of timbre and you don't play traditional styles like jazz or Chopin or blues very much, the P12 might be in your wheelhouse. The keyboards on both are perfectly playable for the sorts of music the synth engines are more suited to, and you'll get comparatively greater frustration trying to make either of them what they're not.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

LPF83

  • ***
  • 713
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2021, 07:35:02 AM »
Agree. I don't intend to use it as a controller.
My point is that there is a sort of cohesiveness to a keyboard synth that I think you don't get with a module equivalent.
I have various modules and is it practical from a space saving point of view but I don't get the same enjoyment than with my Nord Lead keyboard for instance. I guess (and its just my point of view) that a module never quite feels like an instrument. In that particular instance I want to treat myself to a nice instrument that will last me years :-)

I definitely agree with your comments here re: cohesiveness and keyboard, and also with the comments timboréale has made in the followup.

There are other things about your criteria (such as concerns about longevity/duration) that make me think that a used P12 might be a risky purchase for your particular need, simply because with used gear you never know when you might be taking over someone else's problem.

As has been noted, the sound of that keyboard is paramount, and the P12 has a very different (digital) sound than a Rev2 for example, and my reason for buying a P12 desktop was that I was specifically searching for a colder, digital sound with lots of design possibilities because my warm analog needs.  Also FX are not what I would call a strong suit of either the P12 or Rev2.  Yes you have 4 delay lines on the P12 which opens the door for some fun possibilities but it's nothing like good FX pedals or plug-ins added to the output.

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: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2021, 07:52:36 AM »
I am not an analog purist and am looking for a synth that will invite sonic exploration.
I remember being impressed by the P12 when I tried one last year in a shop, both by the sound but also the workflow (the large clear screen, all the controls, pitch/mod wheel on the left, the wood enclosure etc).
I did ask on another FB forum and got same feedback.."Great synth, I had to change some keys..." 🙄
So Rev2  would probably be the safest bet (and cheaper brand new with 3 years warranty than a used P12!)... but somehow I'm less attracted to it...
I wrote to DSI support top ask if they still support the P12 keybed in case of issues. I'll see what they say.

timboréale

  • **
  • 168
  • MIDI nerd
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2021, 08:01:46 AM »
I am not an analog purist and am looking for a synth that will invite sonic exploration.
I remember being impressed by the P12 when I tried one last year in a shop, both by the sound but also the workflow (the large clear screen, all the controls, pitch/mod wheel on the left, the wood enclosure etc).
I did ask on another FB forum and got same feedback.."Great synth, I had to change some keys..." 🙄
So Rev2  would probably be the safest bet (and cheaper brand new with 3 years warranty than a used P12!)... but somehow I'm less attracted to it...

The easy answer is: buy both! ;) I see them as the sweet spot of Sequential's range, best bang for the buck. Their other synths are nicer in some aspects to be sure, but they're less flexible and more expensive too.

I wrote to DSI support top ask if they still support the P12 keybed in case of issues. I'll see what they say.

They do, mine is under service now as I wrote above.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2021, 06:09:22 AM »
The Rev2 keybed is definitely superior to that on the P12, but I’ve never had issues with it actually working, nor have a few friends who also have one. 

The P12 is by far my favourite synth I’ve ever owned, and I’ve had quite a lot. 

It really comes down to what you’re after in terms of sonics, but I wouldn’t discount the P12 due to its keybed personally.

It is however a synth for programming and does not have the same easy to find sweet spot as something like the P6/OB6 and to a lessor extent (yet still above the P12) the Rev2. But for massive sonic possibilities the P12 is just a dream for me.  I will never ever sell it...ever. 

timboréale

  • **
  • 168
  • MIDI nerd
Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2021, 08:56:34 AM »
I'm going to amend my previous post after having received my replacement keybed for the P12 - it's terrible. It's the worst action I've ever played on any keyboard. Velocity is ridiculously inconsistent, some notes exhibit occasional latency with no apparent provocation (e.g. you press the key and you hear the sound audibly some ms later) - and all of this is just random enough to make it impossible to pin down. The keybed feels horridly inconsistent, overall. I'd prefer the cheapest Arturia to this - at least those have fairly consistent velocity! At this point I don't know if it's the keybed (this is a complete replacement, better than the actually broken/non responsive original, but ... that's not saying much) or the P12's key scanning routine, or if I just got a dud replacement, or what.
Rev2-16, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Nords, etc...

Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2021, 12:00:21 PM »
The Prophet 12 is IMO one of the best synths ever made, but it has a poor, below average keybed which is perfunctory at best.
It's a HUGE error on DSI's part to have made such a wonderful synth but to have used such a low quality keyboard for it.
From a programming and sonic point of view the P12 keyboard is great, from a playing point of view it's..well...adequate at best.
Such a shame as the touch control strips are fantastic and really add another dimension, so had they used a better quality keybed it would have been an awesome instrument in every regard.
Don't get me wrong, it's still a playable synth, but its un rewarding. To give an analogy it's like driving a modern day Rolls Royce with a steering wheel from a 1970's Mini - one part does not match the quality rest of the components.:(

Re: Prospective buyer questions - Keybed
« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2021, 01:36:18 AM »
My Prophet 12 keyboard was really terrible. The velocity and aftertouch were useless.
Sent it back, bought a P12 module and I was really impressed how easy it was to program the module!