The Official Sequential/DSI Forum

First week's impressions the Prophet 5

CPN37

First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« on: March 15, 2021, 06:22:08 AM »
Not sure this is the place to write this but I wanted to share how happy I am with the Prophet 5 having been playing around with it for a week now- what an amazing synth!

I mean you all know this already but to go from more recent home studio sized keyboard interfaces with tiny fiddly knobs etc to the feel and size of the Prophet 5 - it just feels so different already and kind of begs to be played in a way that the others don't. A bit naff to say but it feels like you're sat at the dashboard of a Jag ;D

Also though, I am really impressed by the sound - I have a Pro~One, and also more recently bought a REV2, and whilst I was happy with the REV2 there was something about the sound that didn't match the Pro~One. The Prophet 5 makes up for that - it just feels and sounds, well, "proper". Like I don't need to hark back to the glory days of the 70's-80's synths. It sounds huge.

Been really enjoying setting the voice allocation to Round Robin, in Poly Unison mode with the Vintage knob all the way round to Rev 1 - it sounds so alive! Well, kind of drunk too but hey!

Anyway I realise this is a bit of a gushy post but thanks to Dave and all at Sequential - this is such an amazing instrument and like I say, it just begs to be played. I sort of feel like its a game changer in a way - odd for something from 1978 to be a game changer in 2021 - but it's like "Ahhhh, I remember how synths were meant to sound/look/feel!", that kinda thing. I guess everything does have it's place, eg. its gonna be quite a job to haul this to gigs, but yeah - this is a total joy, and right now I'm thinking it's beaten the Pro~One to being my favourite synth.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2021, 06:25:39 AM by CPN37 »
Sequential Prophet 5 Rev4, Sequential Circuits Pro One, Sequential Prophet Rev2-8, ARP Pro Soloist, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland Juno 60

Re: First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2021, 09:56:30 AM »
Not sure this is the place to write this but I wanted to share how happy I am with the Prophet 5 having been playing around with it for a week now- what an amazing synth!

I mean you all know this already but to go from more recent home studio sized keyboard interfaces with tiny fiddly knobs etc to the feel and size of the Prophet 5 - it just feels so different already and kind of begs to be played in a way that the others don't. A bit naff to say but it feels like you're sat at the dashboard of a Jag ;D

Also though, I am really impressed by the sound - I have a Pro~One, and also more recently bought a REV2, and whilst I was happy with the REV2 there was something about the sound that didn't match the Pro~One. The Prophet 5 makes up for that - it just feels and sounds, well, "proper". Like I don't need to hark back to the glory days of the 70's-80's synths. It sounds huge.

Been really enjoying setting the voice allocation to Round Robin, in Poly Unison mode with the Vintage knob all the way round to Rev 1 - it sounds so alive! Well, kind of drunk too but hey!

Anyway I realise this is a bit of a gushy post but thanks to Dave and all at Sequential - this is such an amazing instrument and like I say, it just begs to be played. I sort of feel like its a game changer in a way - odd for something from 1978 to be a game changer in 2021 - but it's like "Ahhhh, I remember how synths were meant to sound/look/feel!", that kinda thing. I guess everything does have it's place, eg. its gonna be quite a job to haul this to gigs, but yeah - this is a total joy, and right now I'm thinking it's beaten the Pro~One to being my favourite synth.

I'm very pleased for you, and not just because it gives me another chance to rant about the P5. Yeah, it really is a very special synth, it does the THING we all want it to do. It sounds, feels and looks amazing. The Pro One was my first synth, and I'll always love it. I think of it as a singing sibling to the P5, all Split Enz or Bee Gees in the way their tones work together. I'm guessing it's going to sit quite well with your other gear.

One funny note from my weeks with the rev 4 - I expected the Vintage knob to be essential for making the new 5 sound, well, "old." I was imagining the super-tight oscs of the (pre-Vintage) Prophet 6 etc. Turns out, I'll as often have Vintage on the 5 set to 4. Even at its tightest and cleanest, it sounds like a Prophet 5 because it IS a Prophet 5.

In what keeps turning out to be an ironic circle of circles, I've just discovered the music of the band New Musik. I love the production and am impressed at how contemporary (uh, in a retro hipster way) it sounds. The Prophet 5 was at the heart of their records, turns out. I'd never knock anyone for their appreciation for something like the DSI Rev2, but for me, it's not about a vast number of options and routings, it's just about basic, gorgeous sound. The Prophet 5, by certain standards, has a "simple" sound, but its one of the loveliest sounds I've ever heard.

Congrats again on your first week! Onward! 

CPN37

Re: First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2021, 10:47:00 AM »
I'm very pleased for you, and not just because it gives me another chance to rant about the P5. Yeah, it really is a very special synth, it does the THING we all want it to do. It sounds, feels and looks amazing. The Pro One was my first synth, and I'll always love it. I think of it as a singing sibling to the P5, all Split Enz or Bee Gees in the way their tones work together. I'm guessing it's going to sit quite well with your other gear.

One funny note from my weeks with the rev 4 - I expected the Vintage knob to be essential for making the new 5 sound, well, "old." I was imagining the super-tight oscs of the (pre-Vintage) Prophet 6 etc. Turns out, I'll as often have Vintage on the 5 set to 4. Even at its tightest and cleanest, it sounds like a Prophet 5 because it IS a Prophet 5.

In what keeps turning out to be an ironic circle of circles, I've just discovered the music of the band New Musik. I love the production and am impressed at how contemporary (uh, in a retro hipster way) it sounds. The Prophet 5 was at the heart of their records, turns out. I'd never knock anyone for their appreciation for something like the DSI Rev2, but for me, it's not about a vast number of options and routings, it's just about basic, gorgeous sound. The Prophet 5, by certain standards, has a "simple" sound, but its one of the loveliest sounds I've ever heard.

Congrats again on your first week! Onward!

Thanks - I wasn't familiar with New Musik but just checked out the vid for Living By Numbers and sure enough there's their Prophet 5. Been trying a bit of Ghosts by Japan on the Prophet, it's all over their Tin Drum album. Well it's all over everything by everyone from about 78-84 really!

Yeah I've noticed that too about the Vintage knob, sometimes '4' just works best for whatever sound. It's really cool to play a synth where you don't really have to work to make it sound good - it just sounds good by default  :D But yeah - finding it *very* useful to have the ability to knock out the 'modern day perfection' from the sound - it's the imperfections in the tuning/envelopes/filter that give the sound life, much like in any other medium.
Sequential Prophet 5 Rev4, Sequential Circuits Pro One, Sequential Prophet Rev2-8, ARP Pro Soloist, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland Juno 60

Re: First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2021, 07:33:48 PM »
right now I'm thinking it's beaten the Pro~One to being my favourite synth.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK, the Pro One wasn't *just* a mono voice of the original P5.  I don't know the differences, but I would assume the Pro One had envelopes or other modulators with parameters tuned slightly different, more befitting to bass and lead patches.

That said, do you feel you can get the same sounds from the P5v4 that you can the Pro One?  I ask because I have wanted a Pro One forever, and now that the P5v4 is out, I'm wondering if it's a suitable replacement, or if they're both necessary in their own way?

CPN37

Re: First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2021, 01:40:04 AM »
Correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK, the Pro One wasn't *just* a mono voice of the original P5.  I don't know the differences, but I would assume the Pro One had envelopes or other modulators with parameters tuned slightly different, more befitting to bass and lead patches.

That said, do you feel you can get the same sounds from the P5v4 that you can the Pro One?  I ask because I have wanted a Pro One forever, and now that the P5v4 is out, I'm wondering if it's a suitable replacement, or if they're both necessary in their own way?


Yes, there are some differences between the Pro~One and the Prophet 5, I'll try and list them all here:

- Pro~One Modulation and Prophet 5 Poly-Mod are the same except with the Pro~One you have the additional destinations of Osc B Freq and Osc B PW. So technically you can do a little more modulation but for me this has been no biggie, I can still do the sort of modulation with Prophet 5 Poly-Mod that I would on the Pro~One. The LFO routings are the same (and with the Prophet 5 Rev 4 you get the 'Initial Amount' of LFO knob - with the old Prophet 5s, LFO was only useable with the Modulation wheel engaged, so in that respect this Rev 4 Prophet 5 is more like the Pro~One).

- The Pro~One has a Sequencer, Arpeggiator, and Repeat mode. This is more of a crucial difference for me, because having a monophonic Pro~One for so many years made me find ways of 'cheating' it's monophony by eg. holding octaves in Arpeggiator mode with a fast rate - so you can end up playing bass and melodies where it starts to sound a little like the parts are sounding at the same time. Prophet 5 has no Sequencer or Arpeggiator so you can't do this (but then it's polyphonic so you don't 'need' to - however I wrote lots of songs for bands of mine on the Pro~One using this technique, and I wouldn't be able to play them in the same way on the Prophet 5).

- the Pro~One has handy Osc Octave knobs. Not crucial at all though (and obviously doesn't affect the sound!)

- also the Pro~One Osc A & B Freq knobs are constant whereas the Prophet 5's are stepped - meaning you can be more hands on live with the Pro~One and mess about with the Osc Freq as part of the sound without it stepping. (But on the other hand it's way easier to stay in tune with the Prophet 5 if that's important to you)

- the Glide on the Pro~One has an Auto setting as well as Normal - so you can set Glide to only happen when you play legato - a useful function but not crucial for me. Prophet 5 works in the equivalent of 'Normal' mode.

- you mentioned the Envelopes - the Prophet 5 has software envelopes I believe. I should do a comparison to test the differences but so far I haven't noticed any. But I don't think there are any deliberate 'features' on the Pro~One of the sort you mention re. bass and lead patches.

A couple of other things to note:

- I noticed last night that the maximum LFO Rate on the Prophet 5 is slightly faster than on the Pro~One, so that's definitely 'better'!

- With the old Prophets Rev 1-3, Unison mode meant that each note you played had all 5 voices stacked, a much thicker sound than the Pro~One and not really the same. Whereas with the Prophet 5 Rev 4 you can specify how many voices are used for Unison, and also control how detuned they are - so you can set it to just 1 voice like the Pro~One- something that makes the new Rev 4 way more like the Pro~One.

One very obvious advantage with the Prophet 5 is that in addition to it being a great mono synth that does almost everything the Pro~One can do, it is also polyphonic! Also very obviously, you get patch memory too of course, the Pro~One has none so in a live situation you probably won't have time to programme patches to the same degree of detail as with those you can just recall immediately on the Prophet 5. And I have to say the build quality is amazing so it is a joy to play, as my gushy post above points out  ;D

Comparing the sound like for like and the Prophet 5 does very well - they are very similar and the Prophet 5 does way better than my Prophet REV2 (the one from 2018) does with its DCOs and different filter etc. I would say my Pro One is slightly noisier but maybe that comes with age - it is 40 years old after all!

But yeah remember that with the Rev 4 Prophet 5 you are actually getting a Prophet that is *more* like the Pro~One than earlier versions - you can route LFO direct, and also have 1 voice Unison.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 02:28:26 AM by CPN37 »
Sequential Prophet 5 Rev4, Sequential Circuits Pro One, Sequential Prophet Rev2-8, ARP Pro Soloist, Roland Jupiter 4, Roland Juno 60

LPF83

  • ***
  • 457
Re: First week's impressions the Prophet 5
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2021, 04:49:43 AM »
Comparing the sound like for like and the Prophet 5 does very well - they are very similar and the Prophet 5 does way better than my Prophet REV2 (the one from 2018) does with its DCOs and different filter etc. I would say my Pro One is slightly noisier but maybe that comes with age - it is 40 years old after all!

Many would say there is a lot of overlap between the P5/10, the P6, and the OB-6 and if you have one you don't need the other, etc.  but the few times I've invested time to do proper patch-matching exercises, I am staggered at how different all three of these synths really are.  To my ears, the videos where P6 and P10 sound similar are cherry-picked exercises that are designed for YT novelty effect and not typical of real-world sound design.

Here's a relatively simple test I found very revealing:  From init patch, use only OSC1 on each synth, setting it to square wave and as close to the same shape/timbre as possible.   Now use poly mod to modulate pulse width of A using the filter envelope.  To keep things simple, leave decay, sustain and release on the filter env to 0, but set a slow attack.   Match cutoff/resonance/envelope amount on each synth to be as close as possible.   As if the initial differences aren't mind-blowing enough, now vary the ranges of each.

It really reveals the individual personality of each synth (yet doesn't even begin to document the full spectrum of differences).  For example, the OB-6 immediately puts its distinguishing fizz and fingerprint on the sound.  The P6 immediately sounds more versatile across the range of knob tweaks than the OB6, a bit modern compared to the P10, and even (compared to the P10) a bit grittier without some adjustments.  The P10 sounds (to my ears) overall more capable and appealing than the others, as if it has a more vast palette of tonal possibilities (especially when experimenting with the two filter types)... Smoother, and with a more prominent nod to the golden age of analog.  It's subjective to be sure, but the P10 sounds "next level" compared to the others in this particular test.

I haven't really compared the Rev2 to the others lately, because I consider it an entirely different animal.  It has that "Prophet sound", yet accomplishes it differently than the above and offers modulation paradise.

I've never owned a Pro-One, but I can attest the P5/10 is a bass monster.  I suspect most will use the Rev3 filter setting for bass sounds on the P5/10, but having the Rev1/2 option is definitely welcome and opens more possibilities.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 04:52:01 AM by LPF83 »
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Moog SlimPhatty, 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.