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DSI at NAMM 2017

DSI at NAMM 2017
« on: November 05, 2016, 05:25:49 PM »
What do you think and what do you know?  Any inside information?  Let's keep the speculation and educated guesses limited to DSI, so as not to go berserk with all the other possibilities.   

I'm wondering if another flagship is in the making.  In spite of the OB-6's price, the Prophet 12 is clearly still king at DSI.  I'm hoping it's time for that to change, with a flagship of a more analog flavor.  Perhaps it will be a replacement for the Prophet '08?  :'(
« Last Edit: November 05, 2016, 05:33:05 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2016, 10:45:25 PM »
What do you think and what do you know?  I'm hoping it's time for that to change, with a flagship of a more analog flavor. 

You don't think the Prophet 12 is analog flavor?  I haven't played one yet, only the 6 and 8 (and 5 and 10, ha), but my understanding is the 12 is a sound design dream which covers so many possibilities both analog and digital.  Do you feel it leans more to the digital side?  My sense is that ironically the PolyEvolver and Prophet 12 share a certain DNA, despite being the first/recent flagships.  I have to wonder if Dave would ever abandon digital entirely in a modern flagship.

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2016, 11:19:49 PM »
That's certainly the impression I get from listening to very many demos and following the discussions.  It's a hybrid instrument with analog capabilities.  It is a sound designer's dream, but a Prophet '08 it is not.
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
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Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2016, 12:44:51 AM »
What do you think and what do you know?  I'm hoping it's time for that to change, with a flagship of a more analog flavor. 

You don't think the Prophet 12 is analog flavor?  I haven't played one yet, only the 6 and 8 (and 5 and 10, ha), but my understanding is the 12 is a sound design dream which covers so many possibilities both analog and digital.  Do you feel it leans more to the digital side?  My sense is that ironically the PolyEvolver and Prophet 12 share a certain DNA, despite being the first/recent flagships.  I have to wonder if Dave would ever abandon digital entirely in a modern flagship.

Or - abandon analogue entirely (c.f. the DSM03 filter) in an all-digital instrument with emulated filters, e.g., a Pro-3 / ?? platform.

Another way this might happen could be a new voice architecture, implemented as an all-digital / multitimbral polysynth or drum module (!), maybe along the lines of a Buchla-esque approach, which might negate the concerns regarding analogue filters....
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2016, 02:15:28 AM »
Or - abandon analogue entirely (c.f. the DSM03 filter) in an all-digital instrument with emulated filters, e.g., a Pro-3 / ?? platform.

That is off the table, or as Robot Heart said it the DSM03 Filter thread: "Nothing like that is on the horizon".
http://forum.davesmithinstruments.com/index.php/topic,536.0.html

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2016, 02:48:07 AM »
The Prophet 12 is only 3 and a half years old and it just received a major OS update this year. The Pro 2 is still awaiting another OS update, which has already been worked upon. So nothing is going to replace both synths in terms of their poly and mono synth flagship status. It's safe to say the same about the Prophet-6 and the OB-6. So I would expect a third engine that will co-exist on one level with the already existing hybrid and analog engines. Probably a hybrid too that offers an entirely different architecture compared to the Prophet 12/Pro 2.

The only synths I could see being discontinued in the foreseeable future are the Mopho x4 and the Prophet '08 module and keyboard. I'm not even too sure about whether the latter have to be retired too soon, but I would assume that the Mopho x4 may lose its appeal in the entry synth category due to the upcoming DeepMind 12 (they're not really comparable in the end, but you know how people are, and the price and all that).

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2016, 08:52:03 AM »
What do you think and what do you know?  I'm hoping it's time for that to change, with a flagship of a more analog flavor. 

You don't think the Prophet 12 is analog flavor?  I haven't played one yet, only the 6 and 8 (and 5 and 10, ha), but my understanding is the 12 is a sound design dream which covers so many possibilities both analog and digital.  Do you feel it leans more to the digital side?  My sense is that ironically the PolyEvolver and Prophet 12 share a certain DNA, despite being the first/recent flagships.  I have to wonder if Dave would ever abandon digital entirely in a modern flagship.

Or - abandon analogue entirely (c.f. the DSM03 filter) in an all-digital instrument with emulated filters, e.g., a Pro-3 / ?? platform.

Another way this might happen could be a new voice architecture, implemented as an all-digital / multitimbral polysynth or drum module (!), maybe along the lines of a Buchla-esque approach, which might negate the concerns regarding analogue filters....

Well honestly I hope they're going to go for something totally new, like the Evolvers were.  I mean they've already nailed the Prophets and OBs, and I feel like they've mined the past to the best extent possible given markets etc.  So unless he does more collabs with greying designers, they almost have to push into new territory.

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2016, 09:51:44 AM »
It's true.  In spite of all the Dave Smith instruments, the Evolver's still appear the most unique.
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

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dslsynth

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Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2016, 10:02:22 AM »
Yeah its time for something new. The vintage dream have now been manifested nicely with Prophet-6 and OB-6 so now its time to rattle the dice and throw something innovative.

Oh and lets flash our Spoiled By Evolver (TM) badges with utmost pride! ;)

Should I ever get any kind of inside knowledge I would keep my mouth closed about it until its announced. No need to help or inspire DSI's competitors. That said I would of cause love to be involved in making synthesizers seasoned to my own taste!
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cp -f $0 $HOME/.signature

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2016, 05:08:36 PM »
I didn't mean top secret classified information!  I meant material that may have been gleaned from other places or sources (including what DSI may have revealed) and is in the public domain, but hasn't yet been mentioned here.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2016, 06:21:51 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2016, 05:10:40 PM »
Well honestly I hope they're going to go for something totally new, like the Evolvers were.  I mean they've already nailed the Prophets and OBs, and I feel like they've mined the past to the best extent possible given markets etc.  So unless he does more collabs with greying designers, they almost have to push into new territory.

That's what I meant. So along the same line I really do think that it's likely going to be a new kind of flagship that won't replace anything but will open a new niche in DSI's catalog next to the Prophet 12/Pro 2 and the Prophet-6/OB-6.

With a pure analog engine and a general hybrid design with FM capabilities being covered already, I would guess that the front end has to make the main difference. I know that it's partially my own wishful thinking, but one thing for which there would still be some room is any type of synthesis that harks back to the Prophet VS and the Wavestation as well as the PPG.

As far as I know there has never been a combination of both, PPG-like wavetable synthesis and vector synthesis, so that could be a cool way to go without merely repeating a design. If you had a four oscillator machine with a selection of wavetables each through which you could scan individually and the morphing tools of vector synthesis, that would allow for endless evolving sounds. You'd basically end up with the same flexibility for each oscillator/wavetable as you would with morphing on a more global level. In terms of complex sounds, the possibilities would rise exponentially. With all the processor power and affordable memory available today, it shouldn't be a huge challenge to get that running.
It would be important to have four individual outputs, though, to take full advantage of the vector synthesis ingredient for mixing and recording purposes, or even quadrophonic setups.

Another element that hasn't been utilized yet by DSI is or are more complex envelopes that go beyond the traditional (D)ADSR principle and would also allow for forwards and backwards loops. That would expand the modulation sources significantly with new shapes that are not possible with casual envelopes or LFOs.

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2016, 05:13:33 PM »
I didn't mean top secret classified information!  I meant material that may have been gleaned from other places or sources (including what DSI may have revealed) and is the public domain, but hasn't yet been mentioned here.

No shots of single knobs or blurry parameter names have been spotted yet!   ;D

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2016, 06:26:05 PM »
I didn't mean top secret classified information!  I meant material that may have been gleaned from other places or sources (including what DSI may have revealed) and is the public domain, but hasn't yet been mentioned here.

No shots of single knobs or blurry parameter names have been spotted yet!   ;D

Or mysterious emails from Tracy or Chris that contain the name of the instrument.  No, we're a long ways away from those.
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2016, 06:30:35 PM »
Well honestly I hope they're going to go for something totally new, like the Evolvers were.  I mean they've already nailed the Prophets and OBs, and I feel like they've mined the past to the best extent possible given markets etc.  So unless he does more collabs with greying designers, they almost have to push into new territory.

That's what I meant. So along the same line I really do think that it's likely going to be a new kind of flagship that won't replace anything but will open a new niche in DSI's catalog next to the Prophet 12/Pro 2 and the Prophet-6/OB-6.

With a pure analog engine and a general hybrid design with FM capabilities being covered already, I would guess that the front end has to make the main difference. I know that it's partially my own wishful thinking, but one thing for which there would still be some room is any type of synthesis that harks back to the Prophet VS and the Wavestation as well as the PPG.

As far as I know there has never been a combination of both, PPG-like wavetable synthesis and vector synthesis, so that could be a cool way to go without merely repeating a design. If you had a four oscillator machine with a selection of wavetables each through which you could scan individually and the morphing tools of vector synthesis, that would allow for endless evolving sounds. You'd basically end up with the same flexibility for each oscillator/wavetable as you would with morphing on a more global level. In terms of complex sounds, the possibilities would rise exponentially. With all the processor power and affordable memory available today, it shouldn't be a huge challenge to get that running.
It would be important to have four individual outputs, though, to take full advantage of the vector synthesis ingredient for mixing and recording purposes, or even quadrophonic setups.

Another element that hasn't been utilized yet by DSI is or are more complex envelopes that go beyond the traditional (D)ADSR principle and would also allow for forwards and backwards loops. That would expand the modulation sources significantly with new shapes that are not possible with casual envelopes or LFOs.

What you've described here is definitely a flagship instrument that would surpass the Prophet 12. 

Another interesting question is, How big is DSI willing to go?  Are they willing to finally cross the $3,000 line?  It seems to me there is no choice, unless they intend to crank out one diminutive keybed after another.
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2016, 03:53:12 AM »
What you've described here is definitely a flagship instrument that would surpass the Prophet 12. 

Another interesting question is, How big is DSI willing to go?  Are they willing to finally cross the $3,000 line?  It seems to me there is no choice, unless they intend to crank out one diminutive keybed after another.

It wouldn't necessarily surpass the Prophet 12, it would just be a different instrument that provides completely different sounds. Its modulation matrix could easily be slimmer than those of the Prophet 12 and Pro 2, since you could already do a lot on the level of wavetable scanning and morphing. It would still do well if the modulation matrix would be similar to that of the Prophet '08 for example. You'd also need no slop, no feedback, no delays for that matter. It wouldn't have to be a jack of all trades, just be particular good at one type of synthesis.

As for the price, I don't know. They probably could cross the $3,000 mark, but the question is rather whether they'd wanna design an instrument that makes that necessary. What I already implied in the paragraph above is that DSI usually never went for an allrounder, but rather for instruments that are just good at what they do, because otherwise the amount of choices you'd end up with become a bit too overwhelming. Certain elements/modules of their instruments have reappeared over time, while other functionalities have only been included once. DSI never included everything that has ever been done in one instrument though, it even runs against the philosophy all of their instruments are built upon. Hence, I don't believe that we are ever going to see a modern take on the Evolver that is simply based on a reconfiguration of the Prophet 12, Pro 2, Prophet-6 and OB-6 in one package. You'd basically end up with a huge instrument around the $5,000 margin that wouldn't bring anything essentially new to the table except for the recombination alone.

I'm not sure what you mean by diminutive keyboards though.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 03:58:00 AM by Paul Dither »

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2016, 07:29:23 AM »
I'm not sure what you mean by diminutive keyboards though.

A touch of hyperbole/exaggeration for effect.  I meant, I dearly hope DSI never makes an instrument like you described - another complex large-scale "designer's dream" comparable to the Prophet 12, but with a mere four-octave keyboard.  I can fully appreciate instruments such as the Prophet-6 and Pro 2 with different keyboard lengths, as long as the five-octave keyboard remains the standard or norm for major instruments.  It has been perhaps nearly four years since DSI has produced a synthesizer of this size, and in that time a four-octave trend has emerged.  I hope it's little more than that - a trend.

From what I observe on the Internet, serious synthesists tend to have a substantial amount of equipment.  This often includes a variety of synthesizers of different sizes, each of which performs specific duties - this one for pads, that one for leads, this one for bass, etc.  That's one type of set up.  Another type of set up (mine) does not relegate certain duties to certain instruments, but uses each instrument for everything.  In other words, I don't want a instrument that functions primarily for bass and/or lead lines; I want only instruments that can do it all.  That's certainly the strength or the Prophet '08 and Poly Evolver.  And that requires a full-length keyboard.  The standard I try to maintain is that I'm able with each instrument to perform complete pieces of music, so that, if I had only one instrument, I would be in no way musically limited.  And for this, you definitely need that bottom or top octave.  Four octaves isn't nearly enough, even in spite of bass pedals.

The only exception I would make to this standard is in the case of a monophonic synthesizer, but here I have little choice.  And that's why the idea of a module controlled by a P'08 or PEK would be ideal.

I honestly do like having the choices of different keyboard lengths because it allows you to custom design your set up.  But personally, I would want no more than one short keyboard.  Everything else must be five octaves.  This standard is getting difficult to maintain, and it's one reason I'm still clinging to my older instruments.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 07:54:04 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2016, 07:53:29 AM »
A touch of hyperbole/exaggeration for effect.  I meant, I dearly hope DSI never makes an instrument like you described - another complex large-scale "designer's dream" comparable to the Prophet 12, but with a mere four-octave keyboard.  I can fully appreciate instruments such as the Prophet-6 and Pro 2 with different keyboard lengths, as long as the five-octave keyboard remains the standard or norm for major instruments.  It has been perhaps nearly four years since DSI has produced a synthesizer of this size, and in that time a four-octave trend has emerged.  I hope it's little more than that - a trend.

I'm positive that we are still going to see instruments with 61 keys in the future. However, one large market DSI products are aimed at - consciously or not - is EDM. Within that realm there's not an insignificant number of people that perform live and for reasons of practicability they prefer smaller seized instruments, just like everyone would, who's touring and can't afford a huge stage crew. I've been witnessing this trend even with regard to people who mainly work in their studio, just to safe space. Another thing that has run out of fashion for the majority of today's musicians and producers are rack mount devices.

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #17 on: November 07, 2016, 08:09:41 AM »
Right, which means people making my kind of music have few options other than to use equipment designed for an opposite type of music.  That's one reason that vintage instruments are so appealing - not at all for nostalgia's sake - but because they tend to be larger and simpler, with an emphasis placed on the fundamentals of synthesis.  There's no doubt about it that the instruments that would best serve my kind of music would be the Jupiter 8, Memory Moog, OB Xa, Andromeda A6, and so on.  How I wish the modern equivalents of such instruments were available today!  And again, that's why I'm still clinging to my P'08s and PEKs.  The choices of companies for us are few - DSI, Modal Electronics ($!!!), perhaps Moog and Oberheim for smaller instruments, and maybe a couple others.  I get a sense that things will only get worse for my type of music.

All things considered, DSI still seems like the best place to be for the right combination of instrument size, capability, and reasonable price.  And I suppose that's why I can't entirely shake the Prophet 12 from my imagination.  There are so few other options.  Basically, what I'd ideally like is a Prophet '08 with four oscillators.  Hence, my P'08 keyboard-module pair.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 09:14:05 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #18 on: November 07, 2016, 09:35:56 AM »
Right, which means people making my kind of music have few options other than to use equipment designed for an opposite type of music.  That's one reason that vintage instruments are so appealing - not at all for nostalgia's sake - but because they tend to be larger and simpler, with an emphasis placed on the fundamentals of synthesis.  There's no doubt about it that the instruments that would best serve my kind of music would be the Jupiter 8, Memory Moog, OB Xa, Andromeda A6, and so on.  How I wish the modern equivalents of such instruments were available today!  And again, that's why I'm still clinging to my P'08s and PEKs.  The choices of companies for us are few - DSI, Modal Electronics ($!!!), perhaps Moog, and maybe a couple others.  I get a sense that things will only get worse for my type of music.

But at the same time there's more than ever to choose from. Let's also not forget that most modern instruments cost considerably less than the flagships of the past, even if you choose premium models. And it's not that there's not much out there in the poly synth market: There's the Prophet 12, the Prophet-6 and OB-6 (modules if you'd like to use them with a bigger keyboard), the 002 and 008, the Solaris, or even the Kronos, which is nice if you wanna add FM or Physical Modeling for example. Specifically the first five are very focused in terms of design choices - certainly not complicated instruments.

Of course, the mono synth - and especially the affordable mono synth - market offers far more choices, since there's also more money to make. But even there you'd find a plethora of instruments that many wouldn't have thought of years ago: from the Sub 37, the Minimoog, the Pro 2, the Buchla Music Easel, the Odyssey (even full-sized as it seems), the TVS Pro, the single SEMs, the Boomstars, the Elektrons to the Dominion 1. And then there's still Eurorack, which opened a totally new market with hundreds of modules to choose from. The latter is not what you're looking for, but it's still part of a synth market that is bigger than ever before. And this doesn't even take into account all the alternative controllers, the iPad apps, etc. The point is, if you look at the whole picture, poly synths, or even only analog poly synths are just one little part of the current market. Add to that the fact that more and more people are abandoning traditional ways of playing - and I mean that in the most neutral sense - and that niche grows even smaller. And the casual players or session musicians tend to use rather generic machines, especially on the road. That's where you'll find all the Nords and Workstations together with mostly traditional players.

However, at least companies like DSI and Modal Electronics still offer considerably good instruments for the sort of hybrid purpose where synthesis and traditional playing meet.* And they may not even exist anymore if everybody would start to make analog or hybrid poly synths - especially the "big ones." Not sure if the release of the Behringer DeepMind 12 will change anything, but in terms of pure analog sound shaping tools it's rather basic and meant to be a synth for the masses in the first place.

I'm also not sure if you'd be entirely happy with actually owning a Jupiter 8, a Memory Moog, an OB Xa, or an Andromeda A6, as most of those need maintenance, which just adds to the overall cost. Plus: it's 20-30 years too late to pick those up for reasonable prices (minus the A6).


* I'm not so sure whether the combination of traditional playing/composing and synthesis has ever been mainstream or wide spread - amongst casual users that is (I'm not talking about film composers for example). After all, if you look closely, most of the players from the 1970s up to the early 1980s who played in classic rock bands where preset users as soon as they became available. The majority didn't necessarily embrace to dive into synthesis. If anything, most of them had goals in mind that led to the emulation of strings and flutes in the most naturalistic way possible. And when samplers came out, most of them where relieved.


PS: To close on a positive note for you: I got the impression that about 5 out of 10 reviewers were bemoaning the fact that the Prophet-6 and the OB-6 were missing the extra octave.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 09:45:29 AM by Paul Dither »

Re: DSI at NAMM 2017
« Reply #19 on: November 07, 2016, 10:07:11 AM »
I'm also not sure if you'd be entirely happy with actually owning a Jupiter 8, a Memory Moog, an OB Xa, or an Andromeda A6, as most of those need maintenance, which just adds to the overall cost. Plus: it's 20-30 years too late to pick those up for reasonable prices (minus the A6).

Oh no, it's out of the question.  I have no vintage instruments and I want no vintage instruments, for the reasons you mentioned.  As I wrote above, it would be their modern equivalents only that would interest me. 

Yes, it's true that there are far more synthesizers than ever available, of all shapes, sizes, capabilities, and prices.  But of the many you mentioned, most are useless to my purposes, even if they might be decent in limited ways.  What I would like is a larger selection of full-sized polyphonic synthesizers (keyboards and modules) in the $2,000-$3,000 range.  This instantly reduces the choices to just a few.  And that, for me, is the bulls-eye, where I could gradually build up massive instruments through the combining of keyboards and modules.  It's clearly an approach that interests very few synthesists, but it's the one and only approach that interests me. 

When I look at a Prophet-6, I sincerely think, "What a fabulous-sounding synthesizer.  It would make a fine instrument for either left-handed chords or right-handed solos, but that's all the use I could get out of it."  On one hand, I really want to like what's available, but then reality settles in and I have to admit there are so few instruments available that suit my needs.  I don't want to fall into the practice of buying instruments simply because they're new and affordable, when the end result will be the curtailing of compositional needs.  In other words, I don't want the instruments to dictate what I can write and play.  On this issue, size is everything.

If nothing of interest comes out of NAMM 2017, I'll probably pick up where I left off last summer when my car was wrecked, and buy in the spring another Prophet '08 Module.  Considering everything currently available, a three-piece P'08 is easily the instrument of greatest interest.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 11:28:36 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
"Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"

- Henry David Thoreau

The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.com