Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

The Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-12 Analogue Synthesizer

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Lux Seeker
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Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Lux Seeker » Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:46 pm

I'm new to this forum. I am an unapologetic synthaholic. If I am going to be addicted to anything I'm glad it's music and coffee. Neither can hurt me :D I currently own a Moog Voyager, Nord Lead 4 and a Jupiter 80. I have a number of soft synths and IOS synths. As I will be coming upon a bit of cash in the future I'm considering a Prophet 12. I have played one and have a friend who has one.

First, let me say that I don't believe in the idea that one synth is better than another. They all have there own character. When people as ask me what synth is best I tell them the one that works best for them. But it also depends on what they own. I think of synthesis in terms of a very big circle containing all of the sounds that synths can make. So if I consider a synth it's because it fills in part of that circle. Naturally there is overlap.

Now my Voyager sounds great. It is also very limited. I find it useful to layer with other synths but I'm keeping it because I'm waiting to see that now since Moog booted it from their product line if it will gain value. Time will tell.

I love my Lead 4 and in many ways is a go to synth. It sounds amazing but I consider it to be a modern day MiniMoog. Everything is there without any menu diving. I rarely go into the system menu for anything. But, it has a limited range.

I just got my Jupiter 80. Instant joy :P Not only can it emulate a lot of vintage synths but it can realistically mimic performance characteristics of many acoustic instruments. It's easy to program and change orchestration in real time. It's layered to the hilt. It's more like 10 synths stacked on one another. That not an exaggeration.

Ok, that said, sorry for being verbose, why do I want another synth. The answer is to cover the rest of the circle. I want a synth I can program for sound design. I want food for soft synths (Absynth primarily), drones, sequences and cinematic/experimental elements for my songs (not lead or pads).

Now I come to my big question. I hear about how much the P12 can do. I have read most of the manual a few times, watched demos and listened to examples as well as played one. But the demos stink. I remember first watching them as thinking really. For all the hype and capabilities. So I began to wonder if it's a matter of people not having enough experience to use one. So, my question is can this synth fill in what's missing in my rig or should I look elsewhere? Is there a reason why there does not seem to be a lot of good music from this synth? On paper I love the design but the practical application seems lacking. Why?

oldgearguy
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by oldgearguy » Tue Dec 29, 2015 9:38 pm

IMHO, the wonderful UI, Mod Matrix, 2 extra (repeating) envelopes, all the LFOs and delays and the fact you can stack/layer 2 patches means you can get serious about sound design and yet not get lost in the patch.

When you're working a lot of mod routes and have a lot going on (don't forget about the ribbons and wheels), the UI really helps you get around and see what's what quickly (speaking of the keyboard version here).

There's also a couple of filters, extra sound shaping, waveform morphing, 4 oscillators, and linear and exponential FM to use if you get bored with the other stuff.

Lux Seeker
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Lux Seeker » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:22 pm

But that is my point. On paper the P12 is a great synth for sound design. But I hear little about it and the demos are horrible. Is it just a matter of time before people get used to it?

HESpook
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by HESpook » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:47 pm

Not very likely given that that it's been out for over three years. Just because it is great for sound design doesn't mean you will like the sounds designed using it, something that should probably be attributed to your taste differing drastically from most owners given that you think all demos are horrible. I'd recommend testing it out in person instead and see if you like working with it.

Personally I think oldgearguy's post was spot on.

oldgearguy
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by oldgearguy » Wed Dec 30, 2015 2:28 am

Lux Seeker wrote:But that is my point. On paper the P12 is a great synth for sound design. But I hear little about it and the demos are horrible. Is it just a matter of time before people get used to it?
Yeah, but I like experimental sounds and gear. However, my experimental may not jibe with your experimental. For me, the P12 after the recent updates is an essential synth in my arsenal.

I'm not going to spend time creating demos for folks trying to convince them to buy a piece of gear. People tend to create demos of pretty sounds. I deleted all my demo sounds from soundcloud because what I like isn't necessarily mainstream.

What exactly are you looking for in an experimental synth? A modular would of course be the ultimate got experiments.

However, do not underestimate the benefit of an excellent user interface.

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Mr Kay
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Mr Kay » Wed Dec 30, 2015 10:39 am

Hi, Lux Seeker

First Welcome here. :)

The P'12 has the quality of beeing both a powerful sound design synth and a funny player synth.

Oldgearguy told you the features of the P'12, here's a demo which can give you an idea of them used on the fly on the PEK (the P'12 predecessor), the kind of things you won't be able to do on a NL4, nor on a JP80.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKAlLvn0WFQ

If you're more in to sequences and geeky stuff, the Pro-2 may be more fitted to your needs, the sequencer is far more richer than the one of the P'12 and you have extra sound design features (audio input, CV input and output), maybe you can have a lot of fun while pluggin it on your Voyager :wink:

Here's a demo of the Pro-2 used with external modules
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEz6b_Eo1qw

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WytchCrypt
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by WytchCrypt » Thu Dec 31, 2015 10:22 pm

oldgearguy wrote: What exactly are you looking for in an experimental synth? A modular would of course be the ultimate got experiments.
This is exactly why I decided the P12 was perfect for me. I originally considered building a modular with all the current crazy options in modules but I'm not a wirehead so can't do DIY or fix anything that goes wrong. What I wanted was the flexibility of extensive modulation capability in a reliable, stable, polyphonic box with lots of modules built in so the P12 was my best choice for an experimental platform :wink:
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Lux Seeker
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Lux Seeker » Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:19 pm

Thanks for the great posts. I appreciate it. Part of my process in buying a synths is to vet them. This is one of the ways.

First, let me say I have currently no interest in a modular. The basic reasons are that I can do pretty much anything that modules do with my hardware and software. Second, not being able to save patches takes time from making music or designing sounds.

As for comments on the sound. I have a Nord Lead 4 and recently a Jupiter 80. Both of these sound phenomenal out of the box. All I had to do was start tweaking and I got these great sounds. I strongly suspect the reason is what is under the hood. In both cases heavy DSP stuff not in any of the parameters but designed to make the instrument sound good.

I have played a Prophet 12. My friend has one. When I ask him if he has new sounds he kind of shrugs and says it has great potential. My own limited time with it leads me to believe that it might have potential but it's more like a bunch of tools thrown together looking to sound designers to make it sing. All synths can sing. They all have sweet spots and secrets you have to learn by using them. But I find that the good ones also have a certain philosophy.

Take my Lead 4. It's never point to sound like an orchestra. It can do some nice piano p, bell and organ sounds but it's not really made for that. However, it has a knob for everything and it's all MIDI mapped. The effects are weak but designed to work specifically with the rest of it so they sound great. It's designed as a performance VA to sound like an analogue but have a lot more power.

My Jupiter is an orchestra in a box. It can have up to 26 layers! It can sound very close to many instruments and vintage Roland gear. Every patch sounds good. It's not because they are brilliant but again, there is DSP under the hood that sweeten the sound. It's a very sweet and be beautiful instrument.

So what I'm searching for in all that I do can't be defined by features but sound, it's hard to define but I know when I hear it. The P12 is on my radar but finding that illusive quality is proving harder but sometimes the best diamonds you have to go deep for.

yewtreemagic
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by yewtreemagic » Fri Jan 01, 2016 9:29 pm

This is one reason why I downloaded and installed the Soundtower P-12 Editor, for its randomising features, but unfortunately these are deactivated in the demo version.

Yes, I know that of 100 random programs, 90 will be unusable, but the final 10 might just be a spring board to develop something you'd never have thought of when starting in a structured way from the vanilla sound ;) I've certainly got some wonderful modular-sounding creations from my MI Shruthi synth that started life using its built-in random function 8)

I'm currently very envious of van's Tempest Randomizer offered in this thread: viewtopic.php?f=24&t=7410 :cry:


Martin

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BobTheDog
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by BobTheDog » Sat Jan 02, 2016 8:10 am

Lux Seeker wrote:Thanks for the great posts. I appreciate it. Part of my process in buying a synths is to vet them. This is one of the ways.

First, let me say I have currently no interest in a modular. The basic reasons are that I can do pretty much anything that modules do with my hardware and software. Second, not being able to save patches takes time from making music or designing sounds.

As for comments on the sound. I have a Nord Lead 4 and recently a Jupiter 80. Both of these sound phenomenal out of the box. All I had to do was start tweaking and I got these great sounds. I strongly suspect the reason is what is under the hood. In both cases heavy DSP stuff not in any of the parameters but designed to make the instrument sound good.

I have played a Prophet 12. My friend has one. When I ask him if he has new sounds he kind of shrugs and says it has great potential. My own limited time with it leads me to believe that it might have potential but it's more like a bunch of tools thrown together looking to sound designers to make it sing. All synths can sing. They all have sweet spots and secrets you have to learn by using them. But I find that the good ones also have a certain philosophy.

Take my Lead 4. It's never point to sound like an orchestra. It can do some nice piano p, bell and organ sounds but it's not really made for that. However, it has a knob for everything and it's all MIDI mapped. The effects are weak but designed to work specifically with the rest of it so they sound great. It's designed as a performance VA to sound like an analogue but have a lot more power.

My Jupiter is an orchestra in a box. It can have up to 26 layers! It can sound very close to many instruments and vintage Roland gear. Every patch sounds good. It's not because they are brilliant but again, there is DSP under the hood that sweeten the sound. It's a very sweet and be beautiful instrument.

So what I'm searching for in all that I do can't be defined by features but sound, it's hard to define but I know when I hear it. The P12 is on my radar but finding that illusive quality is proving harder but sometimes the best diamonds you have to go deep for.
What the P12 will give you over those synths is the modulation matrix with 24 modulation slots, 8 of these have fixed sources (LFO1, LFO2, LFO3, LFO4,Filter Env, Amp Env, Env 3, Env 4) the other 16 slots enable you to choose between 27 different sources. There are 104 different destinations that each of these slots can control. Mod slots can also control other mod slots which enables you to multiply modulations. All of this is running at audio rate so you can even use the oscillators as proper modulation sources.

For experimental type stuff I guess this would be quite useful.

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Mantrak
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Mantrak » Sat Jan 02, 2016 12:15 pm

If something is experimental then it is supposed to offer many possibilities. As a consequences, MANY results will suck. The more possibilities you have, the harder it will be to find results that don't suck. That is the nature of experimental.

Except if you are quickly satisfied, in which case you will find everything absolutely amazing.

P12 is excellent as a sound research platform. It was not made to please you quickly, it is too complex for that. If you want quick results go for something simpler. Juno 106 comes to mind, or its new Roland Boutique incarnation. You CAN make some horrible sounds if you want but most of the time you will be pleased.
"There is no such thing as a bad synth".

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Mr Kay
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Mr Kay » Sat Jan 02, 2016 2:18 pm

Lux Seeker wrote:As for comments on the sound. I have a Nord Lead 4 and recently a Jupiter 80. Both of these sound phenomenal out of the box. All I had to do was start tweaking and I got these great sounds. I strongly suspect the reason is what is under the hood. In both cases heavy DSP stuff not in any of the parameters but designed to make the instrument sound good.
You're right for the Jupiter, that's actually samples with very heavy processing to make them sound natural, plus piles of FX and layers.

The Nord Lead, it's like the Prophet 6, the sound design feature are limited, but top quality and it forgives many mistakes unlike on a P'12 or on a Nord Modular on which you can easily get rubbish sounds.

Lux Seeker
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Lux Seeker » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:33 pm

I think the last couple of comments here were very insightful. An experimental synths is going to leave a lot of room for bad sounds. I agree that the mod matrix leaves plenty of territory for experimentation. I'm pretty sold on it for that reason. I'm just surprised that I haven't heard about a lot of experimental applications. I have a JP 80 which I love so I don't need Roland toys. I have done experimental music for years now and I know how to program synths. I guess I am just looking for practical examples rather than facts about the design of the P12. I am well aware of the mod matrix.

This synth will probably round out my rig although I can see getting a Virus desktop. I'm not going to buy one for several months but I would love hearing more about what it can do.

Martin3
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Martin3 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 3:45 pm

Hi,

i made some basic waveform recordings have a listen at soundcloud if you like.

Martin3

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Mr Kay
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Mr Kay » Sun Jan 03, 2016 6:14 pm

Here are some sets of recordings, mostly home made sounds, played with hands (sometimes the arp/sequencer), no FX used behind, no overdubs.

https://soundcloud.com/thedisease/sets/synth-sounds

Chaparral
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Chaparral » Sat Jan 09, 2016 6:37 pm

Everyone has a different idea of what a great sound is. That said, I am using Cassandra (my prophet 12) in quadraphonic. I have two stereo volume pedals (one for voice A and one for voice B) so I can blend two stereo voices. I have two expression pedals so I can alter any of the four oscillators in A and in B in many different ways. Before I have even touched the keyboard or other controllers my feet can define a massive range of timbres in 3 dimensions of space.

In my opinion that is 'doing experimental' big time, but luckily we are all different.

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WytchCrypt
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by WytchCrypt » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:26 pm

Chaparral wrote:Everyone has a different idea of what a great sound is. That said, I am using Cassandra (my prophet 12) in quadraphonic. I have two stereo volume pedals (one for voice A and one for voice B) so I can blend two stereo voices. I have two expression pedals so I can alter any of the four oscillators in A and in B in many different ways. Before I have even touched the keyboard or other controllers my feet can define a massive range of timbres in 3 dimensions of space.

In my opinion that is 'doing experimental' big time, but luckily we are all different.
Doing a quad output of the P12 is intriguing and what I would definitely consider experimental with a capital mental :wink: Well done and very inspiring!
No such thing as spare time.
No such thing as free time.
No such thing as down time.
All you got is life time.
Go.
- Henry Rollins

hannasdeli
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by hannasdeli » Sat Jan 23, 2016 8:45 pm

The Prophet 12 sure can sound like a couple of bolts inside a tin can. It can really really sound horrible. I have never used another synth that can be unforgiving, not even my Korg Z1 (another MONSTER). And then, it sounds excellent when you do the right stuff. It is hard as nails or soft as feathers. Depends on what you do. This is a sketch (not even properly mixed or elaborated) just made with the P12 in a few minutes (i think sequenced with the Octatrack, recorded and edited in cubase).

https://soundcloud.com/hannasdeli/the-b ... me-machine

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Mr Kay
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by Mr Kay » Sat Jan 23, 2016 10:26 pm

Cool sound :)

That's the strength of the P'12, it can sound as nightmarish as it can sound dotally dreamy as on this little jam I made once at night.
https://soundcloud.com/thedisease/interlude

yewtreemagic
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Re: Can a Prophet 12 do experimental?

Post by yewtreemagic » Sun Jan 24, 2016 1:34 am

hannasdeli wrote:The Prophet 12 sure can sound like a couple of bolts inside a tin can. It can really really sound horrible. I have never used another synth that can be unforgiving, not even my Korg Z1 (another MONSTER). And then, it sounds excellent when you do the right stuff. It is hard as nails or soft as feathers. Depends on what you do. This is a sketch (not even properly mixed or elaborated) just made with the P12 in a few minutes (i think sequenced with the Octatrack, recorded and edited in cubase).

https://soundcloud.com/hannasdeli/the-b ... me-machine
I love this!! 8)

Well done that man.


Martin

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