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Top 10 Vintage Synths (Under $10,000)



Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 (1978)

Did you know that former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman suggested the Prophet’s name and some of its front-panel layout features? When Dave Smith and company debuted the Prophet-5 at the January NAMM Show in 1978, the Earth shifted on its axis. For years, everyone had been clamoring for a true polysynth, one with independent articulation for every voice. But the clincher was that not only does it have five independent voices, it also memorizes every parameter that defines each patch. Combining all-analog sound production with a digitally scanned keyboard and microprocessor-based patch storage in a relatively lightweight package, the Prophet-5 was a dream come true for keyboard players around the world. In no time at all, everyone heard its sound on literally hundreds of hit records as other synth manufacturers scrambled to catch up.

Inside, you’ll find five voice cards, each with a chipset that furnishes two VCOS, a lowpass VCF, and two ADSRs. With features such as polyphonic modulation (Poly-Mod) and automatic tuning, the Prophet-5 had numerous revisions over the years. The first 182 units were built by hand and had enclosures made of koa. Later the same year, Rev 2 was mass-produced and encased in walnut, with easier-to-service circuit boards and external patch storage on audio cassettes. Rev 3 replaced the SSM chips with chips from Doug Curtis, and Rev 3.3 was the final update in 1982. When MIDI appeared the followed year, Sequencer Circuits made an optional MIDI retrofit kit for Revs 3.2 and 3.3.

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