After months of clandestine development, Sequential today announced the reintroduction of its most famous and beloved instrument: the Sequential Prophet-5. Timed to coincide with founder Dave Smith’s 70th year, the instrument revisits a landmark era in American analog synthesizer design and marks an authentic and authoritative return to roots for the legendary pioneer of electronic instruments.
“It’s not often that you get to revisit your past, retrieve some of its magic, and give it new life,” said Dave Smith. “The Prophet-5 was one of the most exciting instruments to appear in an equally exciting time for music and technology. It’s gratifying to rediscover that its sound and aesthetics are just as appealing now as they were then.”
Faithful to the original, the new Prophet-5 features five voices with two multi-waveform analog oscillators, resonant analog low-pass filters and amplifiers, and a filter and amplifier envelope per voice. Modulation is provided by a multi-waveshape LFO and Poly Mod, a ground-breaking modulation scheme for its time that allowed the filter envelope and oscillator B to be routed to a variety of destinations including filter cutoff frequency, oscillator A frequency, and oscillator A pulse width.
The new Sequential Prophet-5 features original, genuine Curtis VCOs and filters as used in the Prophet-5 Rev3, as well as the Dave Rossum-designed SSI 2140 filter, the modern counterpart of the original SSM 2040 Rossum designed in the Prophet-5 Rev1 and Rev2. “We made the new Prophet-5 the best of all Prophets by embodying all three revisions of the original. We did this by adding a Revswitch to the front panel, so you can choose your preferred filter.”
Smith continued, “We also researched what made the original P-5 sound the way it did — organic and alive — and found that a lot of that desirable character was due to fluctuations and differences in the response times and frequencies of the individual oscillators, filters, and envelopes from voice to voice. So we also added a Vintage knob that loosens all of them up like they were in the old days. You can dial in progressively more vintage character as you go from a very stable “4,” as in Prophet-5 Rev4, all the way to “1,” as in Prophet-5 Rev1, which was the most temperamental of all Prophet-5s. We’ve even included the original factory sound set for the full vintage experience.”
Other modern enhancements include velocity sensitivity and aftertouch to increase expressiveness, as well as MIDI and USB connectivity.
Control voltage and gate ins/outs are also present for connecting modular synths and other gear. The new Prophet-5 is housed in a collector-worthy, premium-quality, steel and hand-oiled sustainable black walnut heartwood body, with a full, five-octave, semi-weighted Fatar keybed.
Sequential is simultaneously offering the Prophet-10, a ten-voice version of the synthesizer with the same sound engine and collector-worthy design.
“I originally designed the first Prophet in both five-voice and ten-voice versions. But the five-voice model was the one that achieved mass production. We thought it would be fun and fitting to reintroduce the ten-voice as well, to make the circle complete.”
Sequential Circuits’ later product, the dual-manual, bi-timbral Prophet-10, was a different instrument in both concept and execution.