Dave Smith Instruments markets some of the most interesting analog/digital hybrid instruments on the market.
The company’s founder, Dave Smith, brings nearly thirty years of synth design experience to the company. Smith founded Sequential Circuits, one of the early electronic music innovators. With Sequential Circuits, Smith designed and marketed groundbreaking equipment that is highly coveted even today. The Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 was the first microprocessor-based musical instrument. It was the first polyphonic and programmable synthesizer, and set standards that are followed to this day. None of this would have mattered, though, if it didn’t sound fantastic. Fortunately, it sounded so good that collectors bicker over which version of the Prophet-5 had the best sound.
With Sequential, Smith created many other important early synths, including the Pro-One synthesizer. The Pro-One is a highly flexible synth with almost modular patching capabilities. It was an inexpensive instrument when it was released, but extremely powerful. Many users consider it second only to the original Minimoog as a classic lead and bass synthesizer.
Smith also was behind the Prophet 600, the first MIDI synthesizer. The 600 was a relatively low-cost synth, with 6 voices, a sequencer and an arpeggiator. It combined much of the great sound possibilities of the Prophet-5 with the power of MIDI!
Smith was also behind the Sequential Prophet VS. This pioneered Vector Synthesis. While the VS was not a big seller, it was adapter into the Korg Wavestation, an instrument that is a classic of wave-table synthesis.
In the nineties, Dave helped pioneer the idea of software-based synthesis. He helped develop the world’s first software-based synthesizer that runs on a PC in 1994. His work was included in the AWE64 line of sound cards sold by Creative Labs.
With his latest venture, Dave Smith Instruments, Smith has returned to hardware development. The first product is the Evolver, a hardware mono synth module. It features 4 voices, including both analog and digital oscillators, and supports an extensive matrix of internal patching possibilities. This gives the Evolver some of the most comprehensive sound development capabilities of any monophonic synthesizer ever built.
The company plans to release a polyphonic version of the Evolver in 2004, called (surprise!) the Poly Evolver.