Open Mic: Is The Prophet 12 The Best Polyphonic Synth Of All Time?


One fo the biggest surprises of the 2013 NAMM Show, was the new Prophet 12, which Dave Smith calls “my best synth yet.”

Some of the key features:

  • Twelve voice polyphony – the greatest polyphony of any instrument Dave Smith has designed.
  • Powerful voice architecture features four oscillators, capable of generating classic and complex waveforms, a sub-oscillator, resonant analog low- and high-pass filters, and analog VCAs.
  • ‘Character’ section adds a variety of wave shaping and sound sculpting options, like Drive, Hack, Decimation, Girth, and Air.
  • Additional features include a tuned feedback path, a four-tap stereo delay per voice, expanded arpeggiator functionality, deep modulation capabilities, and bi-timbral operation.
  • The LFOs, delay, and arpeggiator can all be synced, either to the internal clock or an external MIDI clock.
  • Two programmable position- and pressure-sensitive touch sliders take the performance controls beyond the standard pitch and mod wheels (also included).
  • Knobs for everything

There’s currently no polysynth that’s comparable to the Prophet 12.

And the Prophet 12 also stands out among the great polyphonic synths of the past. It’s got much more sophisticated capabilities than synths like a Prophet V or a Yamaha CS-80, plus the benefits of 35 years of advances in technology.

Is the Prophet 12 the best polyphonic synth of all time? Let us know what you think!

139 thoughts on “Open Mic: Is The Prophet 12 The Best Polyphonic Synth Of All Time?

  1. Seems awesome. But what about andromeda? 16 voices, each with its own sequencer. Maybe the prophet sounds better, but the andromeda is deeper in my opinion.

    1. I agree, I love DS and have had a good number of his synths over the years, but I’d still go for the andromeda over the 12 any day.

  2. I am still on the fence.
    What about the Prophet 12’s sound source, the oscillators?
    Are they digital controlled? We know they are not analog, right? I’d appreciate any comments as Dave’s website still has no details.

    You can add all the analog processing you want to a digital source and you will improve it but it’s still a digital source.

    1. Not sure why you’re hung up on the oscillators.

      The Prophet’s oscillators are WAY more powerful than a standard analog oscillator and they open up entire worlds of synthesis capabilities.

    2. So by your definition, it can’t even be considered in the running to be “best” unless it is fully analog.

      That’s fine, just points out why there is no such thing as “best”.

      All I know is this thing is a beast, and if I could have any currently produced synth it would at least be in my top 3..,,,

    3. Digital isn’t necessarily bad. I’d take a D-50 over a Juno 60, a DX-7 over a CS-15, a JV-2080 over an Alpha Juno, or a Wavestation A/D over a MS-20 any day. Sacrilege, I know, but these intruments simply offer a greater degree of flexibility and a wider tonal palette. Even comparing them to “professional” analogue equipment, such as the Rhodes Chroma or Prophet T8 (both of which I consider “the best” synthesizers), they still come out with a features and sound that can’t be matched.

        1. Are you kidding? The D-50 has (along with the JV series and its spin-offs) the most versatile envelopes of any synthesizer, it has four oscillators, it’s capable of both additive and subtractive synthesis or a hybrid between the two, and the onboard effects are actually fairly useful and far more versatile than most outboard. It also has excellent MIDI implementation, and a flexible architecture that is comparable to a modular synthesizer. Furthermore, while the D-50 excels at pads, strings and other sounds that swell and evolve, if a synthesist practices a little restraint with its features it’s more than capable of creating bass, lead and effects patches as well. My only gripe wit the D-50 is that it’s painful to edit parameters from the front-panel, making a PC running decent editor software or the PG-1000 controller a requirement.

          1. I’m not saying you are wrong, if you can get a good sound out of that thing then more power to you. I hate the sound of it and programming it is for masochists. Just rubs me the wrong way.

            1. The D50 suffers from the same problem as the DX7 – they eliminated panel controls to make them cheaper to build. OK for playing, but terrible for programming.

      1. Prophet T8!! Weighted poly aftertouch keyboard – the same one used in the Synclavier, which I might say is my favorite digital polysynth because of its wonderful keyboard, beautiful high-rate samples, nice sounding FM, and nifty performance-oriented interface! The Synclavier isn’t just a “workstation” but also a performance instrument. It’s kind of like Ableton Live but from the 1980s with an FM and additive synthesizer (in addition to the sampler), poly aftertouch keyboard, and several control surfaces.

    4. The only real question I have on the digital oscillators is whether or not there is aliasing. Other than that these oscillators sound great on the demos, and the slop control will help analog things up a bit. You got to remember Dave Smith has taken digital and analog synths to great levels. He knows people care about “Analog Sound,” I’m not worried about the digital.

  3. I don’t know how any of us can answer that question without hearing, and playing a Prophet 12, but I’d be inclined to say “no”. In my humble opinion the “best” synthesizer made by Dave Smith was the Prophet T8, which stands among other greats like the Arp/Rhodes Chroma and the Oberheim Xpander/Matrix 12. These synthesizers totally warranted a keyboard, as their keyboard’s supported polyphonic aftertouch and velocity, and they were very flexible in terms of sound palette.

  4. I put in anither vote for the Andromeda. 16 voices with real VCOs. The 12 ain’t bad though. If you’re buying today you don’t have a lot of options.

  5. There is no best synth. There are suitable tools for making particular sounds. Honestly, I need to get my hands on one to see how it works for me. DSI if you’re reading this, I’ll take a review unit 🙂

    1. In a thread where the site owner specifically proposes a slanted, controversial and blatantly unanswerable statement for consideration, isn’t the voice of moderation and sensible evenhandedness to be considered trolling?

  6. For me personally on this moment,Yes.
    The amount of oscillators and filters etc… is amazing.
    + FM!
    Everything is there.
    And it’s brand new, so it will survive other older synths.
    The oscillators are not analog but Dave explains that it’s necessary for FM.
    And it looks awesome,the color,the wood,the knobs,the lights.
    The only synth that comes near in my taste is a virus but I think that Dave’s synth will sound better in the range of oscillators and filters for me personally.
    The character section is also nice.
    Especially the amount of knobs is a winner for me.
    I assume that the midi will work fine (Dave Smith).
    And the price is a no brainer 🙂 !

  7. At this point, even without having tried it personally, I’m ready to blindly call it at least a part of triumvirate(as well as uniting force between those other analog and digital monsters):
    Alesis Andromeda
    Dave Smith Prophet 12
    John Bowen Solaris

    And I’m praying scandinavian synth gods, that the Nord Modular G3 is coming to expand the pantheon.

  8. Best poly synth? I would say no and give my vote to the Roland V-Synth! Or do they mean best analog/digital hybrid poly synth? Best for who and for what purpose?

  9. Music creation is so subjective I always ask myself what is the best synth for this section of the song. The title best synth ever really is dependent on what you’re trying to use it for. Sometimes the bast synth is a DX-11. I hate those “best instrument” titles. Is it cool? Damn right it is! Dave has really outdone himself!

  10. Maybe this post should be renamed “Is ____ the best synth of all time?” the silliest question of all time?

    Some musicians might say its the Model D and others might say its the Korg Triton. And they’re both right, so who cares?

    The problem with this post’s question is that it assumes that more technology = better (since 99.999% of us are only judging this synth on tech specs). The best synths of all time are the ones that resonate with us, and we can’t know if the prophet 12 is one of those synths until we’ve tried it. For all the idiots who want to debate analog/digital/polyphony/whatever, perhaps stop pretending to be musicians and assume the title of technologists, or forget the silly debate and go make some great music! 🙂

    1. P.S. synthesizers are get treated too much like computers, as every year a “better” model comes out. Only with Moog’s renaissance and the other analog products of recent has the industry started to realize there is such a thing as a timeless synthesizer, akin to a fender stratocaster or gibson les paul.

        1. Yeah, except an original 1958-1960 Sunburst Les Paul Standard sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the used market now. Seriously, this comment isn’t an exageration. There’s plenty of reissue and new Les Paul guitars, but by virtually all accounts there are “timeless” guitars as well.

  11. I wonder how this sounds next to access virus? Dont kill me for asking. I just would like to hear a side by side comparison.

    A top level hardware VA vs Daves Prophet 12

    I also wonder how the Prohpeht 12 will behave with computer intergration?

  12. This is a really rad synth by the look of it so far. Perhaps we can only know how it stacks up once it has aged a bit and we get to know it? For instance, the Oberheim Four Voice was once considered clumsy and silly next to early Prophets, but as time went on, it became apparent that discrete (with the exception of some programmer components) Polyphonic Multi-Timbre architecture is fairly rare and organic/wonderful. This synth has the controls and sound to be great, but only time will tell if it stacks up in usefulness to everyone as a whole…

    And again, this all comes down to our personal tastes. When I play the Moog Rogue, I feel as if its coming alive and clinging to my hands, responding to my breathing and heart rate, twisting under my fingers etc etc. I never got the same feeling with a Minibrute, amazing as it is, or the Korg Poly 800, unique as it is. The Four Voice is a dark haunted machine full of ghosts and stars that you can feel as you play it… When I play the Microkorg, I do not get the same power, but I use it as my main synth because it fits that role, and it is intuitive. Let’s talk about what we think the Prophet 12 can be used for! Let’s go nuts and fantasize about how this changes the modern synth scene!!

  13. God I hate all these naysayers, consantly looking backwards. The Andromeda has more voices, but in all demos I’ve heard it doesn’t seem to have the ‘bite’ of the this new synth, such its rich though…I have also heard that they are starting to break down though. I think Dave Smith deserves real credit for putting time and effort to create a monster analog synth, the only like it avaialble in production. Sure if you’re rich go and buy a jupiter 8, or cs 80 and wallow in nostalgia, but this is NOW and we should celebrate the fact someone is willing to try and move things on. Who really gives a **** about digital or analog oscillators if it sounds awesome, thats the only criteria, surely to base a descision on? What does it SOUND like, its a synth, its not built to keep ****y ‘purists’ happy! If you don’t like it, go and build your own, design it from stratch, then put it into production and market it. Good luck. I’m buying one and it;ll make my very happy. Best ever? No such thing, there are many great synths but for this generation (unless it breaks down all the time) I think it will be a LEGEND!

    1. Here is a little reality and for the record I agree with you. The future is progressing, not regressing and reissuing old synths, older technology and older ideas yet. Place 4 to 6 floating point 40 Bit DSP chips in a synth, and feed it the right code powerful enough to not only emulate analogue circuitry and I can assure you it will decimate any “true” analogue circuitry sonically. And I mean depth and sonically. Yet what does that mean, this is subjective to a large degree, yet there is science behind all of this and something if not most can be measured!

      The next phase in analogue emulation/simulation is interpolation. I know for a fact that is the next wave. Certain simulators have already surpassed what analogue circuits can achieve.

      This is the like the same idiotic argument of electric (digital) to petrol (analogue) cars….never mind that electric dragsters have smoked the petrol counterparts in drag racing, efficiency and pure performance.

      1. You mean there is a parallel forum somewhere where people are having idiotic arguments about electric dragsters vs. gasoline dragsters??

  14. In these days of excellent VST synths, it comes down to the whole experience of a physical synth. The knob per function already sets it apart from say a Jupiter 80 or Motif XF. Then you add the fine wood that you can feel and smell and the matte black surface and very elegant design of the logos, etc. The best ever, I don’t know because each synth suited its era. I know some people with Prophet 8 and they have to use it sparingly because it all sounds like a Prophet 8 sound. In the case of the Prophet 12, you can get some different sounding material out of it and use it much more. Utility plus the experience, got to have one.

  15. I feel that the Prophet 12 definitely shows much potential. For my taste it doesn’t surpass the V-Synth, which is to me still a pinnacle achievement but I do applaud Smith and company.

  16. This is so funny. We hear a 3 and 9 minute kind of crappy videos of it and debate whether its the best ever. In the end, hmmm it could be. I decided day 1 that it should be amazing but between the oscillators and character section you definitely have to play with it before judging it.

  17. I’m of the belief every synth has its own personality and has something it does well, analog or digital. I wouldn’t classify any as being the best, I’ve owned and used a Pro One, Sh 101, Juno 60 & 106, Dx7, Moog Old School Voyager, Moog Minitaur and Moog Model D. I’ve used each when the song called for it because their personality suited and added to the song at hand!! I love them all and the Pro 12 sounds brilliant in my opinion!

  18. the headline for this article is such an obvious troll attempt. Dave Smith says its his “best synth yet”, but it is twisted and regurgitated .

      1. Have to disagree – this synth is obviously up there among the best poly synths of all time.

        Smith has packed this with the best of his ideas from 35 years of synth design. NOBODY else is doing that, and just about nobody else has the experience and knowledge to do that.

        The only question I have is what the keyboard feels like. I’ve never used a T8, but I’ve always felt that Smith doesn’t pair his outstanding synth engines with equally outstanding keyboards.

        Can anybody that attended the show comment on that?

      2. About the P12, there is def a need for quality hybrid synths. The strength of digital is the infinite variety of waveforms. The weakness of digital is a thin, steppy filter. So the P12 takes the best of digital and analog. Plus, wavetable synthesis is hot right now. Hope DSI sells a lot of them. Thumbs up for them, Synthtopia (the land of Moogs and honey), and all synth lovers!

  19. Difficult to pass judgement on a synth virtually nobody has ever seen or played, don’t you think?

    And what’s your exact definition of “best”, anyway?

    It certainly isn’t the “best synth” by voice count, even considering analog synths only. The Matrix-12 had 12 voices, and the A6 had 16! Digital synths have much higher polyphony, and virtual synths have even more.

    In my experience (Prophet 08 owner), the DSI (Curtis) low pass filter has some severe weaknesses. The 2-pole mode is so lifeless, it’s close to broken.
    So what’s with the LP filter in the Prophet-12? Any info on that? And how fast are the envelopes?

    I could continue, but you are getting the point. It might be too premature to pass judgement on the new Prophet. From what I read on paper, it’s definitely interesting. But can it live up to the expectations and the $3000 price tag? At that price level, you’re in Voyager territory! Only time (and a lot of reviews) will tell.

    1. The modular crowd has had no problem embracing digital tech into their modules, and it’s opened up some amazing possibilities that analog just can’t get. The hybrid of digital-analog brings us into fresh territory, just like the Evolver series did, but with some new features. The FM/AM per oscillator capabilities of the P12, whose routing and precision would be highly limited in analog, are going to surprise a lot of folks i think.

  20. There will be lots of comparisons to the Andromeda, but I think the P12 goes far beyond with a larger mod matrix, 2 aux envelopes, FM & AM per oscillator (of which there are 4, plus a 5th sub square oscillator). The slop control which goes from 1-127 now, instead of like the P’08s 1-5, can make this poly sound like a pristine P5 or one that’s been dropped from the 3rd floor and has never been serviced. Dave says “We want to look forward” – I appreciate that. Something fresh!

  21. Have you all seen the videos of comparisons between animoog for idevices and the real thing? It was clearly highlighting that the border between analog and digital becomes really discrete. We came a long way from analog to digital, with all vst’s at hand it gives you more possibilities. In the end what makes the old synth legendary is the music its made using musicians talents, and the people that used it. I got the feeling the most of the contemporary music is made by digital reinventions of the analog gear, but does it make the analog gear better? For beginning musicians analog is always to expensive, so they start in the digital zone, and mostly stay there

  22. Trying to crown this (or any modern synth) “number one ever ever!!!” is silly. I own a Prophet-5 and personally found the Prophet ’08 a little disappointing, as its basic tonality wasn’t as “alive”. That said, it wasn’t awful, just not as nice, but the flipside are the obvious points or more reliable, more voices, does a lot more, etc. The DSI synths use the Curtis “all-in-one” chips; vintage polysynths use separate chips for each oscillator, filter, VCA and envelope (though the envelope shouldn’t affect audio much as it’s not technically in the audio path). With that said, ANY synth that uses voice chips of any kind isn’t really “discrete” electronics (i.e. separate resistors/caps, etc.) like a Moog Modular, for example. In fact even most non-voice chip monosynths use op-amps, so even they’re not real discrete electronics.

    In my experience, the more “discrete” the circuits of a synth are, the better it sounds. But that means more circuitry, more expensive to build, probably harder to calibrate, bulkier and definitely more likely to break. This is why CS-80’s, Oberheim Two-/Four-/Eight-Voice, etc. sound so damn good. Jumping to now, it’s not practical to build instruments that way these days; they’d cost a fortune. I can’t imagine Dave Smith doesn’t know all this, and he’s done his best to make something practical that sounds the best it can given modern components. It goes without saying that he’s added a whole lot of extra sound-sculpting goodies that no vintage synth can touch. For those who MUST have the voodoo of vintage discrete, I guess you can still get an Oberheim Two- or Four-Voice from Tom Oberheim (not sure if he’s gotten around to building them), and they sound identical to vintage ones (I know, I have the honor of owning prototype #1 of the reissue). But trying to use this mess as a polysynth will be a bit of a hassle (but sound fabulous).

  23. Not sure why people are comparing this guy to an andromeda. It’s a different animal. Andromeda may have more voices, but the P12 has more oscs. I have an Andromeda, a PEK, Virus, SH101, Prophet 600, etc. The list goes on, but I still plan on getting a P12 in a year or two, assuming it is not very incomparable to what I have.

    I also think it’s premature to even question if it’s the best synth out there. it hasn’t even been released yet. What does make me happy, though, is that those of us that still appreciated digital can point to the P12 and say that digital does have value. I love both for their own qualities and hate mindless worship of one or the other. Dave Smith has always been ahead of the curve, and judging by the amount of complaining going on, I think he still is.

  24. A person only ever needs 10 polyphony for a keyboard based synthesizer. Unless this is the Chrysalids, this thing will have you covered, with 2 voices to spare. The digital oscillators will only be limited by their resolution. Not a big thing; digital oscillators can sound great… but for FM? Is there FM on this unit? Not so much with digital filters, (sorry app heads). Also, the andromeda has 16 x 2 oscillators + sub per voice. That is a total of 48 oscillators at any one time. This has 12 x 4 + sub for a walloping 60 oscillators at any one time! Ahhh, who cares? Both are overkill! Hahaha! This thing is amazing though. and the demos have been impressive in that Namm booth with an iphone kinda way. But more input would be needed to say it is the ‘best’, as if there really could be such a thing.

  25. Schmidt analog polysynth FTW!

    (Its existence as real actuality however seems somewhat fuzzy… but they say they’ve sold one to Hans Zimmer)

    I think the Schmidt should be the new top-banner figurehead of Synthtopia too.
    It will probably have a production run slightly shorter than the CS-80 (ok, by a factor of 100?), but it’s legendary alright.

  26. I’m one of those guys who bought a Prophet 08 rack version with the faulty pots. After three times of servicing (with deoxit and the like) I’m still waiting for a solution from DSI (one solution that does not mean paying another 250$, that is), so sorry DSI no more synths from you anymore. Besides, I do not like at all the filter of the Prophet. I just love my Slim Phattys (yes I have two of them), even if they cannot offer me tons of voices. Speaking of analog synths it all comes to the filter, and if you do an A/B comparison of the Moog filter vs. the Prophet’s you will know what I mean. Cheers.

  27. I love the Korg Dss-1 with its great analog filters and hear also the Waldorf Wave which boost me away. Maybe when i listen to the this Dsi i will love it too. So many interesting Synths out there you can rock near everything! When not püt a fire on it and it will work too.

  28. i own an Andromeda and my personal answer is: NO it isn’t the best synth of all time!! (watching the specs) digital osc are a delusion, DS answer: is to keep FM, well, if i want a FM synthesizer i buy a DX-7 or use FM of NI. Poly Evolver has 2 DCO and 2 digital oscillators, FM and RIng modulator too. So i think is all about the money, 24 dco costs a lot more than digital oscillators! the fact that P12 sounds amazing is another thing, but it isn’t an analog synthesizer!

    1. Why not take advantage of the capabilities of digital, where it makes sense?

      Its not just about the money – the pros of Wavetable oscillators outweigh any cons.

      The Andromeda is a great synth – but it’s voice architecture is profoundly limited compared to the Prophet 12.

  29. Don’t know how many of you here were fortunate to attend NAMM an play with this thing in person. I was and let me say, the debate of analog vs. digital is out the window. This is one remarkable synth.

    1. I played it at NAMM and it was okay. I liked the sound of the Sub Phatty, Mini MS-20, and even the Analog four better than the Prophet 12. It pains me to say it, but it is not warm to my ears, but rather “glassy” as someone else has said. I want it to be the best, especially with 12 voices, but I can’t say it is. But maybe my perspective is skewed as an owner of a Jupiter 8 and CS-80. Maybe I just need to spend some more alone time with it without all of the crazy NAMM noise. It has a lot going for it with all of the flexible routing and grab-and-go knobs. (I will say that it about drove me crazy switching between presets because there is such a difference in level from one preset to another. They needs to tweak their factory settings.)

  30. All Dave Smith’s Synths sounds ANYHOW boring dry – nothin special anyway – and I don’t like his choice for the potcaps… ugly potcaps! my opinion – sry Dave

  31. looks neat although I’m much more excited for JB Solaris – doesn’t have the analog but super high quality digital with many more features

  32. I’d buy one if I had $3000.00 laying around but World’s Best synth is just too bold a claim – Sounds Great though. I wonder how the build quality is compared to a Moog?

    1. On Par if not a bit better. Solid knobs, chassis is like a tank, brilliant screen, overall great. Like I said, an incedible synth. I played with this thing for an hour and I heard sounds that I never heard before or sounds I didn’t think were possible to create with a synth. Subtractive, FM, and Wavetable synthesis under one roof plus the ability to modulate anything. Plus seperate outs for each layer, there are two synths in this thing. Don’t listen to these pricks who haven’t played or heard one note from it in person. The Prophet 12 is in a league of its own. And for those wondering, there are plans for a rack version. They wouldn’t tell me when, but it is in the works

  33. It seems it shoudn’t matter what the oscs are but for some reason it sounded like a VA in person. And not the best VA either. I’d rather an Evolver with the multimode filter and distortion stuff. It had the benefit of sharp digital with some warm analogue oscs. I tried to get some nice strings out of it but they were just too rezzy sounding.

    1. It sounds like a VA on Youtube. I don’t know what everyone is so excited about. Sure the specs are great, but the sound just seems so digital. I even prefer the sound of my Virus TI2 or Nord Lead if I want digital. I will test it out when I can, but for now, I am skeptical.

  34. Looking like a nice one from Dave. I own the prophet 08 and had to replace the pots. Im pretty sure he learned his lesson. The 12 is obviously a different beast and sounds different from the 08. That being said I own a Moog Voyager and Minitaur. To my ears the Curtis filter just doesn’t get me going like a Moog filter. However I have enjoyed the 08 for its insane gritty saw leads when unison is stacked up. I cannot match the sonic nastyness with any hardware or soft synth I have used, and I been turning knobs well over 10 years. This earns the never ebay award for me.
    The 12 has a bright future and glad to see so many synths companies producing them driving the cost of analog circuitry down. I cant wait until we have some new analog synths that will make us not wish we had 10k to buy a Jupiter 8.

  35. Dave needs to explain what is so special about his oscillators. What algorithms, DSP’s and maybe the MIT was involved? We should expect the pinnacle of DSP processing, nothing less.

  36. I don´t know why some people say that the Andromeda voice structure is more limited than the P12… I mean, per voice: 2 analogue Oscillators (VCOs), 2 analog Sub Oscilators, 1 analog Ring Modulator, 2 analog Mixers, 2 analog filters (VCFs) (one Moog, one SEM), 1 analog Amplifier, 1 analog Panner. You can route the filters is series or parallel. There´s filter feedback. The sine waves of the osc and the ring mod can bypass the filters and go directly to the post filter mixer. You have linear fm, exponential fm, PWM fm and filter FM. 3 really complex envelopes, 3 really complex lfos, one flexible S&H. You have a step sequencer and arpeggiator. You have 16 of each in fact. You have an analog distortion based on the Rat pedal, plus a nice multi effects processor. And the mod matrix is really amazing. You have 3 audio ins, 20 audio outs, CV in to VCOs and VCFs, 16 bit knob resolution. A big Ribbon controller, a big display, an audio in trigger, chord memory, 16 voice polyphony, 16 part multitimbral with dynamic voice allocation, Unison with detune and number of voices, 16 zone keyboard spliting and/or layering, complex calibration, 3 colours of analogue noise, SEM filter with all outputs simultaneously available, ribbon can be split to be used as two independent ribbons, all VCO waveforms available simultaneously, Pulse wave have an independent VCA, noise or filter feedback can modulate VCO and or VCF, hard and soft sync. VCOs and VCF2 based on Moog Modular, VCF1 on Oberheim SEM. 4 pole LPF, 2 pole LPF, 2 pole HPF, 2 pole BPF, 2 pole Notch, and combinations with VCF2. Each envelope segment has a choice of 9 different curves to choose from. Portamento and wheels response too. 72 knobs, 144 buttons, two wheels, plus the ribbon. PCMCIA memory expansion. Velocity and aftertouch Fatar keyboard. Beat that!

    1. Yeah man, you go!! Andromeda is DEEEEEP! People don’t even know. P12 sounds amazing and the controls look sweet especially with all those new fan dangled sound warp knobs, but really, the A6 to me can’t be beat, BUT, I would trade it for a JOMOX SunSyn in a second.

  37. As synthhead freudian-slipped, perhaps it is in fact closer to the Prophet V than the Prophet 5, since it has digital oscillators. ;-p

    That being said, it might be like the rebirth of the ESQ-1 (or Prophet VS without the joystick?) although it lacks the polyphonic aftertouch of the SQ-80.

    I have to say that a Prophet ’08 + a Tetra is rather awesome and gives you 12 analog oscillators…

    Still waiting for the rebirth of the Andromeda, though….

  38. I own a p ’08 for year, and during the time I was suffered form some of the ‘unique’ function which differ from any other synths I’ve ever experienced. particularly apreggiator function. I searched for an solution for this but found out many users of p ’08 like do think it’s a problem. However, seeing the release of mopho x4, and now the prophet 12, or their drum machine tempest, I doubt that Dave would take care of his old products anymore.

    compare with DSI, Nord is far more better experience, keep on firmware upgrade, bugs fix, new sound on sample library, ..

    I’m not hate my p ’08, I’m a chord player, I’d like to play pad on it, and I think it sounds great, but I will never buy from DSI again due to their customer care.

    1. You have got to be kidding?!
      Dave Smith offers excellent service to customers, regardless which one of their instruments you own 😀
      That’s all there is to say about that.

  39. The timbrality is a drawback. Although until this morning I thought it was monotimbral, bi-timbral is hugely better than nothing. And plenty of knobs is good.

  40. I just never liked the sound of the prophets. I find them “cold and distant”. korg and Moog (some not all) are the ones I seem to respond to. but maybe that’s to do with my favourite bands using those instruments the most.

    I swear I’m not trolling. to me it’s an interesting aspect of the argument whether this is the best synth ever. and because I don’t know what you guys mean by after touch and Timbrality. I can only discuss it from the point of view of my ear

    I know that basically you can make these machines sound like whatever you want so maybe “by ear” is pure sophistry.

    I do however like the design and advances of this machine as the article points out. it makes me hope the big boys like Korg and Roland are listening.

  41. “The Best Polyphonic Synth Of All Time” is the synth that serves the artist most intuitively as an instrument of sonic expression and sonic exploration. Which I feel The Prophet 12 will be.

    The Prophet 12, from what I have seen and heard, is a synthesizer that seems to have been designed with a mature thought process of a passionate artist. It is a synthesizer with character, which is a product of the specific selection of sound shaping functions and control. it is sophistication, refined and presented, to simplicity.

    I am eager to say, to me, it is “The Best Synth Of All Time”. But I wait to evaluate the integrity of the execution.

    Nevertheless I congratulate Dave on such a beautiful design.

  42. The short answer is NO. The best polyphonic ANALOG synth of all time? Maybe. I just don’t get why so many people are so in love with analog synthesis. I think it is a tool, but it should be one of many tools. There is so much more out there in addition to analog, that I could never limit myself to just one synthesis technology. That’s why synthesizers that offer multiple synth technologies are much more interesting, like the Korg Kronos.

    1. Prophet 12 is a hybrid synth. It has complex digital oscillators / analog filters, amplifier and distortion effects. It’s the best of both worlds. The best synth IMO would be a exotic hybrid modular like a Buchla…but that costs like a car, so, more “common” hybrid synths like Waldorf Q+ and Prophet 12 are the best deal indeed. The only affordable analog synths are usually quite limited, so, it’s better to have hybrids… Korg Kronos is a joke…

  43. It does not matter what’s the best. It is subjective.
    What it matters it’s the music that you make with them.

    Congratulations to the companies that bring new stuff and remakes old favourites.
    Lets give credit to Moog, DSI ang Korg.

    I wish they have a lot of success, specially korg that had the balls to remake the ms 20.
    I think they are the only big company that listens to the clients.
    I will buy one.
    Let’s wait that yamaha makes (it could be a hybrid, i accept that) a cs 800 (or cs 80 XXI) and roland the Jupiter 8 (analog), both with the same vintage look, buttons etc I also accept midi, usb, digial out.

    For what i heard in records cs 80 is my favourite.

  44. I doubt that Alesis will ever make another synth after what happened with the A6 and the Fusion. In the first case they listened to people on sites just like this who said they wanted a real analog polysynth with all the whistles and bells. They made one. Whistles and bells cost money so the thing was pricey and they didn’t sell very well.

    The Fusion was an attempt at doing something really innovative that suffered some early OS problems (which they quickly fixed), but by then the flame wars were lit across the Internet and you could not Google the Fusion without finding negative comments, rants and raves. It was sad really because it had 4 synth engines and an 8 track digital recorder than could sync with internal midi tracks. It was a really good instrument.

    This is one of the reasons I dislike negative comments being made about a new product that no one has even played. It can make companies very hesitant to try something new and different and leads us in to a land of “me too” workstations.

    And for the record I have always found DSI to be very responsive to questions about their products and helpful with solutions to problems. When I had questions about my MEK they were prompt with the help I needed.

  45. Best Polyphonic synth I got to say its probably the KRONOS. Different engines, superb sequencer, KARMA, top of the line sounds and programability.

    Now, if we are talking Analog and feature wise, then yes. This is probably one of the best Polyphonic Analogue Synths EVER. Best analog in terms of sound: NO. And I say such thing because that’s entirely subjective. I’ve played a vintage Prophet 5, a Korg Trident and a Memory Moog and I found the Trident the best sounding. some people will instead say its the Prophet 5, some will say the Memory Moog.

    Still, if you ask me which is the best sounding polyphonic analogue synth, its probably the Oberheim Matrix 12 or the OB-8.

    1. Talking about Kronos, don’t forget about its competitor: the Kurzweil PC3k. This gear is a real sound quality-oriented powerhouse: it has a legendary Kurzweil rompler (and a flash sampler, by the way), fat and gritty VA engine, realistic Hammond physical modelling, acoustic articulation system and the best of all: the VAST engine. That system allows you to change the architecture of synthesis as you wish, even to the point you start creating new syntheses, for example the faithful recreation of DX7’s FM. This synth doesn’t have a big, color touchscreen nor powerful system CPU, but in terms of pure sound capabilities I would say it’s more refined than Kronos.

      If we’re about to talk about analog polysynths, then yes, Prophet 12 is one of potential candidates to take the throne. Talking about today-selling machines, it IS the king already. Maybe CS80, OB12/Matrix12/8Voice or the Andromeda could compete and complement in the studio, but now only the huge. hellishly expensive modular sets of separate boxes would exceed that fairly compact keyboard synth.

  46. Love it. Just wish it had actual wavetables, as opposed to just single-cycle digital waveforms, like the Evolvers and Tempest have.

    THAT would’ve made it perfect.

  47. Despite the fact that the actual question is ridiculous, I must say that this is truly the first synthesizer I’ve played in 20 years that I walked away thinking “how can I get my hands on $3K!!!!”. Truth is, I don’t really need another keyboard, & I’ve got tons of other sound sources & iOS devices – but I want this one because of its immediategratificationplayability. That reaction came after just flipping through presets at NAMM and tweaking for only about 3 minutes – I’ve done this synth thing long enough & you can just tell – the DX7 ,the Korg M-50, the Nord Lead all just had “it” –this one is definitely on that list!

    1. Sort of like Dave’s answer to the Solaris, isn’t it? Relative to their big sounds and musical usefulness, they’re like twins with different-colored hair. Sure, they each have strong areas unique to themselves, but they cross over where you lay hands to them and you’re immediately transported to a giant Star Wars set. Looking back at CS-80s and Jupiter-8s is fine, but on balance, the Prophet-12 *IS* a new CS-80. There are several ways to reach Huge and Creamy; this is clearly one of ’em. I’ll bet it has a module in the editor’s sub-menu that’s a time machine. If you can suss it, you get to go back to 1974 and watch Keith Emerson pull his hair out when you show it to him.

  48. Loaded question!
    “Synth”, not workstation, so no Motif, Fantom, M3/Kronos (although Kronos has some nice synthesis engines).
    Also, not specifically “Analog Synth” (obviously, the P12 ins’t fully analog, with its digital oscillators), but the classics T8, Jupiter-8, MemoryMoog, CS-80, Matrix-12, as well as the more recent Andromeda and the new Schmidt (not the same price range, though) would be up there.
    Now, in the modern / digital synths, I would consider V-Synth, Virus TI, Solaris, Origin, or even the late Neuron for the top spots.
    IMHO, in the current crop of available poly-synths, the Origin Keyboard is the most flexible with its modular design, many choices of oscillator and filter modules, and performance controls (ribbon, joystick, duo-aftertouch). I don’t know if it’s “the best”, but it does sound really good (all the synths above do).

  49. I believe Wendy Carlos herself said, “Good analog is good, but good digital is better.”

    Best polyphonic ANALOG synth of all time maybe. Looks pretty fun, cant wait to try one in person.

  50. I think it is a very exciting prospect, but the lack of polyphonic aftertouch is a real bummer, especially for a synth with so many nice features. The bi-timbrality also kind of sucks as well, but this synth is made more for playing and big chords rather than sequencing 12 monphonic parts. I’ve only heard one demo of it and I can’t say that I was overly impressed with the sound, though. The demo I heard sounded very “glassy” if that makes any sense. Looks good on paper though.

  51. Can’t tell yet, but just wanted to reply with my experience regarding DSI customer care–it’s outstanding, especially given that it’s a tiny company. They’re responsive on their user forums and write back directly to individual bug reports. I’m a happy Tempest owner that reported a bug (which ended up not being a true bug). DSI staff helped me isolate the issue and arrive at a conclusion after 4-5 back-and-forths over the course of a couple days. Thumbs up.

    Can’t wait to try out the Prophet 12. Saving up the bucks till then.

  52. it’s fantastic but, synths are made great by the music they create, and the music they create is created by musicians who play them!

  53. Because of its restricted multitimbrality, it cannot earn that title, no matter how good it will sound. And what about a step sequencer for sound tweaking? Judging by the spec only, it probably will be a really good sounding performance synth, but is it really a really a new-ground-braking design?

    1. And then there’s the CS-80 – limited polyphony, no workstation capabilities, no sequencing, no MIDI and still one of the greatest synths of all time.

  54. Time will say the last word. Keyboards ees keyboardists, and I saw in my 35 years of experience truly masters with bad keyborads, and vice-versa. Analog or digital ? that’s an technical question, not an a musical one.

  55. Definitely believe that which you said. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  56. Best analog synths,ever:Moog Voyager,Jupiter 8,and Prophet 5.The P12 can’t be the best synth,ever.It’s freaking digital,and an Access Virus does a much better job.Best DSI Synth:Tempest.P12,sounds too digital,and thats getting up there with the Access Virus.Even,the P8 sounded too digital when you toyed the heck out of it.Just think when you toy with the P12.This analog vs digital thing has to go.All of this warm,boys of summer,goes away once it hits your digital daw.This is a flagship synth for live use.In a studi people would use a Virus,it’s just more versitle.Because in the daw,both the Virus and P12 are digital at this point,lmfao.

  57. Make a bona fide P12 module,and i’ll be all ovver it.I just ran out of room in the lab.However,thats not going to happen.Only if they discontinue their P8 module.I don’t see this happening,anytime soon.The P8 sounds more warm and fatter than the P12,but the P12 is alot more versitle.This is the reason it’s pretty much a digital/analog hybrid.The heck with it,give me a Fatso and an Access Virus.

  58. You moron.Dave smith is the best.Analog is better than anything else.The P12 isn’t digital,it’s analog.I think you don’t know your synths,and I also think you’re a bedroom dweller,

  59. I’ve had the P12 for about a week now. It is high quality, deep, and flexible. Is it the best? There is no single best, but it is right up there for sure. I own a Matrix 12, and I’ve had a Prophet 10 and a Memory Moog. I’ll never part with the Matrix or the P12.

    1. Congrats,but I purchased the Tempest and kept my Ti2 Virus.I can’t fathom selling my Virus and buying a P12.I thought about it and felt uneasy about it.I belive the Virus is a lot more versitle.I’m going to buy a Tetra to mate up with my Tempest.Also,I still think my Analog Four sounds better than the P12.Hey,for $3,000 could get you a TI2 virus module,evoler,and Tetra at musicans friend or pro audio star for under 3k.That would cover a hick of a lot more than a P12.But,as the saying goes:Different strokes for different folks.

  60. Dave Smith makes great stuff.You idiots don’t deserve Dave Smith.All I hear is you yuppies whine.No,it’s not vintage,but it’s the old set with the new.You purists need help and shock therapy.I love Dave Smith,but you don’t deserve his hardware if you keep knick picking it.We sell to musicans,not moronic purists.Stick with your 70s gear and continue your Alan Parson Project,losers,hahaha.

    Gang,check out my Prophet12 demo on youtube and the rest of my videos!!!!

    1. I’m really having a hard time believing, that you are Peter Dyer. I can’t believe he would post comments like these!
      Who ever you are, you’re not Peter Dyer!

  61. I work side projects for DSI and made many presets for the Prophet12.My name is Peter Dyer if you haven’t heard of me before.Check out my youtube page and like.

    I still think the Nord Lead 4 is the better synth.I like the Prophet12 as well.But,the Nord is just better.

  62. The greatness of any synth has more to do with its programmability and the ease of getting the results one is looking for. The skill of the programmer matters. A good sound designer can hear a sound on the Prophet-12 and do a good job at recreating that sound, on say, a Kronos or V-Synth. So I a more interesting question is: What **unique** features does the Prophet-12 bring to the synth world?

Leave a Reply