An Evening With Dave Smith

On November 12th, media training school Pyramind hosted an evening with Dave Smith, founder of Sequential Circuits and Dave Smith Instruments.

In part 1, above, Smith shares his thoughts on hardware vs software, how he got his start, his latest instrument, the Sequential Prophet-6, and more.



01:00 – Hardware vs. Soft Synths – real synths cost more than soft synths (hardware competes with FREE)
02:48 – What inspired you to start building equipment?
05:03 – Talks about the way he developed his synth to work, and what didn’t work for other companies
05:58 – Where do you start when designing your instruments?
09:30 – Talks about the Prophet 6 (voltage controlled oscillators)
12:18 – “Slop Control” feature
14:00 – Analog distortion
16:00 – Story about the new name – Sequential
18:20 – Starts demoing the synth (focused on sequencer)
19:24 – Talks about factory presets and why they’re made the way they are
21:10 – Arpeggiator
22:00 – Effects
24:30 – Analog synthesis has passed the test of time
26:18 – People used to just want to emulate real instruments
28:05 – Inspiration behind the Prophet 2000
30:30 – Why didn’t they quantize oscillator frequencies?
31:40 – Why he likes constrained designs
34:08 – You can know nothing about synthesis and still make cool sounds with these synths
34:58 – USB integration (it’s just midi over USB)
35:20 – Presets
35:48 – Analog gear market
37:30 – Appealing to different clients / genres
38:28 – Taylor Swift Custom Prophet 12
41:14 – What did the sound designers bring to the synth?
42:16 – Hearing presets being used / modified

In the second part, below, Smith talks about some of the details of the Sequential Prophet 6 and some of his other synths, including the Prophet 5 & Tempest:


00:46 – How do you know when the synth is “done”?
01:32 – Prophet 6 circuit board vs. Prophet 5
02:00 – Prophet 6 poly chaining, module version
03:08 – Tempest design vs Prophet 6
06:05 – Problems with having too much input during design stage
07:10 – Any high profile sound designers?
07:50 – Demoing
09:20 – Spring reverb model (hitting the side of synth)
12:26 – What was the hardest feature to cut during design?
13:30 – Favorite synth he has made
14:10 – Talks about polymod (one of the most unique things about the Prophet 5) individual modulation PER VOICE
16:00 – Jason Lindner (Keyboardist of Now vs. Now) demo
22:58 – Compares choosing synths to the way guitar platers choose guitars
24:17 – When do you think about what to build NEXT?
25:48 – Will you ever make guitar pedals or effects?
26:50 – Are you continuing to build your back catalog?
28:25 – Is there an audio input? (No)
29:41 – Filter poles (4 pole for lowpass, 2 pole for highpass)
30:24 – Unison mode demo (chord hold)
33:08 – Analog gear cost
35:10 – What do your employees do?
37:55 – Talked about doing a hybrid analog digital vocoder
39:50 – How are the synths assembled?
41:18 – What changed after having employees?
43:39 – Are you less connected with your products now that you have employees?

6 thoughts on “An Evening With Dave Smith

  1. why not syncing the tempest with the prophet via MIDI beat clock?? the whole concept of the demo didn´t make any sense. super-boring. oh, and by the way: the prophet sounded weak. gee, my fa-06 has more to offer.

  2. I suspect Dave is a pretty cool guy – lots of straight talk here about DSI and some of their flagship products.

    If I was there I probably would have annoyed him with a zillion questions about the stories and tech behind a lot of the legacy SCI stuff.

    Dave is great at describing the cool features of the Prophet-6 but not so great at providing a compelling demo. For example, when he shows “slop” in unison mode, if he had only played a bass line 2 octaves lower he would have probably sold a few synths!

  3. Interesting vid and nice to hear his opinion about basic analog sound. This is a very good stable synth with so many possibilities.

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