Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 vs Dave Smith Instrument Prophet 6 Patch Comparison

This video, via SyntheticThings, is a head-to-head comparison of the Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 and the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 6.

“We compare the same patch on both the DSI Prophet-6 and the OB-6 to compare the similarities and differences between these two great synthesizers.”

For more audio demos of the OB-6, see the video below:

32 thoughts on “Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 vs Dave Smith Instrument Prophet 6 Patch Comparison

  1. I own a Prophet 6 and I preordered an OB-6. Just hope they’re not too similar in how they sound. I know they have different filter’s, VCO’s and VCA’s, but I wonder could that $3,000 be spent on something that is entirely different. This comparison does show a difference, but is it enough to justify the purchase?

    1. You’re ready to spend another $3000 and you’re asking an anonymous comment section for justification of purchase? I don’t get it.

  2. All of Dave’s instruments without exception sound too bright to me. To the point that I cannot ever purchase one. I have been given two by DSI, yet never purchased one. I do however prefer the sound of OB.

    1. I definitely feel ya, man. I had totally written off the Prophet 6 until I played one – it is great fun. And still, it had a brightness to it I consistently want to “dial out”. I probably still would have bought one but the model I tried had a really annoying “click” that wouldn’t go away on the lower register even by adjusting the attack…

    2. I’ve always hated fave smith stuff. But the prophet was nothing like the others, much “warmer” to my ears, and I agree the ob is more to my tastes.

      Seek one out in person because these are not like the stuff that’s come out in the last ten years.

  3. Urgent say it perfectly “To summarise; different synths sound different”… amazing sound from both magical instruments… I love always the OB sound and the video sounds very good.

  4. I think these comparison are pointless :how can a recently produced instrument compare with an instrument produced 20 years ago. Don’t the components (transistors, filters…) evolve over time or get old, and therefore affect the sound? You are not comparing 2 instruments, you are comparing 2 machines with a 20 years time lag in which one evolved and certainly sounds different from 20 years ago. How different you’ll ask ? I do not know, but when people focus on “waves shapes” in oscilloscopes, then I guess the comparison is pretty detailed. So, this A/B stuff is worthless.

      1. I do love it when someone has a good old rant without taking the time to check their facts first. Nobody ever looked silly doing that.

  5. Why is the guy obsessing so much with trying to get one synth to sound like another synth?

    Who buys a ob6 hoping it sounds identical to the prophet?

    Great video and a lot of effort obviously went into it, so thanks for that. Just didn’t get much value out of it

    1. The point is to highlight the innate differences which I think he did well. I had dismissed the ob-6 because I’ve met the prophet 6 and loved it, but he shows that features I am more likely to want are actually on the ob-6

  6. the OB sounds rounder, smoother, more full sounding

    seems like its always been like that though – comparing the OB stuff to the old Prophet series is the same… DSI has always made more raw, sharp sounding synths – always bright and crispy IMO

    the OB sound to me reminds me more of synths in the 70s/early 80s

  7. It’s funny how things go full circle.
    First there was analog.
    Then there was VA, trying to sound like analog, which it didn’t.
    Now there’s analog sounding like VA, which it does pretty convincingly.
    All the idiosyncrasies of vintage analog is just not there in new analog, but we don’t want to accept that.
    Clever marketing and slick design have pulled the wool over our eyes.
    It all sounds very thin and lifeless.
    A good 2-oscillator synth should not need a sub-oscillator, a drift knob and stereo effects.
    Put it next to a vintage Prophet or OB, who only have two plain oscillators and it will still sound fatter than the P6 and OB6 using all the bells and whistles.

    1. Funny how people comment on subjective topics like synth sounds as if their opinion is truth.

      I think both instruments sound beautiful in their own way. It does not sound thin and lifeless to me, rather it sounds fulsome and awesome.

      Do you have cotton in your ears?

    2. With respect Gene, I don’t agree with you. I have a new Prophet 6 and a vintage Rev 2 Prophet 5. I also have a lot of other vintage poly’s (MemMoog, CS-80, JP8, Andromeda, etc…). These new poly’s are BEAUTIFUL sounding. (I’ve also played the OB-6). I don’t think they’re thin at all. That’s just not true. To my ears, they sound warmer and fatter than a VA. I owned a Virus b, and I personally didn’t like it, so I sold it. I also use Zebra, etc… To me and my ears, the P6 is a GAME CHANGER. It’s Fantastic and it’s Brilliant! I also have a Pro 2, to me, the P6 is warmer and fatter sounding. In fact, I was disappointed they didn’t introduce an analog Pro 2. (Although the Pro 2 is a great synth).

      The P6 is cheaper (if money is an issue to that person) than a vintage P5, is way more reliable (has a warranty), has more features, and sounds just as good (different, but just as good) as a vintage P5. The envelopes are also faster, which is a big, big deal. You can use it as a Mono Synth, which is difficult to do on old vintage poly’s. I’ve recorded several songs where a vintage poly couldn’t keep up because the env’s weren’t fast enough. That’s not the case with the P6. The P6 and OB-6 also offer a lot more mod capability, sequencer, FX, etc. and stay in tune better, which is nice. Yes, I like the drifting, but sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. The P6 (and the Ob6) can sound vintagy or modern, and they stay in tune when you need them to.

      I think part of the problem is that we’re making judgements on subtleties in sound over the internet. The differences between all these synths isn’t night and day, so you really need them in front of you to decide. The difference is the difference and if you don’t like it, then stick with VA’s. I also find VA’s respond differently when you turn the knobs, and maybe you don’t agree with that, or not find that to be true. If that’s the case, stick with VA’s. Deciding between a VA and a new (or vintage) poly is a preference thing and a money thing. Which do you prefer playing? The layout of the synth? How the sound responds when you turn the knobs (filter, modulation, etc). Do you notice a diff or not?

      Having played both a P6 and an OB6, if money isn’t an object, buy them both. They’re absolutely different enough. If money is an object, the Zebra and VA’s will still get you there. Let me put it to you this way. None of these formats or synths will save a bad song, although they may make a great song sound more to your liking based on what floats your boat – and it may make the experience of getting there more fun and easy for you.

      It’s funny because, when I read the comments, I find people so cynical. Commenting on DS’s margins (of which I’d wager to bet no one has a clue…and when they comment on his margins, are they also valuing the RD and the 40 years of experience DS has in making synths, are they valuing keeping the mfg in the US, and working out of Cali…etc, etc). For the first time in years and years, DS has put out a reasonably affordable analog poly synth. That, in my opinion, is a MASSIVE accomplishment, and I for one, am absolutely thrilled that he did it. IMHO, I hope he gets stinkin rich. He deserves it.

    3. Much of what makes the classical analog sound (slight or extreme pich drifting, for example, and noise on the outputs), is due to the fact that they could not make good enough components.
      It’s not the natural coloration of a subtractive synthesis method.

      With VAs, the mathematics made the synths pretty much perfect. Some have different ways of trying to emulate sound of vintage analogs.

      In reality, despite what many analog fans think, VAs are more true to the subtractive synthesis method, than those old analog synths.

      Today, with modern manufactoring , the anlog synths sound too close to perfect to sound like the synths of the olden days.
      Thus to achieve what analog fans think is a part of the subractive synthesis sound, makers today need to use vintage emulation even in analog gear.

      That also creates a big issue, when trying to establish the Subtractive synth as a classical instrument.
      The sound that many think tells you it’s a quality product, is actually distortions (true or emulated depending on what synth is playing).
      It would be almost like finding out that the sound of a Stradevarius, comes from the fact that the wood used ages badly and that back in the day when they were new they actually sounded like a modern cheap violon. And to make a new Stradevarius you would actually have to emulate aging, by introducing cracks and twists to the wood, thus distorting the sound. Of course when it comes to Stradevarius, the exact oppisite is true, they were really well made and that is what makes them sound like they do. And they probably keep truer to the sound from when they were made than most other violins. But as an analogy I feel it works.

      In the world of subrtactive synthesis cheap homemade VAs actually sound more like Subtractive Synthesis should than on that 10 000 dollar or so vintage Yamaha CS-80, that simply distorts the sound way too much.

      So how can you make a quality Subtractive Synth, that deserves a premium price because it’s that much better than cheaper products (and VAs).
      Well, there is the keys, there is the layout of controls, the feel of the knobs, and so on, there is also poly aftertouch capabilities in a good keyboard (the ones with poly aftertouch today arent good keyboards), you could introduce a key-bed with keys that can swiggle sideways to also have poly pitchbend, and more. But at the end of the day, even if you can do that today, in some years you will find that some companies have come up with solution to do that much cheaper.

      But that makes it problematic when trying to make the Synth fit in with classical istruments, as there is pretty much no advantage when you want the most perfect subractive synth sound in choosing that expensive device over the cheap one.
      They will sound different, but not because that expensive one is more perfect (the opposite could be true, in that it better emulates the distortion).

      However that does’t stop me from liking the Sub37 more than any other synth that I’ve played (but I haven’t played all synths, and not enough VSTs really).
      But one has to understand that some of the sound character isn’t actually natural to the subtractive synthesis, but rather add on effects, just like guitarists uses ad on effects all the time. But that also means that there is the risk of a cheap knock-off that is just as good.
      I also like some of the CS-80 sounds I’ve heard on CDs and demos. But also some sounds that I’ve heard from classic synths, and that I’ve liked a lot are actually sounds that were made to try to emulate real world instruments, and if you compare the real world instruments with that of the presets on for example the CS-80, its a really really bad an emulation, but the sound in itself is still nice.

      1. With the P6, DSI cracked the code of how to make a modern, fully analog synth on the cheap. Their answer is Having a DSP monitoring all analog circuitry at key points, and making adjustments as necessary to keep all voices aligned and tuned correctly.

        The result is constant, precise compensation for temperature drift and component aging – so precise in fact that “slop” and the like becomes necessary.

        This auto-calibration, combined with inexpensive PCB production means the synths can be put together with almost no human wiring and testing. That goes a long way to keep things cheap.

        Korg followed suit with the Minilogue, a very inexpensive synth with only 4 voices and mini keys. Korg uses a Microcontroller per voice to do the same constant calibration. Due to price alone, Korg will likely sell more Minilogues than Prophet-6 and OB-6 combined.

        Some of that price can be attributed to DSI’s choice to employ more expensive American manufacturing, full-size keys, and other factors, but I still suspect DSI’s margins on their latest two analog polys to be ridiculously high.

        I want an OB-6 so damn badly, and I’m probably going to buy one, but I don’t see why DSI doesn’t milk this a little by perhaps making 5-octave, bi-timbal versions. (Bumping polyphony to at least 8 voices would also be pretty sweet).

        If DSI made such a beast I’d sell my Jupiter-6 and pick up either one in a heartbeat. I need to hold on to at least one nice, knob-per-function analog synth with a 5-octave splittable keyboard.

  8. Glad I watched this. The OB-6 is much more my style in sound. But I really like the layout of the prophet… Not that I can afford either of them!

  9. DSI seems to take the Taco Bell approach to their product line. How many different synths can we release using the same 5 ingredients?

  10. I owned a P6 since it came out . To my ear, the sound from a real P6 is much more solid than OB6 I heard from any youtube and soundcloud.(There are tons of P6 demo in Soundcloud) I dont know how come the conclusion that everyone want an OB6 more than a P6, The filter is the same as that state-variable filter in Pro2 ( I tryied a PRO2 for several weeks though), . I know that in current digital age, the p6 filter can’t be compared with the LP filter in Vintage P5, But it is still great and flexible when doing a modern mix.
    Every demo from the OB6 is lacking of some Low frequency harmony especially when you hearing some pad sound from any demonstration from Youtube or Soundcloud. I hope the real thing should be better.

  11. I listened and listened ad nauseum to the online comparisons and finally purchased a Prophet 6. I love it.

    I got a chance to play the P6 and OB6 together this weekend at Sweetwater’s Gearfest and confirmed, I had made the right decision. The Prophet 6 seems to have a more refined sound and delivery which is right for me and the work I do.

    I think Marc Doty got it right in one of his videos where he said that the OB6 is more of a color synth and has a special sound that will always dominate a patch whereas the Prophet 6 is more of a chameleon.

    They’re both great, but the Prophet 6 was right for me. I had both the Prophet 8 and Prophet 12 and sold them both as the sound just wasn’t there for me, but this one’s a keeper!

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