Dave Smith Previews New Mopho SE

Dave Smith introduces the new Dave Smith Instruments’ Mopho SE – a “powerful, portable and professional synthesizer” in this new video.

They’ve “taken it up a notch,” he says, and have added an octave to the Mopho SE keyboard, and have now outfitted it with the custom soft-touch knobs from the Prophet 12. It also has an arpeggiator re-latch feature that is new.

The Mopho SE has many of the same popular features of the older models, like one-knob-per-function interface, polychain, USB, full-size weighted velocity and pressure sensitive keyboard, solid all-metal construction, and external audio input.

For more information, check out the Dave Smith Instruments website.


54 thoughts on “Dave Smith Previews New Mopho SE

      1. Different version of the mopho is great. I want to see a rack version!
        He has loads of different models of synth. Seems to beat moog hands down.

    1. $949 USD According to a reply on their facebook page. Which is, frankly, bonkers if true – the Mopho X4 being only slightly more expensive.

  1. “Even software companies are making analog mono synths”. Pot shot at Arturia lol

    I would love to see the Tetra turned into a keyboard. He’s built a few variants of the Mopho, would be awesome to see the Tetra get the same love.

  2. “Even software companies…” “…overseas” “…we invented mono synths…”

    Nothing can touch the Arturia Minibrute for sound to price ratio. It’s pure analog insanity, vastly outperforms any other 12db single-osc synth by miles, sounds huge and totally analog.

    If the MiniBrute was around in 1979 (aside front he USB MIDI stuff, it could have been), people would be paying $2,000 USD for them on eBay, and they’d all have leaky caps and missing knobs.

    The Dave Smith stuff is fantastic, but at twice the price of the Arturia, it does not really offer twice the bang. Maybe 1.25 times the bang. Actually, just a different bang with some more traditional options.

    Made in America only plucks my heartstrings (or heartstring pad) if the factory is green and pays workers a living wage. Otherwise, virtually any Asian factory is capable of doing a great build if they have good specs and materials. At half the price.

    Smith is clearly calling out Arturia, but DSI didn’t bring out a direct competition for the MiniBrute. If it was within a hundred dollars of the Arturia prince point, then sure, tease them and let the 24db filter sway the undecided. But until then, it’s another 1k mono synth in a world where $500 will get you pretty far, analog or VA.

    1. The Mopho desktop was and still is in direct competition to the minibrute. These keyed monosynths have an unnecessarily large footprint of desk space, considering the keyed ones all take midi and most people use DAW software to control midi anyway. To me, its like being forced to buy a new midi controller, every time you want a new mono synth. Personally i’m waiting for arturia to make a desktop model/1U rack mountable edition @ $100 less than the keyed version, if they ever get around to it.

      1. I agree with you that the Mopho is nice because of decreased desktop space and MIDI integration, but I think the thing people like about synths like the Minibrute (I know it’s why I bought my Minibrute instead of a Mopho module) is the idea of having one synth with one knob-per-function that you can really dig in to in a “hands-on” way. The tradeoff is you can only have a couple of those types of necessarily big-footprint pieces with the space allowed. The positive spin is that it helps control my GAS since I’m running out of space to cram more gear! πŸ™‚

  3. Sweetwater has them listed for $949 which is nearly twice the price of a Minibrute or a Bass Station II and only 300 less than a Mopho x4. Not a very smart price point.

    1. Yeah, and for $50 more you can get a Moog Sub Phatty. We could all quibble on the relative strengths and weaknesses of both synths, but given the toss-up, I’d have to go Moog every time, if only for resale value.

      1. You buy synths based on what you think their resale will be? I buy synths based on their sound. I use them to make music. I’ll buy a painting or an apartment if I want to make an investment.

      1. The BSII is still the best sounding and most capable monosynth in its price range, or even double it’s price, IMO.

  4. I have both the Arturia MiniBrute and the BassStation II. I think both are very nice sounding, but the BSII has a more sophisticated feature set and some very nice overdrive effects. If I had to pick to buy first, it would be the BSII.. I have a lot of other more expensive synths too, but I love these inexpensive mono synths. can’t beat the value.

  5. And for what its worth, if I were Dave Smith, I wouldn’t sweat Arturia or Novation. I’d just do what I do well, make killer synths. His work is already a terrific value compared to some other products.. (I’m looking at you Moog)

  6. Arturia and others have certainly created some great options in the under $600 price point. However, DSI’s Mopho family does appeal to players who require more sophisticated preset/programmability. Not to mention the ability to add additional voices. I, for one, really want to see “0ne-knob-per-function” in a module version. Essentially this synth without the keyboard but with greater onboard control of the current Mopho desktop.

  7. I don’t like that ad, it has a defensive tone and when you get defensive like that you show weaknesses (you price point). Just let the product sell itself if it’s that good.

    As far as being made in the USA, well that’s great but it will drive up the price and patriotism only goes so far. Even more, as mentioned above, they have a global market but they see it as a local one…. I honestly think the video should be removed, they can do better.

    1. I agree. It’s is a very cynical angle for Dave to take in a market where the customers are all buzzing with excitement. And the product itself is ridiculously lame and he knows it.

  8. I think this is wonderfully made for players and performers. If you want a small analog for the desktop the Mopho module is still $300 and goes far deeper on programability. That’s bang for buck. The Minibrutes and Korg Volcas and even the MS-20 redux are great, don’t get me wrong, but they are a pain on stage with tuning, no presets, limited functions, etc. I think the SE is the Mopho concept perfected for stage. Why shouldn’t he be able to perfect his designs? He’s an engineer folks!

    1. Bass Sation II has it all. presets, stable tuning, great filters, smart arpegiator etc

      The made in USA thing doesnt mean anything to me, I buy what is good from any country.

      I felt a kind of weakness in his delivery. Maybe the Pro12 isnt selliing that well in a world of cheap monoynths?

      I do like Dave Smith but did not want this product.

    2. Volcas are not a pain on stage, in fact they are nearly the only alternative option to the elektron machines, when it comes to immediacy, and even more hands-on, with a one-knob-per-feature design. They have extensive midi control too and can synchronize with other devices easily, so when it comes to live techno or stuff, I can surely say it’s one of the better options out there.

  9. I own a mopho keyboard and it’s awesome.
    Minibrute is crap ( read the complains on the forum of arturia) and it don’t save presets.
    I can’t imagine that I could not save a preset on a synthesizer??
    Only thing I find negative on the DSI product is the price range.
    Low cost synth,affordable?
    I think you’re a genius Dave and I thank you for midi and good synths that you build but a DSI synth is not affordable.
    The mopho desktop is affordable but when there are keys and knobs on it the price of a synth of this quality is not affordable.
    Again,thank you and I think you’r a genius.

      1. I agree. Before jumping in to my Minibrute, I was concerned I would miss presets. Honestly, the true analog, no-preset format of that synth inspires me, because I never rely on some pre-rendered preset. I’m constantly morphing, tweaking, and exploring that synth. It’s taught me a lot about synthesis in a very organic and fun way.

    1. >Minibrute is crap ( read the complains on the forum of arturia) and it don’t save presets.
      Sorry but you kind of loose all credibility there!
      My minibrute is awesome and the knobs are much better than on my mopho desktop…And I love both, really!! They’re both amazing bang for the buck and sound sooo good.

      I think Dave is trying to step up as the market is getting more crowded for cheaper synths, a sub phatty is the same price with half the keys! But personally if I had the money and wanted this I would get a mopho x4

  10. dave smith can do whatever he wants. A true pioneer, and i wish i could afford his well thought out products and their design. I am happy there is a market for them for those with more money then i, in the mean time, anyone hating on the fact that this OG is currently making viable products can suck eggs.

    1. I don’t think anyone would refuse a free Mopho SE. Smith is well respected. His gear sounds great and always has. I’d love the new Mopho.

      But he’s clearly calling out Arturia and referencing the wave of recent affordable monos, and saying “look at this, guys, this is a real synth.”

      After that kind of pitch, I expected the thing to have a street price of $599. That’s a classic ad strategy. Mention the other guy, and then reveal you are offering more for less.

      Lexus ads don’t call out the Ford Focus and compare features.

  11. In this video he says that they are made in San Francisco, but in another interview he talks about how he has all the circuit boards made in China. So he has all the parts made in China, the keybeds come from Italy, and then he puts the two together in a case in the USA. Does that really qualify as “Made in the USA”?

  12. I hate to be the voice of reason here, but China has circuit-board manufacturing down to an art. You can e-mail many a small factory in Taiwan a schematic and they’ll drop-ship you a prototype to test within 2 or 3 days. That kind of turnaround is all but unheard-of in the U.S., which has priced itself out of several lucrative markets through inefficiency, over-regulation and greed. A Tetra totally built here could run twice its current price. If DSI synths don’t grab you, no problem, but don’t dis Dave for living in the real world of manufacturing. There’s far more to it than our surface dislikes for trends or design changes.

    Besides, no one can say Dave’s synths don’t have muscle. I’ve owned three of them and they’re no less useful than my Korgs or soft-stuff. Its the 5-Synth Rule: you don’t really hit creative escape velocity until you have 5 different synths, especially if each covers different sound-generating territory. Its rarely about one synth; its about the kind of ensemble you build.

    1. I wasn’t saying that there is anything wrong with having circuit boards made in China. I expect almost all manufacturers do that. I just don’t think it is fair to claim that it is made in the USA when it is merely assembled there. I think that the point he was trying to make is that it is durable and high quality. He could have made that point without the USA reference. As others mentioned, it was probably a jab at Arturia. If the synth is good quality, makes interesting sounds, and is worth the cost then it will prove itself when musicians get their hands on it. People pay as much or more for old gear that is unstable and falling apart, so I don’t think that the price is outrageous for a quality analog synth that includes many benefits of digital technology.

      1. Very simple. You “must” have analog, wavetable, sampling, FM or its more advanced brother additive and a wild card from left field. That last one can crossover with a sampler sporting truly weird sound sets, Reaktor or a dandy like Storm Drum, as long as it takes a zag where you usually zig. Logic’s Sculpture and ES2 have random patch generators as part of their tool kit. I get odd mileage from those, so those are valid ‘wild cards.’ You need the variety to get musically busy at maximum efficiency and be a happier spouse. Its a superior male hobby that tends to mean she knows where you are and its not off banging some slag.

        If you stick to hardware, the light bill will skyrocket, especially in the summer. (You may pro-rate this against the gain in heat in the winter.) If you stick more closely to softsynths, you will appear thoughtful enough to avoid taking up acres of floorspace with a Wakeman-sized rig. However, in both cases, she and the cat(s) will constantly lay across your gear while you’re busy, vying with it for attention. Time management is vital.

        Part of your musical discipline will involve putting the toilet seat back down dependably, not killing the cat and finding a diplomatic way to point out that she has a raging Dr. Who fetish or likes Michael Bolton far too much. Take turns buying personal ‘big-ticket’ things for your hobbies. Don’t let her build a real TARDIS as part of the bathroom, but do buy her a TARDIS cookie jar.
        Pass on a hardware synth, settle for its nearest software equivalent & a new backup hard disk, yielding relative balance in the home. If you ever have kids, put heavy plastic over everything as soon as Junior #1 can walk and then don’t touch it for 20 years because you’ll barely have time to pee, much less commune with the universe. Dr. McGurk, synth counselor, $5 please.

  13. zFor those complaining about perset users ;

    did you personally extract all the metals to make eectronic componenys, build your own chip plant, make all the plastic and metal housings, as well as fabricate rhe chips.

    did you perspnally tweak every sound ensuring noones ver fought of this sound before.
    hope you created every drum hit, violin, and vassy sound

    are persets still for bitches bitch

    1. I do think there’s something to be said about having to reconstruct sounds when you need them. Without presets, you become more accustomed to the synth itself and synthesis in general. Presets are great for beginners and as starting points even for power-users… but in some ways the old adage “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day…” is appropriate here. If you were to spend all your experiences with synths just re-shaping presets, you could *possibly* not even understand the structure of the basic sound or how to get back to that sound if you say, accidentally overwrite it or the memory bank craps out/gets zapped.

      It’s not about being cool, nor will it necessarily make your patches “better,” but it will make YOU a more capable synthesist.

      I guess what I’m saying is: when you don’t have presets, you teach yourself to fish.

      1. I respectfully disagree, for one reason: I’ve been at it long enough that I can instinctively reach up and make needed changes on the fly, whether they are live performance moves or within a programming session/moment. I have FEWER synths now because I found the right focus, so less really did become more. It takes a very long line of people to even build a synth, so don’t stop short over the presets. They’re part of what some very capable people like Eric Persing create to give us a far better starting palette. I understand the raw joy of knob-twiddling, but not having to recreate a bass patch from scratch every time is a great thing when you’re composing on the fly.

        1. Not to nitpick, but I did say, “presets are great for beginners and as starting points even for power-users.” So I guess I’m not arguing the uselessness or pettiness of presets… But just that an inexperienced synthesist will take more long-term gains away from constructing sounds from scratch.

          For an experienced user, starting with a preset is… Well… Common, natural, and obviously quicker. But if you can’t find a preset that really gives you the right foundation, you can always build that foundation from scratch if you need to. I know more than a few people who would just compromise by selecting the “closest” preset patch to what they were looking for. That’s okay, but it’s not ideal, and I certainly wouldn’t call them synthesists… They’re keyboard players.

          1. And to head anyone off before that gets misinterpreted, I don’t mean to insinuate that they are “just” keyboard players, as if that isn’t good enough. They can play Duchamp pieces like pros, and I respect them for that, but watching them struggle to figure out which modulator is routed to the Osc pitch tells me that their patching skills are lacking. They may play synths, but that doesn’t make them sound designers or synthesists…. They’re more interested in performance of the instrument, which is obviously hugely important (probably more important than patch creation) but still not the same thing. They’re different skills and trades. Not an insult, but an observation. Moving away from presets can help you with that. (Also, diving deep inside of presets can help you with that as well. So there is great value in that too.) But ultimately you still learn more from failing to build an electronic circuit than you do from taking apart a remote control. You can learn from both, but one is better, and will stay with you longer. The same is true for patching/sound design. IMHO.

  14. I think the poly chaining gives it an advantage. Hook up a mopjho desktop or tetra. Especially considering the price of used mopho desktops.

    I mean when you get sick of multitracking one of those new monos it’ll be cheaper than getting a whole nother synth. And then you might see the value of presets. πŸ™‚

    Comparing it to the mopho 4x price wise is kinda tricky because I’m pretty sure the 4x doesn’t have external input and isn’t multi-timbral.

    I’m waiting for DSI to stick a version of the p12 sound engine in the tempest body. It’d be super sick.

  15. It sucks when a software company undercuts the industry by releasing a synth that is just as powerful/interesting sounding/inovative as any Dave Smith instrument at a fraction of the cost of any Dave Smith instrument.

    A lot of people are going to be hurting because of Arturia, but com’on Dave!

    Wake up! Its 2014 and the bedroom studio musician can’t afford another $3000 synth!

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