The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 – The Most Useful Synth Ever?


Synthesist Chris Stack (Experimental Synth) shared with us his latest series of videos, which explore the Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 synthesizer.

When Dave Smith introduced the Pro 2, he called it his “most powerful mono synth ever.”

Stack agrees. “The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 is the most useful synth I’ve ever played,” he notes. “In addition to its great internal sounds, with four assignable CV Outputs (and four inputs!), it (much like the Moog Multi-Pedal) is able to lend new functionality to your older existing gear.”

Ultimately, how powerful or useful you rate a synth is subjective – it depends on your needs, budget and tastes. Stack explains and demonstrates why he thinks so highly of the Pro 2 below – check it out and let us know what you think!

Sequencer Applications of the Pro 2

In this video, Stack explores using the Pro 2s sequencer. Here’s what he hast to say about it:

A Moog Voyager sounds great but it has (for all practical purposes) no MIDI clock synced features. Pair it with a Pro 2 though and you can control things like the Voyager’s filter cutoff, volume, pan, wave shape and more with the Pro 2’s clock-synced LFOs, step sequencer tracks, envelopes and a variety of other elements.

I had a lot o fun connecting to multiple synths, starting the sequencer, and tweaking knobs. This video does not go into minute detail on showing how I did all this. It is meant as a quick look at some amazing possibilities. Think of it more as an “inspirational” than a “tutorial”.

Control Voltage Applications Of The Pro 2

In this video, Stack explores control voltage applications of the DSI Pro 2 synth. He notes:

With USB/MIDI and assignable CV Ins and Outs that can be sent to or from just about anything in its architecture, It’s like a great synth that fits into any electronic music workflow.

The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 has a street price of about $2,000. See the DSI site for details.

51 thoughts on “The Dave Smith Instruments Pro 2 – The Most Useful Synth Ever?

    1. imagine this without most knobs, doesnt really make sense as Rack-unit, this beast needs to be tweaked and played with, if you wanna use an Computer-Editor, buy a VSTi instead

      1. the pro12 module is great imo. i’m actually faster because there is less reaching around searching for the right knob, it’s all under your finger tips.

        i feel dsi has a really sweet interface going on with their new stuff. i guess it depends on if you enjoyed the blofeld or microwave2, but i did and this is like the next evolution of that.

        what i would miss on the pro2 is the sequencing section, but i’d be very happy with a “module” that cost the same or nearly and expanded on the sequencing and reduced the rest of the knobs. imo the keyboard on the pro2 kinda gets in the way now for how i like to work and the sounds i like to make with a mono synth. ymmv

      2. I own 30 hardware synths and sometimes space can be an issue. Hence, VSTIs sound like plastic and non analog. It’s obvious you’re a bedroom dweller so that’s all I’m going to add, kiddo.

      3. Not a rant towards you. It was a rant towards that ignorant amateurish comment. I own a Prophet12 module and It works perfect with my sound tower pc editor.

    2. Why does every YouTube synth video guy play goofy 70’s rock fusion and hide they’re faces? Play some fucking real techno! I always imagine them with some horribly disfigured face like the phantom of the opera 🙂

    1. Folks who owned a DSI Poly Evolver would completely agree. Some of the features seemed like an after thought in that they’re almost useless during performance :/

  1. When this synth was announced I was very excited – it looks feature laden and looks great. But, every time I hear it I’m completely underwhelmed. It’s just a sonic disappointment. I do not say that as a ‘troll’ or as some sort of narky gripe – it just sounds incredibly ordinary, and honestly quite feeble. My CS30 and MonoPoly are significantly better in sonics character.

    I just expected more, and have absolutely ‘parking’ any desire t own it. As said, I don’t say that likely – it’s based purely on the plethora of quite boring audio and youtube demos put out on it.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, from what I’ve seen I can get more out if my 10 years old microkorg!!! Not to say the instrument is incapable, with the specs it’s obvious it can do more but most videos don’t seen to do a good job of show casing thus machines potential

    1. Watch the 2nd video, if you have not already. I focus more on the Pro 2’s own sound there. I really love that paraphonic pad sound with the filter step-sequenced by the arpeggiating Little Phatty’s pitch CV out. I could have done that with the Pro 2 sequencer to but this way was fun.

      The lead sound at the 5:00 mark (in the 2nd video) was one of my favorites as well. All the expression options really made it a joy to play.

  2. For those saying the sound is underwhelming, this is a synth to be tweaked to your own liking. It’s kind of like saying a certain synth sucks just because it’s presets do. I didn’t like the sound in these videos either much but the vids were to demonstrate it’s flexibility and usefulness.

    1. Youtube videos, if they are 720p or higher, are pretty much CD quality. So why not? It’s not going to sound a lot different if I plug it into my own system.

      1. Not right.
        2014 videos are 192 kbps AAC at best.
        Earlier videos are worse.
        Here’s the scoop:

        The compression algorithm works particularly badly for synth sounds like pure waveforms (square/sine), they sound distorted and aliased.

        Note the article’s condition “provided that the source audio is high enough quality” — so it of course also depends on how the video was made.

    2. I can hear a Pro1, a Jupiter4 or something like the Macbeth Micromac on YT video’s and they just speak to me. Watch any of Retrosound’s demo’s and they are brilliant.

      I have to agree with some of the posters’ here. DSI synths just sound weak.

  3. I played this Pro 2 last week in the shop and it sounds great. Easy to play, also great sequencer. But it’s no Sub 37 😉 These are two different characters, but will fantastic for playing together.

  4. Of course people will judge a synth by watching videos. For many it’s the only way to get to see them at all. If people order stuff online they will also have to test the product online. They HAVE TO use youtube videos to judge. So, it’s the company’s fault because they didn’t come up with 10 different videos that show everything that synth can do. I just don’t get it anyway. Making videos doesn’t cost a fortune and will sell more synths everytime a good video comes up. And before they show it’s super great modulation and modular capabilities etc. just show us how well it can cover the bread and butter sonds. Show us how well its bass will stand up against a Moog. I think these are pretty important aspects for the average synth fan.

  5. For me their crown of glory was the evolver. From then on they just micromanage that setup into an endless variation of synths, none of them being really in their core more capable than the evolver. Of course this doesn’t meant their synths are not valuable or useful, which they are, but it seems they are constantly coming up with all these ‘sane’ economical decisions instead of a cool synth which the evolver was.

  6. What’s the point of expecting this to “sound like a Moog”? If you want a Moog, get one. When I was starting out with EM I had a Roland SH-1. Beautiful synth. Then I got a Korg MonoPoly. Different sound, different synth entirely. Together they were very powerful. Could one replace the other? Absolutely not. From what I have heard I think this synth has a lot going for it. One synth to fit all needs? No, but what is?
    As far as judging sound via YouTube videos, I don’t care if it’s 1080p HD video, sound on YouTube is so variable I wouldn’t use it to judge how a synth “really” sounds.

    IMHO, of course.

  7. This thing has way too many bells and whistles.
    I tried it today and it took me too long to figure out what was doing what.
    To need all these additional coloration features seems like putting mayonnaise on a dish that shouldn’t need it. Yes, it sounds big en deep, but it will probably fill up the entire mix, leaving no room to breath for other instruments. I played it today and also played an original SH-101, which was a lot more fun and I’m not a techno or acid guy.

    1. Complaining that it has too many features? Everything is laid out clearly and logically. If you can’t figure it out, that’s not DSI’s problem. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable with a microKORG? As for it “filling up the entire mix, leaving no room to breath for other instruments” I’ve used it on 2 records already. It seems you’re the problem, not this synth.

      1. Too many features – or bloat as it’s called – is a totally legitimate complaint/concern.

        Sometimes you just want a screwdriver and not a multi-tool.

        Also – no need to throw out the Microkorg as insult to the guy, or as an insult to the MK. Like I always say – I’ll take the MK challenge any day. I’ll make an album using only the MK as a soundsource that will sound as good as anything anyone else does on any other synth.

          1. I could argue that the microKorg has a steeper learning curve. DSI at least approaches one function/control while the microKorg’s labels are confusing. I was up and running on a mono evolver keyboard so much faster that the microKorg.

            Even with this in mind I find my minibrute much more fun to use over both!

  8. I didn’t say it should “sound like a Moog”. I said it should stand up against it. What I meant was a nice bottom end and a funky, juicy resonance . Things that any Yamaha CS synth is capable of, any Arp and some Korgs too. And they don’t really sound like Moog. The classic DSI filter didn’t do it for me. I love the Poly Evolver, but its filters are its only weakness IMHO.But this new filter design on the Pro 2 seems to be a lot better. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of Moog 😉

    1. jdxa is my “most useful synth ever” and sounds way better as an analog mono (and far more) than the horrid pro 2 with it’s fake-ass analog sound and scratchy digital edge/DSI harshness. Even that decent filter can’t save it.

      Pro 2 is one of the most overated synths of all time. JD-XA is one of the most under-rated (because people don’t give it a chance)

  9. I had a pair of Prophet-600s at one time. I found them to mostly be about the cream, so they tended to do the bigger pads, unique polysynths I could play pianistically and a few great rippers like Bernie Worrell’s P-5 squawnk on “Burning Down the House.” Partnered with a Korg DW8000 and a Juno-1, which covered the brighter sounds, it was flexible and Big. Do you know anyone who owns just one synth? Or just one guitar? Not as a rule, because each has a tonal role of its own. IMO, people who claim the Pro2 has a poor sound simply haven’t yet figured out where to slot it in. Its an evolved synth, but YOU still have to give it a voice. Besides, part of its role is clearly aimed at being a control center. It has great gozintas, especially for modular hounds. Program it and layer it, guys. I rarely use any sound that doesn’t have at least two layers. Don’t call it a bad synth; massage it into becoming the better one lurking under the presets.

      1. LOL. I can program synths way better than Doty, note he sticks with analog because they are easy? I can program everything from analog mono to complex FM as can many of us. DOn’t worship false gods please, the guy is there not because he’s better than others but because he’s confident and/or has an ego so makes videos about it. He knows NOTHING more about actual good sound and programming that many others, including me.

        That said, I can hear a mile off the Pro 2 sounds sub-par when trying to clone analog sounds (as he and others have tried), it sounds weak, plastic and frankly awful next to real analogs. And if that’s not its point (it’s a complex digital osc through analog filter beast afterall) then why do people say its better than other synths that do actually sound better? HYPE, NAME, DSI fanboys that’s why. Doty gets those synths for free, he’s not likely to give them a good kicking.

        Watching him massage a simple saw wave for days to sound more like a moog/analog synth was painful. Just give it up, use an analog already. If he was as good as some people claim do you not think he’d have just figured that out like the rest of us real musicians with good ears? He’s flogging a dead horse doing that with pro 2 or prophet 12 as they will never sound/react or feel like proper analog, and not only that they sound pretty horrible like all DSI synths, weak, crappy filters, harsh and unmusical.

        JD-XA absolutely destroys Pro 2 as a similar (ability to be) 4 layer mono synth (8 oscillators), better filters, better oscs, and is a proper analog (and digital) poly to boot. Yet it’s Roland, it’s not metal and wood, so it mustn’t sound as good or be as powerful? It’s way way better than Pro 2, and even prophet 6 and costs less than both.

        People need to open their ears before their wallets in the synth world.

        1. “LOL. I can program synths way better than Doty, note he sticks with analog because they are easy? I can program everything from analog mono to complex FM as can many of us. DOn’t worship false gods please, the guy is there not because he’s better than others but because he’s confident and/or has an ego so makes videos about it. He knows NOTHING more about actual good sound and programming that many others, including me.”

          LOL – tell us where Marc Doty says that he programs synths better than anybody else.

          Also – if you’re worrying about the perfect sine wave or imitating 30-year old synths, you’re entirely missing the point of a synth like the Pro 2.

  10. The sequencer doesn’t send notes to the MIDI out… wtf? You have to copy paste the track and then assign it in the menu every time. Thats a real bummer, and not flexible at all, especially in a live situation and in use with other gear.

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