Dave Smith Instruments Tempest No Longer Being Updated

Dave Smith has announced, via the DSI forum, that they have no plans for further updates to their Tempest analog drum machine:

First, and most importantly, I’d like to thank you for being a loyal Tempest user. We appreciate all of your support, feedback, and especially your creative use of the Tempest over the course of its 6-year development. It is now a mature product that has undergone many changes and improvements.

When the Tempest was first conceived, we never imagined the many ways you would ultimately put it to use. As such, over time, we’ve done our best to add as many features as we deemed implementable within the Tempest’s technical framework. We’ve listened to your requests and have enhanced its operation, editing, and performance capabilities. While there are still some minor bugs remaining, we’ve addressed the bugs affecting the Tempest’s essential operation and feel that it is stable, reliable, has abundant functionality, and is very fun to play.

Though some of you continue to request new features and offer useful suggestions for improvement, we’ve reached what we consider the limits of the instrument’s available memory and processing ability. For these reasons, we consider this release (OS to be our final Tempest OS release.

Again, we deeply appreciate your enthusiasm for the Tempest. As we move forward, we are committed to creating still more ground-breaking instruments in the future.

The Tempest has been a unusually polarizing instrument – with some owners loving it and others frustrated by remaining bugs and outstanding feature requests. The drum machine’s last update, in June of 2016, addressed a variety of issues, but  was also described as a ‘beta release’, and left many user requests untouched.

Co-designer Roger Linn has weighed in on DSI’s announcement, noting that, while he’d like to see further development on the Tempest, it’s already ‘pretty amazing’ and that he understands the decision:

I’d like to add a few words to Dave’s statement above. Though I may have chosen differently, I understand Dave’s decision to finish Tempest development with this update. He’s devoted far more effort and resources to Tempest than any of his other products, and I feel that even with some remaining minor bugs, Tempest is incredibly deep and remarkably functional, and in my opinion has no competition for what it does.

The interesting thing about a a product that stores your music is that it’s an invitation to an infinite number of feature requests, because everyone’s needs for music creation are unique. I actually would have preferred a simpler Tempest with less features, but I admire Dave and his team for working so hard to implement so many of your requests, and those efforts have probably made it a better product than I originally envisioned.

On balance, if you look at the totality of things Tempest can do and its vast internal complexity, I think it’s pretty amazing and may never be equalled. I certainly couldn’t have made Tempest on my own and appreciate that Dave was willing to devote so many of his resources to this collaboration of ideas.

Note that the DSI Tempest analog drum machine is still available and no announcement has been made about its future – just that its firmware is no longer being developed.

50 thoughts on “Dave Smith Instruments Tempest No Longer Being Updated

  1. I love this instrument. It perfectly matches the way I want to create beats. There is no question that Roger Linn is responsible for the design of how a performer engages with this instrument. I look forward to that new drum machine he mentioned making in a podcast not too long ago! 😉

    As far as Dave Smith Instruments. Well, go ahead and read the forums… old and new. The Tempest remains riddled with with bugs. Over six years they would attempt to fix things and make promised features work, typically fixing a couple things and breaking another. That pattern of taking two steps forward and one step back is consistent with Dave Smith Instruments. From what I understand, it’s not limited to the Tempest. I highly suggest reading their forum before buying a product so you have a full understanding of what you’re getting into.

    I’ll keep playing the Tempest, because I do love it. I will however keep my eyes open for what is next on the market that could take its place.

    1. Got any links to that podcast regarding a new drum machine? I hadn’t heard anything about that!

      I purchased a Tempest very recently and have no regrets. It’s come a long way since 1.0 and while there are still some minor issues, the machine is still a beast.

      1. It’s right here on Synthopia!


        It’s a great podcast. Roger Linn is a humble, visionary, wonderful man.

        Here’s the part I’m referring to:

        Darwin Grosse: I know you’re still really actively tweaking the LinnStrument into what you hope for it to be, but I’m curious, what’s the next thing inside of your head? What’s the next master move? What’s the next rock-star thing that you’re going to do?

        Roger Linn: Well, I haven’t really decided yet. I would like to make another drum machine because very frequently people say, “Make another drum machine.” I mean they like Tempest, but there’s a lot of people that wanted to live in the sampling world, as opposed to the Tempest world.

        1. That’s pretty interesting! I kept wondering if they would make a Tempest 2 eventually, but based on all of Roger’s comments (including the one you’ve just shown me) it seems like Tempest truly was a one-off collaboration between Linn and DSI. Also interesting that he hints at it being a sampler based drum machine rather than an analog one.

          1. Sample based would be fine with me. It’s the expressive & performance based nature of the Tempest that I love. While the analog side is rich and amazing, many of its sounds that I use are made with or enhanced by the sample based oscillators. Besides… I’ve got the Akai Tom Cat for all the analog sounds one could ever need. 😉

            1. Haha, I agree. While analog is great, there is a lot of flexibility and different options you have in digital/sampling and it’d be great to see Linn explore more of the performance features in the Tempest in the purely sample based world.

    2. I have high hopes for the Rev 2 being bug free for this reason. Mopho x4 came after they realized certain things with the tetra just aren’t good/working. PE edition after original 08… Rev 2 seems like pretty tried and true territory but I’m going to wait until people have them and see if there are serious complaints.

      1. I feel like if they made a Rev 2 ever it would still be years away. Just a gut feeling based on Roger’s comments, particularly “I certainly couldn’t have made Tempest on my own and appreciate that Dave was willing to devote so many of his resources to this collaboration of ideas.” It just sounds like a closing statement on a unique collaboration rather than “there’s a sequel coming around the corner”.

  2. Also, if you like your LFO to sync to the clock and not quickly drift away from it, you won’t be pleased with the final release of the firmware.

  3. DSI is a tiny company, probably can’t afford to a keep a dev working full time to support a product that ultimately possibly hasn’t sold so well. I suspect this marks the end of the road for the Tempest.

    That said, there’s precious few alternatives that have both samples and 6 voices of analogue circuitry.

    1. The Rytm and the Tempest are very different as performance instruments. I can pull up to the Tempest and play it with expressivity and immediacy similar to what I get when sitting behind a drum set. The Rytm is a wonderful machine, but to reach the same level of a sequenced expressive performance, you must lay in your parts and start turning individual parameter knobs. I think the Rytm more immediately resonates with musicians that are comfortable with a drum machine that is rooted in the world of step-based sequencing and like finding expressiveness through exploration. The Tempest more quickly resonates with a musician that wants a device to capture their beat-oriented thoughts and expressions as they come to them.

      1. It’s all about learning your instrument and how you use it. I play into the Rytm live. No issues getting my beat oriented thoughts in. 🙂 and once my beats are played in, and can mangle the beejeezus out of them with the sequencer.

        1. I totally agree. I’ve spent significant time and energy trying both instruments. The above assessment is based on multiple combinations with both electronic and acoustic gear. It is my humble opinion and perspective on how the two instruments compare to each other.

  4. If they’re not going to address the bugs, then they should release the source code, allowing other programmers to address these issues and feature requests.

    1. Totally, I came here to express this same feeling. Open source that shit, what are you afraid of? Let the people decide if the limits have been reached or not. Akai also thought the MPC had reached its limit, then came JJ with his OS and taught them a grand freaking lesson, they were WRONG.

  5. As cool as analog/sampler hybrid drum machines are- there is still nothing on the market for electronic drums like Native Instrument’s Maschine. It’s a flexible controller, well-built, comfortably ergonomic, and the cross-platform support and DAW compatibility is top notch. You simply cannot beat a Maschine/computer combination for drum processing, sampling and sequencing.

      1. Even at $2200 the MPC X looks amazingly full featured- I agree, if and when it is made. I’m not sure how you can measure something like ‘intuitive’ – but Maschine is currently in use, in it’s third incarnation with mature software, and at a third of the price (plus the price of a computer, which most electronic musicians have anyway.) I don’t think anything beats it in terms of price, compatibility, ease of use, and flexibility. With that said, I’d love to get in front of the MPC X and see what it can do-

  6. As a heads up to those clicking the link above that takes you to the Dave Smith Instruments forum, many of the frequent contributors are having a difficult time getting the site to load. A very similar situation happened on their “old” forum as tensions arose concerning the completion of the Tempest. While this of course is most likely a coincidence, it is quite the coincidence of coincidences indeed.

  7. Maybe Pioneer ought to take over the firmware finalization for the Tempest. They’ve cozied up good and close to Dave Smith Instruments recently. They should probably have read the forums before silk-screening a name on their products that may invite a little unwanted patina to their products.

  8. So they finally gave up with the unfinished, buggy, disappointing, totally overpriced Tempest. Congrats to give your reputation another deathblow 😀

  9. Tempest has soul. I sold my TR8, as it ain’t the real thing. This IS analog, (mostly). I only bought mine recently. So whilst I’m disappointed about no more support, I haven’t really noticed any bugs. A bigger issue in my opinion is the rather poor onboard sounds supplied with it. Even with basic programming it’s easy to create much more inspiring sounds with the Tempest. Same went for my P06, poor presets, great technology!

  10. Maybe Behringer will make a tempest with sample playback..using the tempest as a drum machine does what it is designed to do. Too many people today are so self centered and want everything or nothing in their gear. I see the Rytm as a great alternative for an analog drum machine..and for pure sound quality the Tanzmaus by MFB is my favorite little beat maker! I’m sure a lot of people will be Elektron converts after Digitakt comes out. Malekko has some cool desktop units coming soon also!


  11. Well, as one reading recent posts on GearSlutz (“Behringer Mini model D? A good idea?”), all with a DSI employee bashing Uli & the company with might and main, I can say I’m not a bit surprised: looks like they’ve got better things to do with their time than developing updates.

  12. I guess it’s not for everybody, but there are countless artists who use these live in a touring rig. Countless others who use them to create in the studio.

    I understand that they promised the world on this one, and I get that. Whichever way you look at it though, it’s a killer 6 voice poly synth which happens to have an amazing sequencer bolted on, pads and samples installed. What it does it does well, I’ll never sell mine, and I’m certain that in 15-29 years these will double their worth and be looked upon with the same eyes as the 808’s are today.

    It’s a heck of a machine, just as it is!

  13. Surely Dave’s bound to announce a new analog d machine as part of the Pioneer line. They discontinued the Mopho about a year ago, right? The AS-1 looks to be a good replacement for that.

  14. “As we move forward, we are committed to creating still more ground-breaking instruments in the future.”

    More Prophets? That is what has been coming out of DSI for a while. Good luck to them for chasing the money with nice instruments. But ground breaking?

  15. I agree with Dave’s decision. I also resonate with Roger’s feeling that a simpler interface might have been preferable, and this is the primary reason i have not purchased a Tempest. 10 minutes in front of it leaves me scratching my head. I’m sure others can get around on it faster. Tempest is probably the finest drum machine out there, and I wouldn’t mind eventually owning one.

    I’m an MPC kind of guy for composing. I love Battery for flexible recording. Rytm appears to be perfect for performance. Rhythm Brute is quite good for its genre, and I’m in love with the DRM mklll, sonically speaking. Of course, just using a synth is nice, but you can’t beat acoustic drums for giving you goosebumps. There’s nothing like a skin moving air.

    I’m happy to use all techniques for making percussive rhythms. Thanks to all for the great devices, from cave man, to Dave man. Keep them coming!

  16. so the OS updates are complete…. but the rumbling are never gonna get over… personally I never had any issue with it… dont know of a single bug… and never updated it once

    1. If you read the manual and try everything that it says it can do, you will run into bugs, some significant.

      With the latest beta software (the one DSI plans to make the final official release) the LFO does not stay synced with the tempo when you have chosen LFO Sync. Of course that won’t bother you, and you’ll never notice it if you never use that feature… but that doesn’t mean it is not a bug.

  17. Let me weigh in here a bit. I use a number of hardware synths for my production work, the bass the mids they are all synths. Drums are digital samples. The hardware drum machine that I am most interested in updating is the Tempest, as an all round feature packed machine. The other one is Jomox, but with Tempest I think you could really push the envelope because of its modulation possibilites and sheer number of features they have put into it. I know Marco Faraone is a Tempest user, as far as electronic dance music users are concerned.
    Now, on a slightly off topic I want to make a less obvious plug for a software we are developing. I think this article comments are a nice place for the plug since most of the readers of a HW drum machine article should be pro or semi pro users serious about their music.
    Check out http://www.soundcloudhelper.com for a nice marketing tool for SoundCloud. SoundCloud Helper for Mac – Not Your Classical Bot
    Thanks for the time

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