Sequential Says First Prophet 5, 10 Rev 4 Synths Have Hardware Flaw, They Will Fix For Free

Sequential has announced that the first of their Prophet 5 & 10 Rev 4 synthesizers have a hardware flaw that make them slightly duller in the high end than vintage Prophets.

Creator Dave Smith say he did not notice the issue when he tested the first production unit, because his ears are ‘lacking in the high end’ after too many rock concerts in the ’60s.

The company says that they’ve identified the error and will swap the affected circuit board or swap entire units at no cost to owners – ‘whatever is required to make things right’.

Here’s the text of Smith’s announcement:

“Prophet 5 / Prophet 10 hardware tweak

As some users have noticed, there is a drop in high frequencies on the current units in the field. I checked into it yesterday, and I’m highly embarrassed to say that we screwed up. Short story is there are some capacitors that were not meant to be installed, but did in fact get installed, causing the frequency drop.

A fair question would be “how did we not notice this?” This turns out to be due to my ears lacking any high end; too many Yardbirds, Who, Cream etc. concerts in the ‘60s. I picked up serial #1 on October 1st, and it sounded great to me! Since then, we’ve shipped every unit we’ve made because we have a huge backlog. And, with everyone working at home due to the pandemic, no one else played a production unit except me.

Those are just excuses; the real issue is that units in the field need to be corrected. Fortunately, it’s a fairly easy mod if you have access to a soldering iron, or a service center nearby. Two capacitors need to be removed; that’s it.

We will happily swap boards if that is preferred, or swap entire units. We will do whatever is required to make things right.

This affects serial numbers 1 to 195 on Prophet 5s, and 1 to 159 on Prophet 10s.

I owe everyone a deep apology for this; it’s not how we normally work, and I’m really sorry this fell through the cracks. Thank you for your understanding.

Dave Smith”

106 thoughts on “Sequential Says First Prophet 5, 10 Rev 4 Synths Have Hardware Flaw, They Will Fix For Free

  1. a real company run by actual people who care about their products and their users. loving my prophet 6, so I probably won’t get a 5, but I appreciate that these are out there and being enjoyed by a bunch of other synth enthusiasts. big ups to Dave Smith and the Sequential team for standing behind these synths.

      1. Yeah, it is real fun to ship a heavy synth back to the manufacturer for QA problems. I just shipped a Mini Moog across the USA. It cost a small fortune to do so. I hope shipping is included in their offer. If so, that helps a lot.

        1. There is the DIY option where you can do it or take it to a local tech shop or electrician. I’m sure they have more than enough knowledge to fix it for you for a small fee instead of the hassle and expense of shipping.

    1. > a real company run by actual people who care
      > about their products

      lol, whuat? it seems as if nobody—w/the exception of dave—actually COMPARED the sounds of new ones with those of the old ones. how on earth could that happen, for god´s sake?

      1. That’s not what happened.

        The entire team (including Dave) had been working with production prototypes. You usually build a small handful of “like production” devices to test the assembly process, shake down the hardware, run audio tests and for photos and documentation (and for FCC/CE regulatory tests). When the instrument was put on the production line, a couple of components marked DNP (Do Not Populate) on the schematic and board layout seem to have been installed.

        Because everyone’s working from home, they didn’t have a chance to A/B test the production units with their pre-production prototypes. Dave was the only one who put one through its paces; everyone obviously trusted the boss when he said, “Yup, everything checks out.”

        1. This shows that working from home is a failure in hardware engineering. You have to be in the lab so to speak. I see this here in the engineering firm I work in. The WFH crowd has largely checked out. WFH really does not fly as an excuse for a paying customer.

          1. I agree with you. I’m an engineer and most of our customers are still working from home. Everything is delayed and disorganized more than typical. Even my vendors are taking forever to respond. It’s like everything is slowly falling apart. I can see how this mishap occurred, these things do happen to the best of us. But I commend Dave with being up front quick and honest about it, and offering all the options, even the most costly ones to him. Thanks Dave ! Besides the fact you’re now back to selling the world’s best synthesizer hands-down, your policy makes for loyal customers.

      2. I’ll concur that did NOT happen. I had a beta here, sounded phenomenal. this is just an issue with production models. The joys of working remotely in a pandemic eh?

  2. Agreed! Sequential customer support is outstanding. They has just fixed up my Mono Evolver Keyboard which was affected by the encoder problem. A synth that is 14 years old! No problem, they replaced all 57 encoders with high quality ones, job done neatly and quickly for less than $ 1 per pot!

  3. Ouch, that’s an expensive mistake. At first, I was thinking it was pretty irresponsible not to have a bunch of ears on that prototype. But yea, COVID and backlog and older ears. That’s a self-kick, for sure. Glad they’re making it right, though.

    Nice to hear about how they took care of your encoders, Frabas.

    1. Good companies will acknowledge problems, address them quickly and write it up to the cost of doing business.

      The cost of fixing the boards is probably pretty small in the big picture, considering that they’ll sell millions of dollars of these Prophets.

  4. I checked out one of the videos from the Gearslutz thread, and the difference is pretty subtle, getting into OCD territory. Glad it’s a quick fix, though.

    I kind of wonder if these initial Rev 4’s might sometime be worth more because they’ll be rare?

  5. Sounds like a very minor hardware tweak is required on the output stage. It’s nice to see the company being completely straightforward about the problem.

    I’m still very happy with my 12 year-old Prophet 08, hoping that Sequential releases a new sub-$1000 monosynth at some point.

    1. That’s because Sequential doesn’t threaten and harass journalists & bloggers, sue Gearslutz members for discussing their products, make copying other company’s products their business model, send employees out to astroturf the comment sections of synth sites, etc, etc, etc.

      1. Nonsense. So many bad posts about Behringer, do you really think, they all got sued (inkl 50% of Synthtopia users)?
        It’s a difference to “discuss” issues or to spread rumors, lies, false pretences, insults or negative “tests” without ever have touched the “tested” object, as it happened on some websites……

        1. My previous comment is only ‘nonsense’, as you suggest, if you can demonstrate that Behringer doesn’t threaten and harass journalists & bloggers, sue Gearslutz members for discussing their products, make copying other company’s products their business model, send employees out to astroturf the comment sections of synth sites, etc, etc, etc.

          It’s well established fact that Behringer sue threatens and harasses journalist & bloggers – something that should disturb anyone that cares about free speech and the right to express your opinion:

          It’s well established fact that Behringer sued Gearslutz users and Dave Smith and that a US judge determined that the lawsuit was harassment, intended to stifle free speech (aka, a ‘SLAPP’ lawsuit):

          It’s well established fact that Behringer makes copying other company’s products their business model. The majority of their synth line is copies of other company’s products. They generally state this as one of the key features of their synths, describing them as ‘Authentic reproductions’, etc.

          If you think any these are “rumors, lies, false pretences, insults”, you should put up or shut up.

    2. Came here to say the same thing and that it probably wouldn’t have and won’t happen when Behringer release their Prophet-5 😉

      1. Lol – you must have missed the tuning issues with the Model D – people report getting units that won’t stay in tune over an octave. You can fix the issue yourself, but it requires unassembling the synthesizer and then putting it back together. All because Behringer did not make the tuning controls accessible, like other companies have done since the 70s, and because of bad quality control at the factory.

        And you must have missed the tuning issues of their System 100 oscillator. It’s a hardware issue and the only way to fix it is by soldering a kludge in place. They knew how to copy the original circuit, but didn’t understand how their changes would screw it up!

        And you must have missed the MIDI sync problem with the RD-8. The RD-8 was useless for MIDI users for a year before Behringer finally admitted to the problem. And the ‘fix’ apparently bricks some machines.

        Finally – have you noticed how Behringer people try to make every story about them?

        1. I’m not defending Behringer, but I had the same tuning issues (or even worse) with a Moog Voyager OS (and this was a modern analog synth – supposedly).. I had to run a 30′ long calibration procedure every week or so…and guess what.. Moog hadn’t made the tuning controls accessible from the outside..

          1. “I had the same tuning issues (or even worse) with a Moog Voyager OS”

            They called it ‘old school’ for a reason, I guess.

            The Mother-32 makes it easy to adjust the oscillator tuning/scaling, via a few trim pots accessible through the front panel. There’s no reason to make it harder than that in this day and age.

    3. Behringer synths have been released with hardware issues. The first run of Behringer’s System 100 dual VCO module had a tuning flaw that required a hardware fix. Some users have reported significant tuning drift on the Model D, etc.

      It’s just not an important enough story to cover.

        1. Still waiting on Chris or anybody else to explain how you can ripoff yourself.

          Or to point out where this site said anybody’s synth, ever, was a ‘ripoff’.

  6. That’s a really nice letter, one of the best customer service responses I’ve seen.

    Dave is a total class act.

    And removing the caps with your own soldering iron is the way to go here, provided it’s still ok to request the swap board if that fails, which I’m sure it is.

    1. > one of the best customer service
      > responses I’ve seen. Dave is a
      > total class act.

      he learned from the tempest fiasco. he and roger linn screwed that up bigly in the beginning.

          1. They never said that. The issue in adding more requested features is the hardware memory size of the OS.

            All complex machines have bugs, The tempest is much more stable then my electrons and waldorfs.
            it’s people that bugging more.

  7. This is world class customer service right here. Owning up to errors, and fixing them. ALL Nord Stage Compact 73’s have a design flaw in the modwheel where it grounds out oddly skewing the midi output. Not a peep from nord, except “yes theres a flaw”. The tech at Centerstaging (big rehearsal warehouse spot for big acts in LA) fixed mine – required some soldering. But i was dissapointed that Nord did not address it. Sequential is KING!

    1. I am pleasantly surprised by Sequential’s response and not at all surprised by Nord’s! Clavia has for years treated defects, engineering errors, and general shortcomings as the cost of doing business at the users expense!

    2. Totally agree. Top notch customer service at Sequential and terrible customer service at Nord. They shipped several Electro and Lead models with a faulty power supply (terribly noisy) and their excuse that it is “built like a tank”. Terrible noise caused by it’s power supplies on a musical instrument. Obviously they don’t take charge for the issue. I will never ever buy a Nord instrument again.

  8. As long as this costs nothing to the buyers it is a very commendable announcment/action. As for the explanation it is the worst and least encouraging for a company i’ve ever heard…

  9. For Heaven’s sake, what’s the worst and least encouraging about admitting the truth? Here we have a legendary synth engineer + producer who’s humble enough to admit an error as soon as it comes to his attention during rough times and those are the kindest words you can come up with? Give the guy a break. Makes me want to buy a REV2. Hopefully a bigger screen, more polyphony + effects are being to a new one in R&D right now… hint, hint.

    1. I do not accept that a company of Dave Smith instrument’s size relies only on Dave smith ears to judge the sound of a synth. If this was a lie it would be magnitudes of levels less ridiculous than if it is true.

      1. He addresses this directly in his statement.

        Sequential’s a small business, releasing a complicated piece of gear in the middle of pandemic and a mistake slipped through. Dave Smith has personally taken responsibility for the issue and they already have a fix.

              1. One? 🙂
                Mistakes happens to everyone, From one man company to ones with 10k employees.
                It’s how you deal with them that counts and this one should be example.
                The more we will support this act the more other companies will be willing to come forward and understand it’s better for everyone to do that.

                1. it’s quite “commendable” to honor a legally-binding warranty, haha — especially in the face of such admitted absurd hubris and carelessness. the dude’s same incompetence cost me $1500 last year, so i’m laughing today at the display.
                  I wouldn’t want to wager whether his career or pride can survive the embarrassment. But I will wager a million bucks that…

                  “Korg’s answer to the volca beats problem was to decide that was how it was supposed to sound.”

                  … Dave thought long and hard about it! haha. Just a guess!

          1. There are 15 people in the company, all working remotely on this project. They are a small company. The synths are manufactured by another company near San Fran. Trust this is due to the very unique circumstances of putting out a synth during a pandemic.

      2. > I do not accept that a company of Dave Smith instrument’s size

        Of his size? It’s a handful of people hand making instruments from a modest sized office in northern California.

        He invented MIDI but it doesn’t mean he is a giant corporation. He’s not. You’re buying from an artisan who somehow has survived 40 years of mega corporate domination.

        1. No, that is patently false. Whilst Sequential is no Korg, it is hardly an artisan operation! They outsource their synths to an experienced German engineering firm for testing and tooling. Whilst I commend Dave for his admission, the truest phrase in his statement was that this was an “embarrassing” chain of events. How much he he omitted is irrelevant at this point as they are doing the honourable thing by remedying it.

          1. What Rabid Bat said is correct.

            You’re arguing over how many employees you can have at a ‘small company’ or an ‘artisan operation’. If you’ve got guidelines on this that you think we should all follow, feel free to share them.

            Meanwhile, we all know that it’s a fact that Sequential is no Yamaha, Roland or Behringer. They’re a company of 10 or 20 people.

            Mutable Instruments is in a similar position – one of the most important Eurorack manufacturers, but it’s a tiny operation, basically one person.

            1. One person vs 15-20 is not a similar or remotely comparable position. As far as “synth companies” DSI, Clavia, Moog are as big as it gets. Trying to present them as they are a jomox/radical technologies/ single person entities is not doing them any favours. The Japanese ones have hundreds of products in their catalogue, synths being a small percentage of that.

          2. I wonder, if in this case, they were not able to deal as regularly with their German firm on this one. The German firm also might have signed off on the the build, but not dealt the schematic (with the extra caps), or a “listening test,” leaving those details to the US side.

              1. actually, last I checked, all their stuff was made by a Chinese company. not that you can blame the manufacturer for the problems with the Tempest, the Prophet X, or this latest farce with the Prophet 5 replica.

  10. Lol at everyone calling this Commendable. It should be standard that a company selling anything, let alone a $3500 piece of music gear to fix any problems that occurred during manufacturing for free. Microsoft did this with the Xbox 360. It’s pretty regular practice.

    1. “It should be standard that a company selling anything, let alone a $3500 piece of music gear to fix any problems that occurred during manufacturing for free.”

      Yeah – it’s a standard issue that should be covered by warranty. What’s commendable, though, that Sequential responded immediately to people’s concernts, got all hands on deck to check out the issue, identified the problem and had a solution the next day.

      Lots of companies never acknowledge the issues with their. See earlier comments about some of the problems with Behringer gear. They’re not alone in ignoring issues. Korg’s answer to the volca beats problem was to decide that was how it was supposed to sound.

    2. Isn’t there a problem with the Elektron Analog Rytm mkii where the units freeze? If I remember correctly there’s a massive thread on the forum. They never acknowledged the issue and people have gone through 2, 3, 4, 5, units and they all freeze at some point. I think they can’t acknowledge it because the business is not healthy enough to fix the issue and perform a massive replacement program. It would cripple the business mightily.

    3. It says a lot about what we’ve come to accept. Amazing that even small companies are not putting these products on an o-scope or spectrum analyzer (cheap at audio frequencies) to test rubber meets road performance. My personal pet peeve is Korg, who releases buggy volcas and other stuff with half-baked firmware and hardware, and then almost immediately moves onto the next product, leaving the old in the dust (or for an enthusiast to fix the firmware/hardware themselves).

      1. We have a winner. I have a spectrum analyzer app on my Ipad for almost nothing. I imagine some of this is refusal to submit to new QA techniques vs ‘by ear’.

        1. You talking like you never made a mistake, Let alone in something so complex that involve so many variables. I will bet on Dave’s critical thinking than on any easy-trigger-commenters here any day.

  11. Wondering why and how these caps went in there in the first place!
    they are not there by error but by design , the machines filing the prints dont decide this on their own, and there was a place indicated for those components
    was is a beta tryout , that they forgot to remove? , or just an design error that they now discovered after release of first units
    I also have nothing but praise for the service of dave smith synths over the years ( problems on my poly evolver and prophet 8 promptly resolved at minimum or no cost)
    And another company that deserves praise in that regard is make noise

    1. When implementing inverting op amp stages it’s extremely common to include caps in the feedback path to low-pass the signal to improve stability and reduce noise. It’s possible (likely even) that the caps were meant to be a smaller value but weren’t completely necessary so the easiest thing to do is just remove them. From the pic it looks like it’s the final summing stage before the main output VCA.

    2. > the machines filing the prints dont decide this on their own, and there was a place indicated for those components … was is a beta tryout , that they forgot to remove

      As a past, ahem let’s say master why not (sigh), designer of mixed signal circuit boards for these sorts of applications, I always include pads for caps at critical points such as for example (massive top secret here) the analog voltage reference input to DACs. When we get the boards back I tested them to see if I needed anything there, and what size, and sometimes nothing at all. There’s also the issue of the caps on the final output stages, balancing noise with high end. It’s something you fine tune. And depending on supply tolerances and how high end your market is, something you might do on a board by board tweak. So it’s reasonable he had optional pads. In fact if you open ANY modern high end device with a board you are quite likely to see unused pads. Crack them open and look, then post your uninformed critiques.

      1. my uninformed critique , was just a question because I was uninformed about the subject
        usually the manufacturer puts a mention that there are no serviceable parts inside , so you should not crack it open 🙂

    3. As others have said, it’s very common to have DNP (do not populate) pads for components (especially capacitors and RF chokes) at various points in a design. This gives the engineering team the ability to fine-tune designs. Often, we overengineer and then flag the unnecessary components. The empty pads stay on the board so we don’t have to make another engineering sample run.

      When the assembly files are sent to the manufacturer, the BOM (bill of materials) has a list of components marked DNP that are not supposed to be populated. The problem is that the BOM is often several thousand components long and generated from a system such as Arena. If a hardware engineer forgets to flag certain components as DNP, they’re going to appear on the board. If a layout engineer at the assembly plant accidentally strips off the DNP designator, they’re going to appear on the board.

      At the end of the day, this is a trivial error as far as hardware mistakes go — a couple of unnecessary parts were installed and removing them completely resolves the problem.

      1. “The empty pads stay on the board so we don’t have to make another engineering sample run.”

        The cost of running a final PCB revision is trivial compared to the tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars that Sequential will have to pay to fix this error. The professional thing to do is tighten up your layout and remove unused pads instead of relying on the assembler to notice “DNP” on your BOM.

  12. Kudos to Dave and team for simply stepping up and saying it like it is. No wishy-washy BS or denials like Apple and a lot of other manufacturers, just a straight-up “yes, we screwed up and will make it right”. Could not ask for any better from a support perspective. Great customer service an support. Now if only I could afford their synths.

    1. The value of used Tempests has risen by 50% in the last year on Reverb.

      If you judge it by what it is and what it does, it’s one of the greatest drum machines ever created.

  13. is it made true old skool for nostalgia’s sake with thru hole components or do you break out your soldering iron to remove a capacitor smaller than my puppy’s fingernail?

  14. A portion of the article reads, “Short story is there are some capacitors that were not meant to be installed, but did in fact get installed….”

    Are these the flux capacitors that made the synth sound like it went back in time?

  15. but wouldn’t this ‘flaw’ make it sound more creamy? and these ‘flaws’ are exactly what is making the vintage synths so insanely expensive on the used market.

  16. even more impressive than his admission is his offer for you to be able to crack open your P5, poke around in it with a soldering iron, remove components etc and still keep your warranty!!!! wow it must be a first for any synth company?

  17. Long time back I had the opportunity to buy a rev3 prophet 5. I own a Pro One, which is brilliant, and expected to love the P5. 4 more of the same voices. I borrowed it and I felt it didn’t have the character or presence of the Pro One, so I bought a JP8 instead. It never really made sense to me that it would sound different, though I have heard the Pro One sounds bigger as there isn’t 5 voices being tamed before the output stage. So my question is, does the Pro One have a better sound, or is it more likely the P5 I was playing wasn’t calibrated right or needed some work done? I’m asking because I quite fancy one of these Rev 4’s, but so far the demos sounds quite tame compared to what I enjoy from a synth.

    1. I have owned a rev 3.0 for 21 years. NEVER found it lacking for anything. Great pads, leads, strings, & bass. The first half of the 80’s was pretty much defined by this synth, so not sure what you are implying.

  18. I’ve sent my Polyevolver Rack and Prophet 12 in for repairs and it was super cheap and quick. Great customer service is a bit part of their business. Just dropping some kudos on a post that likely will bring out some comments that get hyper critical.

  19. As a pro 3 owner. Im not surprised. I know there has been a decent amount of claims and issues with the pro 3. Its been a few months and I don’t think they have come to a conclusive decision on either updating firmware or sending out replacement parts. This seems a little disappointing to ralso read an issue with another product being their most recent releases.

  20. A non-fixed version of one of these synths will sell for BIG money decades from now as a rarity piece. I wish I had one, I wouldn’t get it fixed.

  21. my Prophet X was also sounding bad in very obvious ways. clumsy QA, chinese production. and their tech support was awful, it took me two weeks to explain a very basic obvious problem. i quickly sold mine — luckily. they started “bricking” shortly after that.
    sounds to me like a synth company that has lost its will to live.

    1. It’s kind of funny that when a company fixes an issue it becomes promotional material on the internet sites, but when support is lacking and you feel being let down, there is no channel to voice it, no one helps and it never shows up.

      I had an minor but still annoying cosmetic issue with DS product just a few days after purchase (you can get picky when spending money on a synth of $2000, you want it to be perfect) It would just an small envelope to send the part to fix it, but DS refused to do that due to their policies and was asked to go through the retailer. It’s fun where you live at the other end of the world and have to ship back a product to be fixed you waited for months and then have to pay for one way freight for a few kilo’s of synth because that is the service policy ? It was clearly workmanship. but yeah, try to explain that to support people.
      It’s not heaven everywhere. Folks in the US may be better off.

      P.S: There are many steps in board production that should have detected this. The root cause must have someone not picking up the latest BOM in the factory so all the steps missed it. When new products go into mass production. engineers are tired and want to get rid of it to do something else then they leave it to the factory folks, lose focus, and problems start to happen in the field. It happens, even in large companies

      1. i have been laughing on and off about this all day. putting it together logically, either the story is true, and the poor guy really suffers from hearing loss — yet nevertheless he and the rest of his team knowingly put the deaf guy in charge of the final sound check. forget about setting up an ISDN line; they didn’t even care enough to bother emailing a WAV file to a member on the team with undamaged ears… or… his ears work fine, he’s just incompetent and trading on his name. which explanation is worse?

  22. An embarrassing mistake for this product launch but it’s good to knob that the fix is simple. I will be picking up a ten-voice eventually but hesitated to buy one up front. Glad I waited.

    Surprised they only relied on subjective tests when they should be doing some basic electronic testing instead. On a product this expensive and complex a basic electronic testing suite would be expected.

  23. I decided to return my Prophet 10, since I didn’t find their customer service or their options for handling the fix very helpful.

    1. Replacing it, at no cost to you, wasn’t good enough for you?

      Were you angling for a free Sequential shot glass or something?

  24. Years ago, I owned several P-5’s, and they had issues. Since I passed the Sequential Circuits office/factory periodically, Riley in the service dept would fix my P-5’s ON THE SPOT, AT NO CHARGE.

    Fast forward 40 years…Sequential issues another P-5, and finds a problem after release. With humility, Dave Smith publicly ADMITS IT, and admits that he’ll supply replacement parts NO CHARGE, do the repair work in factory NO CHARGE, or even replace the units at NO CHARGE.

    I don’t know about you, but I (again) am seriously impressed with Dave and Sequential for handling this in an honest and straightforward manner. Dave, you are, and always have been, a class act. Bravo for your handling of this…congrats on reissuing the Prophet so accurately….and Happy 70th birthday.

  25. Best customer service I have ever seen. Dave admits the problem and wants to correct it as easily as possible. 5 starz… I will buy one of his prophets.

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