Focusrite Acquires Sequential

Focusrite and Dave Smith today announced that Sequential is being acquired and will join the Focusrite Group family of audio brands.

Sequential will operate as a separate entity to the other brands in Focusrite Group, and will continue business as usual. Operationally, Sequential will retain its existing company structure, with Dave Smith leading engineering, product development and mentorship of Sequential’s new breed of designers.

“We’re excited and pleased to add Sequential’s instruments and pedigree to Focusrite Group’s portfolio of world-class audio and music production tools,” notes Focusrite Executive Chairman Phil Dudderidge. “Dave Smith’s history as an innovator speaks for itself. From his creation of the world’s first fully programmable polysynth (the Prophet 5) to his co-invention of MIDI, Dave Smith has literally changed the world of music several times. We’re looking forward to continuing his history of innovation and expanding the global market for Sequential’s instruments.”

“With Focusrite, we’ve found an ideal home and a perfect cultural and technological fit,” says Smith. “Phil Dudderidge and his team have a long history of quality, vision, and focus on what musicians and audio professionals really want. We’re excited to join such an industry powerhouse and contribute to our mutual success. I expect great things.”

Update: In Focusrite’s official announcement, they emphasize Sequential’s independence, over possible collaborative products:

“Before your mind goes wild conceiving the ultimate Novation x Sequential product mashup, it’s safe to say that Sequential and Novation will continue to operate independently, as separate entities under the Focusrite Group umbrella. Dave Smith will remain at the helm of Sequential, leading engineering, product development and mentorship of Sequential’s new breed of designers.”

100 thoughts on “Focusrite Acquires Sequential

    1. > Wonder whether Yamaha are a bit sore.
      nah, they make different products. after the updates, montage and modx are finally full-fledged workstations.
      smith never made a single workstation, which is a shame, actually. yes, yamaha has the refaces, but to me they are way too small and therefore toyish. my montage of 2021 blows every sequential product–former and current–out of the water, both sound- and gui-wise.

  1. Probably not good news.

    I guess Dave wants to retire at some point and is making plans. Pity he couldn’t have just sold it to the employees like Bob did. Maybe he tried but they weren’t interested.

    1. This is the right answer except that *selling* back to the employees what is rightfully theirs to begin with is its own kind of insult

      1. Aha, so you work for a company for a few years and you get paid; and you think somehow the company belongs to you now because, wait for it, you work there??? Hahaha. I can’t stop laughing. Made my day.

        1. I would tel you what you can do to yourself, yet it looks like life already has, on an hourly basis, thus your thinking explains it all.

    2. This is more of a merger seemingly and does not mention Dave giving up ownership or retiring. It actually says the opposite: “Dave Smith will remain at the helm of Sequential, leading engineering, product development and mentorship”

      1. This is not a merger by any means! He will retain a small stake however he is now an employee. Their success will largely depend on Focusrite stewardship. Dave Smith is a legend in the industry and he was regurgitating the same elements over and again. Thus I hope this will propel Sequential into new fields and actual innovation.

    1. I really don’t understand how people get the idea this is a sale or ending or risk of any kind??? in the video Dave calls it a partnership and in the text version it says he remains in command of the company and product development. Why do the trolls have to come out on every single post even positive ones???

    2. yes the guy who made a programmable polysynth in 1977 and helped invent MIDI and has made numerous incredibly beloved musical instruments that have been used in probably every modern genre of music should eat dog food for the rest of his life

    3. Sequential Circuits was put out of business by competitors in 1987. They were unable to go head-to-head against low cost digital synths and samplers as the market shifted from instruments based on Curtis chips to digital devices based on custom voice and filter chips.

  2. Is Dave Smith a superballer or what?

    The guy’s been doing this for 50 years, he’s got the best lineup of synths of probably any company ever, he’s got his Grammy – and he just wants to keep doing it!

    Let’s hope that the deal lets him worry a little less about the business and let him focus his energy on making cool synths and mentoring the next generation of synth engineers.

    Kind of interested to see if there will be some Novation – Sequential cross-overs, too.

    1. If it’s like “adam” maybe it will not have major effect, I just hope they will not move production to china or focus on crowd pleaser simple synth

        1. dave seem to like using new technologies and rare feature. the evolver that start this line of product was very complex beast and unique. the other that follow like the prophet 8, x, 12. rev2 and pro 2 or 3 have the most comprehensive matrix you can ask for and many unique features.

          only the prophet 6 and the ob-6 are relatively simple (from about 5 years ago) and i agree the prophet 5 /10 can be considered crowd pleaser but they are high quality build and sound and out of the budget of most of the “crowd”

  3. It’ll work out well, the two firms are similar in quality control. Sequential goes back a lot further than Focusrite and Novation, but they’re both modern premium brands now. I think we’ll see a ‘pooling of brains’ and some fine synths made in years to come.

    1. Not true. Focusrite, as well as waking some fairly nice gear, have made some awful garbage

      The 2i2 (Gen 2) I used at work was pure trash – noisy, leaky and a dodgy usb cable connector that would drop the signal if you moved the unit slightly – cheap and cheerful – you get what you pay for

      Sequential are nothing like Focusrite

      1. So your one experience with one device warrants you claiming they “have made some awful garbage”?
        I’ve used their audio interfaces (both Saffire and Scarlett models) for over 10 years with no issues – great sound and build quality.

      2. Novation is a subsidiary of Focusrite already and the Peak, the Summit and the Bass Station II are all killer synths.

        And remember a few months ago when people were slamming on Sequential’s quality control because the early Prophet 5 rev4’s got out the door with a manufacturing error?

        Sequential took care of the situation professionally and now everybody wants a Prophet 5 rev4.

        I don’t have any worries about Sequential’s quality, Novation’s is great, too, so I think this move is just going to free up Dave so he doesn’t have to worry about all the business busy work (marketing, human resources, etc) so that he can focus on what he loves doing.

        1. > remember a few months ago when people were slamming on Sequential’s quality control

          No I don’t remember that. I remember that we said that it was understandable given the pandemic and the way they were handling it, to fix it for everyone, with lots of flexibility, was the right way and a class act.

          Hey why don’t you post a link to that discussion here.

          1. “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?”

            “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.”

            “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.”

            https://www.synthtopia.com/content/2020/10/27/sequential-says-first-prophet-5-10-rev-4-synths-have-hardware-flaw-they-will-fix-for-free/

            With my point being that even great companies have the occasional quality control issue and people will rake them over the coals. But you should judge a company in the long run by how professionally they handle these types of issues, and Sequential definitely sets one of the classier examples.

            tldr version: I think we agree that Sequential has great support, but not everybody agreed when they had that P5 rev4 issue.

            1. Yes, that is the thread.

              > That’s a really nice letter, one of the best customer service responses I’ve seen.
              > Dave is a total class act.

              That’s the typical response. There were also some trolls.

              I guess what one remembers depends on what aliases they were posting under.

            2. > not everybody agreed when they had that P5 rev4 issue

              Please cite your info an what percentage of P5 rev4 owners (As opposed to random internet people) were and are unhappy with the support and service they received from DSI on this topic. Thank you.

              This is critical since you have a series of posts implying that Novation is going to have more “professional” response.

              1. Rabid Bat

                Between your red herring fallacy, your straw man argument and your general disagreeability, you leave nothing of merit to respond to.

                I am confident that you will feel compelled to try again. Please understand, though, if you only make tiresome remarks, your remarks become tiresome.

              2. Hi, I have an affected Prophet 10 and found out about the capacitor problem from this website. I contacted Sequential to open a case. They did not contact me first and I have no reason to believe they would have. The synth sounded very odd in the high frequencies, like the sound was ricocheing. It would have been obvious if anyone actually tested the synth first.

                Anyway, regarding support, the Sequential folks told me I could send it back or that they would ship me a new board to swap out, or that I could fix it myself. I did not want my expensive synth bouncing around in the mail again so I opted to fix it myself since I found a link to the simple fix proceedure. Sequential did not even send me a link to the fix, so I was truly on my own with finding and fixing the issue. I did let Sequential know that I would attempt to fix it, and they did not bother following up. It didn’t really seem like they cared. I hope my experience was unusual and not the norm.

                My Prophet 10 sounds fine now but I was not impressed with Sequential’s post-sale service on such a pricey instrument. Maybe Focusright will reprioritize Sequential’s customer service, but I doubt I’ll buy another Sequential in that price range until they can demonstrate how their QA and customer service have improved. I don’t want to pick just on Sequential though. I bought an early Elektron RYTM MkII and it’s hardware was not working correctly either. It seems customers are de facto beta testers nowdays, not just with instruments but with other industries as well, such as software.

                1. There was a problem. You notified them. They gave you three options (send it back, local repair facility, self repair). You choose a replacement board and self repair?

                  They sent you the replacement board. You repaired it. It works now.

                  And you hate them.

                  Apparently because you didn’t contact them at all with any questions and they didn’t respond to the questions you were communicating through telepathy.

                  Yeah, legit complaint for sure. Terrible company. I’m sure that this new company that makes everything in China is going to be SOOOOO much better for you and everyone.

                  1. Sequential did not send me a replacement P10 board, but they did offer to do so. I fixed it myself with a soldering gun. The point was that they did not contact me first after I spent thousands on a defective product. Also my other point was that after I contacted them, their support left much to be desired. I had to find a link to fix it myself, even after asking them for the intructions. They literally ignored me and did not follow up. This was my true experience, so Sequential got bad marks on both QA and customer service. No I do not hate them, although I might not buy from them again at that price unless something has changed. I concede to the sarcastic point that if their production moves to China then quality will become worse, not better.

                    1. doesn’t sound like dsi/sequential I know for many years. the support was always beyond my expectation including sending parts for out of warranty products with no charge and they even gave me an editor software for my second hand evolver with free serial.
                      who you talk to on the emails? let us know and I ask him to chime in this discussion

          1. Focusrite has a much stronger international sales network and should be able to help Sequential reduce manufacturing costs by using their contract manufacturers. The Novation Peak, Summit and Bass Station II prove that they know what they’re doing in the synth world; this sounds like a win/win scenario.

            1. > Focusrite has a much stronger international sales network and should be able to help Sequential reduce manufacturing costs by using their contract manufacturers

              DSI has always been aware that they can massively reduce costs by outsourcing manufacturing to CHINA. Your post frodo suggests this is some massive revelation they were unaware of and that the enlightened Focusrite is bringing to them for the first time.

              1. There’s so much else involved in running a company – finance, accounting, HR, CS, operations, facilities, etc. – that could be dramatically simplified by rolling up under a larger company.

                I would imagine if you’re Dave Smith you don’t get up in the morning looking forward to renegotiating your company’s employee health coverage or having to do a cash flow analysis to make sure you can cover payroll six months down the line.

                If he really was able to lock in a relationship where they take all of that off his plate and he gets to focus on makings synths and building the brand until he retires, I imagine he’d be all over it. And it all probably nets him and his family a nice nest egg in the process.

              2. Rabid: No need to treat me like an idiot.

                Focusrite has very strong relationships with several contract manufacturers in China and have a long history of high volume part procurement and enclosure design/sourcing. Their operations team will be able to help Sequential optimize manufacturing. Sequential will most likely continue to perform final assembly and testing in the USA, but don’t be surprised to see sub-assemblies (PCB assemblies, etc) produced for them by Focusrite CMs.

          2. Dave Smith responded quickly, explained the issue honestly and fixed it immediately at no cost to customers. You couldn’t have asked for a classier response.

            As a result, the P5’s have been selling like hotcakes.

            And people are debating whether or not the rev 4 is the best Prophet 5 ever made. Lots of people with vintage P5’s think it is.

            No – Dave Smith’s video tells you the exact reasons for the deal. It gives Sequential better global distribution, so they’ll make more money. It means Sequential doesn’t have to spend time doing things that a global company can do better. And it means that Dave Smith can focus on the thing he actually likes doing – designing cool synths and mentoring young designers.

            Sequential was already in a strong position, so Smith wouldn’t do the deal unless it was a win for both companies and for the Sequential brand.

  4. Well Behringer cant clone Sequential. LOL

    And maybe a new synth with an audio interface combined together.
    If they ever do that read it here first. I call it The “FocSeQ”

            1. so you can’t write natas worshiper? how is that a name calling? you have a guy here who use this word for his user name, susej

      1. I doubt that. They probably have too much money invested in worthless defective stock stock and in companies that doesnt perform as Uli would have liked. Behringers margins are very thin as they try to kill of all competitors.

          1. Behringer actually have extremely thin margins on most their producrs and they have serious quality issues with a lot of their products. Only reason they still are in business is Ulis good relations with financiers and eastern governments. And of course plenty of cheap slave labour.

            1. “actually” nobody outside of behringer knows what their margin are.
              but mass production company will always have the largest margins in any market
              you don’t get so big and buy other brands with thin margins. they just made synth like they made mixers.

  5. Maybe that’s the point in time where “Sequential” gets out of the 1980’s ?

    Great synths they are building but they all have the retro 80’s vibe imho!

    Perhaps this is the point where they rly enter the future!

  6. Go Dave go! OK, now do Oberheim/Marion so Tom can focus and release some of the stuff he’s hinted at and promised over the years.

    1. Trivia point – Tom’s Marion Pro was the first analog synth with high precision full keyboard microtonal tuning support. Which is why it’s so great the OB-6 has the same.

    1. Focusrite payed a lot of money for Sequential a large percentage of that money was for the name so why would they rename Sequential to Novation? Makes nosense. But of course there will be synergy effects like shared technology etc.

      1. > Focusrite payed a lot of money for Sequential a large percentage of that money was for the name

        And that is a good point and hearkens back to what “MrMIDI ” said at the top of this thread. Yamaha owned the Sequential trademark and in an act of extreme and unprecedented good will, only over a year ago, donated the name to Dave Smith Instruments, Dave Smith being the dude who was quite whimsical and fun about business, didn’t protect his IP or his customer’s trust, and lacksadaisically trotted off.

        Then Mr Smith says ho I got this valuable name back, lemme sell it like I did before to a competitor of Yamaha.

        Well that’s all fine. Yamaha happy? Obviously not. But he tricked them right so sucks to be them. Or to be any other foreigner at any time in the future hoping to gain their trust.

        1. Pretty sure Focusrite would have bought Dave’s company no matter if it was called Sequential, or Dave Smith Instruments.

            1. I mean, it’s possible you’re correct, but I don’t see how you can be so certain. I’d be pretty surprised if their sales increased much at all after switching to the Sequential label. It seems to me the value of DSI/Sequential is in their technology, designs, and dedicated customer base—-not some 40 year old brand name that had been laying dormant until last year. . .

        2. Yamaha never used the Sequential name on a product. Trademark law in the US is quite clear: If you don’t use your mark, it is treated as abandoned and you lose the right to use it.

    1. > Sequential stuff is very expensive so hopefully the prices will come down.

      Once ntey fire the SF staff and transfer manufacturing to China that can happen.

      1. Yeah, they can use cheap sweatshop labor overseas to make Prophet 5s and 10s constructed out of recycled plastic milk jugs and water bottles. Old pallet wood can be used to make the “walnut” case. Environment friendly biodegradable components can be used. You know, keepin’ it green.

    1. The difference is that Creative wasn’t already in the professional audio/synth market. Pretty sure they only acquired E-Mu and Ensoniq for IP.

      The Sequential brand carries a lot of weight in a market that Focusrite is already in. It is possible they could eventually dilute the brand with inferior products, as PMI did with Joemeek, or Guitar Center with Simmons, but I think Sequential will continue to exist for a long time.

      1. As they are related to OSC you assume a bias. The OED says both. EMS says synthesiser and they started all this in the UK. The Cambridge and Collins have it with an S

  7. Oh boy. The beginning of the end of Sequential. Dave’s selling and will very soon retire. Oh, and “Sequential will continue to operate as a separate company”. Nice corporatespeak spin. RIP Sequential within 15 years.

  8. What really killed Ensoniq and E-mu was consumer goods. Creative made more money on consumer stuff, but needed the tech. When that happens our interests loose.

  9. My 2i2 interface has performed perfectly since I plugged it in about 5 years ago. I’m getting a new Mac and the next gen of it. I like gear that just works.

    Dave has been a high-end boutique specialist with a lauded name for years. He no doubt made this move with ample forethought and besides, its his baby. Un-wad your knickers, its not like he hired Uli to manage his new line.

  10. Like all mergers and acquisitions, do not read too much into the media lines. There could always be the possibilities of undercurrents that would not be disclosed to the public ear. You can make up your own mind about the fate of PioneerDJ and Native Instruments, etc.

  11. CONGRATULATIONS to Dave Smith!

    If there’s anybody that deserves to be able to steer his company where he wants it to go, it’s Dave Smith.

    I’ve got nothing but respect for Dave Smith. My first synth was a Pro-One and I got it used, around 1985, for $400. It still works, sounds great, and is probably worth 4 times what I paid for it. How many things can you say that about? Dave Smith made it right.

    I’ve got a Drumtraks and a Six Trak, and they both work after all these years, too.

    Every single other synth I own has MIDI on it, which would not have existed without Dave Smith.

    So there’s a little bit of Dave Smith’s work in every synth I own. Probably in most of yours, too!

    I got to meet Dave Smith once at NAMM and he seemed like a really nice guy. I was too star-struck to say much of anything to him, though, because he’s really one of the rock stars of my life. He made it possible for me to get into synths to begin with and then made it possible for all my synths to talk to each other. And even though I have close to a dozen synths now, I’d still love to get my hands on a Prophet X, a Prophet 10 or one of those sexy Pro 3 Special Editions.

    Dave Smith could retire to drinking tequila on the beach, if he wanted. He’s earned it, after making cool synths and music tech for us all for 50 years. 50 years! That’s a long career!

    But I consider myself very lucky that the guy loves what he does, and all he wants to do is spend more of his time making cool new synths. Seriously, we won the Lotto with this guy.

    I’m going to ‘raise a glass’ to Dave Smith when I get home tonight. He’s giving me a lot of good musical memories and I’m thankful that I’ve been able to benefit from the fruits of his work, and that there’s more good things to come.

    1. Why you so mad huh?
      Dave set the standard for todays Polysynths and helped us to have a Midi Standard + quite a few other stuff.
      He was in the 80´s far beyond his time. I can recommend you the Book “The Story of the Prophet of Silicon Valley”.

      Also why are some People so rude to this guy? He is an outstanding Synth-Designer like Bob Moog, Alan Perlman or Tom Oberheim.

      Also I cant hear it anymore, why is his stuff so expensive etc. its not like they rip you off with their prices. If you cant afford a good quality synthesizer, then stick to plugins/digital synths or Behringer´s Stuff.

      I have also mixed feelings about the Focusrite Deal, but it is a smart move from Dave, because in a time where chipsets and other electronical parts are rare and harder to get, Sequential can use Focusrites infrastructure to get the parts cheaper and in time.

      Another thing is, that Dave can actually focus on designs and is not involved to deal with Company related issues. He’s over 70 and he deserves not to worry about backorders, faulty batches and delivery delays etc. and now he can take his time to engineer eventually the next all time classic.

      I think Dave deserves more respect and honor for what he archived.

      I personally like his Synthesizers and his passion about his Products, you can really feel that someone have a lot of fun designing things and I will buy them in the future, after a Pro One and a Prophet 10, the OB 6 is the next on my list.

      Cheers to Dave!

  12. I’m optimistic for this. I think it’ll be great. Novation’s doing well, as is Adam and Focusrite. I’m not as familiar with the other brands.

  13. seen this before. I hope for the best but all is well until a new CEO comes along and says yeah we need to be more global, we need to target emerging markets.. BRIC countries!…. and why are we paying all these people in san francisco – cost of living and salaries are way too high, lets bring in some talent from cheaper locations and have these morons in san fran train them before we lay them off.

  14. Don’t understand the Curtis Filter, but love Dave Smith all the same. Less everyday business running and more synth design can’t be a bad thing both Dave and hopefully Tom Oberheim as well.

    Who knows my next Focusrite audio interface could potentially end up with a (driven) synth-guru-tuned filter I can route stereo audio through. Discrete analog finessing without wired routing for all my DSP audio. No better team out there to tear down digital/analog audio domains than Focusrite and Sequential.

  15. Your 100% right on this, hope it doesn’t happen, Disney did this, they gave their employees 90 days to train foreign H1b replacements before handing out pink slips. CEO’S and shareholders can be Scandless.

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