Sequential Prophet VS Vector Synthesizer – The Best Digital Synth Ever Made?

In his latest video, Espen Kraft takes an in-depth look at the Sequential Prophet VS (Vector Synthesizer) from 1986.

A hybrid synthesizer, the Prophet VS features digital waveforms paired with analog VCFs and VCAs, and offers 8 voices of polyphony, with velocity and after touch.

Here’s what Kraft has to say about the VS:

You make a sound by basically choosing four waveforms, assigning them to the four oscillators (vector points), and then moving the VS’s trademark joystick around freely until you hear something pleasing. Movements, or ‘vectors’ can then be saved, and the sound played back. You can also apply the recorded vector path to another sound altogether and see what happens.

Separate programmable panned voices and a stereo analog chorus completes the output.

It can sound very lush and smooth while at the same time, crude and digital. Often at the same time. Stellar arpeggiating and everything you do, including moving the joystick, goes out MIDI.

Check it out and share your thoughts on the classic Sequential Prophet VS in the comments!

22 thoughts on “Sequential Prophet VS Vector Synthesizer – The Best Digital Synth Ever Made?

  1. One of the many synths I should have held on to, not just for sonic reasons but as investments. I cringe when I see the auction prices of some of my former pets.

  2. Like Maxim – I’d consider this one of the best hybrid synths ever made, along with things like the E-Max.

    But the best digital synths ever are probably Korg’s three recent synths – the OpSix, ModWave & WaveState. If they made ‘pro’ versions of these with a little more heavy duty build quality, they’d all three be classics.

    1. Your “best digital synths” list excludes recent releases like the Modal Argon, Hydrasynths and Waldorf Quantum and Iridium. Lots to choose from.

      1. Obviously, too soon to tell, but Osmose may someday be in the running. Granted it’s a wildly different synth engine, but all tolled with the realtime control, it’s going to be an important one.

        1. What about the REV2? It’s digital. And of course the Access Virus TI2. Gosh, I hope they come out with a new version of that awesome baby.

          1. Not quote. The Prophet Rev2 has DCOs — digitally clocked analog oscillators — fed through analog Curtis filters and VCAs. It’s not digital.

            1. Yeah, the Rev2 has an analog synth voice.

              DCO’s are just analog oscillators synced to a digital pitch reference for stability. They were highly desirable back in the day, but have gotten a bad rap in more recent years because people like the variable chorusing of oscillators that have a little drift to them.

              The modern approach to DCOs allows for adjustable ‘slop’ or ‘vintage’, so you get the best of both worlds.

        2. Nothing new. I enjoy the strange sounds of the Eagan Matrix (the Osmose’s built in synth engine) since a couple of years. It’s also inside the Haken Continuum and now available as a Eurorack module. Great Synth, but hard to master.

    2. Have you tried the Kronos (or its relatives)? I thought that literally was a pro version of the opsix etc with heavy duty build quality etc..

  3. The best digital synthesizer ever made is one that you can afford, doesn’t break down every time you try to use it, is still under warranty, and can be repaired easily. Which of those conditions apply to the Prophet VS? As for those new upstart kids mentioned, I have a K5000W, a Z1, a DSS-1, two K150, an Ultranova, a Prophecy, a VZ-1, a Neuron, and an Ion that would argue otherwise. Everything else can easily be replaced by a modern plug-in.

  4. A lot of people keep mentioning the Ion. Wouldn’t it be killer if that synth was remade – more polyphony + FX + wider keybed? Mmmmmmm… delicious.

  5. Its the first use of the METHOD. Dynamically sweeping between waves or, for example, setting an LFO up to do it to an entire wavetable, is what wows everyone. This was its firstborn, or was that the PPG? Those are the two elders, anyway.

    The VS appeared at a bad time for Sequential. If the company had not folded right then, the odds are good that a v.2 would have fixed its mechanical issues and maybe upped the number of waves. Its legend would have been even more deserved.

    IMO, Arturia did a very close job in putting the 5 and VS in one package. Softsynths never quite reach that imagined 100% accurate mark, but I prefer to shuddup and enjoy the 95%.

    Buying a Take 5 isn’t a bad way to get into the family, either. You can drive 4 synths from a mixer and rotate them a lot like a VS if you work it.

  6. BTW, using V.A.S.T. as a comparison item with anything but a true modular synth is bogus. You have to have a brain *like* a Kurz to really play one to its fullest extent. If you do, the amount of outside gear you need becomes laughably small. In practical terms, pretty much any Kurzweil has balls so big, the room goes quiet when it first walks in. 😀

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