Before I even started playing the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 08 Special Edition synthesizer, I had to take note of how chic and stylish it is. The Prophet 08 SE sports red-lighted pitch and modulation wheels and exotic leopardwood end panels that will make it supremely eye-catching regardless of what other technology you choose to surround it with.
For the benefit of those who may not know this, the Prophet 08 SE is a re-creation of the legendary Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, which was made from 1978 to 1984. The Prophet 08 SE is not a retro re-issue, however. It has full MIDI In/Out/Thru (which the original P5 sorely lacked), as well as expanded polyphony, an arpeggiator and a gated sequencer.
Sound-wise the Prophet 08 SE delivers in spades. Using the Prophet 08 SE’s 52 knobs, which control a ridiculous number of oscillators, envelopes and filters, I was able to re-create all of those complex sweeping sounds that made the original Prophet-5 such a phenomenon. I was also able to create some rich and resonant string and brass sounds. Additionally, when I was at my most creative, I was able to whip up some decent techno-sounding grooves using the onboard sequencer and arpeggiator. Finally, the stacking and layering functions enabled me to create some really unique sounds.
All in all, trying out the Prophet 08 SE was a great experience and I’m looking forward to more experimentation. Be warned, however, this synthesizer is not for the faint-of-heart. If programming synthesizers isn’t your favorite occupation, this may not be your cup of tea. If you’re a vintage synth collector, however, or you enjoy tweaking your sounds into oblivion, you’re not going to find too many toys that are as fun as the Prophet 08 SE. Happy tweaking!