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Dave Smith Instruments Mopho x4 4-Voice Analog Synthesizer Reviews

4.5 stars based on 14 customer reviews
Questions about the Dave Smith Instruments Mopho x4 4-Voice Analog Synthesizer?

Questions about the Dave Smith Instruments Mopho x4 4-Voice Analog Synthesizer?

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  • from Vermont November 13, 2014Music Background:

    Old school sound modern control.

    Dave Smith’s MoPho x4 is a great 4 voice synth. All the way from deep bass to 4 note spatial pads and everything in between. I have owned many old school synths from Moog, Yamaha, Roland, Korg even a Realistic MG1. This one sure has the sound. This is a lot of bang for the buck. Five modulators with 20 sources and over 45 destinations. Four LFOs and three 5-stage envelope generators. A re-latchable arpeggiator. Four 16 step sequencers. It is an analog on steroids. I was going to buy the Moog Sub Fatty 37 but opted for this one because it has more features. I might buy a Tetra to Poly Chain later but this will fit the needs for now.

  • from San Tan Valley, AZ May 14, 2014Music Background:
    Electronic Music Producer

    Just wow

    This was my first Dave Smith product and I got to tell you, I love it. I would not trade it for anything. Once you get the hang of the workflow for editing the sounds, you are on your way to creation some unique sounds you can only get with real analog synthesizers. I can't wait to take advantage of the poly chain by adding a Tetra into the mix.

  • from Santa Fe, NM USA December 28, 2012Music Background:
    Semi pro musician and musical hobbyist


    Mopho X4! Wow! It has: Fantastic looks, Excellent build quality, Feature packed, Easy to use and program, Lots of inputs and outputs, Computer compatible, High resale value, High collector's value, Compact size, Retro design, Analog technology combined with digital technology, 4 voice polyphony, 44 full sized semi - weighted piano keys, Arpeggiator AND 16 STEP sequencer, is USA made AND HAS PREMIUM VINTAGE ANALOG SOUND! This is A-LOT OF ANALOG SYNTH for the price and if you like to make electronic music, whether it be techno, 80s new wave, electronic jazz, ethereal, hip-hop or beatmaking you will be HAPPY-AND SATISFIED with this gem! The Mopho X4 is not like a digital Korg, Novation, Roland or Virus synthesizer ( I am not insulting these boards- for the most part , they are all good synths because

    I own some of them) but rather the X4 is an instrument of pure analog engineering. This beauty will give you moog basses, jupiter 8 brasses, oberheim pads, korg rave sounds, virus hypersaws, perfectly timed arpeggiators, sequenced animated sound effects, and of course Dave Smith's signature 1970s Prophet 5 sounds! But first, a little history on polyphonic analog synthesizers: Can you, perhaps, recall the debut of some of the most famous and well known new wave bands when MTV was first broadcast in the 1980's, such as Thomas Dolby, Human League,The Cars, Gary Numan, Journey, Orchestral Manuevers, Spandau Ballet and A Flock Of Seagulls just to name a few? The 1980s were the first years analog synths with on-board arpeggiators were introduced into amplified music. Polyphonic analog synths such as the roland jupiter 8 and korg polysix, were being used for the first time ever in this newly developed guitar, bass,and keyboard pop type music appropriately called NEW-WAVE. Since the 1960s and thru the early 1970s the first analog synths in use were mostly huge modular moogs that would take up a whole wall, and which used hundreds of patch cords like an old style telephone switchboard in order to manipulate oscillators, filters and envelopes, and at that time those types of synths were mostly used for making science fiction and B movie type sound effects. In the 1960s, for example, every device and equipment sound on captain kirk's starship enterprise ( the transporter, the warp drive, the phaser banks, and the electronic sounds on the bridge) were all made with with a huge monophonic analog synth that used patchcords which were plugged into jacks and although, music had never been made with these monophonic synths, bands like The Who and Pink Floyd had come up with the idea in the 1970s to try them in songs. But they were limited to only one-note-at-a-time lead solos and multitracked stacked sequences, and so that put a barrier on their musical creativity, and pretty much all that was available to musicians at that time anyhow was the minimoog, and because it was small in size , it could be taken into recording studios. But then in the mid 1970's a milestone occurred when Dave Smith invented the Prophet 5. It then became the first five voice polyphonic synth available.to musicians. And so companies like Roland , Korg, and Oberheim began manufacturing their own polyphonic synths. Sequencers then evolved into arpeggiators because arpeggiators were easier to use and to program than sequencers were, control panels were designed with knobs and sliders in order to route oscillators and filters more easily, and keyboard voice polyphony was increased to a maximum of eight voices. So now it was possible to form these awesome analog sounds into chord structures and musical phrases, and now make electric guitar music even more interesting. So this is more or less how it all began. I know this because my age is 48 years and I was around when all of this happened! So, now my little review of the Mopho X4. First and foremost, read the Sweetwater product description, but in expressing my own excitement with this synth, what I would like to elaborate on IS: the synth comes with tons of useable presets ( four banks of 128) to be exact, (but if you change the filter setting from 2 pole to 4 pole you now have double the amount of factory presets because when the button is pressed to change from 2 pole to 4 pole, the sound of the factory patch changes dramatically, thus 8 X 128 factory presets equals !!!!) There are also four banks of 128 user slots to store patches you programmed yourself.. The synth has memory galore. .All the factory presets are programmed by Dave Smith and his team, and they programmed so many fantastic and usable sounds in them, that I have not found the need to make a patch of my own! Now there are two ANALOG oscillators (did I spell osilater correctly ?) BUT they are digitally controlled, this means that you don't have to let the Mopho X4 warm up before you play it, and digitally controlled oscillators also keep the synth in perfect tune! There is also a sub-oscillator (for fat -rich sounding michael jackson, and madonna basses,) and a premium 2-4 pole filter, (Dave Smith's own design) the X4 does not operate with a traditional combination lowpass, bandpass, highpass filter; there is only the pole filter, ( I find this type of filter to sound much richer especially in the higher harmonics register and it also provides better analog drift than a band pass type filter can) and by the way, the pole type filter is one of the most musical and organic sounding filters I have ever heard, (because I have compared it to the many expensive analog and digital synths that I also own. The high and mighty minimoog also uses a pole filter.) The X4 has an old -school clock driven arpeggiator with swing, gate, and tap tempo functions, (you can get perfect Duran Duran Rio or Hungry Like The Wolf sounds with it) but the highlight of the Mopho X4 is an old -school 1970s architecture 16 step sequencer, that operates in a fashion like say , what The Who did on Teenage Wasteland. This sequencer operates in an old-school fashion because in order to assign a note value to one of the 16 steps, you assign it with the oscillator pitch parameter instead of playing one of the piano keys, like on a digital synth. There are four layers of sequences, which play together in parallel and each layer has 16 steps or events, so the four layers simulate 4 tape tracks. Although each layer has 16 steps you only hear 16 steps (or events) because the 16 steps on each of the four "tracks" play together in parallel also. However, every single step on all of the four sequences can be precisely edited and with this type of sequencer, fantastic animated musical or non-musical phrases are achieved. There are also lots of great sounding preset sequences that you can tweak yourself and also use for your music, and to also learn how the sequencer is programmed, and the "Push It" button can start a sequence or arpeggiator pattern in perfect time with your drum machine and can also be used for song introduction. (The sequencer can even make retro analog drum sounds, and can even "slew" notes! And the sequencer is very easy to learn how to program. I have never seen a synth of any kind with this type of sequencer; not even my ridiculously priced 1990s alesis andromeda has this! The designer of the X4, (Dave Smith) is from the old school. He is an electronic technical musical genius like Les Paul and Jim Marshall were and he believes in designing his products old school, because he believes that the old school is the best! If you call for tech support, you might even be lucky enough to talk to him,( I've talked to him before;) Dave is a friendly down -to -earth guy and he likes it when you discuss retro or vintage musical subject matter with him, and he will answer all your synthesizer questions too. Dave Smith is also the genius who invented midi technology, because way back in 1983, a Prophet 5 played a Jupiter 6, by connecting a single communications cable between the two of them. Mr Smith had found a way to make musical keyboard notes communicate with each other through digital channels, and keyboards could now "play each other," and that is why our drum machines can now follow our arpeggiators in perfect time!
    So, if you buy a Mopho X4, you are getting a piece of his genius, and his timeless reputation of analog synth technology. In other words, Dave Smith is still running his own company and he still designs, and builds his synthesizers the way HE wants to. There may come a day when Dave may not want to design and build analog synths anymore, and that is the reason you should get a Mopho X4 now, because if you do, his magic will be inside of it. (example: I bought some of the best marshall 100 watt heads BEFORE the great Mr. Jim Marshall passed on; because at that time he designed and engineered all of them while he was running and owning his corporation.) A few more words about the Mopho X4; it does not have any digital effects-it sounds so good it does'nt need any, but what I did was I bought myself a little korg kp kaossilator effects processor for about $160.00, and by running the Mopho X4 thru it, I now have all the awesome delays, reverbs, pitch shifts, etc that I need, and an effects processor also adds a whole new personality to the X4. If you need more than four voices, you can connect a Dave smith Tetra module to the X4 and then have eight voice polyphony. There is an empty space on the right hand side of the X4 so you can put your drum machine, another midi module or whatever. You cannot split the keyboard into two sounds, it is limited to one sound only but that is part of the beauty of this synth. The x4 is powered by a small and lightweight traditional AC adaptor, not a huge lump line type with a cord coming out of each end ( like the one on my korg radias YUCK!) and included with it are two foreign country outlet adaptor plugs. The synth cannot be powered with batteries,but only with AC power. The controls are a combination of both start and stop- smooth turning potentiometers, and also a few click type detented endless encoders, and are all very responsive when tweaked. But there are more potentiometers than there are encoders, so on the functions that you would use in performance, such as frequency and resonance, (we all like to tweak those while we're playing) they are potentiometers and not detented encoders. The function buttons on the panel are tactile type switches, (the ones that are hard to press down and then snap when you release them) but these ones actually press down very easily and do not snap too loud when they are released. The pitch and mod wheels are tight and move smoothly with just the right amount of resistance, the keyboard is very responsive, with a good action and feel to it. (they are full sized keys, not tiny microkorg piano keys.) The synth has aluminum housing (not plastic) and real wood sides. And the blue lit LCD display looks nice and is easy on the eyes . The synth has some weight to it and it feels solid,so it will remain stable on your keyboard stand or computer table. The only thing I don't like about the X4 (and it is minor) is the flimsy little tiny slide type on/off power switch, they should of put a rocker type switch instead, (but if you move it gently it should last forever.) The Mopho X4 also includes a software librarian / editor so you can program and store patches in your computer, one might also be able to use the X4 as a usb midi controller to run other keyboard software as well, but I am not sure about that. There are no patch buttons on the panel though, to call up your favorite presets in stage performance, so one might have to switch the increment / decrement buttons very fast, or use the encoder to rapidly find favorite sounds, Perhaps if a song performance requires more than one sound, this could be achieved by storing the needed sounds in the user slots in their own numerical grouping and then accessing them with the up / down buttons or the encoder; this could be the easiest way to perform with the X4. But with all the great features and capabilities of this synth, user favorites patch buttons might be overlooked! The X4 also comes with an easy to understand (less than 100 pages) user manual, and the factory shipping carton will make a suitable carrying case (thanks to the two thick foam blocks that will protect the synth from shock) until you can get the custom case for it. Now I'd like to point out that with the Mopho X4, an alesis sr 16 drum machine, a korg kp effects kaossilator, an allen & heath zed 10 compact analog mixer, an art 1990s sgx nitro guitar processor, (I'll never sell that art nitro!) a 1990s alesis nano compressor, and most importantly a 1990s tape based alesis adat 8 track multitracker, I have managed to complete an 8 song album (album is old school for cd) of my own composed music that is based on my own style of heavy metal guitar solos played to techno and hip hop beats. It is all instrumental and, I will call my album Metal Synthness. The Mopho X4 provided me with all of the fantastic analog synthesizer sounds I was seeking for my record. I did not even use a bass guitar, I used the synth for all of the bass tracks. (I wanted those Peter Gabriel type basses.) The X4 is a professional quality analog instrument that will give you great satisfaction in playing and in owning. So, in closing my review, (which took me two hours to write) I am hoping it provided some necessary information about the synth that the site could not provide. I am very pleased with my Mopho X4 as it was my Christmas present to myself, (figuratively speaking, it was my red ryder bb gun!) and (if you buy this) I am sure that you will like it too.

  • from Boston, MA September 27, 2012Music Background:
    Pro Musician


    All I can say is wow. For $1299 you are getting a beast of a synth that can hold its own against many synths 2-3 times its price. The analog filters, oscillators, and LFO sounds so fat and warm yet very aggressive. One thing to note; a lot of people compare this to the Moog LP when in reality its a completely different animal. The LP is a more buttery sounding whereas this one has a much more "pushed" sound. Each one is great in its own way, but the Mopho x4 is a winner in my book, won't be letting this one go anytime soon.

  • from Seattle, WA September 22, 2012Music Background:
    Bass Player, Analog Synth Enthusiast

    Analog Synth Heaven!

    I've been going back and forth between picking up a Moog Little Phatty or the original Mopho Keyboard. With the release of the X4, the choice was obvious. It's essentially a 4 voice polyphonic Mopho with a great 44 note 3 1/2 octave keyboard in a nice, compact little package - perfection! I also like the more subdued color scheme vs the day glo yellow, which was a negative on the Mopho for me.

    The killer feature of the Mopho as well as all of the Dave Smith synths Os the insane modulation capabilities, with 3 EGs, 4 LFO and an insane number of modulation routings. To top it off, add in the 4 track 16 step sequencer that takes the sonic landscape possibilities to another world, with the ability to add complex rhythmic, sonic and melodic textures to your sounds. The arpegiator is the most capable I've ever seen in a hardware synth...a welcome addition for performance.

    The oscillators are very rich and the DSI Slop parameter fattens things up nicely. The Curtis filter is awesome and evocative of both the original Prophets in 4 pole mode and capable of producing classic Roland and Oberheim sounds when switched into 2 pole. The filter self oscillates easily abd you can actually 'play the filter' - check out the last patch of bank 4, which is a filter test patch with the oscillators turned off - it totally wails! I wish DSI would include high pass or band pass filters on these, which would make the synth even more versatile, but maybe some other day.

    The only negative aspect is the fact that it is not multi timberal like the Tetra, and is purely a one sound at a time instrument. Note to Dave...this would be a great add-on via software update!

  • from cleveland August 17, 2012Music Background:

    Mopho x4 + Analog = SCORE!

    all around a great little synth with a huge sound! built very well and was happy to hear some tetra presets in this as well as new sounds. keep them coming dave! i will keep buying your prducts! buy this synth now! you will be happy happy! i also own the MEK and tour with DSI synths. really a fun synth to play with 4 voices. looking forward to getting this out on the road.

  • from Colorado Springs CO February 1, 2016Music Background:
    Recording/touring musician

    I feel so pro.

    Amazing synth for the price, even with new competitors. So much room to stretch my imagination! Channel surfing the presets doesn't inspire true love for me. There is a personality and a pull towards creativity with a true instrument like this. I immediatly 'initialized' about 20 memory spots and began tweaking. The presets do present some educational ways to use all the modulators and LFO options.

    I will probably find a way to get quick access to changing patches, maybe a MIDI foot controller. The only inconvenience I perceive is trying to change patches live.

  • from New Jersey January 1, 2016

    Huge possibilities

    This synth is great! Every time I turn it on I conjure up new sounds. The depth of the options on this thing is tremendous, it has a ton modulation and control options. The after touch is nice and predictable, very useful. I'll be the first to tell you I'm not much of a keyboard player, I'm primarily a guitarist, but programming synths and implementing them in my music has become sort of a second nature to me. To me, after all the research I've done, this is one of the best analog synths on the market today, especially for the price, and for analog polysynths its definitely DSI all the way. The ONLY limitations this thing has is its four voice limit (which can actually be expanded with poly chain) and the 44 key keyboard rather than 61. These aren't really fair to complain about though given the price, and thats what the Prophet 08 is for! So why not 5 stars? The 2 pole filter mode is really lacking in the resonance department. 4 pole is great, but the 2 pole really has a hard time growling if you know what I mean. This is literally my only complaint and the 2 pole is still very useful for other things. When you need a lot of growl and resonance just switch to the 4 pole.

  • from April 10, 2013Music Background:
    Musician, home studio

    70's Flashback

    My first analog synth. I'm having a learning curve with it but the sounds are great! I am also replicating sounds from 70's synth leads fairly easy. Then morphing them into outrageous sounds. Great machine! Chose it over a little phatty and so far not regreting my decision.

  • from New Cumberland, PA March 28, 2016

    Great Synth

    The Mopho x4 is a powerful synth that delivers smooth sound, FAT filters, and easy navigation with limited menu diving. The keys are responsive, the factory factory patches are nice.

    The only negatives that keep this from being a five star review are:
    1) Unlike my other DSI, the Poly Evolver Keys, there is no blank user bank that allows you to build patches from the ground up. However, the user banks are exact duplicates of the factory banks, and you can "unbuild" a patch in the user bank and use that as a starting point for your custom patches, save elsewhere on the user bank.
    2) Unlike the Mopho and Mopho keys, there is no audio input that allows you to process external audio through the filter. With a filter as fat as this, that would have been nice.

    Despite those two minor gripes, this synth is a great addition to my synth arsenal. I intend to get Tempest to polychain to the Mopho X4... because why not?

  • from Chicago, IL May 15, 2013Music Background:

    Big Things sometimes do come in small packages!

    I was skeptical about purchasing the Mopho x4 at first, because I really wasn't in the market for a new synth. I own a Korg Kronos and Moog Little Phatty; although these are wonderful synths, I felt a musical void in life. I finally found what I've been looking for. I've had this baby for only 5 days and I can't take my hands off of it. The sounds from the Mopho x4 are truly awesome! This beast packs a big punch! It sounds almost like the Prophet '08, except this has only 44-keys and 4-voices. This is my new favorite synth and that says a lot considering the others in my arsenal. THIS IS ONE BAD MOPHO!!!

  • from Denver, CO May 9, 2013Music Background:

    DSI Mopho X4

    This board is almost everything I wanted it to be. The sound and modulation options are top notch. The pressure sensitive keyboard is superb.

    There are three issues for me.

    #1 In mono mode, you are only able to trill from above OR below the base note. It is not possible alternate on the same setting.

    #2 and #3 both concern the pitch bend wheel.

    #2 Whatever bend range you assign, that will be the same for upward and downward bends. It is not possible to bend up 2 half steps and down an octave on the same setting.

    #3 This may have just been a problem with my board, but as the pitch bend wheel approached an octave, it went off kilter (+13, -11)

    DSI customer service is very good. They responded within 24hrs and sent me an update patch to address issue #3, while explaining their reasoning for not being able to address #1 & #2.

    All in all, it's a fantastic deal for a polyphonic analog

  • from HEMET, CA February 8, 2017

    Not my cup of tea

    Bought this a few weeks ago and returned it. The sequencer is terrible and confusing. Factory patches are not so great. Built solid but recommend the MOOG instead, much easier to use and navigate.

  • from Cowford,Florida November 2, 2012Music Background:
    Producer,for the Sugarbabies here in Cowford,Florida

    Tetra with keys.

    Pretty much a Tetra with keys.Why not go for a Prophet 08 module for a few hundred more?I sent this unit back and got a Tetra.The software for the Tetra works well,and you're going to save alot of lettuce in the process.

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