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Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 61-key Synthesizer Reviews

4.5 stars based on 22 customer reviews
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Questions about the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 12 61-key Synthesizer?

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  • from Mill Creek, WA February 4, 2017Music Background:

    Best Prophet you'll ever need!

    I have owned the Prophet-6 and this is my second Prophet which I purchased from the Seetwater Team! I am blown away by this synth...I mean can it ever be outdone? Dave Smith is the extreme synth Messiah and I am now a proud owner of the P12. I don't know where to start with this because a few videos have hit the scene since this jewl has been released! I almost feel overwhelmed by the amount of features, the individual oscillators which can be and shape you desire, from basic Sine, Triangle, Pulse Wave to Wavetables. It does Wavetable cross-mod which I believe is called Wavetable Morphing. It runs so deep because of the advanced routing matrix where anything can be assigned to modulate anything and endless routing sources can be assigned to pretty much any parameter! This synth has a deadly sound and can create textures from all of the Prophet lines, so don't let the idea of hybrid scare you, it can morph into delicious textures unheard of on any other synth on this planet! The Slop feature common on all of Dave's Prophets is really nice for a drifty rich analog sound, since everything past the oscillators is fully analog and we have this Slop feature per voice! Each OSC voice is sync-able to any oscillator. We have LFOs, lots of them. We have ARPs, two of them with 32-steps...And a tremendous FX section that can also be controlled with parameters from various routing sources. I think this is really a synth for the future and the only synth honestly that I will ever need for this lifetime! Thanks Sweetwater for your great service and attention, not to mention prompt delivery! It got here in 3 days! Thank you Dave Smith, the genius mastermind of the greatest synth ever created! I will be enjoying this for years to come!

  • from August 8, 2015Music Background:
    Professional for 30years

    Someday we'll know

    The depths of this synth will be explored for years to come... This synth has not been around long enough to have had its almost endless permutations explored to the limits !
    I feel it is what Oberheim/Viscount tried to acheive with the VA OB12., unfortunately the software was not quite up to the task (also only analogue simulation) i compare the two regularly when searching for a sound, the power of the Prophet 12 is obvious but i cant help feeling they are somehow similar and are in my ballpark together fir certain sounds.
    Althoughit's a quality feel I find the keyboard on the P12 to be a bit too "springy" and controlling velocities and aftertouch is a fine line., i also haven't been able to find a graphic of the vel curves available...?? ..that aside once adjusted to this, the performance capabilites with the mod wheels and two ribbons is extensive and expressive..
    The preset sounds i suppose can only be a starting point to save programming as they miss the mark in every genre., but are within reach of a few tweaks away from whatever you may need or be creating., the organization of these programs doesnt seem to be well thought out though.
    This synth goes deep and only with time will it unfold its true potential.

  • from MD April 7, 2015

    Two Thumbs Up Dave!

    Knowing most synthesizers since the 70's and designing them from age 10, I can tell you this is an incredible instrument! 40 years of understanding sound and wave-forms, this machine has no limits. I also know the best of Moog, Oberheim, Korg, Roland, Sequential Circuits, Dave Smith and so on. Somewhere around the number 50, are the keyboards and modules I own and treasure each for its individual sound quality and architecture. I hear something unique and I want it. This instrument surpasses the best of both worlds of Analog and Digital, combining one of the best designers of synthesizers with the best components. Not only is this a masterpiece, it is made to last like the vintage machines I own that are still like new. Quality made and a keeper for the next 40 years if I make it!

  • from L.A., CA. November 19, 2014Music Background:
    Composer, songwriter, sound designer, project studio owner.

    Anything you want it to be.

    I'm not sure there is another polyphonic sound laboratory that is even close to this monster. You can make it warm, cold, vintage sounding, contemporary sounding, etc., etc. Great emulative sounds, but the real strength is in experimentation. If you just want a preset library, there are lots of choices; if you want something you can personalize and get to know for years to come - then enjoy the Prophet 12. It is a tremendously well built, well designed synthesizer. I love mine!

  • from Cape Elizabeth, ME USA October 18, 2014Music Background:

    One of the best poly synth ever

    After reading and listening to so many reviews I took the plunge and bought one. For sure one of the best synth ever. Certainly one to keep for life.
    Many years of other VA instruments and DAW plugins made me forget what a filter supposed to sound like. This machine has one of the most versatile and musical filters ever built, and it always sounds right in the mix.
    The factory presets don't do total justice to this machine, but there are a couple of soundsets out there that show really well how analog or digital this machine can be.
    To compare it to other synths out there is an injustice, there will never be one that does it all. The Prophet 12 stands alone for what it does.
    If you can afford it, buy one, and as always I will recommend Andy Miller at Sweetwater for his support and advice.
    By the way, the after sale support is also second to none. Buy with confidence!

  • from PA September 3, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    Not Analog sounding (are you kidding)

    I have to laugh when I see people stating that the prophet 12 does not sound analog because of it's digital oscillators. I have a Prophet 08, Moog Voyager, and a Eurorack Modular Synth so the last thing I need is another analog sounding synth for my studio. I can tell you the Prophet 12 is much more than that. The digital oscillators are a blessing allowing manipulation of the waveforms that can create sounds never heard before. The 12 voices, tons of knobs and controllers, analog LP & HP filters, FM & AM modulation, distortion, character section and analog delay makes the Prophet 12 the most creative sound tool in my arsenal. I also have to give the screen design a big thumbs up for clarity & ingenuity. American built quality with an innovative design & sound. The Prophet 12 does it all " analog, digital and everything in between".

  • from Elkins Park, PA June 22, 2014Music Background:
    Studio Engineer / Broadcast Audio Engineer / Hobbyist-musician

    I'm not gonna pretend. I sorta cry sometimes when I play it.

    I got the chance to play one of these before buying, and I even had the good fortune to sit in a room with one of everything DSI makes. On my first pass at designing a sound with the '12, I found that I wasn't getting the "analog fatness" that I had imagined… but once I spent a little while (maybe 30 minutes) getting to know some of the controls, I was able to get ANYTHING I wanted out of this machine. Warm and sweet, or just plain-psychotic craziness.

    The digital oscillators are not harsh (unless you ask them to be) and the signal path on this beast is so big and incredibly rich, that I don't know how else to describe it… full of bigness / huge-osity / Mass-itude… and whatever other fake descriptors you can imagine.

    The thing that makes this soooo much better than every soft-synth emulation / or virtual analog / workstation: is the knob-per-function design. I can't say enough about this. I never have to use the menus… And when recording into a sequencer with it, everything I tweak is captured. This is a performance-synth. It begs you to play with it. It's going to change so much about how I approach my sound design / live playing.

  • from Los Angeles May 19, 2014Music Background:
    Film Composer, post production mixing engineer

    An instrument for a lifetime

    This synth is a very powerful tool, in my view one of those instruments you add to your rig and will be an integral part of your workflow for a decade or more. It sound great, but that is no surprise, it is also amazingly versatile and every programing element is easily accesible by the user. Your palete of sounds will only be limited by the time you want to spend sculpting a preset or by your imagination. Also unusual for such a complex instrument is who intuitive all programing becomes once you have spent a few hours lerning the basics. I am very happy with this purchase, my sales engineer Yuval provided great advice as usual and the sweetwater team provided amazing support, I will be a customer for life, these guys are great.

  • from Lexington, KY April 30, 2014Music Background:
    Composer, Producer


    Listen to me, stop what you're doing and buy one of these right now.

    I was a skeptic...I thought soft synths were the way to go. That I would be using Omnisphere forever and I'd have no need of an actual synth, then my Sweetwater sales engineer Jason Koons told me to take a risk on the P12...initially, I didn't know how to work it. I am so used to MIDI controllers that I actually thought that the sound would transmit through USB (Yes, I'm an idiot). Once I finally hooked up the 1/4 inch cables, and ran it through my A-designs Pacifica, SSL 611s, API 527s and Maag EQ 2s, I was sold. INSANITY ON ALL LEVELS. It hisses at you. Literally. Like it's mad and it wants to shred sound, or save children, or kill bears, or invade North Korea. WOW!

    If you are looking for a digitally human element, this is it. Don't even look anywhere else. The Polyphony on this instrument, combined with the controls and the raw sound make this more electro-cinematic than anything else I've ever used.

  • from Honolulu, Hawaii December 4, 2013Music Background:
    Guitarist, keyboardist, drumer, singer, songs writer, and worship leader.

    Prophet 12 review

    For those of you who did not own prophet 12. saying the prophet 12 is not good keyboard. Stop telling lie about prophet 12. I you did not own one, do not even bother to write a review because you do not know what you are talking about. I own this bad boy. There are tons and tons of beautiful sounds. It can range from a simple to a very sophisticated sounds. And yet, there are very beautiful to your ears. It is really depending on you and how you want it to sound. You need to create your own sound. I own many keyboards and performed on stages. The prophet 12 has everything you need. Go get yourself one and try it. I would give it two thumbs up and ten stars.

  • from December 1, 2013Music Background:
    Songwriter, musician.

    Amazing and deep machine

    An complex and deep synth that is a programmers dream. Anyone claiming it can't sound analog, clearly has not spent enough time with it, or just hasn't figured it out yet. The prophet 12 is fully able to create both cold icy landscapes, or rich lush pads. It can also handle a thick, grinding moog like bass. This thing is a dream if you are willing to work for it and learn from it. But you're not going to get the analog tones from the presets.

  • from Santa Monica, CA August 26, 2013Music Background:

    The Perfect Hybrid

    Preface: I'm a vintage analog lover of the highest order (you can pry my SC Pro One out of my cold dead hands!).

    The idea of a hybrid Prophet seems to rub a lot of people the wrong way. Some purists will never be convinced, and, most likely, have never played the P12. Despite that very vocal minority, Dave Smith just released one of the finest synths ever created.

    Crafting any patch you can dream of is a total breeze. The knob-per-function interface is intuitive and performance oriented. From gritty wavetables to warm analog basses to bright shiny pads, this thing can do it all and more. It will take years before it's full potential is unlocked, and, like the P08 and Viruses, it is sure to become a staple instrument for sound designers and stage performers for the next decade and beyond. It's an instant classic, and it only takes a couple minutes with it to see why.

  • from portland, or August 16, 2013Music Background:
    musician, songwriter, producer, recording engineer

    Best polysynth ever

    Don't listen to anyone who has not actually owned one - there are plenty of wanna-be's who watched a YouTube video or otherwise think they know. "Oh, digital oscillators - that must be bad!!" is just one example of moronic comments by these folks. Having owned Moogs, Prophets, Jupiters and Oberheim OBs (yes, I"m *that* old!) as well as Nord Leads, Viruses, Korgs, and Alesises, as well as most every "analog" softsynth made, I think I have some authenticity to my comments.

    First off, NO synth can do it all. They all sound different. So, if you find one that sounds great to you, then that is the one for you, despite what anyone else thinks. You just might find that you need synth A for some things and synth B for others, and so on - ask any guitarist how many guitars they have, and why. It's because a Strat is not a Les Paul, and vice versa. And an early '60's Strat is different than a late '60's Strat, and so on, and so on. You need one of each :-)

    The same is true for synths. *Nothing* will take the place of a Moog - it has a patented low-pass filter, and it is absolutely gorgeous. For classic analog lead or bass sounds, nothing will do better than a Moog. I prefer the Voyager, but the Phatty is cool, too.

    For polysynths, the vintage Prophet / Oberheim OB / Roland Jupiters all have their own sound, tho IMHO the distinctions between them are far less obvious than between a Moog monosynth and ever other monosynth. (FWIW, other monosynths had distinct sounds, too, i.e., the ARP 2600 and EMI). The Prophet 12, to my ears, sounds *much* better than the Prophet '08, and the modulation and sound shaping capabilities are in a league of their own, compared to every other polysynth ever built. The Prophet 12 can, remarkably, sound both vintage and modern. It's thick and lush - i.e., phat, like the best analog polysynths, but wait, what's this knob do - whoa! digital mungification!

    So, bottom line: if you love classic analog polysynths, get thee to a Prophet 12. Likewise, if you like the modern sound of the Dave Smith Evolver line, get thee to the Prophet 12. If you appreciate a well thought-out and powerful UI for sound creation and editing right from the front panel, get thee to the Prophet 12.

    If, on the other hand, you want sampled pianos and such, or you're OK with dialing in presets and using 'em as-is, then this is not the droid you're looking for.

    For my money, the Prophet 12 is a keeper.Unlike the Prophet '08, where I wished it were this and wished it were that, I truly could not be happier with this instrument. Buy one and put a permanent smile on your face!

  • from Portland, OR July 12, 2013Music Background:
    anything and everything, usually all at once

    10 stars!!

    I've owned lots of vintage gear, and had the Prophet'08, too. This bad boy is in a class of its own. Gorgeous, solid built quality, every bit as high quality as the Moog Voyager, and the keyboard just feels like butter. The sounds are the best I've ever heard - organic, yet articulate. Fat, yet fit. Hard to describe, but they make my ears smile in a big way. The UI is perfectly executed - I never really cared for the '08's UI - including a wonderful graphical LCD display in crisp black & white. What can I say, this plus the Voyager, and I'm in synth heaven.

  • from Long Beach, CA June 8, 2013Music Background:
    pro musician

    Fresh sound, classic feel.

    The new DSI flagship is made for the modern stage and studio - a wonderful hybrid of digital flexibility with analog warmth that will undoubtedly start showing up all over radio very soon.. ..We can't keep rehashing the minimoog guys! There's tons of that - their great - but IMO the P12 looks to the future while nodding to the old.

    The performance controllers, stacking, splitting, eqs, bitcrushers, and moddable delays (flanger, chorus, ping-pong delay!), 14x14 mod matrix, etc make it worthy as a standalone powerhouse, with almost "workstation" like flexibilty and features. For me, it's got everything great about modern tour kings like the Virus, Nord Lead, and V-Synth, but with the warmth and feel of analog (VCFs, VCAs, etc.)

    I don't know what these other reviewers heard, but it wasn't even finished yet......compressed mono 360p youtube videos maybe?

  • from Encinitas, CA March 12, 2015Music Background:
    Producer, Recording Engineer, Mix Engineer, Remixer, Pro Musician

    Powerful, but sounds digital

    I did SO much research before getting a Prophet 12, and I was mainly trying to decide between the P12 and a Virus TI2 Polar, which I have had the pleasure of using a lot in a past music project. After reading countless reviews and forum discussions I went for the P12 since it would all be new to me, plus the fact that it was partly analog, but I was a bit disappointed at first because for my ear and taste in music nearly all of the presets are really cheesy or just too trippy and chaotic in a way that would never be practical in a production. What is great about this synth though is what you can get out of it by diving in and customizing nearly every patch yourself. For me this required a lot of effort because I knew virtually nothing about actual synthesis so I had to go through a crash course of online reading and video tutorials to be able to even really start sculpting my own sounds with purpose and direction. This was frustrating because I wanted the synth to be usable right away, but the truth is that in the bigger picture I should totally know how to do synthesis, and I have been too lazy before being confronted with the wackness of the P12 presets to make myself figure it out. The positive to this is that now I know about synthesis (though I still have a lot to learn to unlock the power of this synth), and though it has taken a lot of time I have crafted many of my own patches that are musically inspiring and usable in productions, and the P12 has been making its way onto some of my new music in a great way, sounding awesome. The negative though is that out of the box there was no inspiration to get going right away, though with the Virus there totally is. I think a synth should be inspiring out of the box. Why is there this kind of universal rule that all presets suck, but if you tweak your own sounds then it's awesome? Why would a company sell a synth for $3K but not have the most badass programmers spend enough time with it to make every patch AMAZING? Doing so would be such a good look for the manufacturer and a win-win for everyone in my opinion (DSI and consumer), but despite all of the effort I am glad that I actually have some knowledge of synthesis now, and that I am getting great sounds of it.

    One other thing I think I should share is that having the oscillators be digital makes the synth sound digital. Digital is not a bad thing, but if you want that analog sound this does not truly achieve it if you have a picky ear like me, it just doesn't. I really wish it did because I love what analog sounds/feels like, but it sounds digital, doesn't matter that after the oscillators everything is analog. There are pros and cons to this synth, but if you love nerding out on synthesis and turning knobs and programming patches you will LOVE this. If you want an inspiring, awesome synth to turn on for the first time, scroll through patches, and start creating songs immediately without having to dive into programming then I wouldn't recommend this. If you program it though it is awesome, and the amount of tweaking and customizing you can do with this is nearly endless, it's pretty insane how much this synth can do.

  • from Oklahoma City, OK March 2, 2015Music Background:
    performing pro

    Future sounds, not classic sounds

    I received SN #2025 and unfortunately the unit was damaged from the factory!! The top fine adjustment knobs were bent from a blow from something(there was a wound creased into the metal case along the top back edge as well), they would not turn smoothly, and one of the wood end blocks was unsanded and the finish did not match the other! Was sealed in the box from DSI so shame on the final inspector for letting a flagship $3k synth out of the factory in such condition. HOWEVER Sweetwater was absolutely perfect in handling it for me, had a new one SN #2171 shipped to me the same day I sent the damaged one back via FedEx, had constant communication, a tracking # and the replacement on my stand 48hrs later. Extremely impressed!!! Thank you for your A+ service.

    Now then, the board: this thing sounds incredibly fat, don't believe the reviewers who say otherwise because they have OBVIOUSLY never laid hands on one. It can sound absolutely colossal, especially when layering parts A and B together. Yes it can sound 70s analog if you want to tweak it so, but it can do so much more...this has to be Trent Reznors wet dream, the distortion and drive are extremely musical! Its gonna take years for the extent of the power of this instrument to be realized, it has a modular level of flexibility. The presets are not amazing overall, but there are plenty of good un's, more to be found online, and come on you lazy haters: rolling your own sounds is the point of this machine! If you love presets, stick to your VSTs. Love the internal power supply(vs the wall warts DSI seems to prefer) and the four delays onboard. Cant praise it enough. Yes its expensive. Buy once, cry once, you won't be disappointed.

  • from New York September 30, 2014Music Background:

    Excellent Synth

    First, in terms of its sound, I think it is a lot better than all those people (vintage analog purists) who are trashing it. But it is not the most amazing sounding synth (which many buyers have claimed) either. It falls in between. It's pretty darn good though. This is based on my experience with my Arp 2600, Studio Electronics Minimidi, Roland Jupiter 6, Eurorack Modular, Roland TB303 and Moog Memorymoog.

    Next, you are really doing an injustice by just listening to someone cycle through the presets. I think the instrument sounds very thin and "digital" if you do this. This is perhaps why it gets such a bad wrap. My suggestion is to create a "basic patch" (which is their init patch) and build a patch yourself. This will help you really get an idea of the sound palette of this synth.

    All in all, I think it is REALLY great synth that is worth the pricetag. The quality and design are superb. I HATE small menus to navigate through but this one (when you even need it) is VERY easy to navigate.

    There is a LOT of potential to this instrument. Does it have the vintage Prophet 5 sound? No. But it sounds great and it is a really nice addition to any studio.

  • from Colorado January 18, 2016Music Background:
    Hobbiest synth freak/talentless hack

    Good in many ways

    The Prophet 12 is my first synthesizer that's not fully digital. It's my most knob laden synthesizer as well ( next synth in line is the Virus.)

    The user interface is nearly perfect. It's very easy to modify patches. I have owned nothing as easy in this regard. The screen is a bit small, but very clear. It's very very well thought you. Start turning a control for the oscillator section, the display changes to show you the parameter page. If you need to change a value precisely, you will probably find it highly intuitive to reach for one of the knobs by the display which can easily change by -1 or +1.

    The thing seems well built. The knobs all feel solid. The jacks in the back are clearly laid out.

    The output level seems more than adequate.

    I love those pressure sensitive sliders. They are easy to use. The pressure sensitive keyboard seems excellent to me as well. The mod and pitch wheel feel totally solid.

    The addition of linear FM synthesis they just added in the new version of the OS seems very helpful. Gives you a lot of options. The exponential mode is probably interesting, but the pitch changes with modulation - possibly fun, but probably not what you want most times.

    The additional, non traditional waveforms were not as interesting as I had hoped for. It's not a wavetable synth though. And I have hardly exhausted the programming possibilities, nor am I an expert sound designer.

    There's so many modulation options, and oscillator options, I can't imagine finding all the possible patches on this thing. Consider that you have 4 oscillators, a sub oscillator, that the oscillators have quite a few waveforms ( including noise) AND a wave shape control, and 4 LFOs, and 4 delay lines and FOUR envelope generators, and 16 slots of very flexible modulation routing ( including AM, linear FM and exponential FM,) and...well you get the idea.

    The arpeggiator is quite flexible. It has a sort of edit mode as well. It's so flexible, you should read the manual, and addendum manuals if curious. Maybe it's not as flexible as the Blofeld, but I have not felt like I have fully worked through what can be done. No sequencer, but that's not such a bad thing if you already have one ( I use my Motif.) You will want to ensure you can send MIDI FROM the P12 to your sequencer as you will almost certainly want to record all sorts of control changes :)

    I expected the filter to have a bit more impact. Some filters, when you sweep the cutoff have this amazing impact. It's good. But it did not blow my socks off. Such things are quite hard to pin down, so I am not too put off by it.

    I would have rated the synth higher, but I have unwanted noise. I am working with DSI to see if it's on my end, their end, or just the way the synth is. A pure sine wave patch does not sound pure. As I am used to 100% digital synths, I am used to perfect output. It's not a critical issue, but I am hoping it can be, at very least, reduced in annoyance a bit.

    The price is one of the real deal breakers for most people I suspect? But you get a lot of synthesizer. Good looking, solid feeling controls, very nice pressure sensitive keyboard, brilliant user interface, very flexible synthesis options. If it wasn't for the noise, I would be giving this thing 4 or more. If I can solve the noise issue ( maybe it's on my end, I will edit the rating if allowed.)

  • from DC July 15, 2014Music Background:

    Not very analog.

    It sounds like analog and virtual analog rolled up into one. I think my Nord Lead 4 sounds more analogish than this synth. Anyways, the synth sounds like a Evolver and a Prophet08 turned into one unit. I think the Tetra and P08 sounds a lot more warmer.

  • from Denver, CO November 27, 2013Music Background:
    Engineering background, musician, hobbyist

    Very digital - doesn't stir memories of anything analog

    Has a very crisp digital timbre that is similar to what Roland had with the JD-800.

    Not a bad synth but not a Prophet in the Sequential Circuits vein.

  • from April 21, 2013Music Background:

    Decent Digital Synth but not fat like analog

    A nice VA with analog filters to help fatten it up. It's no analog, but is a nice digital synth with AM synthesis and digital eq.

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