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Dave Smith Instruments Tempest Analog Drum Machine and Synth Reviews

5.0 stars based on 17 customer reviews
Questions about the Dave Smith Instruments Tempest Analog Drum Machine and Synth?

Questions about the Dave Smith Instruments Tempest Analog Drum Machine and Synth?

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Sweetwater Advice

  • Bart Good

    Dave Smith Instruments Tempest is a pretty BIG deal. I really think that this is destined to be the modern equivalent to the now-famous 808 drum machine. Yes, I think it's THAT big! For anyone who wants the sound of true analog drums with the extensive control and editing capabilites that digital provides, the amazing Tempest combines those seeminlgy different worlds into one complete unit. This is THE must-have drum machine of the decade!

  • Carson McClain

    Your prayers have been answered! The Dave Smith Instruments Tempest brings the brains of two electronic music icons together, one responsible for MIDI, the other responsible for the MPC. Tempest is both analog and digital in one unit, which is a HUGE plus for the modern drum machine enthusiast and electronic music producer. If you've been waiting on the perfect hardware drum machine that everyone refused to make, look no further because they made it!

  • Mike Harris

    What happens when the great minds behind classics like the Prophet, Linndrum, and MPC come together? The Tempest (created by living legends Dave Smith and Roger Linn) is not only an analog beast of a drum machine, but also doubles as a six-voice analog synth.

  • from New Orleans February 1, 2017Music Background:
    Pro musician and composer

    New Horizon

    The possibilities seem endless on this machine. Just when you think you've made the most wonderful sound, you realize how many more options there are to enhance the sound and timbre. I use this in conjunction with my Moog Voyager and Minitaur, and my Waldorf Blofeld module. It sits in the mix very well with other synthesizers, due to a wonderfully transparent sound, which you can also distort into a crushing fuzz to obliterate the mix when you want to. More so than other synths I've purchased, this is worth every penny, pretty as that penny may be.

  • from October 12, 2016

    My favorite piece of gear

    WARNING: You might plug headphones into the back and just veg out on the couch with it for hours upon days, ignoring all other bodily needs.

  • from November 10, 2015

    An historic drum synth

    I'll start off noting that I've put maybe 20 hours on my Tempest, so not a deep exposure yet.

    That said, I see Tempest as one of the top-shelf instruments in my studio.

    It was my first analogue hardware synth. It sounds and is not only a fine percussion synth, but a very capable analogue polysynth also: it sounds fat and warm and frankly I haven't heard polysynths that sound better, just different, or with more front panel controls.

    Tempest really is a percussion instrument though: the envelopes are very snappy and sound great for percussion uses.

    My few qualms with Tempest: there's a lot of menu diving if you want to program sounds -- that's simply unavoidable to keep to a small form-factor with this type of unit. Second, the presets on Tempest and other DSI synths I know of are underwhelming, often goofy sounding to my taste, with only a few presets I would want to use. Tempest is really for percussion sound designers, performers and producers, IMO. Last, the memory capabilities on Tempest seem tiny for modern days -- I don't see why DSI didn't put in far more memory to make Tempest more adaptable and future proof. For example, I would like to load samples as sound sources for the Tempest engine into the machine, but that is not possible. But every instrument has its limitations, and limitations are what help focus and channel one's musical inspiration and exploration of an instrument.

    Overall, the sound quality and vast capabilities of Tempest are so compelling, I think they far overshadow any gripes one may have, and put Tempest into an elite league of percussion instruments. I love percussion and sound design, and am looking forward to digging into Tempest more to learn more of the intricacies of percussion synthesis. There's a lot of great info on percussion synthesis that is on the DSI forum or searchable via "Tempest."

    If you are looking for quick access to an array of production ready sounds, there are probably more fitting options. If you are looking for a great sounding, deep instrument, and are willing to put in time to explore, use and program it, Tempest is a beast. I consider Tempest a modern classic synth and think it will stand the test of time well.

  • from Ecuador August 31, 2015

    No regrets

    I just bought tempest, I traveled all the way to the USA since Its hard to get it where im from. I really have no regrets. Tempest has a unique sound, its own style. At first i didnt know whether i should get Maschine instade but know I know they are both diferent and can be very useful for diferent purpose. Im thinking of getting maschine as a complement.

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

    In a league of its own

    Incredible, unique, and very deep music machine. To me the Tempest does one thing better than any other hardware or software or hybrid: sculpt complex and original analog+digital layered drum sounds. Other machines or methods may be more flexible, but Tempest has so much attitude and sounds like nothing else, in a very good way. The digital samples hit hard, the analog voices give sounds girth and vibe, and the sequencer is powerful and easy to use if you are willing to avoid MIDI and stay within the bounds of the machine(altho this is somewhat addressed with the release of OS 1.4) The distortion and compression are both analog and they can range from subtle to savage. It has extremely fast envelopes ideal for percussion but I have also created basses, leads, and noise efx I am extremely pleased with. If you feel you need thousands of samples to sift thru or a sampler plus endless effects chains to create your sounds you had better stick with software or a sampler. If you are willing to learn the alchemy of drum synth programming, acquire a Tempest with confidence and get to work. It has the best feeling drum pads of any box I have owned or tried, extremely sensitive and expressive. I'm a lifelong acoustic piano player and I am very picky about touch and feel. Before owning the Tempest I never connected the way I wanted to with Akai, Korg, or Maschine pads but these pads are perfect for me. Bottom line, you can create nearly any sort of drum sound you can think of or come across IF you invest the time to do so and learn synthesis. Even better, the sound is fantastic!! Analog and alive, when in use the voices and sounds react to and with each other in very musical and pleasing ways. The analog distortion and compression add even more character, both able to range from subtle to savage. The act of creation on Tempest is hard to describe but I am certain of this, for me it is FAR more fun to create beats with this inspiring hardware than attempting to squeeze soul from a laptop. I bought this to replace Ableton Live for my percussion and (very simple) sequencing desires and I LOVE IT!!! Expect a steep learning curve as far as mastery of the machine, especially live performance. I think it is a new form of musical instrument and should be approached as such. How long did you spend getting acquainted, then mastering your first few songs with a guitar or keyboard? Give it time. Also, it's a great size to travel with!! I spend a lot of time away from home with my work so I bought the DSI case for it(perfect, by the way) and it goes with me on the road. I get waaaay more enjoyment banging on the Tempest and creating sounds than any TV time would bring. It may be too expensive and too demanding for a casual user but Tempest is unique, powerful, and lot of fun...I'm very happy with it.

  • from December 30, 2014

    Amazing Machine

    Sounds incredible, juts add to my set up with the Elektron Analog Rytm, is a perfect companion.

  • from December 23, 2014

    Life changer.... :-)

    This thing is so amazing....After I use it I have to lay down
    You can craft the exact sound your looking for...PLEASE buy this

  • from United States October 24, 2013

    This is the future

    Amazing instrument. Programming great sounds definitely has a learning curve to it but the workflow is fairly simple and easy to learn. If you need a jumping off point and want electronic sounds you've never heard before, this is for you.

  • from Florida: The Sunshine State. August 14, 2013Music Background:

    Best drum machine on the planet.

    This is by far the best drum machine ever made. It's going to be an instant classic. It's more than a drum machine because it's a 6 voice synth.

    The workflow is also based on the MPC. Roger Lynn came in and put in his drum machine know how. Then the father of midi, Dave Smith , came in and put in his synthesis knowhow. It's an awesome project put together by two synth legends. This is the imfamous Lynn Drum machine Roger Lynn was working on.

    This machine gets better every update. There is also talk about putting sampling into this machine. But, it's not written in stone. However, you can produce a lot of sounds on this machine. This machine also goes great with the analog four. It's like, both machine were made for each other. You could even get a Tempest and hook it up to an Octatrack if sampling is a must. However, this machine is quite amazing with Ableton Live and it's sampling. You can get some "epic" sounds with the Tempest and Ableton Live.

    In conclusion: I think the Tempest is a big boy toy, made for the musican who wants to sculpt his or her own sounds from scratch. The Tempest can emulate many drum machines of the past and future present. Heck, it can even do dubstep. You get what you pay for.

  • from St. Louis May 27, 2013Music Background:

    Simply awesome

    This thing is just amazing. I have owned 28 drum machines since the 80s and this is by far the best, The workflow is easy, it allows my creativity to flow without me waiting on it. Did it cost a lot? Yes, but it's worth it. You get what you pay for.

  • from Boise ID May 25, 2012Music Background:
    Sequence guru

    Tempting tempest

    High Quality high cost easy interface but lacks that Punching sound

  • from Boston, MA May 23, 2012Music Background:
    Audio Engineering Student, Musician, Producer

    Synthesis to a whole new level

    I am truly blown away by this incredible machine. It really forces you to approach synthesis from a whole new level. Being able to trigger all of YOUR own drum sounds right from the source... unbelievable. Truly makes me proud to be a musician.

    If you are into analog synthesis and want to transform your sound, this is right for you. Anywhere from the punchiest kicks to the softest melodic synth sounds, this thing can do it all. The sequencer is incredibly intuitive as well. This really might just be the only drum machine you will ever need.

  • from Bloomington, IN January 25, 2012Music Background:
    Drummer and percussionist for over 20 years, electronic musician for 5, co-designer of the Zendrum ZAP

    Just buy it!

    This thing is just incredible! I've used about every drum machine made to date. And many synths. And every midi percussion controller. This is the best single device I've used yet. It's like the best parts of an MPC, analog synth, Ableton Live, the old E-mu Command Stations, and some of the great Monome apps have all been brought together into a single machine.

    And the online community working with this device is a great source for new sounds and beats. I purchased Tempest within a few months of its release and there's already been a huge OS update, with more to come. The guy who codes the software participates regularly in the forum, and listens to user suggestions.

    Beyond all of that, the pad sensitivity is the best I've come across for rubber or silicone pads. I'm a bit of a drum pad snob, having only found the awesome Zendrum to give me the pad sensitivity I'm looking for as a long-time drummer and percussionist. I'd say these pads are about 90% as sensitive as the Zendrum pads, which are at least twice as sensitive as anything else I've played.

    DSI has created a beast of a machine, truly combining the best that Dave Smith and Roger Linn have to offer. You will NEVER regret this purchase. Get it and be happy!

  • from Florida,Cowford. July 31, 2013Music Background:

    Weak kicks,I beg to differ.

    Best analog drum machine on the market,ever.The only inclusion:No sampling.But,hey,you can pretty much make any sound;however,sampling would've made this joker,Epic.

    People who complain about the kicks don't know how to program this machine.You need to know synthesis;otherwise,you're left with the presets which are prett basic but not horrid.

    It will take months to get anything amazing out of this synth.If you want instant beats,go out and buy a beat thang because this take time to master.

  • from Akron, Oh June 4, 2012Music Background:


    Whoever says this does not have punch has not dug into into enough. It is not for the faint of heart or people who are not generally into getting deep into synthesis but for those who are this thing is a pandoras box.
    4+1 Osc per track W/ 5 envelopes! If that means something to you...you want this. If that does not make sence to you keep looking for something simpler.

  • from April 4, 2013

    weak kicks, but fun

    I've explored this machine. It cannot make good analog kickdrums. Its a great synth though. Its software is totally buggy, But its slowly steadily getting updates. I would check out the elektron A4 as an alternative.

  • from NY April 16, 2012Music Background:
    composer, performer, DJ

    the only drum machine you need

    well thought out beautifully constructed work in progress. has become essential part of my studio and stage set up.

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