Sequential this week announced the reintroduction of its most famous and beloved instrument: the Prophet-5. Timed to coincide with founder Dave Smith’s 70th birthday, the instrument stays faithful to the original while adding new features based on its revisions over the years.
It’s been 36 years since the release of the game-changing original Prophet 5 and Sequential, headed by Dave Smith. There were three revisions of it in its initial six-year run. Recently, vintage synth clones manufactured by both massive companies and new industry players have become more and more common and Sequential has wasted no time in re-inventing the classic instrument on its own terms.
Smith has stated that the new Prophet-5 has stayed faithful to the original while also making it, “the best of all Prophets… by embodying all three revisions of the original”. This is a result of a new Rev switch on the front panel that allows the user to choose from a variety of analogue filters. These include the Curtis VCF’s used in the Rev 3 and the Dave Rossum-designed SSI 2140 filter, which is based on the SSM 2040 Rossum filters used in the Rev 1 and Rev 2.
Sequential has also claimed to have carefully studied the circuitry that made the original Prophet-5 sound organic and alive. Referring to this, Smith said, “we found that a lot of that desirable character was due to fluctuations and differences in the response times and frequencies of the individual oscillators, filters, and envelopes from voice to voice”. He continued, “so we also added a Vintage knob that loosens all of them up like they were in the old days. You can dial in progressively more vintage character as you go from a very stable 4, as in Prophet-5 Rev 4, all the way to 1, as in Prophet-5 Rev 1, which was the most temperamental of all Prophet-5s”.
The other set of modern enhancements to the instrument are velocity sensitivity, aftertouch and USB MIDI connectivity. In terms of the casing, the new Prophet is housed in a steel and hand-oiled black walnut heartwood body. The housing is described as sustainable, highlighting environmental considerations that synth manufacturers will likely continue to embrace in the coming years.
Other than the aforementioned updates, the new Prophet-5 retains all the original features, including five voices, two multi-waveform analogue oscillators, multi-waveshape LFO and the Poly Mod modulation scheme that was groundbreaking in its time.
The 200 permanent factory presets include the original 40 from 1978 and there is also space for 200 additional user presets.
Many synth enthusiasts would have been more than satisfied with a re-invented Prophet-5 but Sequential have doubled down with a new 10-voice version called the Prophet-10. “I originally designed the first Prophet in both five-voice and ten-voice versions”, notes Smith. “But the five-voice model was the one that achieved mass production. We thought it would be fun and fitting to reintroduce the ten-voice as well, to make the circle complete.”
Although Sequential Circuits released a Prophet-10, a two-keyboard model of the Prophet-05, in 1981, this new Prophet-10 seems closer to what Smith originally had in mind for the 1978 launch of the instrument.
The Prophet-10 shares all of the same features of the new Prophet-5 and both models will be available in October. The Prophet-5 has a US MAP of $3,499, while the Prophet-10’s US MAP is $4,299.
Head to Sequential for more information.