5 things we like about the Sequential Prophet-6
When programming the sounds for our first sound expander ‘Tales of the Prophet‘ for the Prophet-6 we fell in love with it very quickly. The user experience or interaction between human and machine is something that is really special and well thought out. It reminds us a bit of the Roland Juno-60 for example. Next up are 5 things we really like about this excellent synthesizer.
Since OS v1.6.7, the Prophet-6, but also the OB-6 have a vintage mode that is inspired by the one featured on the Prophet-5 Rev4.
Back in the day the Rev 1 and 2 could go easily out of tune, but with the Prophet-6 this was fixed. But perhaps too good, since as the traditional Slop mode was introduced right of the bat. But even with that feature, lots of users didn’t really fall in love with the – now – classic Slop mode. In any case, it came as a very welcome surprise that Sequential decided to – as of firmware v1.6.7 – introduce a new vintage mode.
The difference with the classic Slop mode is not subtle. At a maximum setting the classic Slop mode is barely usable whereas it is very usable in the Vintage Mode. The beauty of Vintage Mode is that it introduces fluctuations per voice but not only in pitch, like the Slop Mode, but also to the filter and the envelopes settings. Basically you are trimming all these parameters per voice, which is really good sounding and it also means that you have a complete new synthesizer at your disposal if you ask us.
You can activate the new Vintage Mode by accessing the third Globals Menu via a press of both [Bank]+[Globals]. Number 4 is indicating if the mode is ON or OFF. Press [Bank] for ON or [Tens] for putting it OFF and back into the classic Slop Mode.
The Dual Filters
Both these filters are, well, just very good and juicy sounding. You have a 4-pole resonant low-pass filter per voice, which is inspired by the Prophet-5 filter. It has the ability to be driven into self-oscillation from about 85% resonance and upwards.
The high-pass filter is a very smooth sounding 2-pole resonant filter but without the self-oscillation. So this is – in our book – why this synth is so special if you compare it to a Prophet-5, as it broadens up the sonic palette hugely.
It is probably also why Dave wanted to innovate instead of looking back too much. So improving on legacy designs and take them three steps ahead. But it is only guessing from our side.
Both filters also have the ability to react to velocity with the touch on a dedicated button. But also to aftertouch via the aftertouch section with bi-polar amounts. The same counts for the filter envelope amounts, these are also bi-polar, a nice and welcome improvement on the legacy, ehrm, legendary design of the prophet-5.
The filters can be modulated by the excellent Poly Mod and via LFO1/Mod wheel as well. Lastly keyboard tracking for both filters is incorporated with three options. None, Half & Full.
Simplicity is key. The sequencer is a 64-step polyphonic sequencer with up to 6 notes per step. The recording process is easy, like on the Roland SH-101, just play notes per step on the keyboard and the sequencer is being filled. Rest and ties can be recorded as well.
To add a ‘rest’, press the [Tens]-button for that step and then go on with your playing/recording. To add a ‘tie’, ie extend the length of a note, hold down the notes you played for a step and press the [Tens]-button repeatedly to extend the note(s) the number of steps your are looking for. After you are done, just press [Play] to listen to your sequence.
If you want more control and have more easy way to do this, consider the SoundTower editor. Also be sure to change to one of the [S]wing modes as they really sound good! And now for the best thing, you can use the sequencer, and as long as a couple voices are left, and play together with the sequencer as you can hear and see here on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Krc2Tt7sw7Q?t=1236
The arpeggiator can arpeggiate over one to three octaves and has 5 modes: Up, Down, Up/Down, Random and Assign. Assign plays the notes in the order the keys were pressed. The arpeggiator works very good and in tandem with the hold mode as the arpeggiator is then in ‘relatch’ mode. In this ‘relatch’ mode playing a new chord latches to the new chord rather than adding notes to the existing chord.
An audio signal (trigger) can be used to to control the tempo of the arpeggiator (and sequencer) on playback via the footswitch/sequence jack that resides on the back of the synthesizer.
Continuously variable wave shape per oscillator
One of the best new features of the Prophet-6, at least in our book, is the ability to continuously ‘walk through’ the oscillators. You don’t hear much about this excellent feature which, in our view, could be inspired by the likes of the (Mini)Moog Voyager.
Especially when you sacrifice the second oscillator to serve as a second LFO that you then use to modulate the waveshape of the first oscillator – which you can modulate again with the first LFO – you can create some excellent vintage, but also modern sounds that are just not possible on a Prophet-5. Not that they need to, but the Prophet-6 still holds it place if you ask us.
This often missed feature is just so cool and can give you a instant housey or detroit feel. It reminds us a bit of our Roland Alpha Juno-2. To set this up you just press a chord and hold it. Then press the [unison]-button and let go of the button and keys. And now you can use that chord to fill the sequencer. It allows for really complex chords and makes programming but also playing sounds easy and much fun!
Other things we like
Some other things we think that the Prophet-6 excels in:
- It just sounds great and like a Prophet, it is very difficult to let it sound very bad. Ok, it not, just use 100% of the classic Slop =)
- It has 1000 patches, 500 user and 500 permanent factory patches
including all Prophet-5 patches from back in the day by John Bowen
- It is stereo!
- It has pan spread, which sounds gorgeous!
- It reacts to velocity and aftertouch.
via the excellent Fatar keybed if you have the keys version or via MIDI if you want to or have the desktop version.
- It has a sub oscillator.
A triangle wave with a few harmonics one octave below oscillator 1.
- It has a noise generator
A color knob would have been nice.
- It has two digital effect processors and a separate analog distortion with dedicated control (amount).
- It has a workflow to dream of and probably gives a lot of other synthesizer companies severe headaches.
- It has analog FM via the PolyMod section
also invented by John Bowen – but since the Prophet-6 its sources can be used in bi-polar fashion.
- It has a well specified MIDI implementation.
- It has a LFO that goes intro audio range.
Press [Patch]+[Write] at the same time to create an init patch.
Access the third Globals Menu press [Bank]+[Globals].
Use option 4 to put the Vintage Mode ON or OFF.
Sacrifice oscillator two to create another LFO in ‘Lo Frequency’ Mode. You can use keytracking, but also put it off. Sometimes you need to bring the mix of oscillator two to zero, depending of the effect you are after.
This LFO can also continuously ‘walk through’ the several wave shapes, which makes it a very complex LFO.
Use the effects with not more than 10 to 20% or at (near) max settings. The same counts for the Distortion. Anything in between, can be challenging to sound good.
More tips are available in the manual of our sound expander Tales of the Prophet
For more information about the Prophet-6, please visit the product page on the Sequential website: https://www.sequential.com/product/prophet-6
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