Prophet 12 Keyboard

12-voice hybrid digital/analog synthesizer

The Prophet 12 is an Epiphany!

The Prophet 12 is the next step for Dave Smith’s revered line of Prophet synthesizers. Each of the Prophet’s twelve voices is composed of a brand new hybrid digital/analog architecture that sounds different than any other DSI synth, yet retains the true Prophet vibe. With a humongous twelve voice polyphony, streamlined design, and sophisticated architecture, the Prophet 12 is ready to handle any sound you can dream up!

The Prophet Sings

The Prophet 12′s brand new hybrid voice has a digital front end followed by an all analog signal path output. Each voice has four high resolution digital oscillators (plus a sub oscillator), a digital character effects section, a resonant Curtis low-pass filter, a high-pass filter, a tune-able feedback circuit, a four-tap delay line with feedback per line, four loopable five-stage envelope generators, four syncable LFOs with slew and phase offset, a sophisticated arpeggiator, and a sixteen slot modulation matrix with 26 mod sources and 97 modulation destinations. The Prophet 12 is packed with a plethora of sonic potential and power!

The digital oscillators can be frequency and amplitude modulated by each other with incredible accuracy. They can be freely assigned in whatever operator and modulator configurations you would choose. You can even assign each of the oscillators to modulate LFOs, envelopes, and filters.

The Prophet Controls

The Prophet’s sleek and instinctive interface invites full control of the synth. Every parameter is fully programmable and editable from the front panel. The controls are laid out in a coherent and logical fashion allowing quick and precise access in the studio and on stage.

The Prophet’s full-sized, five-octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch is rugged without sacrificing great feel and playability. Two backlit, smooth and precise pitch and mod wheels are accompanied by two location and pressure sensitive touch sliders. The Prophet offers a myriad of controls for creation and performance of its innovative sounds.

A Prophecy for the Future

The Prophet 12 is the most cutting edge hybrid synthesizer on the market and defines what a modern polyphonic synthesizer is. Designed and manufactured in San Francisco, the Prophet 12 has a glorious combination of form and function in a sturdy, yet refined and elegant build.

Dave has been a pioneer in the field for 35 years. After creating such greats as the Prophet-5, ’08, and VS, this is his favorite Prophet yet!

Prophet 12 Specifications

Oscillators
  • Five DSP-based oscillators per voice (including one sine wave sub oscillator)
  • Four classic wave shapes (saw, square, triangle, sine) per oscillator
  • Twelve selectable complex shapes per oscillator
  • Three noise types per oscillator: white, pink, violet
  • Analog VCAs
  • Shape modulation
  • Oscillator cross modulation: frequency modulation (FM) and amplitude modulation (AM)
  • Hard sync on each of the four oscillators
Character Effects
  • Five high-quality digital effects. Thicken the signal and add harmonics or completely destroy the signal pre-filter.
  • Girth and Air are high and low shelf equalizers with harmonic excitement. Useful for thickening and/or adding air to the signal.
  • Hack and Decimate are sample and bit rate reduction algorithms which can add subtle grit or completely destroy the signal. It’s harsh yet musical!
  • Drive is a soft saturator for adding soft distortion and harmonic content to the signal
Filters
  • Famed Curtis 2- or 4-pole resonant analog low-pass filter (self oscillates in 4-pole mode) per voice
  • 2-pole resonant analog high-pass filter per voice
Feedback and Delay
  • Tuned feedback
  • Four-tap syncable multi delay with feedback and amount per delay per voice
Envelopes
  • Four Delay + ADSR envelopes (LPF, VCA , and two Auxiliary envelopes)
  • Auxiliary envelopes 3 and 4 freely assignable to multiple modulation destinations
  • All envelopes can repeat/loop
LFOs
  • Four syncable LFO’s with phase offset and slew per LFO
Modulation
  • 16 x 2 modulation matrix with 26 mod sources and 97 mod destinations
  • Modulation assignment buttons enable quick and easy modulation routing
Arpeggiator
  • Sophisticated programmable arpeggiator with up, down, up+down, random, assign modes
  • Arpeggios are editable and saveable
  • Re-latching arpeggiator
Programmable Distortion
  • Independent programmable stereo analog distortion per layer.
Controls
  • More than 50 knobs and 50 buttons enable deep and comprehensive editing with little to no menu diving.
  • Backlit pitch and mod wheels are easily visible in low light situations and have a smooth yet precise feel and response.
  • Independently adjustable upper and lower pitch wheel range.
  • Two assignable position- and pressure-sensitive latchable touch sliders for enhanced interactivity and control.
  • Full-sized, 5-Octave, semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and channel aftertouch
Memory
  • 396 user and 396 factory programs
  • Direct program access using numeric keypad and dedicated User, Factory, and Bank buttons
  • Playlist mode for generating easily accessible setlists of your favorite programs. Create four play lists with up to forty programs each!
In/Out
  • 1 MIDI In, 1 MIDI out, and 1 MIDI Thru port
  • USB port for bidirectional MIDI communication
  • 1 Sustain/footswitch input
  • 2 expression pedal inputs
  • Main stereo output (2 x 1/4″ phone jack)
  • Layer B stereo output (2 x 1/4″ phone jack)
  • Headphone out (stereo 1/4″ phone jack)
Power
  • 1 universal IEC AC power inlet for internal power supply
  • Operates worldwide on voltages between 100-240v, 50-60Hz, 30 watts maximum power consumption
Physical Specs
  • Walnut wood end panels and trim
  • 38.4″ L x 12.8″ W x 4.15″ H (97.5 cm x 32.5 cm x 10.5 cm)
  • 26 lbs. (11.8 kg)

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Can I load my own samples?

Samples cannot be downloaded into Tempest. This is an analog drum machine that happens to come with a few hundred samples, so the emphasis of the instrument is not sample playback. There are many sample-based instruments out there that come with loads of samples. We wanted to offer something different. That being said, there is a chance we may be able to add the capability sometime in the future.

Can I save a kit of sounds separately?

With OS version 1.1 and above, the sounds and mixer settings of a beat can be loaded without loading the sequence. In essence, every beat is potentially a kit.

Can I load MIDI patterns into Tempest?

No. It’s under consideration as a possible feature in the future.

Can I play Tempest's sounds from a MIDI keyboard or sequencer/DAW?

With OS version 1.1 and above, specific MIDI notes are mapped to Tempest’s pads. This mapping works for received MIDI notes and also transmits those notes when Tempest’s pads are played. See the Tempest manual addendum for more information.

Can I record a melodic part, bass line, or chords into Tempest from a MIDI keyboard or sequencer/DAW?

With OS version 1.1 or above, Tempest’s Sounds can be played from an external MIDI keyboard or other MIDI controller, or a MIDI sequencer. Used strictly as a MIDI sound module, Tempest behaves as a six-voice analog poly synth. It responds to note messages and the “standard” controllers (pitch bend, mod wheel, aftertouch, channel pressure, etc.), provided that the Sound has those modulation sources routed to some destination.

When used to record notes to Tempest’s sequencer, the external keyboard or controller controls the note’s pitch, but otherwise acts much the same as recording from a pad: only one note can be recorded at a time. Velocity and duration are also recorded. Timing is subject to the current Quantize setting. Because the sequencer is event-based, continuous controllers such as pitch bend, mod wheel, and aftertouch are ignored. See the Tempest manual addendum for more information.

Note that you can currently record chords. To do so, each note of the chord must be recorded using a different sound pad. For example, to record chords of three notes you must copy the same sound to three different sound pads, then record each note of the chord one at a time.

How can I quickly preview a sound? Loading them one at a time is slow.

In OS version 1.1, we added the ability to change a pad’s assigned sound quickly from the Pads screen by turning a soft knob called “Load Sound.” This is much faster than using the Save/Load screens. However, a bug was found: if you change a pad’s assigned sound using this method, then change to a different beat, then when you recall the original beat the changed sound will no longer sound the same. This bug was fixed in OS version 1.2 and the Load Sound feature now works correctly.

Will I be able to load additional projects or beats in the background without having to stop playback?

This is on our list; we hope to have it available in the near future.

Any plans to add MTC (MIDI Time Code)?

We currently have no plans to add MIDI Time Code, which is SMPTE time code sent over MIDI. This is primarily used with tape recording. For those who want this feature, there are a variety of devices that will convert MTC into standard MIDI Clock.

How do I clear out a sequence so I can start from scratch? How do I erase a beat?

With OS version 1.1 and above, use Erase All Notes to clear all the notes from a beat. See the Tempest manual addendum for details.

How many individual Sounds/Beats/Projects can I save in Tempest?

There is no set number of Sounds, Beats, and Projects you can save in Tempest; the only limitation is the available memory. Tempest has 4 MB of internal flash memory to hold Sounds, Beats, Projects, and system settings. This is broken down into two sections internally, one small 128 KB section formatted to hold Sounds, and a larger 3.7 MB section to hold Beats, Projects, and system.

The Sounds section can hold around 650 Sounds. Note that this does not include Sounds that are saved within Beats and Beats within Projects; those are always embedded and saved independently.

The larger section is shared, so how much it holds is dependent on the types of files saved. For example, if you only saved Projects, you would be able to save roughly 60. (The average Project size is around 65 kB.) The number is dependent on how large the sequences are in each Beat, since they vary in size. This is quite a lot when you consider that each Project contains 16 Beats, each of which contains a sequence and up to 32 Sounds! If you were only saving Beats, you can save at least 500. When shipped, there are 15 Projects in memory, and 2.7 MB of available space. You may want to delete any factory Project that you don’t need to make room for your own files. You can always download the factory files again from our Web site.

Whenever you hit the Save/Load switch, the amount of free memory is displayed for the larger section, so you always know how much room you have available. When saving a file, you will get error messages if you do not have enough available memory. In this case, you will have to delete files to make room. Remember that you can always back up files over MIDI if you want to save your work or make room for more files. It’s highly recommended to back up your files regularly either way!

Can I adjust the sensitivity of the pads?

In OS version 1.1 and above, there are four available velocity curves in System settings.

Can the distortion and compression be automated, recorded into the sequence?

Initial distortion and compression settings are saved with each beat, but continuous changes to the settings cannot be automated or recorded. When you change from one beat to another, the newly-selected beat’s distortion and compression settings will immediately become active. If you wish these settings to always remain the same even when you change beats, you can change the Distortion Source and Compression Source settings in the System menu.

Can distortion and compression be set separately for each voice/sound?

Distortion and compression are on the overall mix output of the instrument. We would have had to include six separate compressors and distortions to process each voice separately!

Voices/sounds can be removed from the main outputs and processed separately with outboard gear by using the individual outputs.

Does Tempest have reverb (or any other effects besides distortion and compression)?

The signal path in Tempest is 100% analog except, of course, for the samples that can be used as sound sources. The stereo distortion and compressor are both analog. So, no digital effects are available in the instrument.

Can you give me more details about Tempest's sequencer?

Tempest holds sixteen beats in RAM memory at one time. (Currently, they must be in 4/4 time and between 1 and 4 measures in length. We will be adding other time signatures in a future software update.) The sequencer is designed to permit switching between these sixteen beats, entering and exiting recording at any time and performing most editing functions, all without ever stopping play. For example, you could start recording in real time on beat 1, then switch to beat 2 and record it in step time using the 16 Time Steps feature, then use the Copy key to copy beat 2 to beat 3, switch to beat 3 and record more notes in real time, then select the 16 Beats key and press the pads in real time to arrange these three beats, all without stopping.

The sequencer has a resolution of 96 ppqn (parts per quarter note) but always uses quantize during real time recording, with quantize rates from 8th notes to 32nd triplets. In the next software update, a “Time Shift” parameter will be added to the Beat Events screen, permitting each note to be manually shifted forward or backward in time to one of four 96 ppqn positions, which at 120 BPM represents a time shift of about 5 milliseconds each.

The sequencer only holds note events and cannot record continuous control changes. For example, when recording sound parameter changes with the Note FX sliders, the slider position is sampled as each note is recorded and that slider value is stored in the Note FX 1-4 settings within the note.

For each sound pad, only one note can be recorded at any given time location. For example, if you record a snare drum note at location 1.3.1, then later record another snare drum at the same location, it will replace the earlier snare drum note. If recording tuned notes using the 16 Tunings key, the same rule applies: you can only record one note of a given sound pad at each location within the sequence. To record chords, each note of the chord must be recorded using a different sound pad. For example, to record chords of three notes you must copy the same sound to three different sound pads, then record each note of the chord on a different sound pad, one at a time.

Each note contains the following settings, which can be edited in the Beat Events screen:

  • Velocity (1-127)
  • Tuning (-60 to +60). This is normally set to 0 but filled with other values when recording notes with the 16 Tunings feature.
  • Duration (1 to 192, in increments of 24 ppqn with 24 representing a quarter note and 192 representing 2 measures of 4/4)
  • Note FX1, 2, 3 and 4 (-64 to +63). Normally set to 0, these are filled when you record new notes using the Note FX sliders FX 1 and 2 and their 2 alternate assignments, FX 3 and 4.
  • TimeShift (values to be determined). As explained above, this is coming in the next software update and will permit notes to be individually shifted forward or backward in time in increments of 96 ppqn.
Sometimes I hear a faint click when I turn the distortion on. Is this normal?

Yes. When the Distortion knob is turned up just past Off, the distortion circuit is enabled, which can occasionally cause a small click. It’s usually not noticeable, particularly if a beat is playing.

Will there be a rack-mount kit available?

We currently have no plans for a rackmount kit, though there are rack shelves and other solutions available.

Will there be a software editor/librarian?

We don’t write desktop computer applications. Our other products have editors available from third-party vendors, so it’s possible one of them may develop a Tempest editor.

Is the Prophet '08 an updated Prophet-5?

The Prophet ’08 is not a Prophet-5. But then, the other Prophet models weren’t Prophet-5s, either. The Prophet ’08 is an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer with a 100% analog signal path. The filters use the same design as the Curtis chips in the older synths (with the addition of a 2-pole mode). If you’re familiar with the sound of the old, Curtis-based synths, then the Prophet ’08 should sound familiar to you as well. It is possible to duplicate many of the Prophet-5′s factory sounds on the Prophet ’08 to such a degree that they are indistinguishable in a blind test. (Yes, we have tried. And when programs sounded different, we typically could not tell which instrument was which, just that they sounded different.)

So, for the record, the things you can do with a Prophet-5 that you cannot do with a Prophet ’08 are:

  • Oscillator cross modulation (FM)—The particular Curtis chips we’re using don’t support it. You can do audio frequency modulation with the LFOs, though. They go up to middle C.
  • Select multiple waveshapes per oscillator—Actually, there is a saw/triangle mix on the ’08, but you can’t mix the pulse waves with the saw and/or triangle on a single oscillator.
  • Microtonal tuning

A detailed list of all the things a Prophet ’08 can do that a Prophet-5 cannot would be too lengthy for this FAQ. Let’s just say it does a lot more. Check out the spec on the product page, download the manual and, if you get a chance, play a Prophet ’08.

Does the Prophet '08 contain the Prophet-5's factory programs?

There are a few programs in the Prophet ’08 that duplicate the old programs, but most of them are new.

Is the keyboard action the same as your other keyboards?

Actually, none of our current keyboard instruments uses the exact same keyboard. The Prophet ’08′s keyboard is a semi-weighted, synthesizer action keyboard with aftertouch.

How can the signal path be "100% analog" if you're using DCOs?

DCOs are not digital oscillators, they are digitally controlled oscillators. The circuitry that generates the actual waveforms is analog.

Why do you use DCOs?

That’s easy. They’re stable and they enable us to make great-sounding, affordable instruments that stay in tune (when you want them to). There seems to be some lingering distaste for DCOs based solely upon the spotty reputations of DCO-based synths from days of yore. We’ve been making synths with DCOs since 2001 and we think they sound darn good. And so, apparently, do the thousands of happy people who have bought those synths. And if you like tuning drift, that’s what the Oscillator Slop parameter is for!

Is the Prophet '08 multitimbral?

It is bitimbral. That is, it can play two patches simultaneously via MIDI in Multi mode (on two MIDI channels) or from the keyboard in Split or Stack mode. Each Prophet ’08 program consists of two layers and each layer can contain what is essentially a different patch. Both layers can be played simultaneously in stacked or split keyboard mode with each layer routed to its own stereo output. In Multi, Split, or Stack mode, each patch is allocated four of the eight voices.

How are voices allocated in split and stacked keyboard modes?

Four voices are allocated to layer A and four to layer B.

Can the Prophet's polyphony be expanded?

Yes, two Prophets (keyboards and/or modules) can be poly chained for 16-voice operation. Or add one Tetra for 12-voice polyphony and two for 16 voices.

Can a Prophet and an Evolver be poly chained?

Short answer: no. But even if you could poly chain them, the programs from one cannot be loaded into the other and the controls from one don’t map onto the other.

Can the gated sequencer control external MIDI instruments?

No.

What is the difference between a Prophet and an Evolver?

There are significant differences between the voice architectures of the two product lines. The most obvious difference is that the Evolvers are analog/digital hybrids. In addition to the two analog oscillators, the Evolvers have two digital wavetable oscillators. Then there are digital signal processing functions that are tightly integrated with each voice. These include a multi-tap stereo delay that is syncable to the clock, the LFOs, and the sequencer, a modelled distortion, a high-pass filter, tuned feedback, and “bit crushing.”

Are the Evolvers analog or digital?

Both. Each Evolver voice has two analog oscillators, two analog low-pass filters (one per channel), and analog VCAs. It also has two digital wavetable oscillators with the waveforms from the Prophet VS, a digital high-pass filter, digital distortion, syncable stereo digital delays, and “bit crushing.”

What is the resolution of the digital side?

The internal converters are 24 bit and run at 48 KHz.

How long is the delay?

One second, uncompressed, at 48 KHz. Pure and simple.

Can I load my own samples into the Evolver?

Yes, but calling Evolver’s digital waveforms “samples” might be a bit of a stretch. The waveforms are 128 byte, single-cycle waves, some of which are based on samples. There are 32 user-programmable locations. You will need to create the 128-byte wave and then transfer it via MIDI to the Evolver using a third-party utility

Does the Evolver's sequencer transmit MIDI note messages?

It can. One of the many modulation destinations for the sequencer is MIDI note number.

Can I use a MIDI controller/control surface/sequencer to control or automate an Evolver's parameters?

Many of an Evolver’s parameters can be controlled by MIDI continuous controller (CC) messages. (The desktop model must have OS version 3 for this to work.)

All of the parameters can be addressed with SysEx messages, so knob turns and the like can be recorded with a sequencer. And there are at least a couple of MIDI controllers/control surfaces capable of sending SysEx messages.

What is poly chain?

The various Evolver models have a special MIDI implementation that allows 2 or more Evolvers to be connected for expanded polyphony. Any Evolver can be poly chained to another, regardless of model. The monophonic Evolvers do have hotter (that is, higher level) outputs than the polyphonic Evolvers, so you will want to use a mixer to balance the levels. When poly chaining Poly Evolvers only (a keyboard and one or more racks), a mixer is unnecessary, as the Poly Evolver Rack has a special Mix Input for that purpose.

Can I poly chain a Mono Evolver Keyboard with a Poly Evolver Rack to make a 5-voice synthesizer?

Yes you can, and the Mono Evolver Keyboard makes a great control surface for the Rack, as well. There are a couple of things you should be aware of before taking the plunge, though.

You won’t be able to control Combos from the Mono Evolver Keyboard. Since it’s a monophonic (that is, one-voice) synth, it doesn’t have the ability to do Combos and so doesn’t have those controls.

The monophonic Evolvers (desktop and keyboard) have hotter outputs than the polyphonic Evolvers (rack and keyboard), so if you use the Mix Input on the Poly Evolver Rack, the one voice contributed by the monophonic Evolver may be noticeably louder. We recommend using a mixer to combine and balance the outputs of the instruments.

What is the difference between a Prophet '08 and an Evolver?

There are significant differences between the voice architectures of the two product lines. The most obvious difference is that the Evolvers are analog/digital hybrids. In addition to the two analog oscillators, the Evolvers have two digital wavetable oscillators. Then there are digital signal processing functions that are tightly integrated with each voice. These include a multi-tap stereo delay that is syncable to the clock, the LFOs, and the sequencer, a modelled distortion, a high-pass filter, tuned feedback, and “bit crushing.”

Can an Evolver sound like a Prophet '08?

The analog oscillators and the analog low-pass filters are the same in both product lines, so it’s possible to make an Evolver sound very much like a Prophet ’08. Of course, there are a lot of things an Evolver can do that a Prophet ’08 can’t do. The Evolver’s strength is really in what it can do beyond purely analog sounds. They’re two different beasts.

How many rack spaces does the Prophet '08 module occupy?

The module is 4U high. In its tabletop configuration, the I/O jacks are on the back, so when it is rack mounted, the jacks are on the top. They are recessed about 1 inch, but we recommend using angled plugs for MIDI and audio to avoid interfering with the rack space above the module.

Is the Prophet '08 an updated Prophet-5?

The Prophet ’08 is not a Prophet-5. But then, the other Prophet models weren’t Prophet-5s, either. The Prophet ’08 is an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer with a 100% analog signal path. The filters use the same design as the Curtis chips in the older synths (with the addition of a 2-pole mode). If you’re familiar with the sound of the old, Curtis-based synths, then the Prophet ’08 should sound familiar to you as well. It is possible to duplicate many of the Prophet-5′s factory sounds on the Prophet ’08 to such a degree that they are indistinguishable in a blind test. (Yes, we have tried. And when programs sounded different, we typically could not tell which instrument was which, just that they sounded different.)

So, for the record, the things you can do with a Prophet-5 that you cannot do with a Prophet ’08 are:

  • Oscillator cross modulation (FM)—The particular Curtis chips we’re using don’t support it. You can do audio frequency modulation with the LFOs, though. They go up to middle C.
  • Select multiple waveshapes per oscillator—Actually, there is a saw/triangle mix on the ’08, but you can’t mix the pulse waves with the saw and/or triangle on a single oscillator.
  • Microtonal tuning

A detailed list of all the things a Prophet ’08 can do that a Prophet-5 cannot would be too lengthy for this FAQ. Let’s just say it does a lot more. Check out the spec on the product page, download the manual and, if you get a chance, play a Prophet ’08.

Does the Prophet '08 contain the Prophet-5's factory programs?

There are a few programs in the Prophet ’08 that duplicate the old programs, but most of them are new.

Is the keyboard action the same as your other keyboards?

Actually, none of our current keyboard instruments uses the exact same keyboard. The Prophet ’08′s keyboard is a semi-weighted, synthesizer action keyboard with aftertouch.

How can the signal path be "100% analog" if you're using DCOs?

DCOs are not digital oscillators, they are digitally controlled oscillators. The circuitry that generates the actual waveforms is analog.

Why do you use DCOs?

That’s easy. They’re stable and they enable us to make great-sounding, affordable instruments that stay in tune (when you want them to). There seems to be some lingering distaste for DCOs based solely upon the spotty reputations of DCO-based synths from days of yore. We’ve been making synths with DCOs since 2001 and we think they sound darn good. And so, apparently, do the thousands of happy people who have bought those synths. And if you like tuning drift, that’s what the Oscillator Slop parameter is for!

Is the Prophet '08 multitimbral?

It is bitimbral. That is, it can play two patches simultaneously via MIDI in Multi mode (on two MIDI channels) or from the keyboard in Split or Stack mode. Each Prophet ’08 program consists of two layers and each layer can contain what is essentially a different patch. Both layers can be played simultaneously in stacked or split keyboard mode with each layer routed to its own stereo output. In Multi, Split, or Stack mode, each patch is allocated four of the eight voices.

How are voices allocated in split and stacked keyboard modes?

Four voices are allocated to layer A and four to layer B.

Can the Prophet's polyphony be expanded?

Yes, two Prophets (keyboards and/or modules) can be poly chained for 16-voice operation. Or add one Tetra for 12-voice polyphony and two for 16 voices.

Can a Prophet and an Evolver be poly chained?

Short answer: no. But even if you could poly chain them, the programs from one cannot be loaded into the other and the controls from one don’t map onto the other.

Can the gated sequencer control external MIDI instruments?

No.

What is the difference between a Prophet and an Evolver?

There are significant differences between the voice architectures of the two product lines. The most obvious difference is that the Evolvers are analog/digital hybrids. In addition to the two analog oscillators, the Evolvers have two digital wavetable oscillators. Then there are digital signal processing functions that are tightly integrated with each voice. These include a multi-tap stereo delay that is syncable to the clock, the LFOs, and the sequencer, a modelled distortion, a high-pass filter, tuned feedback, and “bit crushing.”