Prophet ’08 Keyboard

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8-voice analog synthesizer

Prophet ’08 Overview

With real analog oscillators, famed Curtis low-pass filters, and analog VCAs, the Prophet ’08 is capable of reproducing the familiar sounds of its legendary predecessors. But modern features like a greatly expanded modulation matrix and additional modulation sources—such as three envelopes and four LFOs per voice—take it way beyond vintage gear and make it a worthy and unique addition to the Prophet family tree.

Features include a gated 16 x 4 step sequencer, arpeggiator, split or stacked key modes with separate stereo outputs per layer, and rack ears for optional rack-mounting. The Prophet ’08 module can also be used as an expander to increase the polyphony of another Prophet ’08—keyboard or module—to 16 voices.

The Prophet ’08 PE (potentiometer edition) has all the features of the standard Prophet ’08, but many of the front panel’s rotary controls use potentiometers (AKA “pots”) for more “vintage-style” control. (The standard Prophet ’08 primarily uses rotary encoders.)

  • Full-featured polysynth with a 100% analog signal path.
  • Classic, real analog sound—including legendary Curtis analog low-pass filters—married to a modern feature set.
  • Compact size, huge sound.
  • Tons of knobs for direct, real-time editing and performance.

Prophet ’08 Specifications

  • 2 digitally controlled analog oscillators (DCOs) per voice with selectable sawtooth, triangle, saw/triangle mix, and pulse waves (with pulse-width modulation)
  • Glide (portamento): separate rates per oscillator
  • White noise generator
  • Analog VCAs
  • Hard sync
  • 1 analog Curtis low-pass filter per voice, selectable 2- and 4-pole operation (self-resonating in 4-pole mode).
  • 3 envelope generators: filter, VCA, and assignable (four-stage ADSR + delay); Envelope 3 can loop.
  • 16 x 4 gated step sequencer
  • 4 LFO’s with key sync per LFO
  • 4 x 2 modulation matrix with 20 mod sources and 43 mod destinations
  • Programmable arpeggiator with up, down, up+down, random, assign modes.
  • Re-latching arpeggiation
  • 5-octave keyboard with semi-weighted action, velocity, and aftertouch.
  • 52 knobs and 20 buttons enable deep and comprehensive editing with little to no menu diving.
  • Spring-loaded pitch wheel and assignable mod wheel
  • 256 fully editable Programs (2 banks of 128) with 2 Layers (2 separate sounds) in each Program.
  • MIDI In, Out, Thru, and Poly Chain
  • Main stereo audio output: 1/4″ unbalanced
  • Output B stereo audio output: 1/4″ unbalanced
  • Sustain pedal input: accepts normally on or normally off momentary footswitch.
  • Pedal/CV input: responds to expression pedals or control voltages ranging from 0 to 5 VDC (protected against higher or negative voltages).
  • Headphone output: 1/4″ stereo phone jack.
  • Includes power supply for 110V – 240V AC operation (13-15 VDC, 600 mA) and operation manual.
Physical Specs
  • Oiled mahogany wood end panels
  • Dimensions: 12.1″ (30.73 cm) W x 34.8″ (88.39 cm) L x 3.875″ (9.84 cm) H (2.25″ at front edge; the feet account for 0.25″ of the total height)
  • Weight: ~22 lbs. (9.98 kg)

Is the Prophet '08 an updated Prophet-5?

The Prophet ’08 is not a Prophet-5. But then, the other Prophet models weren’t a Prophet-5, 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?

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?


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.”