Monday, April 28, 2008

Prophet '08 Review - Part 2

On a side note:

Remix Magazine's Jason Scott Alexander proclaims that the Prophet '08 "sounds thicker than my beloved Jupiter-8". The article closes by voting it the "best analog poly synth…ever".

The best analog poly synth...ever? Really?

I like the P'08 — and I think my review shows that — but I don't think even the most brazen marketing material would go that knee deep, let alone a review.

What should a review do?

A review like the one provided by Remix Magazine leads to unrealistic expectations, and ultimately, a disservice to both its readers and the product manufacturer.

If you believe Remix Magazine, then you'd essentially expect the best synth in the history of all humanity, and that's setting up disappointment no matter what awaits you. You'd probably leave the music store without digging into it, frustrated by its inability to fly you at twelve times the speed of light, prove Beal's conjecture, and bring world peace.

You might miss out on a very interesting and useful product.

But if you have a realistic idea as to the Prophet '08's benefits and drawbacks, then you'll be in a better frame of mind to make an objective decision, and spend enough time to see if it works for you.

For the Prophet '08 review, I wanted to provide historical perspective, basic and advanced features, positives and negatives, lots of audio examples, and explain how each of those examples work with the features available.

That way viewers get something out of watching the review even if they end up uninterested in the product itself.
And hey — I'm open to criticism and comments. I want to know if this sort of format works, and whether it provides helpful information.

I don't think I'll cast my own vote on the "best poly synth...ever". How can one compare a CS80, a Synthex, a Matrix-12, a Jupiter 8, and dozens of other great synthesizers and make superlative statements like that, when features range from polyphonic aftertouch to ring modulation to multimode filters, each synth with its own unique sounds and capabilities?


Anonymous said...

Excellent review - thank you for making the effort.

Faxed said...

Top notch! I look forward to more "Inside Synthesis" editions. Keep up the good work!

kroffe said...

Very interesting and in-depth review. I also like the OBX-comparisson a lot... :)

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Hi again,

The second part was even better than the first. Once again, I've linked you in my blog.
After seeing these reviews I'm convinced to buy a Prophet 08 after summer.


(iProg on VSE)
Send me a mail if you have questions at

Anonymous said...

Definitely, this review made me susbscribe to your blog. Well balanced review, not just an advertisement like other ones you can find.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the fair and unbiased review... one thing no one has ever mentioned that I think should be noted is that the PO8's headphone output is quite noisy. I use Sony 7506's and get a lot of hiss, and my cheap Micro Korg is totally silent in comparison.

Inside Synthesis said...

anonymous wrote: "one thing no one has ever mentioned that I think should be noted is that the PO8's headphone output is quite noisy."

Very true - I rarely use headphone outs and tested the unit with the mains, but you have a good point.

The Prophet 08's headphone outs are way too loud for a modern machine - analog or digital. I have a far better SNR on my Mono/Poly's headphone outs.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I really enjoyed your review.

I've been a long time reader of Remix and MIX, and I feel you are a little harsh and unblaned in YOUR critique of Mr. Alexander's critique :-) In defense, Mr. Alexander (who I read all the time) did a fantastic job in summarizing the machine and balancing its pros and cons (albeit, we all know the P'08 has very few cons). I actually bought the P'08 based largely on his findings and can't argue with any of them. I understood his closing to be "of all analog polysynths of comparible class, form and function". Perhaps he should have included such a line to clarify. In other words, don't compare it with huge modulars, and don't compare it on an a la carte basis - as naturally one arpeggiator will be better than another; one filter 'more to your liking' than another; etc. But I took it all as a balanced whole. Bottom line, everyone loves the P'08 and it really is a new classic. UNTIL THE NEXT BIG THING! (and that is probably also something Mr. Alexander should have said:-)


Inside Synthesis said...

Hey Tony DiNadio,

I guess I didn't get the subtext of his article. I re-read it and still can't find any indication that he's only talking about synths of a comparable class and function.

In fact, he directly compares the Prophet '08 against the Jupiter and the Prophet 5, says that the Prophet '08 sounds better than both, and then goes to say that the Prophet '08 is "the best analog polysynth...ever."

While the Prophet '08 definitely has superior sequencing and modulation features, I take issue with his idea that it *sounds* better. The sweet spot of the Prophet '08's filter is narrow, it sounds a bit weak when PWM is used (compared to most other analog polys), and its hard sync is somewhat digital in tone.

Perhaps that's subjective, but from an objective standpoint, one can factually argue that the Prophet '08 has limited tonal options without any multimode (i.e. band or high pass) filters.

It's far too tonally limited to ever be considered the best poly synth ever made.

Anonymous said...

I hate this site :(

The updates are too infrequent, its so good I wish there was more every day!

I loved the FM video, that was concise, clear and informative!

Anonymous said...

Any opinions on the Prophet '08 vs Alesis Andromeda A6? They seem like natural competitors.

Inside Synthesis said...

Hey Jamie,

I prefer the Andromeda, but it's quite a different kind of synthesizer.

It's also a bit tricky to program - you can easily come away thinking it's not as fat as other analogs, if you're not familiar with how the oscillator mixing should be setup.

Bob's Country Bunker said...

Playing with the p08 at NAMM it was all I could do to keep from insulting it out of respect for the company/history.

To compare it to a Jupiter shows a deep and profound ignorance (read: clinical or perhaps psychotic deafness).

Anonymous said...

Great review - toward the end, he says they could have added some things but that would have violated the "low cost" part of the synth. He includes "richer oscillators" in this. So - what say you good folk - does the prophet 08 not have very rich oscillators? Does it sound thin in person? How does it compare with a Minimoog Voyager?...

Just curious, b/c, I have a Voyager and was thinking about a Prophet 08 as an "addition" as he recommends...

Would love to know your thoughts!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the review!
Found it via the Prophet '08 site via Sonic State and it took a while to hunt down who actually made this review! :)
I'm primarily a guitarist, but love the format that you have for this review since it's helping me learn *why* things sound the way they do in these crazy synths and helps put them into context.
The playing is great too.
So again, thank you!
Please do more! :D (The reason I wandered over to Sonic State's site was specifically to find more reviews that you might have done over there!)

Anonymous said...

You´re lucky you didn´t read the Keyboard magazine review... you´d vomit...

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