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In-depth Feature:  Native Instruments Prophet 5 VST synth
Whatever my next session, I'll be switching this sucker on. This software has 512 patches that really speak Prophet.
Mark Tinley writes:
  • Test System Used .

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    The Prophet V was one of the main synthesisers to shape the sound of the eighties. Duran Duran, Japan, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Phil Collins and who knows who else owned and used them. Nick Rhodes, who I work with, has one and we still use it on the albums we are making today. There were three revisions with some changes to the electronics as the synthesiser evolved. The general consensus of opinion at the time was that the earlier ones sounded warmer, due mainly to a change in filter chipset on later models. In any of its incarnations, it remains to this day one of the ultimate classic synthesisers, so I was keen to see what kind of a job Native Instruments had done in modelling it.

    My experience and attitude towards this kind of technology is something of a mixed bag. I do like analog synths, but they take up space. And what I really want is to hear somebody develop a new form of synthesis rather than rehashing a method of synthesis that has been around since the fifties.

    On my part, I have been using the Moog and the Juno 106 on the Creamware SCOPE platform for a while and these always cause something of a stir amongst analog die hards, who think it just can't be done. I have also tried many of the available soft synths on the PC and resort to them from time to time when I want to knock out ear splitting acid lines, only up until now latency and sequencer integration have always been a major stumbling block on my PC.

    As far as hardware synths go, I can't say I am a huge fan of the first wave of digital 'analog modelling' synthesisers such as the AN1X, JP8000 or Novation Supernova. Even the Clavia Nord Modular, which offers all of the above and more just has something missing. I can't quite put my finger on what, but the sounds just don't sit in a mix in the same way as a true analog synth. It's like the difference between a valve and a transistor amp for me. Bottom line is they don't sound the same.

    As with everything, these things improve as the technology to do it gets better. And boy have they got this one right. Someone must have spent a long time listening to a Prophet V to get this to sound as good as it does. For once, I really am impressed

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