Sonic LAB: Sequential Pro 3 Synthesizer

The new flagship mono from Dave and the team      22/05/20

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The designers at Sequential call this the best analog mono they've ever made. It certainly seems fully featured, and while there's some new stuff in here, it's still got that Sequential familiarity.

3x Oscillators - 2x VCOs - these do sound good and have the TRI/SAW/SQUARE morphing of other Sequential products with shaping control. The VCO aspect does give them a certain extra oomph  and do sound better than the DCOs on say the Prophet X.

The 3rd oscillator is a wavetable affair with standard analog shapes, plus 32 additional non editable wavetables. The interpolation is good and there's a ton of harmonic richness from these, add the face that you can route all oscillators into each other and other modulation destinations and you get plenty of FM/ Audio rate mod potential too. They can of course be played in a 3 voice paraphonic configuration too.

3 X Filters
Three discrete filter circuits (only one at a time) offer 4 pole OTA, 4-pole Ladder (think Moog) which praise be, has resonance compensation (switchable)  so the bass doesn't vanish when you introduce resonance.

The final filter is the SEM style 2-pole with morphable Lo pass/Notch/HiPass for that classic OB 6 style filter.

4x loopable ADSR envelopes, 4XLFO with decent audio rates add plenty for the curious synthesist, as well as 32 Modulation slots which modulate their own depth, CV outputs and inputs (of which there are 4 each) gives a ton of modulation opportunities.

The sequencer has had some development over previous models, this one has up to 64 steps (A>B>C>D pattern joining per sequence) plus 16 tracks, with all sorts of assignable options. It is possible to record real-time parameter changes, but not real-time notes sadly. Clock division is comprehensive and swing is there too.

It is possible to just use the sequencer as a parameter only modulation system so that each step can be a fresh value of whatever parameter(s) you fancy, triggering, step advance modes and such add plenty of flexibility.

The Pro 3 is nicely constructed, it feels sturdy and the knobs are actually a little stiff out of the box, but feel like quality, though they do loosen up a little after usage. The keybed is a quality Fatar synth action with after-touch (3 octaves).

Connections are plentiful too - with 2 x MIDI outputs, IN and THRU, plus USB (MIDI)  4x CV out, 4xCV in and a gate out too. A single mono Audio in source allows external gear to be processed via mixer, Filter, VCA and FX though I would love to have seen some more routing options here - audio>FX (bypassing VCF/VCA) for instance.

It's the same 2 engine system that we've seen before from the team, and with routable FX parameters, you can really integrate them with the sound design. Modulations are deep and colourful, delays sound good with plenty of sync options, and the reverb can deliver that massive ambient wash that I'm personally a fan of.

As well as gain staging into the filter - the response changes on hotter signal via the mixer, there's a filter drive control, and an overall distortion circuit at the output, so if that hot, saturated sound is what you crave, yes, it can do that nicely - as well as cleaner sounds too.

The Feedback circuit is also a nice addition - as well as adding some lovely and at higher levels more uncontrollable effects, it's also tuneable - which I presume means it introduces a short adjustable delay for more unusual sounds - both of these params are modulation destinations. The Grunge button, not so much for me it's gets wild and trashy quite quickly.

How is it then? Well it sounds great! There's plenty of weight to the low end, the VCOs and the Wavetable oscillator all have a decent amount of range, the filters give you a lot of tonal sculpting and when sending the wavetables into them can pick out all kinds of harmonic nooks and crannies. I like it. Lots and lots of patches in there to show it off with some incredibly complex modulation examples for you. But definitely you should roll your own.

I would like to have seen a little more routing for the external input, oscillator panning and perhaps routing outside of the filter, but these are minor, ultimately, the Pro 3 is a really nice instrument and delivers the sort of authority and features you'd want from a flagship mono-synth.

Available in the regular version (reviewed) £1490/€1695/$1599  and also the Special Edition £1980/€2222/$2099  which has wooden end cheeks and a tilting front panel.

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