Serious design flaw with Prophet 6

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In the early 80ies my partner Stella and I created our musical project Schaltkreis Wassermann and one day we were very happy to buy a brand new Prophet V synthesizer by synth guru Dave Smith and his company Sequential Circuits. It was the first polyphonic analog synth with digital storage of patches and a veritable breakthrough in synth technology. Not only this, it had a fantastic sound…

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Some time in the late 90ies our beloved Prophet V Rev.2 stopped working and so far it has been beyond repair. Some years ago I bought a Prophet 08, again by Dave Smith. I like its sound but it doesn’t compare to the original. So when I read that Dave had built the Prophet 6 I had to test it. Playing its presets brought a big smile to my face! I just love it.

Of course pretty soon I started to create my own patches, lots of them. The P6 has 500 memory slots for storing your own patches and that’s very nice. But there’s no possibility to name the patches, just numbers. Extremely annyoing! Why on earth is there no alphanumeric display on a synth that cost me nearly 3’000 Swiss Francs?

The P6 is not really purist in its design. It has the same concept and more or less the same knob layout as the original but it has digital effects and other features like arpeggiator and sequencer that weren’t in the Prophet V. As someone (Bob Rossa) pointed out in a synth forum: “The missing naming is one of the ‘legacy’ features they decided to bring along into the future that is maybe the most annoying thing about first generation digital/analog hybrid synths.” I fully agree. Even with only 64 memory slots in the original Prophet V it was a pain that the patches couldn’t be named. Now with 500 slots this missing feature seriously undermines my joy with this otherwise wonderful instrument.

P-6-Top

PS. There is a MIDI editor for the Prophet 6 that has to be bought separately which is a shame at the price point of this synth. This editor software allows you to name your patches. So you need to have a computer sitting next to an instrument that boasts the concept of one knob or button per function. A contradiction in itself. Sorry Dave but you made a really poor design decision here.

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