| Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits, the premier manufacturer of professional music synthesizers, in the mid-70s. In 1977, he designed the Prophet-5, the world's first microprocessor-based musical instrument. This revolutionary product was the world's first polyphonic and programmable synth, and set the standard for all synth designs that have followed. The Prophet instruments played a major part in the recordings of all popular music styles, and are still prized by musicians today.
Dave is also generally known as the driving force behind the generation of the MIDI specification in 1981—in fact, he coined the acronym. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis. After Sequential, Dave was President of DSD, Inc, an R&D division of Yamaha, where he worked on physical modeling synthesis and software synthesizer concepts. He then started the Korg R&D group in California, which went on to produce the professional musician favorite Wavestation products and other technology. He then took over as President at Seer Systems and developed the world's first software based synthesizer running on a PC. This synth, commissioned by Intel, was demonstrated by Andy Grove in a Comdex keynote speech in 1994. Over 10 million of his second-generation software synth have been sold, which was licensed to Creative Labs in 1996, and is responsible for 32 of the 64 voices in the AWE 64 line of Sound Cards. The third generation is the world's first first fully professional software synthesizer, Reality, released in 1997. Reality was rated the highest of any synth by Electronic Musician magazine.
Now he's designing hardware instruments again with the Evolver and Poly Evolver synths.
Below is a partial list of products:
Sequential Circuits Prophet-5
The Prophet-5 was a breakthrough product, first released in early 1978 for $4,595. By being the first completely programmable, polyphonic synthesizer, it defined the modern-day synthesizer. It was also the world's first musical instrument designed with a microprocessor, a Z-80 with a whopping 4 Kbytes of ROM. The Prophet-5 was used by virtually every major keyboard player in the late '70s and '80s, not only in rock music, but also jazz, country, pop, and experimental. 20 years later the P-5 is still used by many musicians for its incredible sound. Over 7,000 Prophet-5s were made. Dave designed the P-5 in 9 months, designing the electronics, writing the firmware for the microprocessor, designing the unique wood and metal enclosure, and even doing all the drafting and laying out of the printed circuit boards. Check out a partial list of Prophet-5 users.
Sequential Circuits Prophet-10
Introduced in 1980, the Prophet-10 was essentially 2 Prophet-5s in one big (and heavy!) enclosure. There were two 5-octave keyboards, allowing the musician to play two different sounds at one time. It also included a polyphonic sequencer module, with its own tape backup module, and up to 10,000 note storage. With the sequencer option, it sold for $9,000, and less than 1,000 were made.
Sequential Circuits Pro-One
After starting the polyphonic revolution three years prior, in March of 1981, Sequential once again surprised the industry with the Pro-One, a monophonic synth for $645 (the price eventually drifted up to $745). It also had a microprocessor which handled sequencing and arpeggiator functions. It is also still used today for its great bass and lead sounds, hands-on control, and just for fun. Over 10,000 were sold.
Sequential Circuits Pro-FX
Though not very well known, the Pro-FX was the world's first programmable and modular effects device. Introduced in September, 1982, it provided an expandable mainframe chassis that held the basic programming electronics, and eight different modules: Phase Shifter, Distortion, 4 x 2 Expandable Mixer, Parametric EQ, Reverb, Transpose Sync, Flanger/Chorus, and Digital Delay.
Sequential Circuits Prophet 600
The Prophet 600 was a popular lower-cost ($1,995) synth, with 6 voices, a sequencer and arpeggiator. It was also the world's first MIDI product! First shipped in December 1982, it was successfully connected to a Roland JX-3P at the January 1983 NAMM show, the first time two MIDI instruments were joined. Look what has happened since!
Sequential Circuits Prophet T-8
The Prophet-T8 was Sequential's latest flagship synth when it was introduced in May of 1983. It featured 8 voices, a built-in scratchpad sequencer, and best of all a 76 note, wooden keyboard complete with flying hammers with optical velocity sensing (note off as well as note on) and polyphonic aftertouch. The keyboard feel was so well liked by the pros that Sequential sold the T8 keyboards to Synclavier to use in their super-expensive synths. Dave still uses his T8 in his studio as his main keyboard controller.
Sequential Circuits Six Trak
In January 1984, Sequential introduced the Six-Trak, the world's first commercial multi-timbral synth, for $1,095. It also included a on-board sequencer that was multi-timbral, allowing a different sound on each of six different sequencer tracks, hence the name.
Sequential Circuits Drumtraks
Also in January, 1984, Sequential's first Drum machine hit the streets. It easily connected to the Six-Trak as one of the first MIDI "studio" setups.
Sequential Circuits Prophet 2000
After a couple years of building less expensive (and less interesting, truth be known) instruments, Sequential got back on the professional track in January, 1985 with its first digital instrument, the Prophet 2000 sampler. Priced at $2,500, it was an eight voice sampler, with analog filters on each voice, and a (then huge) 256K words of sample memory. It was available in both keyboard and rack versions.
Sequential Circuits Prophet VS
Here was another cool one--the Prophet-VS, introduced in 1986 in both keyboard and rack versions. It used a synthesis technique called Vector Synthesis, and has a unique sound that is still very popular with the pros, and used on many recordings.
Sequential Circuits Studio 440
Also introduced in 1986, the Studio 440 was an all-in-one instrument, consisting of a sampling drum machine with analog filters, an extensive sequencer, SMPTE syncing, expressive drum pads, and many other features.
Sequential Circuits Prophet 3000
The final Sequential product was the Prophet-3000 16 bit stereo sampler, which uses an extremely easy-to-use remote control panel. Automatic features like pitch detection on sampling for automatic keyboard mapping are still missing from many modern day samplers. Analog filters again gave the P-3000 a great sound, and stereo direct-to-disk recording was available &endash; one of the first systems to do so. In blind A-B tests with original CD recordings, the P-3000 was usually selected as the original, due to the warmth added by the filters.
Dave also started the Korg R&D division of Korg in May of 1989. The first product designed was the WaveStation, which took the Prophet VS concept a major step further, by first including a wealth of samples for the oscillators, then providing a unique cross-fading method for serially playing and layering a number of these sounds. Once again, it was a hit with the professionals, who recorded with it extensively. It was also great for "one finger sound tracks".
Seer Systems Reality
Dave was both the lead engineer on the Reality professional software synthesizer, and wrote all the low-level optimized floating point synthesis code. He and Rave and Dodger VP Gints Klimanis were responsible for designing the whole synth and effects engine. Reality is the latest world's first from Dave, providing multiple synthesis methods, polyphonically and multi-timbrally all on a Pentium processor.
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||Dave Smith New Prophet 08
Dave Smith announces the immediate release oh his New Prophet ’08 synth with 8 voices with an
all-analog signal path, with a classic 2-oscillator, 2/4 pole Curtis
lowpass filter, VCA architecture, and 52 knobs to tweak. Then it goes
well beyond the original Prophet... Pre-order now for early September delivery.