- Two Digital Oscillators, with SuperSaw
- 150GB Sample Library from 8Dio Co.
- 50GB Expansion Area
- PROPHET VS Waveform Library Included
When it comes to synthesizers named PROPHET, known for their characteristic analog synth sound (even the ones with digital oscillators), it's pretty much a given that if you like synths then you're familiar with them—from the vintage ones to their modern lineup.
With the latest in the series, the PROPHET X, they've introduced a hybrid model that utilizes two digital oscillators as well as two sampling instrument oscillators. Until now, we've seen various synths that utilized vector synthesis (like the Prophet VS among others), or included wavetables as a part of digital waveform oscillators. But the PROPHET X is the first we've seen that has oscillators that allow a selection of waveforms from a PCM sample library.
Sound Engine Characteristics
The sound engine in the PROPHET X includes two high-resolution digital oscillators more than capable of reproducing "analog" sounds, in addition to two sample instrument oscillators, which access sampled waveforms to produce sound. A patch is made by mixing together a combination of the aforementioned four oscillators. Also, each Program is bi-timbral, consisting of Layers A and B, which easily explains why the preset sounds are SO fat. As far as sound design in concerned, this means that very complex sounds can be created—sounds in which you can hear a variety of different kinds of sound at once, and which can change in complex ways via numerous realtime controllers.
The two oscillators on the PROPHET X are digital. Waveforms include all the classic analog choices such as sine, sawtooth, square, and SuperSaw, which is like multiple layered sawtooth waveforms. Because the character of each waveform can be changed via SHAPE MOD, compared to the standard static waveforms on typical synths, the PROPHET X is capable of producing a wide number of subtly different waveforms. And since you can freely assign modulation sources and destinations, it's quite easy to route an LFO to SHAPE MOD and create a waveform that's always on the move.
A new feature introduced with the PROPHET X is sampling-based oscillators, which they call Sample Instruments, and there are two of these oscillators.
The samples are provided by the 8Dio company, in a 150GB sample library of 16-bit 48kHz samples. The samples range from acoustic instruments to cinematic sounds, effects and ambiences, and are all stereo multisampled sounds.
What's more, there's an additional 50GB of empty space into which you place additional libraries. The plan is to introduce both free and for-purchase libraries which you can add later. It's nice that they've gone so far as to provide this empty space, which shows how forward thinking the folks who designed the synth are.
The Sample Instruments themselves can be edited. And, the editing feature itself is rather thorough, as it includes loop and stretch as well as waveform level and tone control. Further editable parameters include sample start, end, loop size, loop center, loop on/off, sample resize, sample stretch, bit rate reduction, sample rate reduction and more.
Furthermore, one more merit of this section is that ALL of the waveforms from the PROPHET VS are included! This means you have immediate access to the sound library of that classic synth, and can easily recreate the rich sounds of the PROPHET 5 or PROPHET VS just as Arturia has done with their ProphetV line.
The filter on the PROPHET X is a newly developed, totally analog filter based on a vintage design. It's a 24dB/Oct resonant lowpass filter. The left and right channels have one filter each, which can be separately used for the digital oscillators and sampling oscillators. Or, if you change the voice mode to monaural, the filters get stacked but can still be individually controlled.
In the MIXER section we have individual volume controls for INSTRUMENT 1, INSTRUMENT 2, OSCILLATOR 1 and OSCILLATOR 2. By adjusting and fine tuning the balance between these four, a layer of sound can be created.
The Prophet X is 16-voice polyphonic, but in stereo mode that translates to 8 voices. In monaural mode it's 16 voices. In stack (layer) or split mode, polyphony goes down to 4-voices. It is possible to set the number of voices used when in monaural unison mode.
The idea behind stereo and monaural modes may be a bit hard to grasp. If you use a sound that is based on stereo sampled instruments such as an acoustic piano or strings, you'll get 8-voice polyphony. On the other hand, if you create a sound using with the digital oscillators, and add mono sampled instruments (say, for the attack transient), then polish up the sound by passing it through the effects processors and adding chorus and reverb, it is possible to broaden out the sound in the stereo field while maintaining 16-voice polyphony due to the original oscillators being monaural.
There are four loopable five-stage (ADSR + delay) envelope generators.
Since you can freely assign the destination of envelopes 3 and 4, this really opens up the range of sounds that you can create.
There are also four LFOs.
LFO waveforms are triangle, sawtooth, reverse sawtooth, square and random (sample & hold).
28 sources can be routed to 88 destinations in a 16-slot modulation matrix. This means it's possible to make sounds of exquisite detail thanks to complex modulation.
Polyphonic Step Sequencer & Arpeggiator
Polyphonic Step Sequencer
This is a 64-step sequencer in which each step can record up to six voices. This is especially powerful when you use stack or split modes, and assign separate polyphonic sequences to each part.
A full-spec arpeggiator is also included.
Arpeggiator patterns are up, down, up & down, random, and assignable.
Each layer has two effects processors, for a grand total of four digital effects processors which can be used simultaneously. Effect parameters can also be controlled via the mod matrix, which allows your sounds to evolve in complex ways in realtime.
Effects include reverb, delay (normal and BBD), chorus, phase shifter, flanger, vintage rotary speaker, high pass filter and distortion.
Demo & Review Video
For sound design, this is the possibly the most powerful synth in the Prophet series!
If you think about it, on the surface the PROPHET X is a synth that combines a PCM sampler with virtual analog. The idea behind this style of synth isn't a particularly new one.
Even so, when you sit down in front of one and noodle around, the most striking difference between this synth and every hybrid synth that has come before it is the high quality of the sampled instruments provided by 8Dio.
Normally, synth manufacturers utilize in-house sampled material. But with the PROPHET X, they've gone through the trouble of collaborating with an outside source, and a very high-quality one at that, to take care of the samples.
In that regard, besides sounds that layer acoustic sounds such as grand pianos or guitars with synth sounds being high quality, there isn't really all that much in the PROPHET X that is different from the synths we've seen up until now. Having said that though, the PROPHET X can deliver sampled cinematic, ambient and sound effect type sounds that are very difficult to do with just an analog style synth. On top of that, you have the traditional analog sound of the PROPHET, coupled with sounds produced with very complex modulation going on behind the scenes, which all adds up to the bottom line being that it's totally possible to come up with sounds that nobody has ever heard before with this synth! And then you've got the huge point of having loads of realtime control over those sounds!
Seriously, from a slightly different point of view, the argument could be made that This is the sound you'd get if you mashed up a sampler and a Prophet!
We highly recommend that you find a local shop that has one, and give it a go so you can see for yourself just how great it sounds.
It's completely different from all the so-called hybrid synths we've seen before!