Monday, February 10, 2014

Sequential Circuits Inc. Prophet-5 "The Completely Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer" reference brochure - 1980

Sequential Circuits Inc. Prophet-5 "The Completely Programmable Polyphonic Synthesizer" reference brochure (spec sheet) from approx. 1980.

Four pages of comfy, warm Prophet-5 goodness. What's not to like when your eyeballs can be sun-bathed in hip retro-font front-cover goodness, awesomely bright and sunny up-close and personal photography and, best of all - lots of tropical, beachy, sand-in-your-toes, reference informa... eeeer....

So, re-reading that above paragraph, one might guess that my part of the world may be going through an unprecedented looooong stretch of snowy, blizzardly, winterly coldly-cold weather.


And after that stupid ground hog bolted back into his hole after seeing his shadow a week or so back, I'm trying desperately to incorporate fuzzy, warm thoughts into everything I do as I eagerly await the return of the warmth of Spring.

But back to the Prophet-5 - and one of the things I love most about it (and other Prophets too). Which is to say that there is something to be said for a clearly laid out front panel. Design is design is design - whether you are talking about the white space in an ad so it can be clearly read and processed, or a logically organized front panel with high-contract controls and labels that are easy to see and reach for when needed.

As I get older and have less time to actually hunker down and play in the studio, I find that when I do have time to work on music I tend to reach for gear that will give me quick access to sound editing - and that usually means keyboards with knobs. And a clearly and logically laid-out panel helps keep me in the zone while i'm doing this.

Compare that nice, simple Prophet-5 front panel to say... a Roland JP8080. I love my JP8080. Its fun. Its powerful. And it has a great sound. But, like most gear in the studio that I can't bring to the bedroom with me (I know you do it too!), I don't get to play on it a lot. And when I do have a hankering for some smooth Roland bubbly goodness, I reach over to the front panel and... [SCREEEECH!]

Yup. I'm suddenly out of the zone. I have to look around to figure out where everything is again. My brain has to take time away from music making to re-learn that front panel display.

To be clear, this isn't necessarily a JP8080 problem. It has to pack a lot of controls into a relatively small 19-inch rack space. All I'm saying is that the less I'm in the studio, the less and less I reach for this piece of kit. So, yeah - this definitely isn't a JP8080 problem. This is a "me-problem" of not spending enough time in the studio. :)

Well, enough complaining. I'm old.

Although there is no date stamped anywhere on this Spec Sheet, I've dated it 1980 for the simple fact that the font panel photo includes the cassette interface found standard on the Rev. 3 Prophet-5s in the top-right corner.

I did a quick search and found this great video (well... audio) of the Prophet-5's original factory program interface cassette. This is the DATA cassette, so I don't recommend listening to it unless you really like the sound of 90's dial-up modems. But, I couldn't resist posting due to the fact that the background of the video looks really really warm and sunny.

Hurry Spring, hurry... faster Spring, faster.

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