Showing posts with label pro-one. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pro-one. Show all posts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One Spec Sheet, 1981




Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One 4-page Spec Sheet from early 1981.

Update: Added to the Sequential Circuits advertising timeline tool.

Well - we are headed into the August long weekend. And you know what that means... shorter blog posts! It's just too nice out to be blogging much. Gah!

Not sure if I've made this clear or not, but I consider Sequential Circuits Inc. kind of a big deal. Some people out there may agree... :D

This makes it tough for me to not only keep the blog post short, but to say anything bad about the company, or any of SCI's gear - in particular the Pro-One. Luckily, its very rare that I find something to complain about when it comes to SCI. And its usually something very trivial. This brochure is a perfect example of that.

Putting the interesting choice of front cover images aside for a second, the only thing I can really fault this brochure for is that there is no date stamp anywhere. And really, how would SCI know I would be looking for it 30 years later?

Other companies like Roland are great for date stamps on their brochures and other printed material. They often included the year as well as the MONTH (!) - as can be found on the back of these brochures for the TL-12, this 808/606/303 rhythm machines and SH-101.

But SCI... not so good. Luckily, SCI has some pretty distinct and consistent advertising periods, so spec sheets like this one are usually easy to date without resorting to carbon dating or some other costly scientific method that might destroy the test material.

Just look at the advertising for the Pro-One over time and I'm sure you can pick out when this brochure was probably designed.


March 1981July 1981February 1982October 1982

Yeah, I'm probably thinking what you are thinking. Based on these ads, this brochure was no doubt created relatively early on in the Pro-One's life cycle - ie: early 1981. And that would make sense, since a spec sheet would usually be created when a new synth was first introduced, or after a significant update to the design.

So, back to the spec sheet itself. One word - gorgeous. Kick's the butts of the reference sheets of most other companies. In fact, the design of the piece actually makes it feel more like a brochure, so I've included that label for this post as well.

About that front page for a sec. Somehow it just doesn't look that balanced. I can see why they've chosen those three view points for the photos of the Pro-One. Front view, angled view, and kind of a side view. But, that last photo doesn't really provide much more visual info that can't be found in the angled view.

But all is forgiven when you turn the page to view that gorgeous full two-page spread of the Pro-One's control panel. Honestly - how beautiful is that. And below readers find all the juicy specs. You just can't beat it.

And, what I find best of all - in the top right corner of the inside pages, SCI mentions the digital interface. I've always been fascinated with this addition to the Pro-One. Excellent! You can find out more about this feature in most online manuals.

The back page doesn't disappoint either. You can see all back panel connections clearly, and the logo on the back with the quarter notes in the trees and the keyboard key's wrapping around the hilly cropland, also help date the spec sheet to the same period as that early 1980's advertisement that also sports that same logo.

Also, note that only the top half of the back page contains technical information. The only info on the bottom half is the return address - meaning that this piece was obviously meant to be folded in half for easy mailing. Efficient.

Like I said - gonna keep 'er short. And almost did!

Time to enjoy the outdoors. Doesn't last long here.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sequential Circuits Inc. pre-launch countdown ads, January 1981


Sequential Circuits Inc. pre-launch countdown ads from pages 30, 32, and 34 in Contemporary Keyboard Magazine January 1981.

Update: Added to Sequential Circuits interactive advertising timeline.

What a great set of ads! I'm a big fan of teaser ads when they are done right. So when such a beautiful, simple, small, under-the-radar set of teaser ads comes out by SCI, I'm gonna jump on 'em - even when there isn't much to see. I almost felt silly scanning them, so to help with the visual, I've included small thumbnails of the pages that these ads were found on so positioning can be seen.

I assume that most readers coming across these ads behaved similarly to me.

I came across the first ad almost subconsciously the first time I breezed through the January 1981 issue of CK. But when I flipped to the next page and saw a similar ad in the exact same space (top left corner of the page), the similarity with the first ad immediately registered in my frontal lobe, and I automatically flipped back to assimilate that first ad as well. Then, my brain's logic circuits immediately hit over-drive, and I instinctively flipped two pages ahead to the same spot to see if there was a third ad. And sure enough!

Good times.... good times...

Unlike readers in 1981 who then had to wait a month for the actual announcement (suckas!), I ran through the living room to grab the February 1981 issue of CK off the shelf. I had a good idea since I had already blogged the ad last summer, but in case you missed it:



Yerp. The lovely Pro-One.

And, after that introductory Pro-One ad ran a couple of times, a more familiar, and soon to be part of a legendary series, Pro-1 ad come out. A series of ads that was so well-received that they were turned into a set of posters.

Yum.

The introduction of the Pro-One wasn't the only SCI announcement to be found in the February 1981 issue of CK. Readers who had managed to read all the way through to page 79 in the magazine without skipping most of the pages to get to the Spec Sheet info (which, I'll admit, is what I used to do), would have come across the Keyboard News section with some great historical reference info. It included a short note about Sequential Circuits' new service centres.
"California-based Sequential Circuits Inc., manufacturer of the Prophet synthesizer, has set up eight new service centers in the U.S. and Canada where owners of SCI products may go to correct instrument problems they encounter on the road. Technicians at the service centers have been personally trained by Dan Ramsauer, the firm's service manager, and are presently located in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Los Angeles. Further information about the service centers may be obtained by telephoning Ramsauer or Bob Styles at the company's headquarters, 408-946-5240..."
Great info and probably a good strategy by SCI considering some of the issues with early Prophets.

But back to teaser ads for a sec.

I've questioned the value of magazine teaser ads in the past. With TV or radio, a teaser ad can be run multiple times within a week, a day, or even within the same program. Not so with a magazine. Readers will really only get one or two chances to see the ad in a single issue, so odds are quite high that many will miss it.

For example, Korg ran a teaser ad for the Sigma keyboard in just one issue of CK in 1979. Visually it is a great ad, and considerable resources obviously went into producing it. But was it worth all the time and effort in creating it? Or would an extra month of the actual Sigma ad done more for the marketing of the keyboard?

In the case of these SCI pre-launch teasers, the cost of design and placement of these simple ads probably wasn't even close to the cost of the Korg ad. I guess I just wish it could have lasted more than one issue.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sequential Circuits Inc. advertisements / Mattos artwork round-up




Okay, my John Mattos infatuation is coming to a close.

For now... :o)

But, before I put it to bed, I thought that since he was, in my humble opinion, responsible for some of the most juicy, well-remembered synthesizer ads of the late 70s/early 80s, I would provide a few more yummy nuggets of Mattos info that I came across a while back.

And, who better to relay this info, but SCI themselves, through a
short article that appeared in the February 1982 issue of Sequential Circuit's newsletter/magazine called "The Patch" (Volume 2, Number 1).

The half page write-up appeared at the top of page 12 (the last page) of the newsletter, and gave readers an excellent introduction to John.

In addition, the article contains some wonderful historical reference information and is a must-read for hoarders of SCI promotional material, John Mattos' work, and heck, synthesizer historical information in general.

"Love your artwork..."

"Can I get posters?" "Who does all your stuff? It's terrific!" John Mattos does our "stuff," and we think it's pretty terrific, too. At 28, John is a phenomenal air brush artist whose works have drawn critical acclaim from the Western Art Directors Club and the Art Directors Club of New York.

Born in Modesto, John's first interests included horseback riding and music as well as art. At thirteen, he received his first award for art (a blue ribbon) at the Stanislaus County Fair, where he also won an award for equestrian dressage! Music captured his attention in high school and he played a Vox "Phantom" guitar with a group that performed at every prom from Stockton to Merced. "The band was popular because we knew the long version of 'Sunshine of Your Love,' and the real verses to 'Louise, Louie'!"

After high school, John majored in illustration at the Art Center College in Los Angeles and received his degree in 1975. His first "real" commission came from A&M Records for an insert in Rick Wakeman's album, "The Myths and Legends of King Arthur." John traveled in Europe for the next two years and worked as an illustrator in Paris. "I drew black and white rapidiograph (technical ink pen) pictures of men shaking hands, women in front of refrigerators, platters of food, grinning men with fistfuls of French money; horrible work but it prolonged my stay - two years of no air brush."

In 1978, John returned to California and took up residence in Palo Alto as a free lance artist. The Blank Design Group, then representing SCI, commissioned him to portray a multitude of sounds rising from a new instrument called a Prophet-5. This advertisement was entitled "Beware of False Prophets," which was later combined with gold lettering to become the "Earotic poster". John's next assignment was the Sphinx ad, "A Legend in its Own Time." This piece and all subsequent artwork has been commissioned directly by Sequential Circuits, and has appeared in Contemporary Keyboard, Musician Player and Listener, International Musician and Recording World, Music & Sound Output, Sound Arts, as well as SCI publications in the form of posters, decals, literature folders, and Christmas cards.

John's biggest contribution to SCI has been the personification of the Prophet synthesizers in the form of the Prophet Man. Originally seated on his "throne" ("The Prophet delivers" poster), the Prophet Man has taken off (reflecting the success of the instruments he represents) and has flown a bi-plane, a turbo-jet, and a rocket plane in the "Ear * Force" campaign. In 1982, we'll be launching him into space for some Extra Vehicular Activity with a Remote keyboard!"

Where do I begin? So much historical reference info!

Well, for starters, this article confirmed my research that the "Beware of False Prophets" and Legend In Its Own Time" artwork were among the first ads to be created by John. I initially couldn't find any info on the "The Prophet Delivers" poster also mentioned above, but then remembered the SCI merchandise ad that included a lovely gal wearing "The Prophet Jersey". Look at that image (bottom right corner of the ad) for what is probably the image from the poster.

And, how about that reference to Rick Wakeman's "King Arthur" album.

A quick Google Images search brought up the album page on the Audio Preservation Fund Web site, which includes some high resolution images of the inserts. A quick scan of the images didn't bring up the identifiable Mattos signature that can be found on his SCI artwork, but gatefold 1 and 2 (which make up one larger image) in particular looks fairly Mattos-ish. Especially the clouds. But, I could be totally off-base there. Just thinking out loud.

But, what I'm most interested in is the reference to Mattos artwork that was included in Christmas cards.

Does anyone know anything about these cards? Copies? Scans? Anything?

Seriously. I have never heard of these cards, and would love to see a sample.

One last thing. I thought I would also mention that you can view more of John Mattos' artwork on his Web site. Some great stuff there.

Also, I have created two new labels - one for MATTOS, and one for ARTWORK, so you can see even more great artwork done for SCI, Octave, Korg, and ARP.

Yummy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sequential Circuits Inc. family of products, Keyboard 1982



Sequential Circuits Inc. family of products advertisement, including (clockwise) Prophet-10 synthesizer, Remote Prophet keyboard, Prophet-5 synthesizer, Poly-Sequencer, and Pro-One synthesizer, from page 50 of Keyboard Magazine February 1982.

This advertisement ran sporadically throughout 1982 starting in February. You've probably seen this ad numerous times on the Web, but I just had to post and blog about it because the ad has some absolutely great historical significance.

Not only was it one of the first ad campaigns to replace the famous Ear-Force campaign (along with the plexiglass Pro-One ad), but it was also one of the first SCI advertisement to use the new Sequential Circuits Inc logo.

Ever since I can remember coming across this logo, I had always thought the little swervy design element beside the logotype was supposed to represent recording tape. But, of course, I was wrong (again)...

The new logo was actually introduced and explained on page one of the February 1982 issue of 'The Patch' (Volume 2, Number 1) - SCI's customer magazine that included information about new products, hints and how-to's, patches, etc.
"SCI has introduced a new corporate logo designed by Greg Armbruster, Advertising Coordinator. Greg took the simple, reverse 'S' shape from the evolution of the treble clef and combined it with the existing Sequential Circuits typeface. John Mattos air brushed the design, creating a three-dimensional symbol and 'ruby' letters. Look for this new logo, which will be extensively used in all future ads and promotional campaigns!"
A treble clef! (*smacks forehead with hand*) How did I not see that? Geeez.

And even better, overly-blogged-about beloved Ear-Force ad designer John Mattos also had a hand in the design. Awesome.

If you've read past blog posts, you will know that I like researching the evolution of logos. I've blogged about SCI's early logo evolution before, and here we see more. The new logo started to appear on gear shortly after the launch - but there seemed to be a problem. Even as far as into late 1984 when SCI was about to change their logo yet again, you would see gear both in the wild and in ads that had both the new logo ('S' logo) and a version of the old logo (although, maybe technically it never was the logo without the 'inc' - but I'm going to keep calling it that). And we are talking both logos on the same piece of gear.

So, for example, all the Six-Traks I've come across have a non-treble-logo (sans inc.) on the front and a treble-logo on the back. Even when looking at Six-Traks in ads running as late as 1984.



(Photos shamefully taken from
MATRIXSYNTH's Flickr stream)

Drumtraks vary - I've seen ads from as late as 1984 with the old-style logo on the front, but my Drumtraks, and most of the ones I come across in the wild, have the new treble-logo on them. Prophet-T8's - old logo on the front, even in later ads.

I'm a big fan of consistency in branding - if you have a new logo, it should always be used. But I think I can see SCI's reasoning for continuing to use the older logo style in most cases. Aesthetics and/or real estate.

In gear that had already been designed like the Prophet-10, the front panels were really thin - so keeping the older logo makes sense. Otherwise the logotype would just appear too small. But, again, then why not include the 'inc.' as well? Consistency!

In gear designed after the new logo launched, such as the T8, the long thin wooden front panel screams for the old logo as well. In something like the Drumtraks, the front panel is a bit taller, so the treble-logo snuggles in nicely and is balanced.

So far, so good. Looks like SCI is making some good calls on when to use the old or new-style logo.

But then you look at the Prophet-600. All Prophet-600's seem to have the new logo on the front as well as the back. Finally! Consistency!

But when I look at it, that front logo just looks too small. Gah!

Maybe I'm just being nit-picky.

Probably.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One ad #3, Keyboard 1982

Sequential Circuits Pro-One synthesizer advertisement from page 79 of Keyboard magazine October 1982.

I actually posted this advertisement back in early 2009 when I was a shy young lad and didn't really blog too much. But, since I'm on a roll with Pro-One blogging lately, I thought I would resurrect this ad since I still have some Pro-One history I'd like to get down in writing before the excitement wears out (could it?).

Hopefully you have already come across this clear plexiglass Pro-One advertisement. It's been seen in the wild, among other places, in CK magazine as well as SCI's customer magazine 'The Patch'.

Was it real? According to a comment on a synthtopia.com post that featured the ad back in September 2009 - No.
"Sadly, the clear plexi Pro-One was only a marketing gimmick. Dave Smith has confirmed to me that it was a non-working one off that was only for display at the NAMM show back in 81 or 82. I asked him if there would be clear mophos or tetras, and he confirmed in the negative. Which is sad, cause this one would drive trainspotters crazy on stage."
Too bad. Woulda looked real pretty.

I never really got around to talking about the specs of the Pro-One, and though there is quite a lot of technical information out there today on the InterWebz, there really was quite a bit of information bubbling to the surface back in the early 80s - some great references and historical commentary.

Around the time the Pro-One was launched in early 1981, and the first 'why another monosyth' advertisement started to appear in magazines, the Pro-One also made it into the Spec Sheet section of the March '81 issue of Contemporary Keyboard. It was pretty much your standard tech-sheet announcement:
"The Pro-One is a monophonic synthesizer featuring two VCOs that produce sawtooth and pulse waveshapes (the second oscillator also produces triangle waves), a 24dB/octave lowpass filter, two ADSRs, a C-to-C 3-octave keyboard, an arpeggiator, pitch and modulation wheels, single and multiple triggering modes, repeat and drone switches, 1-volt-per-octave control voltage in/out jacks and gate in/out jacks, and an internal interface for hooking the instrument up to most home computers. Also included with the unit are a built-in 40-note two-channel digital sequencer and extensive modulation facilities. Price is $645.00. Sequential Circuits, 3051 N. First St., San Jose, CA 95134."
Poor analogue thing was surrounded by announcements for sparkly new 'digital' devices - the Con Brio digital synthesizer, the Multivox digital sequencer and the Sony digital editor.

It wasn't until almost a year later, after the second Ear-Force ad ran in the second half of '81, and this third ad started its long, sporadic appearance throughout '82 that Keyboard magazine finally came out with an extensive report on the beast in the January '82 issue. A fantastically written piece by Dominic Milano - a well-known writer and editor for Keyboard.

In the report, Dominic does a great comparison between the Pro-One and another mono-synth of the time, the Moog Rogue.

You just have to read the first paragraph of the report to really get an idea of what the monophonic landscape was like at that time in history. And, interestingly, I think there is a parallel to be drawn in today's market for mono-synths.
"THE INFAMOUS MONO synth. It's not a disease. It's a tool for playing music, and in the last five years there have been a number of them brought out by various manufacturers, designed for the neophyte synthesist who perhaps doesn't want to spend a fortune on an instrument that they know little or nothing about."
So, back then, it looks like mono-synths were marketed towards new users that didn't know much about synthesis. Fast-forward almost 30 years, and what I see is mono-synths being marketing largely to software-based users that know little or nothing about hardware.

I realize I'm over-simplifying it a bit... but there is a comparison to be made... yes? no?

Keep reading that first paragraph of the report and historically significant references will just keep on smacking us in the face. It really gives us an idea of just how dominant the Pro-One became in the marketplace.
"A number of companies came out with low-cost monophonics in the mid- and late '70s, including Korg, Yamaha, and Roland. Moog's Prodigy did surprisingly well in the field of low-cost monophonics. In fact, it more or less dominated the field until the Sequential Pro-One became available in March of last year. Yet Moog dropped production of the Prodigy recently, replacing it with the Rogue, a synthesizer that was designed to fill an uninhabited spot in the market - that of the inexpensive inexpensive synth.
So, around 1982, we can begin to see the mono-synth market starting to segment. And Keyboard magazine recognizes this fully in the report. Dominic first comments on the Rogue:
"The Rogue would seem to be a bare-bones instrument, one that's designed to be as inexpensive as Moog could make it, with all the limitations that the words "low-cost" connote. It appears to be an instrument for the person looking for a simple and inexpensive synthesizer. Maybe it's just the right instrument for the player who's put off by electronics and lots of knobs and switches, but who wants to buy an instrument just to see if a synth is a useful addition to their setup."
And then the Pro-One:
"The Pro-One, on the other hand, packs a lot of function into a low-cost package. Corners are cut in places where ideally they wouldn't be, but the trade-off is that you get a lot of function in an inexpensive package. ... The Pro-One would seem to be an ideal instrument for someone who is into high-tech but doesn't have the pocketbook to support the habit."
The report then goes through the basic features of each - first the Rogue, and then the Pro-One. A great technical read. And at the end of each mini-report, is a conclusion. Dominic's conclusion about the Rogue is simple - it's cheap, and "it's pretty good at lead lines". He gets a little more in-depth with the Pro-One conclusion - and provides us with a little bit more technical history about the Pro-One in the process.
"The Pro-One does a more than reasonable job at being a low-budget monophonic synthesizer. Its sound strikes some people as being a bit thin, while other seem to like it."

"The most negative thing about the Pro-One are all the stories of the infamous transformer death that seems to be plaguing the instrument in its early days. What reportedly happened was that in shipment (especially when handled roughly), the transformers came off of the circuit board mountings and did a wonderful job of trashing the guts of the instrument... This problem was fixed by SCI after they started hearing about the complaints. They started bolting the transformer to the circuit board. This change was made beginning with serial number 1811. In any case, this instrument does a lot of things that monophonics costing twice as much don't. It's definitely worth checking out if you're in the market for a first synthesizer. Price is $745.00."
Remember the original spec sheet description nine months previous. The cost of the Pro-One was listed at $645. Less than a year later the price was bumped up a hundred bucks.

In the final, final comparison, Dominic reiterates earlier comments about cost vs functionality, but then writes something rather interesting.
"Actually, we're a little bored by the industry's insistence on the now-'standard' two oscillators, one filter, two envelope generator approach to monophonic synthesizers... It's a fair guess that there will be other low-cost monophonics coming out in the future. The question is, will they offer any new design features, or will they be just new versions of the Minimoog? We'll have to wait and see."
Wow. New version of the Minimoog, eh? I can't say I'm bored yet. :o)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One ad #2, Keyboard 1981



Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One synthesizer advertisement #2 from page 53 of Keyboard Magazine July 1981.

When I first came across this Pro-One ad, I mentally filed it right up there with that sparse Moog advertisement I blogged about last September. In that post, I asked the question:
"Could you imagine any company BESIDES Moog trying to pull this off today?"
Well, Moog could today :o)

Back then, I guess SCI came close. And although they didn't go so far as Moog did in their ad - no logo, contact info, famous people or free stuff - they definitely knew they could create a minimalist ad that wouldn't confuse the audience.

This was the second Pro-One advertisement to be featured in the magazine, after the first 'Why would anyone build another monosynth' ad appeared during the first half of 1981. It ran sporadically until the end of 1981, when SCI replaced their beloved Ear-Force campaign with ads that featured artwork of a more realistic, but still comic-like Tolkien wizard-dude.

But even though the Ear-Force ads stopped running at the end of 1981, SCI recognized the popularity of the artwork and together with the Prophet-5 and Prophet-10 ad-art, created a set of posters that were still available for quite a while afterwards - and featured in SCI's 'accessories' ad that ran in the December 1982 issue. (Side note: One of my favorite pieces of synth merchandise history is my SCI belt buckle, also featured in that advertisement. )

The artwork of John Mattos is so distinctive and the wizard-dude became such a symbol for the company that you can still recognize the guy in this advertisement even though you only see part of his face, along with his boney hand and sleeve cuff.

Two questions quickly came to mind when viewing this ad - and I quickly came to the logical conclusions to both pretty quickly.

1. Why would SCI even have bothered with that first Pro-One ad when this one is obviously superior. That initial Pro-One ad had the logo and sky/cloud imagery typical of the Ear-Force look-and-feel, but it definitely wasn't a full-on 'Ear-Force' ad with the wizard-dude and cockpit/airplane imagery found in the Prophet-5 and -10 ads.

2. Why is that writing at the top of the ad so small?

But I quickly realized that unlike the Prophet-5 and Prophet 10, the Pro-One was still unknown to the public. A transitional text-heavy ad was required so that the audience could first learn a bit about the instrument - a monophonic version of it's big brothers. The Prophet-5 and -10 were probably instantly recognizable because they had been around for a while, but the Pro-One wouldn't be.

And maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think artist John Mattos and/or SCI must have realized this fact and you will notice that the image of the Pro-One in this advertisement has much less detail than you will find in the images of the Prophet-5 and -10 in their ads. The ad just doesn't need it. As far as the small print at the top of the ad is concerned, this was a necessary evil to make sure readers unfamiliar with the initial Pro-One ads would know exactly what the Pro-One is - 'a new standard in monophonic synthesizers!'.

On the other hand, one might argue that the audience's unfamiliarity with this new instrument would be precisely the reason why there should have been more detail in the artwork of the Pro-One - so that it could continue to become more recognizable. And maybe that ad-copy should have been larger for the very same reason.

But I'm such a fan of John Mattos that I'm tempted to say *%$# it - keep the print small and let that Wizard-dude speak for the company. He became the Jolly Green Giant of the synthesizer world, as was recently pointed out to me by my food-obsessed girl-friend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One, Contemporary Keyboard 1981



Sequential Circuits Inc. Pro-One synthesizer advertisement from page 27 of Contemporary Keyboard March 1981.

I've been experiencing a lot of déjà vu lately. First it was that keytar blog post that knocked me square back into the 80s, and now this. Although this most excellent 'Ear-Force' advertisement from Sequential Circuits Inc. came out in 1981, the same question featured in this ad could just as easily have been inserted into an advertisement for one of the many recently released monophonics.

"Why would anyone build another mono-synth?"

It may have been a valid question in 1981. Maybe. But, really, I don't think you need to ask that question today. We've all finally learned why. It's because of how great that first round of mono-synths were. Maybe it just took a while for some of us (including the manufacturers) to catch on to that fact.

I bought my first analog mono-synth - a used Pro-One - in a mall music store way back when. I didn't know much about analogs back then, but just one look at all those knobs and I knew I wanted it. Since then I've been lucky to play with quite a few of the first-rounders.

And my first experience with the reintroduction of monophonic synths was propbably in the mid-90s with the release of the Korg Prophecy - an early virtual analog synthesizer that came out of nowhere to deliver some juicy digital monophonic goodness. And ever since, I've noticed that the new round of mono-synths coming out have gone back to their 1970's/80's analog first-rounder roots. Gear like Tom Oberheim's recent re-release of the SEM or Moog's Voyager.

Dave Smith, founder of SCI and creator of the Pro-One, also went this route, releasing a whole new batch of mono-synths - directly comparable to his originals.

I'll admit, his first mono-synth under the DSI name, The Evolver, doesn't really compare with his older products (although I believe they do have curtis filter chips :o). I picked up one of the early Evolvers right off his original Web site because my local music store wouldn't bring them in - I just couldn't convince them to bring it in even though it is one serious synthesizer.

But his later products - the Prophet '08, and then the Mopho and Mopho Keyboard, didn't have a problem making it into my local music store. Probably because they did follow a very similar evolutionary tech- and time-line to his originals - the Prophet-5/10 and then the Pro-One.

The "Prophet '08" name isn't the only clue that sticks out like a sore thumb. A quick comparison of the descriptive wording in this advertisement to the Mopho Web pages make the big brother/little brother connection clear (like you didn't already know...):

Pro-One ad: "... the Pro-One has the same electronics as its big brothers, the infamous Prophet-5 and the Prophet-10"
Mopho Keyboard Web page: "The voice architecture is similar to a single voice of the Prophet '08..."

The modulation capabilities is one of my favourite features of the Pro-One, and luckilyDave Smith decided to carry the extensive modulation traditions to the Mopho too.

Of course, with the Mopho you also get more of everything else. LFOs, envelopes, etc... and all the benefits of current technology - three banks of 128 programs (384 total), software editor, USB, and midi.

So, does it replace the Pro-One? Well, I demo'd the Mopho Keyboard down at my local shop and, as expected, it does sound great. Technically it might replace the Pro-One, but not in my heart. I won't be selling the Pro-One anytime soon.

But I will be buying a Mopho.

And probably the desktop unit if I can locate one locally. I fell in love with desktop modules when I first came across the Kawai K1m. I loved that vector joystick and I can still hear that choir/string patch... Aaaaaaaaahhhhh.

End note: Just to be clear - I didn't receive any money, gear, smooches or hugz for writing this blog post. Not from Dave Smith, his close work associates ... or from Kawai for that matter. I just dig my Pro-One, Evolver (and K1m)... I'm about to dig a new Mopho too. :o)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sequential Circuits Pro-One, Keyboard 1982


Sequential Circuits Pro-One synthesizer from page 79 of Keyboard magazine October 1982.