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Dave Smith 70th birthday

Dave Smith 70th birthday  ·  Source: Dave Smith

Over the weekend Dave Smith of Sequential released a video thanking people for their wishes on his 70th birthday and casually mentions how he’s working on a new synthesizer for the summer. What do we think that might be?

Happy Birthday Dave

Dave Smith is 70 years old and still making synthesizers. He founded Sequential Instruments in 1974 and produced the legendary Prophet 5 amongst other great synthesizers. He moved on to join R&D at Yamaha working on software synthesizers and physical modelling. From there he moved to R&D at Korg working on the Wavestation and then on to Seer Systems producing the first professional software synthesizer for Intel in 1997. He returned to instrument making in 2002 with Dave Smith Instruments and in 2018 he was able to pick up the Sequential name again to find himself back where he started but with 46 years of experience in analogue, digital, software and hardware design. And his current range of instruments reflects his hybrid experience of working with the best of all sorts of technology.

A new instrument?

Dave talks about it being a “new synthesizer design” and that it would normally be sitting exactly where he currently has one of his new Pro-3 Special Edition synthesizers sitting in the video. This would perhaps indicate that this is going to be something we’ve not seen before. Alongside you can just see the end of the Prophet X Hybrid Synth which combines digital oscillators, a huge sample-based sound engine and analogue filters. It’s an instrument that seems to combine the various forms of technology Dave has worked in over the years.

DSI Prophet X

DSI Prophet X

So as he’s already done a hybrid where else could he be looking? Is this an entirely new thing or just a new synthesizer design for Sequential. So maybe we could be talking about FM or physical modelling. Maybe the recent spate of wavetable synthesizers has inspired him to revisit his days at Korg? One clue could be that it’s going to be a similar size to the Pro-3 if it’s fitting into that same space, which says to me that it will be less of a large workstation and more of a focused synthesizer.

An evolved instrument?

Or perhaps this new design is going to do something interesting with some of his legacy products. Dave says that it’s “my gift back to you” which does make it sound like he’s wanting to respond to people’s expectations of Sequential. There are also the few notes at the beginning of the video that sound very old school analogue. It’s tempting to focus on the Prophet 5 when talking about Sequential but with the Prophet-6, Rev2 and OB-6 they’ve pretty much done everything in the analogue polysynth space. Which leads me to believe that if they were going to take something from the back catalogue then it’s likely to incorporate both digital and analogue technologies.

DSI Prophet REV2 Desktop

DSI Prophet REV2 Desktop

Coming soon

Dave says that it will ship in August. That does make I wonder whether they would have shown it at Superbooth? And if so then maybe we can expect to see a sneak preview around the end of April with the various “virtual Superbooth” events that are trying to happen on the internet around that time.

Regardless of what it ends up being when Dave Smith announces a new instrument, it’s time to get excited. What do you think it could be? Suggestions in the comments please.

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W41N
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New cheaper small-footprint synth. There is no synth in the Mopho category now…

Bill Ruppert
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He is COOL!

Modern3
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I like Dave, he is a genuinely pleasant man, however this regurgitative repackaging of the same technology, patching essentially elements of his past creations is a bit cynical and extremely fatiguing. He has even stated in multiple interviews that he is less interested in new synthesis and more interested in combining elements he enjoys the best. The better question is why? If you are not working to evolve your creations, they why do it at all.

resonate
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resonate

Show some respect.

Modern3
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Modern3

That is a misguided notion of respect. I more than most have lauded this man for his contributions to synthesis and modern music making technology. Respect does not equate to tacit approval of all manners of cynical regurgitative repackaging of the same synth. Pull your head out of your rear and think a bit for yourself rather than blindly following.

grayxr
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I’m thinking either a modern value poly (along the lines of a Minilogue), or a streamlined duophonic synth (like an ARP Odyssey), or a stripped down semi modular mono (like a Mother 32). Maybe whatever it is will include the same sort of sequencer from the Pro 3. I’m leaning in the semi-modular direction, maybe even DFAM territory.

Anon
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i would guess a desktop prophet x. but yeah i would love to see dave stretch himself with an analog/digital (i.e. honest-to-god wavetables + fm) poly.