Of the smaller manufacturers making high-end hardware synths, Dave Smith Instruments has always been amongst the most interesting. In fact they were plying their trade some years before it became fashionable to use real synths again, and so could arguably have been said to have spearheaded the resurgence in popularity of hardware.
This is a smaller and more portable version of the existing Prophet-6 Keyboard and both are tributes of sorts to the classic Sequential Prophet 5: not a reissue, as the company is at pains to point out, but an attempt to go one better. So you get the best bits of the original hardware like true voltage-controlled oscillators, filters and amplifiers, but also high quality onboard effects, a polyphonic step sequencer and an arpeggiator.
This smaller, keyboard-less version has the same physical controls as the bigger one and puts everything at your fingertips rather than requiring you to dive through endless menus – just like synths used to be. Although the effects are digital you can also use a bypass control to maintain a fully analogue signal path, as well as using the stereo distortion effect which is purely analogue.
To make your rich, bleepy sequences you get both polyphonic modulators, Unison mode and a step sequencer with up to 64 steps and 6 notes per step. As you’d hope you can sync the arpeggiator to external MIDI clock and yoy get 500 factory presets as well as 500 user slots. Alll this comes in a box small enough to throw into a rucksack – though at $2199 you’ll probably want to get a case for it before you take it anywhere.
Read more about the synth here