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Sunday, November 06, 2016

Sequential Circuits Prophet 10 Midi Analog Synth


via this auction

"It would be difficult to find a better sounding or functioning Prophet 10 than this one. I have gone to great lengths over the years to make sure this machine was functioning optimally. It has NEVER been shipped the entire time I have owned it. I have always driven it to the synth doctor even if that means being in the car for 12+ hours. Whoever the new owner of this analog monster synth is, will receive it via freight. Professionally over-packed and strapped to a pallet with NO overhang of the box. This way no human can pick it up and drop it or stack anything on top of it.

I really like the sound of the Prophet 10, and much like the Yamaha DX1 is much more than two DX7s, the Prophet 10 is much more than two Prophet 5s. The way the two Prophet 5s are combined into ONE ergonomic and intuitive interface and controlled by the same micro processor is really inspiring (to me anyway). The Prophet 10 is also visually stunning in my opinion. It was always an instrument I aspired to own when I first saw it 30 years ago.

This P10 has recently been serviced by an expert on sequential products with 30+ years of doing so. At it's last servicing I had the following done:

Cleaned all jacks and contacts
Replaced memory backup battery
Cleaned all internal connectors and treated all gold contacts
Re-lubricated all upper and lower keyboard bushings
Aligned all upper and lower J wires
Cleaned and burnished all upper and lower J wires
Cleaned and burnished all upper and lower Buss bars
Treated all gold J wires and Buss bars
Calibrated all 20 oscillators tuning and scale
Tested all auto tune and circuits functionality
Ran factory diagnostic rom all test = ok
Installed factory patches
Tested all controls, all keys, all functions, auto-tune, and playability

Cosmetically it looks great but has some flaws. The paint bubbles up in some spots on the back but is not flaking off. This is not very noticeable. This is also happening on my other Prophet 10. The face has some slight shadowing on the paint where studio/performance notes were taped to the front of it for years. At some angles you can see the wear from the adhesive, at other angels you can't see anything and the P10 looks like it's sitting in the showroom in 1981. Even though this machine is not mint, it is in way better shape than most of the P10s I see. (I don't see very many because they only made 400 or so)

The first Prophet 5s and the original Prophet 10 tended to overheat. People would add internal and external fans to their Prophets as an upgrade even after Sequential fixed the tuning and overheating problems on their first few production instruments (information moved slow back then). This was a good "idea" but the air created by the fan does not cool the oscillators evenly and this does not actually end up being much of an upgrade at all!

At one point my Prophet had this internal fan upgrade blowing on the power supply, but I found with the midi upgrade and the latest OS the tuning on this Prophet was ROCK SOLID and I had the fan removed. With the fan on it kept the power supply cooler but that's it. The only visible external mark the fan upgrade left on the machine was an AC outlet to power the fan. It's covered with a professional looking small access panel (bottom left on the back of the machine), internally it left holes where it was mounted but these are not visible when the machine is closed and do not affect the machine structurally of course.

Another upgrade the machine has had that I feel is totally worth it is to upgrade the op amps in the audio output card. The two Prophet 5 voice boards inside the machine are sent to an audio output board and can be panned left/right/or mono. The only weak link in the original P10 design was the specs of this card ever so slightly degraded the sound. With the audio upgrade the P10 is even more of a monster and it sounds fantastic. It's the same sound, just more of it. This upgrade was invented by my personal acquaintance, session musician to the stars, and synth guru Eric Frampton.

The third upgrade was to add midi. Since this is a rev 2 Prophet 10 with the drive on the front of the machine, it disables the feeble step sequencer. It was a pretty limited step sequencer with a small note capacity. I enjoy having midi so much more. With this P10 and my trusty Atari 1040st doing the sequencing I feel like I could score an entire film. The midi upgrade is the most recent version. It was ordered directly from wine country.

This P10 also has the "ugly mod" (Sequential named it that, not me) that Sequential did to all the rev 2 P10s in order to fix the problem with loosing your stored patches. A new correct battery was also recently installed. All original factory patches have been restored to the machine recently since the new owner will probably prefer to start fresh instead of listening to mine.

The wood ends have also recently been upgraded to one piece oak ends with perfect recreations. This was expensive since no one currently makes after market ends for the P10 and why would they?! They only made a few hundred. It would not be a very "prophet-able" venture. The original oak ends were two pieces of oak seemlessly jointed together but those tend to separate over time and look pretty ugly. These wood ends are made of expensive properly cured high grade oak and are exact reproductions of the originals down to the wood species and stain color/finish.

I also installed four new correct rubber feet since the originals become pretty hard and brittle over the years.

If you took this to a tech and said "do whatever you can do make this better" he would have to give it right back to you. I have spent well over 4,000 dollars over the last decade maintaining and improving this beast. All the work has been done. It's ready to be enjoyed for years by it's new owner.

Anyway, I know I have gushed about this P10. It's all subjective. I just happen to really love these instruments and the era in music these represent. You can certainly get a beat up Prophet 10 for less than I am offering this for but not much less. If you spend a little more you will save yourself a headache. This machine has been expertly and professionally maintained. Parts for these machines are expensive and techs charge 75-125 an hour. Shipping is FREE in the USA but should run me 250-400 dollars depending on your location. International buyers please contact me for and exact shipping quote and to inquire about customs and duty charges. Shipping outside the USA will be expensive since I have to use a service that requires a signature and ship international air freight."

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