MATRIXSYNTH: Prophet VS | There Will Be Modulation

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Prophet VS | There Will Be Modulation


Published on Jan 16, 2019 Alex Ball

"The Prophet VS from 1986 is one of the most sought after of the original Sequential instruments. They only made 1,500 of the keyboard versions and around 500 of the rack mounts. I was very fortunate to be able to borrow one.

I talked about this synth in my documentary "The History of the Prophet Synthesizer", but the (great) demo was done by Marko at Retro Sound and I'd never actually seen one in the flesh myself.

If you don't know, designed by Chris Meyer, Josh Jeffe and Tony Dean; the VS is basically a digital synthesizer with an analogue filter and VCA. The sound generation is through a wavetable style approach with 127 different waveforms being available on each of the 4 oscillators. As this 80s tech, the single waves had to spread spread across the keyboard which results in some cool aliasing.

Once you've setup up your combination, you can ride between them in real time with the joystick on the top left of the instrument.

It also has a 7 source / 7 destination mod matrix, two LFOs, stereo chorus with independent switching, split, link and double keyboard modes, an arpeggiator, 99 memory slots, midi and aftertouch. The latter is infamous for going wrong due to two different design flaws with the voltage level and the instrument bending.

Interestingly, the envelopes are setup with stages 0-4 and can loop between stages 1-3 if you wish them to.

Chris Meyer has documented the whole story of the instrument here: https://learningmodular.com/the-story...

Whilst I dove in and started finding textural soundscapes, bell tones and peculiar atmospheres, I was most taken back by the very analogue-style sounds it could create. But, with the stereo movement you get from the instrument, the sounds still have something very "VS" about them. I dubbed it a "straddler" in my mind; a synth that has its feet in quite different camps.

I followed my nose, which seems the way to approach the VS and this is the result. I hope you enjoy it."

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