What’s that flowing out of this classic synth? Could it be a ghostly life force, ready for incarnation into a modern Prophet — erm, synth, that is? (Hooray for bdu’s lovely Flickr collection of synth ephemera.

Dave Smith Instruments, the boutique synth shop responsible for the beloved real analog-meets-digital Evolver line, have been hard at work on new things. In February, we got to see details of their upcoming BoomChik drum machine. The BoomChik is a long way off, though. Now, they have something else that is apparently imminent, kept in absolute secrecy during development, with a moniker as legendary as “Moog Micromoog” — a new Prophet. (Hang on, I think I can write the cheeky Keyboard Magazine headlines now… “Second Coming”?)

It seems that DSI is very close to beginning production of an 8-voice Prophet, all analog. Matrixsynth absolutely gets the scoop on this one. Specs and links:

  • Prophet ’08. Eight voices, all analog. Shipping next week. Wait — next week, you say?
  • Sequencer, arpeggiator, and “one or two more fun little functions”
  • “It does use the same CEM chips as the Evo stuff, but they sound different because Dave tweaked them differently, and the system isn’t the same without the digital stuff in the signal path.”
  • $2199 MSRP, $1999 MAP.
  • Teaser video [AVI] by Stefan Trippler

Finally, an audio sample, with Spectrasonics Stylus for drums:

And an all-Prophet sample:

Tom at Music thing has some reflections on the value of Prophets, with obligatory YouTube link.

What about that drum machine?

Safe bet: the BoomChik, when it ships, won’t look exactly like this early rendering.

Now is as good a time as any to check in on Dave Smith’s other current creation, the BoomChik, a collaboration between synth pioneer Dave Smith himself and Roger Linn, creator of the MPC (among various other great things). DSI let out a little update in June:

Dave and Roger are hard at work on BoomChik and it has—ahem—evolved considerably since making its limited and thoroughly virtual appearance at NAMM and online. There are still some major design decisions to be made and it won’t see the light of day until sometime next year, but we think it will be worth the wait. I’ve been privileged to see some of what they’re working on and, for whatever it’s worth, I’m excited by the possibilities.

Fair enough! 2008 … I’m sure I’ll be flush with cash by then and buying all new gear for my studio. So this works out perfectly! (Phew!)

And while we’re at it, there’s really no reason to look only at the new stuff. The best bargain buy remains Dave Smith’s US$1329, 3-octave, 1-voice Evolver keyboard, with both analog and digital oscillators, plenty of filters, four LFOs, a flexible sequencer, audio inputs, and analog delay. Its streamlined design and low price (for an analog synth, anyway) could make it an ideal companion to a computer. It’s funny, the name Moog tends to get all the attention, but I think the great thing is that there’s a whole little corner of the market for modern takes on analog synths.

Thanks to all three major synth-loving sites for this: Vintagesynth.org, Music thing, and Matrixsynth, all must-reads for synth fans.