Sequential Pro-One.....what's the appeal? I don't get it!

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Sequential Pro-One.....what's the appeal? I don't get it!

Post by OMNI26 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:22 am

About 10 or so years ago I picked up a Sequential Circuits Pro-One locally for $125. I had wanted one since the 80's when they were first released, and was glad to have found one.

Anyway, I found the synth......rather un-inspiring. It did not have a warmth to it like my Minimoog. It had what I would describe as the most "basic" sound to it......just not all that exciting, really! It sounded analog, but was honestly really nothing special. On top of that, the keyboard action was mediocre, and the build quality of the synth was not all that great. I kept it for awhile, but eventually I just couldn't justify it and ended up selling it (for way less than what it would be worth today, of course!).

The point of me stating this is that for years I have noticed how highly this synth is rated. People seem to love it, and I just have never understood why.

I have owned tons of synths over the years (including other Sequential units like a Prophet-5 and Prophet-600), and I very often find myself regretting having sold a synth, but I have never regretted selling the Pro-One.

So.....why does this synth have the appeal that it does?

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Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:26 am

The appeal is the sound. You don't like the sound, therefore you don't get the appeal. Easy. :)

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Post by michael stein » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:14 am

Agreed, its the sound. The filter, the soft sync is very unique sounding compared to others. Great for leads, amazing for aggressive bass' and great for doing Dont Go covers : )

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Post by OMNI26 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:14 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:The appeal is the sound. You don't like the sound, therefore you don't get the appeal. Easy. :)
I think it's more than that. It's the whole package. Sound of course, but also build quality, action & feel of the keyboard, etc. It was a synth that seemed to me as if Sequential had rushed it to market, as sort of an afterthought after the Prophet 5.

Maybe I'm just looking for a logical explanation where there isn't one (i.e., trying to account for something as subjective as personal taste) but this still seems like a valid discussion topic.

Oh, and yes, I know Vince Clarke used one extensively...but maybe that's all he had at his disposal at the time!

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Post by Joey » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:20 am

OMNI26 wrote: Oh, and yes, I know Vince Clarke used one extensively...but maybe that's all he had at his disposal at the time!
Just looking at even the yazoo promo shots showed you that Vince had assembled quite the arsenal by the time he recorded Upstairs at Eric's
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Post by OMNI26 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 3:22 am

Joey wrote:
OMNI26 wrote: Oh, and yes, I know Vince Clarke used one extensively...but maybe that's all he had at his disposal at the time!
Just looking at even the yazoo promo shots showed you that Vince had assembled quite the arsenal by the time he recorded Upstairs at Eric's
Well....then I guess he was a Pro-One fan. I stand corrected on that one.

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Post by michael stein » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:31 am

I think it's more than that. It's the whole package. Sound of course, but also build quality, action & feel of the keyboard, etc.
The only one I have ever played had the j-wire keyboard and it feels nice but I will agree with you on the build quality, the flimsy plastic casing, and I did not feel the pots were calibrated properly in comparison to their range of control. Slowing the attack did'nt seem to kick in untill about 10-o-clock.

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Post by haricots » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:34 am

The build quality is lacking and it is a simplistic synth but its sound is amazing. It's very aggressive by nature and lots of fun to modulate.
If you can look past the plastic shell, the c**p keys and switches what you have is a really distinct mono synth.

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Post by Solderman » Fri Mar 28, 2008 4:36 am

I like mine because it's actually a challenge to get something aside from basic sounds, but imo a rewarding one. This is mostly due to the wide range on some of the knobs, requiring very fine tuning. Best example is crossmodding Osc A with Osc B. Crossmodding also requires pitch scaling to be rigoroursly tuned.
I rarely use it dry, so maybe the process of building sounds around it is part of the appeal for me. The aggressive basses and sync sounds were mentioned, but I think it's very bright sounding, and good for brassy leads too. Also sound effects aplenty. The lead guitarist of Ozric Tentacles has used his in their music since 1984, mostly for sound effects and sequenced melodies.

Features also of note are the Audio Input triggering the sequencer with variable sensitivity, and the extreeemely snappy envelopes. I think if it had the better build quality, allowed for filter overdrive and didn't thin out so much with high resonance, it would be a perfect monosynth.
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Post by soundxplorer » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:02 am

Obviously, not everyone will like the same type of sound. I prefer the dark and gritty sound of a Pro-One over many other synths. It sounds best when the resonance is kept to a minimum - really thick and punchy.

But since you said you regret selling your Prophet 5 and 600, that's a bit of a mystery because sound-wise they're naturally in the same family as the Pro-One. Maybe you only like the Sequential sound when you can play chords. :)

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Post by Solderman » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:13 am

Last edited by Solderman on Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by V301H » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:44 am

I bought my Pro One new around 1980-81. At the time it was considered to be a breakthrough in function for the money. I think I paid a little over $700. There wasn't any monosynth I was aware of that had such a complete feature set near that price. It doesn't sound bad, but the build quality is poor. I took my first one back to the store because of sticking switches and other things I thought were wrong with it. The replacement wasn't any better. What amazes me is how many Pro Ones turn up on eBay these days in mint condition and perfect working order when I had two that didn't work that great when they were new. Still, even today as vintage monosynths go it is one of the best values features-wise and quite common which I'm sure accounts for much of it's continued popularity. For those who prefer not to pay the price of a Minimoog, Odyssey, or MS20 the Pro One is one of the best alternatives.
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Post by carbon111 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:00 am

A great modulation section. That's why the Pro-One is such a flexible little sound chameleon...IMHO people like the fact you can coax such varied timbres from it.

The lovely CEM 3320 makes it a nice "mini Prophet" as well...
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Post by OMNI26 » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:03 am

soundxplorer wrote:Maybe you only like the Sequential sound when you can play chords. :)
You know, now that I think about it, you are exactly right about that! :) At least as far as the Prophet-5 was concerned, the sounds that I really liked were the pads and polyphonic brass stuff that it was capable of.....outside of the famous Prophet "oscillator sync" sound and that cool "harmonica" patch, I wasn't all that crazy about the tones that would normally be played monophonically on the Prophet.

I really think that the Pro-One could have been so much cooler overall (despite the sound, at least in my opinion) if Sequential had packaged it in a wooden and metal case like the Prophet-5. Psychologically, at least, maybe it would have seemed more appealing at least to me. Oh well!

Anyway, good comments, folks!

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Post by devetron » Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:18 am

I've never seen a pro one in the "flesh." Is its build quality about the same as the Prophet 600? Does it have the same type switches and mushy, plastic-shafted knobs, or is it different?
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