What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby devetron » Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:56 am

My Prophet 600 occasionally suffers from the non-responsive knobs as well. It snaps out of it when I turn the mod wheel, as suggested. Perhaps it's time to service those pots.

When I got it, it had a problem where most of the triangle waves from both oscs A and B wouldn't sound. A local tech fixed it by replacing a mux (multiplexer) chip that went bad. I haven't heard of anyone else having that problem.

The P-600 is my fave!!
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby CfNorENa » Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:28 am

pricklyrobot wrote:With the Poly-Mod section, when using Osc B to modulate the filter, every 4th note or so that I play comes through sounding noticeably less filtered. When Poly-Mod is off, all notes sound equally filtered, so I don't think it's a faulty VCF chip. Maybe something needs to be calibrated, or it's just a quirk of how the Poly-Mod works?


Just checked mine, and couldn't discern any difference between any of the notes 1-6...
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby CapnMarvel » Tue Feb 09, 2010 2:39 pm

Mine required a new membrane and a couple of control-related chips when I got it used, sight unseen for about $400 a few years back. Required about $400 of work from Wine Country, and although it is a neat synth, I probably wouldn't suggest paying that much into a P600 to someone else. I thought I'd get more out of the arpeggiator and sequencer than I actually do, and it does take some effort to get it to sound thick at all. Yeah, it excels at eerie pads with long decay times, which its fantastic at, but it lacks on basses and leads without artificial performance enhancement (delay, chorus pedals, etc.)

Personally, for the same money and roughly the same 'class' of synth, I'd recommend a JX-10 or MKS-70 with the programmer. That's a much more versatile, and more reliable, piece of equipment.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby pricklyrobot » Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:52 pm

CfNorENa wrote:
pricklyrobot wrote:With the Poly-Mod section, when using Osc B to modulate the filter, every 4th note or so that I play comes through sounding noticeably less filtered. When Poly-Mod is off, all notes sound equally filtered, so I don't think it's a faulty VCF chip. Maybe something needs to be calibrated, or it's just a quirk of how the Poly-Mod works?


Just checked mine, and couldn't discern any difference between any of the notes 1-6...
Good to know, thanks! :thumbleft:

Guess I'll have to dig into the service manual at some point and see if I can figure it out.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby tyrannosaurus mark » Tue Feb 09, 2010 4:29 pm

CapnMarvel wrote:Mine required a new membrane and a couple of control-related chips when I got it used, sight unseen for about $400 a few years back. Required about $400 of work from Wine Country, and although it is a neat synth, I probably wouldn't suggest paying that much into a P600 to someone else. I thought I'd get more out of the arpeggiator and sequencer than I actually do, and it does take some effort to get it to sound thick at all. Yeah, it excels at eerie pads with long decay times, which its fantastic at, but it lacks on basses and leads without artificial performance enhancement (delay, chorus pedals, etc.)

Personally, for the same money and roughly the same 'class' of synth, I'd recommend a JX-10 or MKS-70 with the programmer. That's a much more versatile, and more reliable, piece of equipment.


Yeah, I've decided it's not for me. But thanks everyone for yours input, really helpful. I can only afford to own one synthesiser at once, and so I need something way more flexible than the P-600. I think I'll make a new thread to discuss the funny position I'm in.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby code green » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:02 am

tyrannosaurus mark wrote:
CapnMarvel wrote:Mine required a new membrane and a couple of control-related chips when I got it used, sight unseen for about $400 a few years back. Required about $400 of work from Wine Country, and although it is a neat synth, I probably wouldn't suggest paying that much into a P600 to someone else. I thought I'd get more out of the arpeggiator and sequencer than I actually do, and it does take some effort to get it to sound thick at all. Yeah, it excels at eerie pads with long decay times, which its fantastic at, but it lacks on basses and leads without artificial performance enhancement (delay, chorus pedals, etc.)

Personally, for the same money and roughly the same 'class' of synth, I'd recommend a JX-10 or MKS-70 with the programmer. That's a much more versatile, and more reliable, piece of equipment.


Yeah, I've decided it's not for me. But thanks everyone for yours input, really helpful. I can only afford to own one synthesiser at once, and so I need something way more flexible than the P-600. I think I'll make a new thread to discuss the funny position I'm in.


some things to consider about this:
-wine country is known for being one of the priciest places to get sci gear serviced.
-the arpeggiator is what it is--you may love it, you may hate it...i find it works for some stuff, not so much for others. but that's what MIDI is for--you can arpeggiate and sequence the p600 from any midi source.
-i guess we can debate the semantics of the word "thick" but OP should be aware that the impression that the p600 isn't thick does not reflect the majority view of this synth. it is plenty thick, and excels at leads, raw and direct out from the synth. cap'n, did you use unison mode for leads? b/c the p600's unison mode is powerful indeed: 12 stacked vco's=thick.
-i like the jx-10 but from my experience of it i wouldn't choose it over the p600 for anything but big, soundtrack-type pads. also, i wouldn't put it in the same "class" as the p600--not a statement about its relative quality but rather just to say that it is not a knob-per-function vco synth and the p600 is. if you want easy access programmability you need the pg800, and the combo can easily cost you more than the p600.
-OP asked about common problems with the p600 and even then elicited a lot of raves. hope you're not drawing the inference that the p600 is more trouble-prone than other vintage synths from people answering your question the way you framed it. anyone's mileage may vary, and you should of course get what works for you, but don't want you to make the choice based on false impressions of the p600. in my experience, it's plenty versatile--i have used it and happily so for pads, sound effects, leads, and yes, basses. it has a big analog sound with a really nice filter. i love its polyphonic portamento and its polymod section, which is great for imparting, among other things, metallic textures not traditionally associated with full analogs.

good luck with your search and try to find some decent demos of the p600...the ones on youtube, though they give a sense of its basic sound, are pretty disappointing. i have a quick and dirty demo i did ages ago that i could email you if you PM me.

EDIT: not thick? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipr6qCfPPUo
can't do basses? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wBuy7XLERg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvRB5KooOEc
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby CfNorENa » Sat Feb 13, 2010 1:27 am

code green wrote:good luck with your search and try to find some decent demos of the p600...the ones on youtube, though they give a sense of its basic sound, are pretty disappointing.


I pretty much concur with everything code green says. The P600 isn't perfect. But it is a big, "American" (i.e. Curtis chip), dual VCO polyphonic beast, with huge, raw, analog sound -- and all for under $1K. I guess I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" with mine, but I LOVE it.

Anyway, here's the youtube demo that sold me on it:

http://www.youtube.com/user/retrosound7 ... Z2BmlttuhI

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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby code green » Sat Feb 13, 2010 4:14 am

ha, hadn't seen that one. some cool sounds there but it's frustrating in that just about everything he does is with a slow attack and long release, usually with portamento...thus perpetuating negative p600 stereotypes. i guess i'm gonna have to get it together to post a demo myself.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby CfNorENa » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:24 am

code green wrote:ha, hadn't seen that one. some cool sounds there but it's frustrating in that just about everything he does is with a slow attack and long release, usually with portamento...thus perpetuating negative p600 stereotypes. i guess i'm gonna have to get it together to post a demo myself.


Well, yeah, I see what you mean. As I wrote earlier in this thread, probably my biggest and most pleasant surprise with the P600 has been its versatility and ability, and its ability to produce very "pretty" (for lack of a better term) tones. In fact, of the three polys that I have, the P600 is sonically the most flexible (which the OP should know). It can "mimic" the Juno 60 and JX-8P far better than vice-versa (I was most surprised that it could be as "soft" as the JX). That said, it does have what I might call a "signature tone" (what you refer to as the "negative stereotype'), and that's what most of the youtube demos provide. And for what it's worth, I love that signature tone!
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby code green » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:22 am

CfNorENa wrote:
code green wrote:ha, hadn't seen that one. some cool sounds there but it's frustrating in that just about everything he does is with a slow attack and long release, usually with portamento...thus perpetuating negative p600 stereotypes. i guess i'm gonna have to get it together to post a demo myself.


Well, yeah, I see what you mean. As I wrote earlier in this thread, probably my biggest and most pleasant surprise with the P600 has been its versatility and ability, and its ability to produce very "pretty" (for lack of a better term) tones. In fact, of the three polys that I have, the P600 is sonically the most flexible (which the OP should know). It can "mimic" the Juno 60 and JX-8P far better than vice-versa (I was most surprised that it could be as "soft" as the JX). That said, it does have what I might call a "signature tone" (what you refer to as the "negative stereotype'), and that's what most of the youtube demos provide. And for what it's worth, I love that signature tone!


no, i'm with you (i think ;) )--i love the signature sound of the p600...what i meant about the negative stereotype was that it's incapable of anything but droney, slow-attack and release, pad-like sounds. it's great at them, which is why i think they are featured in so many demos (that, and laziness/lack of chops by demo makers...not to mention that it's easier to show parameter changes while just holding down a note/sequencing it via midi/running the arpeggiator), but just because it excels at these things doesn't mean it's even close to the full picture of what his synth is capable of. and i don't mean that in the sense of "with creative programming it can do more"--i mean it in the sense of "one can just as easily make lead sounds with it as droney pads."

with all that said, i will say that one word--for better or for worse--i would never use to describe the p600 is "clinical." and i like clinical, too--which perhaps caused me to like my alpha juno 2 so much when i first scored it...it was my first dco analog and i liked it very much as a complement to the lusher sound of my p600.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby CfNorENa » Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:00 am

Yup, we're in full agreement! A single switch (unison) makes it a lead monster -- dead easy and it cuts through the mix like a razor blade. :music:
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby tyrannosaurus mark » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:42 am

Thanks for the info Code Green :)

The reason I turned it down in the end is because I went and played it and didn't like the sound that much. And you're absolutely right, a straight swap LP for P-600 wouldn't be very fair.

A P-600 would be an awesome synth for me alongside a solid mono, but by itself I can't get the monotastic sounds I like, but maybe one day :)
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby pricklyrobot » Thu Mar 25, 2010 2:28 am

CfNorENa wrote:
pricklyrobot wrote:With the Poly-Mod section, when using Osc B to modulate the filter, every 4th note or so that I play comes through sounding noticeably less filtered. When Poly-Mod is off, all notes sound equally filtered, so I don't think it's a faulty VCF chip. Maybe something needs to be calibrated, or it's just a quirk of how the Poly-Mod works?


Just checked mine, and couldn't discern any difference between any of the notes 1-6...
I think I just figured this out. According to this page: http://www.stretta.com/~matthew/resourc ... /P600.html the CEM 3360's control the Poly-Mod levels. And there are four of them in the P-600, which would explain why my Poly-Mod goes wonky every fourth note.

I'll open it up and have a look, maybe I'll get lucky and the chip just needs to be re-seated in its socket or something. Otherwise, anyone know where to get a 3360 for cheap?:D
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby Sir Ruff » Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:19 pm

pricklyrobot wrote:
CfNorENa wrote:
pricklyrobot wrote:With the Poly-Mod section, when using Osc B to modulate the filter, every 4th note or so that I play comes through sounding noticeably less filtered. When Poly-Mod is off, all notes sound equally filtered, so I don't think it's a faulty VCF chip. Maybe something needs to be calibrated, or it's just a quirk of how the Poly-Mod works?


Just checked mine, and couldn't discern any difference between any of the notes 1-6...
I think I just figured this out. According to this page: http://www.stretta.com/~matthew/resourc ... /P600.html the CEM 3360's control the Poly-Mod levels. And there are four of them in the P-600, which would explain why my Poly-Mod goes wonky every fourth note.

I'll open it up and have a look, maybe I'll get lucky and the chip just needs to be re-seated in its socket or something. Otherwise, anyone know where to get a 3360 for cheap?:D


This is good to know-I had a similar problem with mine.
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Re: What are the common problems with the SCI Prophet 600?

Postby d2mrp0 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 4:40 am

I have had mine since 1983. It worked well until 10 years ago - it started acting weird, some of the the knobs stopped working. I took it completely apart, cleaned all switches and pots and it worked perfectly for another 10 years. I let it sit for a year and turned it on...and oh dear - it is a very sick synth :( Most knobs do not work, the keyboard works fine but only the synth filter section works - non of the amp and filter envelope knobs work, the volume knob doesn't work, or tune knob, glide doesn't work....it's probably easier to say what does work. The filter cutoff works!

So I stripped it down tonight - COMPLETELY and cleaned all pots and switches - no luck. I removed every single chip - cleaned the connectors and reseated them - nothing. Something is major league screwed up. If it's ONE bad pot how on earth would I find that? Put an ohm meter on every one I guess and turn the knob. Could it be the CPU? I will probably ship it off to wine country and see if they can fix it. It was well worth the thousand pounds I paid for it - 34 years of fun - give or take a year!

Compare this to my 1980 Korg MS20, 1981 Roland Juno 106, 1983 Roland SH101 - these are all ancient too and have never had any issues, whatsoever.
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