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PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:05 pm
by Userfriend
PROPHET 2000, released late 1985.

HISTORY.
In 1985 there was ”the big 5” among the "Pro" samplers; Fairlight, Synclavier, Kurzweil, Emulator, PPG with Waveterm. Cheaper alternatives had just started to come, but ofcourse with serious shortcomings. Casio was the cheapest but a bit toyish. Next step up would be the new Ensoniq Mirage, Greengate DS and Akai S612 which was used by some pros and sold well, but they were still very limited. There were also acouple of drum machines that could sample; Linn hade their 9000 model, but sampling came as an optional card and the whole machine was very buggy. Emu had their SP12. Both very limited.

Then Sequential Circuits announced the Prophet 2000 that could compete with the bigger ones in almost all categories. It was released in late 1985 at a 4th or 5th of the price of an Emulator II but of more or less the same class and the sound quality was even better with higher bandwidth and lower noise level plus several other advantages like advanced looping features, multi timbrality, voice stacking and other performance modes and an interface without menu diving. The display was probably it´s most serious shortcoming, but not without advantages; in a live situation it is clearly visible compared to a greyish lcd.

The concept was´nt a workstation with built in sequencer like the bigger ones, and it lacked dedicated interfaces for monitoring, SMPTE, hard drive and separate voice outputs was´nt available in the original version. It was designed for gigging and to work as a full fledged sampler without cumbersome external gear; Sequential Circuits succeeded to cut the right corners to keep the cost down but provided it with latest hitech features. As one of the inventors of MIDI, Sequential Circuits proved that with far developed MIDI it was possible to compensate for many of the limitations; sample dump standard, increase of baud rate for faster data transfer, tight midi even without baud increase, midi thru functions as a second output, voice spill over mode for chaining several units, and more. Developed in both keyboard and rack versions it was perfectly suitable for midi setups. In need for visual editing and sequencing, such software was developed by other companies.

HIFI OR LOFI?
Let´s sort it out. The Prophet 2000 can achieve a dynamic range that is close to the highest possible for linear 12 bit technique that it uses. About the same as vinyl recording. But often people referrering to it as one of the most lofi sounding sampler with lots of aliasing. That means only that it produces quite clean sound at original pitch but the distorsion increases drastically with transposition. So the answer would be that it´s a good allrounder for both clean and and distorted sounds.

FAMOUS USERS.
It is common in musical contexts that, in one way or another, is dark, ambient, alternative or experimental. For instance; ”Black Celebration” by Depeche Mode (used by Andrew Fletcher on the tour), The Young Gods, Blue for Two, The Cure, Covenant, KMFDM, etc. In Hollywood: horror and thriller soundtracks by John Carpenter, Mark Isham, James Horner, Danny Elfman. Also Klaus Schulze, Pete Namlook, David Vorhaus, Central European Performance, and others, the list goes on. The Prophet 2000 seems to have profiled itself in genres that is everything but mainstream. Anyhow, it´s quite hard to find concrete exempels of it´s sounds in these productions. A common reason was that it did´nt play the role as their main sampler, and in the case of some of the film scores, it was only used in the composition while the final score was performed by a symphony orchestra.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:46 am
by ppg_wavecomputer
I sold mine this year (purchased second-hand in 1990) since I had grown tired of its size and bulk and weight, and its dreadful user interface.

Great sound though.

Stephen

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:32 pm
by llewell
I rescued and repaired my P2000 recently and am looking to connect with other owners ... please get in touch.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 10:52 pm
by HappyFunTimes
Hey llewell, have you used yours very much? I'm trying to figure out the best ways to use mine. I have some disks, but a lot of them are kind of corrupt, and don't load reliably. I really like the overall sound of the P2000, but I'm new to sampling, and feel restrained by the internal sounds.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Sun Jan 10, 2016 11:59 pm
by piRoN
I still use mine a fair bit. Pain in the arse to use, but sounds lovely.

Anyone on Windows really should grab this, it makes dealing with the Prophet's... "characterful" architecture a little less embolism-inducing:

http://synth.curlsystems.de/Prophet2012 ... t2012.html

I don't use disks any more, I just save everything on the computer via the above. It's a bit slower, but it means that once I've midi transferred a patch to the Prophet I can just go right ahead and tweak it from the software.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 1:32 am
by HappyFunTimes
I tried the Prophet2012 software awhile back. I was hoping it would have a huge library of samples that I could just transfer via sysex rather than have to deal with the floppys, or do the sampling myself. I never could find them, and gave up.

I wasn't quite clear on how you're using it. You transfer a patch to the p2000, and then edit it in the software? I think I'm going to give it another try.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 7:54 am
by piRoN
I generally build the patches in Prophet2012 using assets from my own sample library, then dump it to the Prophet, play around and perform whatever tweaks need to be done, then save it to a file. I also have some blank patch files with all the parameters set up generically that I use to build any new patches, saves a lot of time. For example I've got one set up for drum samples that has the keymaps and default parameters already set up, so I can just open it, load the samples into it and dump it to the Prophet.

If you put the software into "online" mode any parameter changes will be sent to the Prophet as you edit them. So I'll often grab something like a generic patch loaded with raw oscillator tones from my modular, dump it to the Prophet and then go ahead and edit the parameter multipliers it to turn it into a pad, or a bass sound, or a lead etc.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:10 pm
by madtheory
Just a suggestion- if you used that software along with the HxC floppy emulator, you'd only have to wait for the MIDI dump once (ish). Then when it's all set as you like and in the Prophet, save it to the SD card.

Or you could ask the HxC folk to support whatever file the software generates to represent a disk, then you would never need to to a MIDI SDS dump again. They/ he did this for the Casio FZ-1. FZF format MIDI dumps can be converted directly to disk images with the HxC software.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 9:42 pm
by HappyFunTimes
Thanks for outlining your process. I'm going to use it as a guideline. I had been considering selling my P2000, but I think I will put in a little more effort to try, and unlock it's potential. I really like the sound of it, so it's worth the effort. If I can do a fair amount with it, I'll consider getting a floppy emulator.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2016 2:09 am
by piRoN
madtheory wrote:Just a suggestion- if you used that software along with the HxC floppy emulator, you'd only have to wait for the MIDI dump once (ish). Then when it's all set as you like and in the Prophet, save it to the SD card.

Or you could ask the HxC folk to support whatever file the software generates to represent a disk, then you would never need to to a MIDI SDS dump again. They/ he did this for the Casio FZ-1. FZF format MIDI dumps can be converted directly to disk images with the HxC software.
Yes I should look into getting a HxC unit one of these days, I've found most of the DD disks out there are reaching the end of their natural lives (though the Prophet doesn't seem to have much in the way of CRC or checksumming, so it'll happily load a lot of corrupted disks which are sometimes a great source of glitchy fun).

That's not a bad idea about the file format - I did email the developer of Prophet2012 a little while back, maybe I should suggest he send the format details on to the HxC guys.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:10 pm
by llewell
HappyFunTimes wrote:Hey llewell, have you used yours very much? I'm trying to figure out the best ways to use mine. I have some disks, but a lot of them are kind of corrupt, and don't load reliably. I really like the overall sound of the P2000, but I'm new to sampling, and feel restrained by the internal sounds.
All my (30+ ) disks are working, which is a bit of a surprise since they were all originally written in the mid/late 80s and have spent the last 11 years in a damp garage.

I'd be happy to share, but don't have a way of getting the contents on to a computer at the moment.
The Prophet 2012 SW looks really good, but unfortunately doesn't work with the firmware version (4.0) installed in my P2000.

My plan is to buy a cheap old laptop which still has a floppy drive and backup all the samples.
Once that has been done I'll install a floppy emulator and use a USB stick.
The HxC version seems a bit expensive for what it is, so I'll probably get one of the GOTEK units. I'm not sure if these are compatible with the p2000 drive out of the box, but the author of the HxC firmare has a version (for a nominal fee) which can be flashed on GOTEK HW.

Thoughts anyone ?

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Thu Feb 11, 2016 12:14 pm
by llewell
piRoN wrote:
madtheory wrote:Just a suggestion- if you used that software along with the HxC floppy emulator, you'd only have to wait for the MIDI dump once (ish). Then when it's all set as you like and in the Prophet, save it to the SD card.

Or you could ask the HxC folk to support whatever file the software generates to represent a disk, then you would never need to to a MIDI SDS dump again. They/ he did this for the Casio FZ-1. FZF format MIDI dumps can be converted directly to disk images with the HxC software.
Yes I should look into getting a HxC unit one of these days, I've found most of the DD disks out there are reaching the end of their natural lives (though the Prophet doesn't seem to have much in the way of CRC or checksumming, so it'll happily load a lot of corrupted disks which are sometimes a great source of glitchy fun).

That's not a bad idea about the file format - I did email the developer of Prophet2012 a little while back, maybe I should suggest he send the format details on to the HxC guys.
Did you get a reply from the Prophet 2012 author ? I mailed him a while ago to report that my P2000 didn't work with it, but received no reply.

As a SW engineer, I would like to look into to fixing the code for myself and maybe even extending the feature set if the source code were available. I'll ask ...

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Fri Feb 12, 2016 12:40 am
by piRoN
llewell wrote:Did you get a reply from the Prophet 2012 author ? I mailed him a while ago to report that my P2000 didn't work with it, but received no reply.

As a SW engineer, I would like to look into to fixing the code for myself and maybe even extending the feature set if the source code were available. I'll ask ...
Yes I did, but this was a while ago. I seem to recall that he was having trouble with some midi interfaces not working with it, which is not surprising - I've found a lot of interfaces are pretty sketchy when it comes to sysex implementation. Going by the lack of updates he might have just moved on to other things by now.

It would be great if he'd open-source it, if you get in touch that might be something to recommend, throwing it up on SourceForge or GitHub or whatever.

Re: PROPHET 2000 - 30 years in 2015.

Posted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:12 pm
by llewell
Update:

I have been in contact with Marius Göbel, who wrote the Prophet 2012 editing software.

Although he was very helpful in solving the communication issue I was experiencing, he is
unwilling to Open Source the code. This is mainly due to concerns about commercial exploitation
of his intellectual property.

When I get time, I will back up my disks in P2K format and upload them here ... Share and Enjoy.