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Prophet 5 Resources

Author Fred Wilder
Written June 1999
Updated March 14, 2011

This is a collection of synthesizer resources online for the SCI Prophet 5. Along with some how-to information and an assortment of MIDI tools. I have included some sysex files as well.

Contents:

P5 Web Resources
Some insider stuff and my experiences with
programming the P5 synthesizer.
Cassette Interface
How to load and save to cassette tape
Patches
Program patches on the web for the Prophet V.
History
Links to Sequential history pages.
MIDI TOOLS
Midi / Sysex librarians - editors, and other goodies.
Tech Support
Owner and Operation manuals.
Sequential Circuits
Wine Country parts and service for Dave Smith's synthesizers.


PROPHET V Rev. 3.3 Web Resources

This was my first real synthesizer and it is still my favorite machine to use in the studio. It has a lush warm tone and plenty of funky vintage sound patches that make you want to tweak and play with the machine for hours on end. The Sequential Circuits Inc. Prophet-5 synthesizer is a computer controlled analog synthesizer. It was created by the fertile mind of Dave Smith. Dave assembled the first one in his apartment back in 1978 just in time for the NAMM show where Dave introduced the the world to the very first computer controlled analog synthesizer. The now defunct Sequential Circuits Inc. made allot of great synths and and turned the world on to some fantastic sounds. Thanks Dave!




I bought my Prophet-5 at a local swap meet and dragged it home not knowing exactly what it was but sure it was worth a hell of a lot more than I had paid for it. I had a real job cut out for me searching online and finding almost nothing at the time about the machine. After a long search I finally traced down Wine Country Productions and they hooked me up with the circuit diagrams and spare parts I needed to get it going again. I eventually added their midi refit kit and have enjoyed using the SCI Prophet 5 in my studio ever since. Mine is a Revision 3.3 the last model they made. It sounds fantastic and is easy to program via the huge number of knobs and switches on its large front panel. Every parameter on the Prophet can be controlled in real time by these knobs and switches. The synth is very strange to load or save patches if you have never used a cassette interface. I began using a cassette tape storage system on my old Vic 20 computer back around 1983 and it seemed insane then to store computer data on audio tape so you can imagine how it seems even more crazy now.

Use a good quality tape deck and back up your Prophet's programs dolby noise reduction is not necessary in fact it would most likely make a mess of things if you used it. A little experimenting and you will find the right record playback levels for your machine. On my tape deck I have to adjust the record level high so that the play back will be right at 0 db. I can play it back a little loader in to the Prophet but any lower and the synth doesn't recognize the data signal. Write down the tape machine record settings once you get it right, and you may even want to dedicate a tape deck in your studio to the synth just for this purpose.

Tape InstructionsCassette buttons

SAVING TO TAPE Rev 3.3

  1. Look on the Prophet's rear panel on the far left end. You may need a screw driver to push it down so it is Disabled.
  2. Place a new unused cassette into the tape recorder and rewind to start of the tape then play past the leader.
  3. Test the record and playback levels, record at just over 0 db. What you are looking for is playing back at 0 db.
  4. Hold the Prophet's orange RECORD switch down while pressing the grey SAVE TO TAPE switch.
  5. When, after about 40 seconds, the grey FROM TAPE switch indicator blinks, stop the recorder.
  6. Rewind to start of the tape.
  7. Press play on the tape deck and wait until the tape leader has passed.
  8. Press the (blinking) LOAD FROM TAPE switch.
  9. The LOAD FROM TAPE switch indicator goes out stop the tape deck.
  10. If the LOAD FROM TAPE switch indicator is blinking now, an error has occurred. Adjust record play back levels a try it again.
  11. If you plan to record more than one program on a cassette you should have a microphone handy to record your voice stating the Bank number and Program description. Leave enough space on the tape between programs and your announcements.


LOADING FROM TAPE Rev 3.3Record button

  1. Look at the Prophet's rear panel and set the Data Record slide switch to ENABLED.
  2. Set the tape to the position that holds your program. Listen for the announcement.
  3. Set playback level play at 0db.
  4. Hold the Prophet's orange RECORD switch down while pressing the grey LOAD FROM TAPE switch.
  5. The Prophet front panel will go dark, except for the LOAD FROM TAPE switch indicator will be lit.
  6. The L.E.D. will go out after about 40 seconds, now Stop the tape.
  7. If the LOAD FROM TAPE light blinks, an something has gone wrong. Adjust your playback level and try again.


Prophet V Patches, Banks, and Sysex data

The Prophet Five revision 3.3 has a total of 120 preset programs. These may all be altered manually and saved in the synthesizer's memory. They are arranged as three FILES of 5 Banks each and each Bank contains 8 program patches. The Prophet synthesizer does not support a sysex bulk dump or bulk save via midi. Nor does it permit P5 FILE changes, this limits the amount of patch changes that a MIDI sequencer (Cakewalk Pro Audio 8 or Roland MC-500 ect) can control to 40 patches of the possible 120 stored in the synthesizer at any one time. The Prophet does permit you to send or receive a single patch at a time via Sysex (System Exclusive Data). So a work around would be to have your midi sequencer like Cakewalk Pro Audio 8 save your particular patch settings or voices with the midi music data file and transfer the sysex file or patch when you play the MIDI file. This means your sequencer is writing over the current FILE Bank of patches on the Prophet but in some circumstances this would be preferable to being limited to using only the 40 patches stored in a single FILE Bank of the synthesizer.

Sysex data is another can of worms for the Prophet 5 all together as it sends its data out incomplete. You will find it necessary to initiate the dump request from the synthesizer then interrupt the Sysex editor program after a short measure. Now open the editor and see if the Sysex list is present. You will discover that the the final statement of F7 is missing. You will need to type this in at the bottom end of the file and save the file before attempting to send it back to the synthesizer otherwise the Prophet will be left waiting forever for that F7 end of data statement.



MIDI Channel select on the Prophet

  1. On power up the Prophet 5 is in Omni mode. To set the MIDI channel and Poly mode follow these instructions.
  2. On the front panel press and hold the orange Record button. Then select program button 6 for Poly mode, LED lights up.
  3. Press and hold the orange Record button then press the program button 8 repeatedly to select your MIDI channel.
  4. Once this is accomplished the Prophet 5 will send and receive MIDI data on only the MIDI channel you have chosen. The P5 resets on power up so you will have to repeat these steps every time you use the machine.

MIDI SEQUENCERS

For years I used a hardware based stand alone MIDI sequencer made by Roland the MC-500. This was a real workhorse and back in the day my fingers would fly over this machine. I kept using this machine even after I had purchased Cakewalk in part it was due to the learning curve and part I just loved the tactile response of those big fat keys on the Roland MC-500. Eventualy I learned the software sequencer well enough to make the change and never looked back. After a few years of sieting idle I finaly sold the Roland but find myself missing that old friend from time to time. I am currently using Cakewalk Pro Audio 8 on my old PC in the Tiki Room project studio. This is a bit of an antique itself but I just do not like change when it comes to my music machines.

INS Instrument Definition files

Instrument Definition Files are a power tool that enable the Cakewalk MIDI sequencer to comunicate with your synthesizers. I looked in vain for an *.ins file for my SCI Prophet 5 and eventually I wrote an Instrument Definition myself for my Cakewalk Pro Audio 8 software. I understand it will work the new Cakewalk SONAR sequencing software as well. The file allows your midi sequencer software to send and receive patches to and from the Prophet via sysex data. So if you are looking for such a file yourself, look no further, I have it here for you in the downloads section. The file is named Prophet5FW.ins PC users Right click and select SAVE link target as, MAC Ctrl click and select Save as. Now place this file on your computer in the instrument definition folder of your sequencer program once there it can be imported to your sequencer and you are ready to go.



Patches:

Analog Norway Analog Norway
This repair shop in Norway has a great cache of factory patches for new and older synthesizers and you can down load them for free. Always a good deal!
The patch King Kid Nepro
This dealer has loads of factory and custom patches for new and older synthesizers and samplers. I was able to get patches for my Prophet 5 from him on a cassette tape!

 

History:

Image of Prophet 5 synth

Dave Smith:

Dave Smith founded Sequential Circuits, the premier manufacturer of professional music synthesizers, in the mid-70s. In 1977, he designed the Prophet-5, the world's first microprocessor based musical instrument. This revolutionary product was the world's first polyphonic and programmable synth, and set the standard for all synth designs that have followed. The Prophet instruments played a major part in the recordings of all popular music styles, and are still prized by musicians today. Dave is also generally known as the driving force behind the generation of the MIDI specification in 1981 in fact, he coined the acronym. In 1987 he was named a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) for his continuing work in the area of music synthesis.

What is Dave up to today? Dave Smith Instruments

 

Here are some metaphysical tech notes:
Chet Wood, an earlier programmer at Sequential Circuits ASCII-encoded mantras into the Prophet 5 computer code. The original code was written so that it would include a mantra / chant, so each time we turn on our synths, that Buddhist programmer becomes more enlightened! Computer code like that in the Prophet 5, cycles over and over like a Tibetan prayer wheel. When I rebuilt mine and added the midi refit kit from Wine Country I noticed the circuit board had some interesting things on it such as a silk screened Buddha, Shiva, mandalas, some mushrooms and flowers, and a bunch of Sanskrit writing. Fred

 

Energized!The Prophet Five in SPACE:

For those familiar with the voice of a Phrophet 5, check out 
Star Trek The Motion Picture you will recognize many of the 
sound effects like the engine noise were created using 
the then brand spanking new tool of sound designer 
Alan Howarth.  V'ger's voice was created on a Prophet 5 
with added outboard effects including a Sequential Pro-FX unit.

Fred

 

Vintage synth explorer Vintage Synth Explorer
A cool collection of tidd bits on old synths with current market value and reviews.
Synth Museum Synth Museum
A good collection of synthesizer history and pictures with current market value and reviews.

 

 


 

Tech support:

MANUAL
MANOR
MANUAL MANOR
Mark Glinsky offers reprints of his extensive collection of synthesizer owner and operation manuals which includes Sequential Circuits.

 

 

HYLANDER Sequential manuals in PDF format online.
Dave Hylander's collection of pdf synthesizer manuals has a section at the bottom of the page with Sequential Circuits owner and operation manuals.

 

And of course...

Sequential Circuits Wine Country Productions Inc.
Wine Country support and service for all Sequential Circuits products. They even helped me rebuild my own Prophet 5 by supplying the owners manual, parts, and a midi refit kit.

 

 


Copyright 1999-2011, Fred Wilder
California, USA.
Webmaster@stcroixstudios.com