Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby Donovan_Juan » Sat May 02, 2009 7:08 am

Hi everyone, longtime reader of the forum but first-time posting. I'm in the middle of a studio equipment-buying frenzy and was hoping to get some advice.

I'm looking to get a Prophet, but can't afford a Prophet 5 or a Prophet 10 as I also am saving for a Clavinet. The Prophet 600 looks to be within my price range but I'm wondering if they are prone to unreliability, as I'm not sure how easy it would be to get these repaired here in Perth, Australia. The other option is the Prophet 08, but as I already own a DSI Desktop Evolver and a Korg Poly-61 I was looking forward to owning a genuine VCO synth, plus its a bit more pricey.

So my question is - considering I'm making hip hop, funk and neo-soul grooves, which of the two synths would you guys recommend?

For an idea of my current sound palette, these are the synths is my setup:

Akai MPC 1000
Dave Smith Instruments Desktop Evolver
Hohner Pianet T
Korg Poly-61
Yamaha CS1x

Plus various softsynths, percussion instruments, microphones etc.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby nadafarms » Sat May 02, 2009 10:19 am

prophet 600 is a great synth for pads, organs, spacey strings and a lot of fun to play. I honestly like the way it sounds better than a prophet 5 and I own a prophet 10 I'm trying to get rid of.

it's not that reliable a synth but if you get a good decent working one you should be fine. for the price it's a steal if even if you're paying top dollar IMO.

You couldn't pay me to play a prophet 08... ok well maybe you could pay me but nobody does... I don't like the P08 and a lot of other people don't either.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby otto » Sat May 02, 2009 11:46 am

The Prophet 600 does sound a lot like a prophet 5 with limitations, stepping, and is known to develop issues. Think of it as a poor mans prophet 5 rev3 at a great price.

The Prophet '08 has more in common with an Oberheim Matrix 6/6r/10000 or the SCI MAX, six-track, etc. in that it utilizes the synth-on-a-chip DCO format. The P'08 has much more depth an capabilities than the P600 but the sound is different and if you are after the thick VCO sound than a P600 might be a better bet. Some of the things the P'08 can do are very cool like stacking a pad sound over a sequence. As with the evolver, the "analog style" sequencer and amount of modulation can take it many places that older gear can't touch.

It seems to be a battle of capabilties vs sound. I don't think the P'08 sounds bad at all but it's just not a VCO synth like the P600.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby pricklyrobot » Sat May 02, 2009 2:09 pm

I got my Prophet 600 off of some random dude (i.e. not a synth tech) on Ebay, for $400. It worked fine when it showed up, and now—nearly 3 years later—I haven't had a single problem with it, aside from having to pull apart the keyboard to clean some of the key contacts (which is a simple and straightforward, if a bit tedious, process not requiring any special technical skills).

I picked up a replacement membrane keypad and a set of VCF chips from Chipforbrains/Technology Transplant (Ebay seller of NOS and newly manufactured parts for vintage synths), but I haven't needed to use them yet.

The stepping problem, at least as regards the VCF Cutoff (where most people are most likely to notice it), can be gotten around by using the Filter CV Input jack (simple volume pedal wired up to a 9V battery works great for manual control) or by controlling Cutoff with the LFO (because it's the knob that steps, not the filter itself).

I've not had the opportunity to try the Prophet '08, so I can't compare the two. But I've thoroughly enjoyed my 600, and have had zero problems with it thus far. The prices lately seem to be holding pretty steady in the $500-$700 (USD) range, so you could likely turn around and sell it without too much of a loss if you end up not liking it.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby Donovan_Juan » Sat May 02, 2009 4:26 pm

Thanks for the responses guys. Looks like the Prophet 600 is probably more what I'm looking for based on the comments. I'd heard about the stepping problems in my research on the synth, and Pricklyrobot's volume pedal idea sounds like an ideal solution to the problem.

I guess I am looking more for the sound of the synth, and if the Prophet 08 sounds less like the Prophet 5 than the Prophet 600, I can probably do without the added functionality as a trade-off for some VCOs. As much as I like the crappy, dirty and harsh sound of the Poly-61 (ideal for gritty funk lines), its clear that the VCO Polysix sounds way phatter. Which is largely why I wanted a Prophet in the first place - it would be nice to have a VCO synth in my arsenal as most VCOs I've heard has sounded thicker than a DCOs - hell, some sound better on Youtube than the DCO sounded in person!

My question to Prophet 08 users would be - how close does it actually get to the old skool Prophet sound, and does it sound a lot like the Evolver sans digital oscillators as stated on the Vintage Synth page? That's one of the reasons I don't really want it - I already have an Evolver for my leads and basses and don't want another synth that sounds too samey for chords. Also, I'm surprised that there is not that much talk about the Prophet 600 compared to the 5, 08 and the Pro-One, even though most reviews I've read have always been pretty glowing for the 600. Why is that?
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby scottrod » Sat May 02, 2009 5:26 pm

Hmm. I bought a P-600 new and used it onstage for years. I did have difficulty with the numeric keypad after a few months and learned to keep a flashlight next to it to bring up patches between songs (try using that keypad in the dark). It also had some weird crashes IIRC which required powering it down and back up (a true pisser in the middle of a song). So I wouldn't consider it a reliable unit to use onstage if you're a pro musician. Ok for other bands and studio work I expect.

As for the sound, I know it didn't sound like a P5 which disappointed me when I bought it. A little more "fuzzy" in the oscillator section if you will. It was the only thing I could afford at the time, and coming from a duophonic CS-40M, it was heaven regardless.

Like all synths, it has its own unique sound. I'd say the P 08 is closer to a P-5 than the P-600, but it's been years since I've played one so it's tough to be definitive on that. I recall the zipper noises and was surprised by that when I first bought it coming from the Yamaha, but I didn't do any patch manipulation on stage so it was a non-issue.

I don't think I'd buy another one as I've sort of "been there, done that." But I think you'd have fun with it, especially if you have an outboard effects unit to push it though.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby otto » Sat May 02, 2009 5:29 pm

A guy on the prophet forums programmed the original 40 prophet 5 presets on the P'08. Used static and mid scale most of them were very very close to the prophet 5 I had. I'd say most people would not be able to tell the difference. Once you start using the mod wheel or going more extreme on the scale the differences became more obvious. I'd say at that point about 40-50% still sounded a lot like the Prophet. Surprisingly, some of the original presets actually sounded a bit better on the P'08 to my ears.

Of course this is just the original prophet 5 presets not everything the prophet 5 was capable of or is used for today. The P'08 is a programmers synth with lots of modulation capabilities and the unique "analog style" sequencer. That said it is not a basic synth with a large sweet spot. I think talented programmers could get most of what they want out of a P'08 but if your looking to just get on and have that prophet sound, it just isn't automatic. In fact the P'08 has it's own character sound that is sizzly for lack of a better description. And it is capable of a lot of tricks the vast majority of vintage synths are not. Also, simply stacking voices on the P'08 creates a lot of thickness.

I've had an evolver and the prophet '08 and I think there is a large difference in sound but there are similarities as well. I think the P'08 is more analog sounding (in a DCO kinda way) than the evolver.

I think that many here agree that the P600 is undervalued. No idea why.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby scottrod » Sat May 02, 2009 6:06 pm

otto wrote:The P'08 is a programmers synth with lots of modulation capabilities and the unique "analog style" sequencer. That said it is not a basic synth with a large sweet spot. I think talented programmers could get most of what they want out of a P'08 but if your looking to just get on and have that prophet sound, it just isn't automatic. In fact the P'08 has it's own character sound that is sizzly for lack of a better description. And it is capable of a lot of tricks the vast majority of vintage synths are not.

Well put, agree with all that.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby SWAN » Sun May 03, 2009 11:40 am

I recently purchased a P600 and I really love it. Regardless of how close to a P5 it is (as Ive not played a P5) - it sounds vintage - and with a little compression - its slower envelopes are less of an issue - it can be quite punchy! It sounds like the vintage poly Ive always wanted - at the fraction of the cost!

The thing is - the type of music I am doing - really demands that darker vintage tone. If I was not so worried about that - I would have gone for the P08. Despite criticisms on the net - I think the P08 is a really great synth - especially for the money. However it is a cleaner brighter analogue sound - its slightly different to vintage VCO. However thats just a personal choice - for more modern styles of music - that can better. When I tried the P08 - you can get some phat basses and big pads - especially with the layering. Its a full and bright sounding analogue synth. Check the keyboardwizard demos on YouTube.

Im getting into programming my P600 and it is certainly quite limited in some aspects. They are also known for being quite unreliable. Plus without some compression (envelope shaping) its not brilliantly responsive to play due to the sluggish digital envelopes. The stepping has not really bothered me much tho - its not really 'that' bad and only audible when doing certain things. There are quite a few downsides to a P600 that are only worth it IMO if you specifically want that tone.

Ultimately the P08 is much more versatile, and reliable than the P600 and sounds very good albeit in a different way. The important decision is 'are you specifically wanting the old analogue tone enough to outweigh the positives of the newer analogue P08 sound....?'
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby otto » Sun May 03, 2009 4:32 pm

M83 uses the P'08, that's a positive endorsement in my eyes.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby Joey » Sun May 03, 2009 4:49 pm

as do Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel... (the p08)
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby iProg » Mon May 04, 2009 12:57 pm

Joey wrote:as do Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel... (the p08)


Depeche Mode? Are you kidding?
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby otto » Mon May 04, 2009 1:40 pm

Would that really be such a big shock? There are probably very few synths depeche mode hasn't used over the years and the P'08 is one of only a handful of new polyphonic analogs.
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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby Joey » Mon May 04, 2009 11:36 pm

iProg wrote:
Joey wrote:as do Depeche Mode and Peter Gabriel... (the p08)


Depeche Mode? Are you kidding?



no not kidding, you can see it in the studio shots in the booklet that comes with the SOTU box set
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so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

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Re: Prophet 600 vs Prophet 08

Postby Jinsai » Tue May 05, 2009 12:18 am

I'm sure you have reasons for wanting VCOs over DCOs, but I think you're limiting yourself unnecessarily.
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