It has been a while ago, since I have last posted a story. Well, this summer has been good to me on various levels, and that does not only include the weather and my amazing holiday trip to California, seeing Sequioa and Yosemite National Parks (including several bear sights!). It also included a few days in San Francisco, where I have never been before. Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge was all in fog, as expected. And yes, west of the hills, it is all grey, cold and cloudy – while it is sunny and warm east of the hills.
Anyway, during my stay in San Francisco, I had the chance to visit the DSI (Dave Smith Instruments) office. It says on their website that you should just drop them an email if you’d like to visit – and they were so kind to actually invite me, even though they were just in the final stage before releasing their latest synthesizer to public and sales.
So, one morning, I went to their place (in the Italian quarter, right between Chinatown and Telegraph Hill) and… went right into the nerdiest synth maker office I could ever imagine. I expected some kind of reception desk or so, but nothing like that. It is actually just a small working space (well, they are about ten people, after all) with a bunch of desks, all sorts of electric and electronic devices – and tons of synths around. In short, a heavenly place to work at, obviously.
Jumping right into it, I then got the opportunity to play DSI’s newest offering, the fantastic Pro 2 synth. See it in (official) action here:
All I can say – apart from what has been said and written in many reviews already – is that it sounds great, deep, inspiring and definitely makes you forget that you’ve only got one voice. Take any of the preset patches, twist those knobs and play. In no time, you’re miles apart with new, musically inspiring sounds. If you’ve got two grand to part with, spend them on one of these.
Dave Smith is one of the great legends in synthesizer design and manufacturing. Not only did he invent the MIDI protocol, but also – with his first company Sequential Circuits – designed some of the most legendary synths ever: The Prophet 5 (one of the first programmable polyphonic synths), the monstrous Prophet T8 (which I still lust for, just because Howard Jones played it in the 80s), and not least the Prophet VS (a ground-breaking, digital synth that still echoes its footprint in today’s electronic music from its vector synthesis).
And the best thing of it all: Even though I did not expect to meet the man himself, since I was told that he would be traveling that week, Dave was indeed at the office. And he even spared a good bit of his time to chat with me about past, present and future. I must admit that I felt like a teenager meeting his pop star idol in person – sweating and blushing and feeling embarrassed like a stupid 15-year-old. But we had a really nice and inspiring chat, where Dave confirmed how much he is still excited about designing synths and making new stuff. Of course, his legacy and his heritage is always around, not least in that office. But he doesn’t just rest on past laurels – he keeps moving on to new ground all the time. And this new Pro 2 synth is the best proof for it.
Last, check out humble me next to the man (and in front of a fully working T8; btw, Howard Jones is still a Dave Smith customer, playing a Prophet 12 these days) – I was still shivering in excitement hours later…