Dave Smith Instruments Prophet REV2 – Gearjunkies review

The Prophet REV2 by Dave Smith Instruments is a polyphonic analog synthesizer, available in eight or sixteen voice varieties. There is an eight-voice expander kit available separately to upgrade the eight voice version later.

Look and feel
The REV2 is availabe in both desktop and keyboard versions, the latter having a 5-octave full sized keyboard. It has a very straight design with wooden side panels, all knobs are arrange neatly in rows. For the most part the knobs are real potentiometers, the OLED display is accompanied by several digital encoder knobs. There is enough distance between the knobs for a good grip for accurate and fast parameter editing. The display is clear but small. The dynamic parameter display fucntion always shows the parameter you’re working on as you turn a knob, so the small size is not too bothering when editing. The total signal path of the REV2 shows clearly in the layout: it starts on the left with lfo and modulation, then follow sections for the oscillators, filter, envelopes and effects. On the back side are all i/o connections including midi, usb and audio. There is an additional b-output for the audio, that can be used in case of multi-layer/spilt sounds route them separate from the main sound. The REV2 has a built-in power supply so you don’t need a dc adapter.

In use and connectivity
The REV2 has 61 semi-weighed full sized keys, with velocity and after touch. The keyboard plays lovely and the aftertouch is especially good to have, being a modulation source. As often with Dave Smith Instruments, there is a software editor available from Sound Tower, in both a stand-alone and a plug-in version for mac and windows. They cost $69 for the standalone and $99 for the plug-in version. The REV2 has a class-compliant midi in/out interface via USB than can be used for computer software communication. There is no audio over usb.

Our experience
Being the succesor to the Prophet ’08, the REV2 is compatible with its sound format. However, the REV2 seems to be more ‘alive’. The digitally controlled oscillators have a separate waveshaper for each of the waveforms, that can also be a modulation target. This creates a dynamic and diverse sound palette. There are four lfo’s and and an extra envelope available for additional modulation. The effect section has more options than the Prophet ’08 and also has several modulation targets, making it truely a part of the sound design. The overall sound is still quite similar to that of the Prophet ’08 but the sub oscillator provides extra depth. The filter sounds smooth in the 2-pole settting but is chirpy and a bit harsh when pushed into resonance in the 4-pole variant. This is subject to taste but it did not complement the overall sound quality in many cases. The layering provides a very wide sounding overall spectrum, in which case the sixteen voices come in handy.

When you are looking for great sounding polyphonic synthesizer, the DSI REV2 is certainly a valid candidate for a decent price. The filter is subject to taste but can be applied with decent subtlety. Overall the sound palette is diverse, and the REV2 sounds wide and deep. The versatility is enormous ranging from basses, fx sounds, to leads and pads with endless variety. The many waveshaping and modulation possibilities give the REV2 a solid, unique character.

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