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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Korg Prophecy

via this auction

"The Korg Prophecy is considered one of the earliest (mid-nineties) "virtual analog" (a.k.a. VA) synthesizers, although its synthesis capabilities went beyond many of its VA contemporaries.

Along with the Korg Trinity, this little synth is a direct ancestor of the ill-fated (and sci-fi at the time) OASYS project. It was a small 3-octave monosynth, a pioneer of the late 90's "return-to-analog" trend. Offering assignable knobs, a "log controller" (a mix-up of a modulation wheel and ribbon controller assembled like a "sausage") and many other control sources, it invited players to tweak and shape the sound both easily and quickly. Deep editing, however, wasn't as straightforward, because the sound engine contained no less than 13 DSP-modelled oscillator types, each one offering too many parameters to adjust.

Probably, the most valued and used DSP models were the analog model (based on the classic osc+filter+amp scheme, although with many powerful enhancements), the VPM model (some sort of FM synthesis which cleverly avoided Yamaha's FM patent) and the "physical modeling" algorithms. The latter deserves special mention; in the mid-late 90's, it was believed that physical modeling, which recreated the sound of acoustic instruments (brass, strings, woodwinds, etc.) using DSP algorithms instead of samples, would eventually replace sample-based version of those instruments, because of its unprecedented realism and expressivity. As time passed, physical modelling seemed to lose its appeal to both manufacturers (because of the cost of investigation and implementation) and final users, who complained about the realism of the models and limited polyphony. Also, more complex playing techniques were required to play the models in a convincing way. Nevertheless, the Prophecy's low cost and broad implementation of sound generation techniques earned it a significant place in synthesizer history."

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