Sonic LAB: Dave Smith Instruments MoPho

Is one voice enough?      24/12/08

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6:3 mins
As a special Christmas treat from us, we're putting this review from William H online today, before we shut down and head home to fill ourselves with Christmas cheer. It's William's look at the much awaited Dave Smith Instruments MoPho desktop synthesizer. A single voice monophonic synth with two sub oscillators and input feedback loop for extra aggressive sounds, it's basically its a single voice from their Prophet 8 polysynth with a few differences. Some have called it the new Pro-One, lets take a look and see what our resident synth specialist has to say. Available now at $399.99 US, around £270 UK


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17 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Brianrost    Said...

The Mopho is a bit maddening...the suboscs arpeggiator, metal case are nice additions and the text display is a HUGE improvement over the desktop Evolver's display...but in all other areas the Evolver cleans it's clock. If they added JUST the display to the Evolver I'd be ecstatic. As it is, I'm not sure how much I'd miss the Evolver's extra features if I got the Mopho. Sigh...

24-Dec-08 10:30 AM

DBM    Said...

Easter Egg ? If you open up the Mopho Its red circuit board says "Pro-One II"

also ...Isn't this the same Curtis chip sound WH loves from the oberheim ?

24-Dec-08 02:08 PM

William H    Said...

DBM - The MoPho and P'08 use a Curtis chip that integrates the VCO, VCF and VCA together. I think it sounds reasonable for its price, but I don't think it carries an external signal through it very well.

The Oberheim and Pro One have separate chips for each stage. They seem to have a bit more life in them - particularly the oscillators in PWM.

24-Dec-08 05:59 PM

flux302    Said...

can i ask a dumb question? I understand the curtis chips are basically a way of shrinking the components that were once tubes then transistors now into these chips but does that mean it's still able to retain the warmth of the completely analog tube synths? it's still a completely fluid signal? also can we have a comparison video between the evolver and the mopho? that would be great.

24-Dec-08 06:58 PM

Velocipede    Said...

The Push It! button can do a few more things besides just start a sequence. If it could be assigned to any on/off parameter, though, it would be even more useful. The Mopho is my first real analog synth. It is an affordable entry point, and I'm quite happy with the sounds it makes. Patches sounds richer than similar soft synth patches, but I won't go so far to say that the differences could not be overcome with better programming. Goes great with a keytar.

27-Dec-08 03:54 AM

William H    Said...

flux302 - For the most part, classic analog synthesizers never used tubes. They had discrete circuits, which were then integrated for cost and stability.

While I personally think there's a benefit to discrete, you have to weigh that against increased cost. But part quality is also important - the Little Phatty isn't discrete, but it certainly sounds fuller and smoother than the MoPho.

On the other hand, it's four times as much money.

27-Dec-08 07:07 PM


having owned and used a mopho amongst all my other analog goodies in the last few months, i have to agree with most of your review, William. However, Ive used it with a mini voyager and an oberheim ob-8, and the sub oscillators give it extra bite for sure, even against the voyager to a degree.

Its compact and like yourself, i prefer hardware, but i still hold out for DSI to make a more pro-one esque version, with keys, and a better knob-to-function count. To actually program it beyond rudimentary filter sweeps, lfo stuff et al is cumbersome, and the software can either be debugged, or better still perhaps something can be done in a software update with the knob and button assignment, for speed and ease of use during programming.

I think, it might be using a variant of CEM3340 , IF it's all on one chip, which is what the roland system 100m used on the single voice modules. The pro one ( i had one for ages) possibly sounds richer due to the part tolerances and heave-ho power supply, as well as different curtis chips for VCO, VCF AND VCA.

28-Dec-08 06:03 AM


* i meant FIRMWARE update, to use knobs etc on THE DEVICE itself

28-Dec-08 06:05 AM

selercs    Said...

listening to this makes the virus sound like a thin weedy toy. welcome to analog!

and this presenter is my favorite!

30-Dec-08 12:13 AM

chaircrusher    Said...

There's a patch setting for the feedback level and it can be modulated. The knob for input level is in the analog domain, and doesn't give you as much bark control. You need to work out the interaction between the patch setting and the analog level setting -- if you leave the analog setting at 12 O Clock, you can use the patch setting to fine tune the feedback scronk

03-Jan-09 12:39 AM

William H    Said...

chaircrusher - I agree that proper gain staging can help with controlling distortion, but I still feel there isn't quite the range I'd like.

Compare it with an amp with distortion, which has 2 controls as well, and it feels like you get a wider sweet spot. The majority of a control's range should be useful. If there's a large area that simply isn't, then the scaling is off. At least, IMHO.

That being said, I found some really nice dist/overdrive settings on the MoPho that really gave it an edge over the Prophet '08.

03-Jan-09 08:28 PM

Ale    Said...

I really love the sound made by Vince Clarke with the original ProONE (1981-1982), and this MoPho is a survival! for simple but unique synth sound! close your eyes, play your midi controller and go to 80s decade!

06-Jan-09 01:45 PM    Said...

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11-Jan-09 07:50 PM

sohbet    Said...

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11-Jan-09 07:51 PM

Synop    Said...

Hi! New Free editor for DSI Mopho: Features -organizer -editor -restrictive randomizer with scale -morph -sound family creation

12-Jan-09 06:04 PM

T-Nut    Said...

William H,

The Prophet '08 is DCO, not VCO.

10-Oct-09 06:42 PM

chatde    Said...

chat sohbet

14-Jul-10 12:46 PM

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