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Prophet 08 -- Potentiometer Edition Vs. Rotary Encoders


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I'm thinking about buying a DSI Prophet 08, as a couple of them have shown up on CL recently in excellent condition. One seller has the Potentiometer Edition for sale, and another has an original rotary encoder version for sale (for a few hundred dollars less).

 

I'm wondering if I should spring for the Potentiometer Edition or save a few hundred and get the original model with rotary encoders.

 

Is there any real advantage to the Potentiometer Edition, other than having the encoders show absolute value relative to position? I understand the technical differences between the two, but to me, endless rotary encoders are just fine as long as they give equally consistent adjustment.

 

Is there some other advantage to having potentiometers as opposed to rotary encoders?

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It depends on what you want.

 

With rotary encoders, you can't see what the knob setting is, but after pulling up a patch, you can make a small tweak easily.

 

With pots, you can see what the knob setting is, but can't tell whether it's the "live" value by looking at it. And when you tweak, you get one of two possibilities (not sure which the Prophet uses, or if it's configurable):

1) making a small change can cause the value to jump, if the pot is pointed far from where the patch's value is

2) to make any change, you have to sweep past the patch's value

 

There may be other pros and cons; these are based on what is possible rather than on experience with the Prophet 08, which I have not played.

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I'm thinking about buying a DSI Prophet 08, as a couple of them have shown up on CL recently in excellent condition. One seller has the Potentiometer Edition for sale, and another has an original rotary encoder version for sale (for a few hundred dollars less).


I'm wondering if I should spring for the Potentiometer Edition or save a few hundred and get the original model with rotary encoders.


Is there any real advantage to the Potentiometer Edition, other than having the encoders show absolute value relative to position? I understand the technical differences between the two, but to me, endless rotary encoders are just fine as long as they give equally consistent adjustment.


Is there some other advantage to having potentiometers as opposed to rotary encoders?

 

 

 

Encoders = quick micro tweak = poor major tweak (many turns unless multi mode) = typically can fail fast (reverse increment, go jumpy input or die)

 

Pots = micro teak and major tweak in one = tend to have a long life = returning to a patch and playing pot catch up not good

 

The above is generic and will vary per maker and model due to quality of parts and software tricks to make the experience better

 

Ultra Sonic Motor board level pots exist - moving sliders exist - I hope we see more than the MC 808 in this regard.

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There are two problems with P08 encoders: quality and usability.

 

If you have bad encoders they'll cause values to jump all over the place, or to not jump properly when you twist the knob. A temporary fix is to use Deoxit. A permanent fix will cost you $50 for new circuit boards from DSI with improved encoders.

 

But once you have the quality situation fixed, you still need to look at usability of pots vs. encoders.

 

I upgraded to pots a few months ago. I was a little uncertain about the decision; I wasn't sure if it was going to be worth $250. After upgrading my P08 I was amazed to discover that the difference was huge.

 

With the PE upgrade, you can grab a knob and quickly crank it through its full range of motion. Or you can very quickly wiggle the knob to get a feel for how the sound will be affected if you were to add modulation to that knob.

 

Within a few hours of installing the upgrade I had programmed a bunch of new patches on my P08. I had always shied away from doing in-depth programming because the encoders were so slow. The encoders stole my attention away from the sound and forced me to pay attention to the LCD to see how much the values were changing.

 

With encoders, I felt like I was changing values in a computer (which is actually what is happening inside the P08). With pots, I finally felt like I was playing a real live synth.

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Thanks, guys. It sounds like the Potentiometer Edition is probably the best option then, even if it is a little more expensive. The fact that DSI released the PE at all tells me that a lot of people must have been pretty unhappy with the encoder edition.

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I'm not sure if the P'08 ever had the smooth encoders the Evolvers had that tended to go bad. The current encoders they use are dented and are said to be better quality. Mine are fairly newly installed, I haven't had them long enough to potentially go bad yet.

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I believe that the OS allows you to select from one of three modes. One is"jump" mode where the value goes immediately to the knob value once the knob is moved. Another is "increment" (I'm not sure if that's the right term), where the value is increased/decreased by the amount that you rotate the knob. And I believe that the third might be "soft takeover". Check the DSI site.

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The detented encoders as used on the desktop Evolver work fine. The non-detented ones first introduced on the PEK were the problem ones. Many users begged for pots to get the visual feedback and single rotation sweeps.

 

If the Pro8 in question has detented encoders I'd go with that and save the $$$, I love them on my Evo...YMMV

 

Currently all DSI synths except the desktop Evo, Mopho and Tetra ship with pots only.

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It depends on what you want.


With rotary encoders, you can't see what the knob setting is, but after pulling up a patch, you can make a small tweak easily.


With pots, you can see what the knob setting is, but can't tell whether it's the "live" value by looking at it. And when you tweak, you get one of two possibilities (not sure which the Prophet uses, or if it's configurable):

1) making a small change can cause the value to jump, if the pot is pointed far from where the patch's value is

2) to make any change, you have to sweep past the patch's value


There may be other pros and cons; these are based on what is possible rather than on experience with the Prophet 08, which I have not played.

 

 

 

In the debate between pots and encoders, I'm torn: I do a lot of filter sweeps and delay mangling. Pots definitely give you better control but there is nothing more annoying to me than calling up a patch, reaching for a knob and either hearing nothing until you sweep it to the preset value or worse hearing the value suddenly jump. I'm leaning toward putting the new encoders in my MEK.

 

As far as reliability issues go: the MEK's smooth encoders do make me nervous even if none have truly failed on me, plus I'm clumsy, so the fewer times that I have to open up a synth, the better. But the Desktop encoders are a completely different animal. I've treated my Devo with a lot of disrespect. It's been tossed in grimey bags, played out on the lawn at night (damp) and I've programmed it while eating big bowls of noodles. Never had an encoder go loose or jumpy and I'm amazed that I haven't broken any stems.

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With pots, you can see what the knob setting is, but can't tell whether it's the "live" value by looking at it. And when you tweak, you get one of two possibilities (not sure which the Prophet uses, or if it's configurable):

1) making a small change can cause the value to jump, if the pot is pointed far from where the patch's value is

2) to make any change, you have to sweep past the patch's value

 

 

I've been using this line of reasoning to convince myself to get a Minibrute, even though I have a Voyager PE. Love the Voyager's pots, but am occasionally annoyed by what is described above. Minibrute has no patch memory, and therefore no worries about patch values mismatching pot/slider positions.

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I've been using this line of reasoning to convince myself to get a Minibrute, even though I have a Voyager PE. Love the Voyager's pots, but am occasionally annoyed by what is described above. Minibrute has no patch memory, and therefore no worries about patch values mismatching pot/slider positions.

 

 

Well, it's not like it's gonna break the bank anyway...

 

 

Dooo it! Dooo it! Dooo it! Dooo it! :poke:

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So I haven't played those bad boys (but am a sequential gal from the day)

So it sounds like the pots are indirect controllers? in other words they get "read" by a control system and their values are transmitted to another component (a resistor matrix or an optoisolator or some such) -- that that right?

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So I haven't played those bad boys (but am a sequential gal from the day)

So it sounds like the pots are indirect controllers? in other words they get "read" by a control system and their values are transmitted to another component (a resistor matrix or an optoisolator or some such) -- that that right?

 

 

I'm not an electronics expert, but I assume that's correct. I think that's how all synths with patch memory work, with the exception of "real analog control" that's used on the Little Phatty.

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How can you tell detented vs non-detented upon a visual check? Do they look any different?


DSI site says all early Prophet 08s came with non-detented encoders.

here's a shitty encoder in my PEK. i've cleaned some of them with Deoxit a couple years ago but i need to do it again for some more. i've never minded the encoders once they work properly but i'll likely buy the pot board just because i don't really want to work on my PEK every year.

 

encoder_m.jpg

 

DSI-supplied Deoxit:

 

deoxit_m.jpg

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A temporary fix is to use Deoxit.

 

 

Thanks so much for this.

 

I have a P08 with the original encoders - a couple of them were a little jumpy. I bought some Deoxit and now they work perfectly.

 

I also used it on a couple of knobs on my Mackie mixer that had been noisy, and the Deoxit fixed them as well.

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Mine worked great for at least 6 months after being treated with Deoxit. They gradually developed problems again and then became much worse than before. The regular Deoxit only contains 5% lube, with the rest being solvent. I think that's why the fix was so short-lived.

 

I now have both the 5% and 100% Deoxit sprays, plus fader grease. On really bad pots I'll use the 5%, followed a few minutes later by the 100%. On pots or switches that are in decent shape I'll use 100% Deoxit by itself. I used the fader grease on my Odyssey sliders and am hoping they'll last for many years to come.

 

By the way, it's a little ironic that you're thanking me for my advice. Your videos were a big part of the reason I ended up buying the P08. :thu:

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Rooftree - The stuff I bought is called Deoxit D5, so I am assuming it is the 5% stuff.

 

I have been considering spending $299 (plus shipping) to have them "upgrade" my P08 to the PE edition. But, well, it's just one of those things... :)

 

Regarding the demos, it's just part of the whole online community thing. I've been online talking and communicating about synthesizers (and soundcards, back in the day) since 1994. I've learned a ton of stuff from some awesome people over the years, so I'm glad you found the videos of use.

 

What I can't believe is that I've been playing synths and fiddling with electronic gear since the mid-70's, and I just heard about Deoxit. I am not a techie-type of any kind, but I can certainly pull off a knob or fader and spray some shit in there. :)

 

Michael

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Mine were more than a "little" jumpy, but finally had the PE upgrade and it works now so much better - really almost like a different synth! Had an earlier serial number that required taking out a VERY small part from the board that I mucked up and had to send to DSI to fix (they were very good to work with BTW).

 

From everything I've read on the DSI forum, the deoxit "fix" is only temporary.

 

And thanks Michael for the excellent demos you've done. I'm pretty sure that those sold me on getting the P08. Still loving it - especially after getting the PE upgrade!

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