DSI Mopho X4

Dave Smith’s synths are so consistently great, we here at ProAudioStar have taken to calling him Uncle Dave. Well, fellow synth-heads, this time Uncle Dave did more than buy us a ginger ale and drive us to Tee-ball. The X4 captures a coveted corner of the synth market – the affordable polyphonic analog corner. After playing with this puppy, we were wowed by it’s warmth and style.

This completely analog four-voice synth basically takes four Mophos (DSI’s acclaimed monophonic synth) and stacks them together with even more features to help you customize patches.


In our tests the X4 often sounded akin to the Prophet ’08. It has that fat analog bass sound, but it’s filters allow for plenty of high-frequency response too. . The X4 also features the famous Curtis four pole low pass filter. Overall the X4’s is more tonally capable of noticeable textures that sometimes lean gritty or sharp, than more nuanced supportive-type pads. So if you’re looking for smoother patches, you’ll usually have to do some patch editing.

Thankfully, editing patches is a breeze due to the X4’s sensible layout and the downloadable patch editor, which can load custom patches to the unit via USB.

The X4 has two digitally controlled oscillators and four low frequency oscillators per voice, plus a feedback circuit for extra oomph, as well as three envelope generators. This signal path is 100% analog, but is controlled digitally, giving you the best of both worlds (a feature we think will become more and more common in the realm of analog synths). The addition of two sub-oscillators provided superbly exciting depth to many of the lead and bass patches we tested.

I had a blast messing with the sequencer for sequenced chords, and the arpeggiator, both sync-able via the tap tempo “Push It!” button or MIDI clock in. The Push It! Button can be programmed to trigger custom functions, leading to some very cool possibilities.

While the X4 is not multitimbral, it is designed to work with a DSI Tetra synth-module, which expands the total number of voices to eight in total. There’s a satisfyingly perfect spot on the right-hand side of the X4’s surface for the Tetra to sit, should you use them together. Coincidentally, most of the Eventide pedals also fit perfectly there. We got some amazing sounds running the X4 through the Eventide Space pedal – a highly recommended combo that helped us to expand and further texturize some of the X4’s tones.


The X4’s build is great. It has a velocity-sensitive keybed with responsive aftertouch that allow for nuanced playing. It features hard-platsic knobs and wheels, a matte black aluminum body and wood side-panels. The 44-key keyboard is an ideal size- big enough for a wide tonal range but still small enough to take to gigs.

The X4 features stereo and headphones out, CV and sustain in, MIDI In and Out/Thru plus MIDI poly chain for DSI synths, as well as USB.

The Nicest Mopho Around

Overall, the X4 offers the classic DSI sound, made famous by the Prophet series, at a more affordable price and portable size. At 44 keys, banks on banks on banks of strong analog sounds, and the ability to easily customize patches, it’s no wonder that at $1,299 the Mopho X4 has been a very popular synth at ProAudioStar. We dig it, and we think you will too.

The DSI Mopho X4 is available now for only $1,299.00 from your favorite synth dealers, ProAudioStar.

– Clay

Namm 2011: Roger Linn Jams on Dave Smith Tempest

We went back to the Dave Smith booth at NAMM to grab this bonus jam with Tempest co-designer and drum machine visionary Roger Linn! The Tempest analog drum machine has gotten a lot of buzz in the last few days and I’ve seen a lot of people asking perhaps the most important question, “how does it sound?” In this video Linn jams on some of the drums sounds, shuffles through some preset or programmed sequences while tweaking some oscillators and filters. I particularly like the mod slider setting that seem to tweak both the LFO and the sequencer itself. We grabbed a line out from the Tempest and stuck it right into our camera to give you the straight up audio. Sounds like warm drum sounds that could sound even better when tracked out in the studio. The guys in the warehouse have been buzzing over this and we couldn’t be more excited about this unit!

NAMM 2011: Dave Smith Tempest Analog Drum Machine FIRST LOOK

When two of the most experienced engineers in electronic instruments come together, it’s tough not to imagine the results being this good.  Hearing Dave Smith made a drum machine was enough to make a lot of jaws dropped.  Hearing Roger Linn, designer of the classic hit making LinnDrum series, also designed this machine made it all the much more legit and a must have analog drum synth.  Create Digital Music did an in depth write up and interview with Dave and Roger on how this synth came to be. In it Dave describes how you’re getting a similar synth engine to his Tetra and Prophet models, this time wrapped in a drum sequencer. The sequencer itself looks like they left no stone unturned or functionality. MPC style pads are perfect or playing and recordering your patterns live. Step editing and the 2 x 8 horizontal pad layout give it 808 feel. Switching through sequences and muting channels also mimic some of my favorite aspects of an MPC’s layout and watching dave switch through modes that fluidly makes me want to get my hands on it and try it myself. They’ve even taken a cue from Korg’s Eletribe series and added midi sliders on the let side.

In the Tempest we finally get a drum machine that makes sounds via analog electronics. And controlling and programming those sounds looks just as easy as sequencing with all the on board knobs available. Loading samples and kits can be time consuming and uninspiring when producing. There’s only so many sounds you can go through and so much you can pitch a drum before it’s quality starts to break up. Going back to a simpler means of sound creation, this analog drum machine may deliver more bounce to the ounce in inspiration letting you create electronic sounds from scratch on electronic components the way they’re supposed to be.