Peter Dyer is a keyboardist, musical director, sound designer, and producer who has toured and recorded with Aloe Blacc, Adam Lambert, St. Vincent, Mariah Carey, Van Hunt, Crystal Lewis, and Cam, among many others. Other recording credits include Avicii’s “True” album and global hit “Wake Me Up,” Flo Rida, Nile Rodgers, Vancouver Sleep Clinic, and tours with AlunaGeorge and Quadron. A devoted DSI user and fan, Peter has contributed factory presets for the Prophet 12, Pro 2, Prophet-6, OB-6, and Tempest.
Most recently, he’s done programming for Miguel, Hayley Kiyoko, and Tegan and Sara’s fall tours, as well as sound design for BMW’s coming action short-film, “The Escape.” Peter’s band, Rafferty, has had placements with Apple and the CW’s Supergirl ads. Peter is also part of synth-pop act Monogem. You can hear Peter’s Prophet 12 on Monogem’s songs “Take It Slow” and “Gone,” linked below.
We chatted with Peter about how he’s using the Prophet 12.
Peter, what made you choose the Prophet 12?
“I’ve been lucky to participate in several DSI projects, beginning with the Mopho x4, but my discipleship is completely genuine! You guys make stuff that not only sounds great but stands up on the road and consistently delivers, which is important to me. The other virtual analog boards available were driving me nuts, with bad oscillators that you had to drench in effects to tolerate. Essentially, I wanted analog sound and UI, with modern digital amenities.
I’d been hoping for a synth that could excel on a wide range of productions and tours, especially commercially-minded pop and EDM, but with the speed of an analog control interface I was used to. Different things are important when you’re a touring keyboardist compared to when you’re using a synth in a controlled studio environment. I can dial something in on a DSI synth a thousand times faster than digging through a workstation. In a big budget rehearsal setting, there is zero patience for common analog synth problems and limits.
Other things I like about the Prophet 12 are its voice count, which I don’t have to worry about hitting the ceiling on, its huge softsynth-like mod matrix, its splits and stacks, the highpass filter, extra touch controllers for momentary changes, and the delays and Character effects. I even like the boring stuff like its preset management and MIDI specs, its solid chassis, and its different mod wheel up and down ranges. It’s my favorite board, hands down. I’ve got both the Prophet 12 keyboard (serial #002) and a P12 module.”
How are you using it?
“The P12 has gone with me on practically every session since I got it, due to its tonal flexibility. It’s also the first board I turn to at home. The breadth of sound design it covers makes it fit in so many different genres. For example, I tour with it as my top board for Aloe Blacc, since it can cover his older Bill Wither’s-esque soul catalog, but also Aloe’s pop stuff, like “Wake Me Up” and “The Man.” I recorded with St. Vincent earlier this summer and the Prophet 12 fit this space between the Prophet-6 and Moog bass core we had, providing lush width and shimmer. It created the perfect bed. I’ve programmed some fun Vox, Farfisa, and string machines for Aloe’s shows, which on a Prophet 12, have the bonus of filter tone control and envelopes compared to a stock workstation Farfisa emulation. My Prophet 12 module usually comes on the road with me. I’ll use it to have a familiar hardware synth for recording on the go. I’ll dump my Prophet 12 keyboard patches on it and throw it in a backpack for fly dates. I’ve made a couple Prophet 12 samples that I dump into the Nord Stage 2 sampler to lay under pianos as well.“
What’s one of your favorite things about it?
“I like that the Prophet 12 oscillators are made to be warped and messed with. Because I was raised on a Juno-60, I have an extreme weakness for pulse width modulation, so conceptually, the fact that you can do it independently to all four oscillators with their own LFOs is the kind of ridiculous flexibility I swoon for in a hardware synth. I also like the ribbons for precise live changes, since I can affect several parameters (using the mod matrix) and reach over with a pinkie while still holding a chord — then you let go and jump back into a chorus with your base patch since you haven’t futzed with the knob positions.”
What does it give you that other synths might not?
“The Prophet 12 takes the best of analog and digital. It does both extremely well. Having one synth that’s so versatile is what makes it my go-to. Warm analog pads and leads in spades, or sharp wavetable transients, wave reset punch and digital spitshine when I need it — which despite the analog purists throwing a fit over it, is a good thing in many of my situations. The speed and inspiration of a knobby interface with a great sound source is worth it. It’s second nature. By comparison, click-and-drag editing sucks. It kills inspiration and other people’s patience. Also, analog stereo distortion… come on! I’ve had producer’s walk over to that knob while I’m playing and devilishly smile as they turn it up. Lest anyone think it’s just a gimmicky add-on, it sounds damn good.”
Any interesting Prophet 12 tricks or techniques you’d like to share?
“So many! I need a blog. Here are a few:
Fit in the mix: Use the highpass filter with no resonance and cut up to 35 and up. A typical FOH guy is going to highpass the keys in the PA anyway, but doing it ahead of their chain will make for a cleaner mix and more informed decisions on your part.
Or don’t: If you want a meaty bump in the low mids, put the highpass to 22-28 and resonance at 80-90.
Pitch wheel trick
Gone Girl bendys: Set 4 oscillators to sawtooth, each with varying levels of fine tune (ex: +2, -2, +8, -8). Set Osc 3 to C3, and the rest to C2. Set the low-pass filter to 4-pole at 85, resonance 26, with no envelope amount. Slam the Distortion and Drive both to max. Turn on Unison, set to 12 voices, and detune to 8. Set the pitch wheel range to one octave up and 2 octaves down. In the mod matrix, assign pitchbend to 3 slots. Pitchbend to Osc 2 Freq, amount 5. Pitchbend to Osc3 Freq, amount 13, and Pitchbend to LPF cutoff amount 83. Now hold a note, and rip on the pitch wheel. Going up it will scream bloody murder, and going down it will filter out and murder poor NPH.
Chorus pedal: Turn one of the delay lines into an analogy chorus pedal. Set a delay’s, amount to 100, its delay time to 34, and lower the utility low-pass filter on the delay to 85. Use zero feedback. Now assign a free LFO to delay time, with a triangle wave at a slow frequency like 6, and set the LFO’s amount to 1-6, very small. If you need less chorus “mix,” turn down the amount. Tweak to taste.
Flanger: Same concept as the chorus. Delay amount at 127, feedback at 96, delay time at 20, and the delay’s utility low-pass filter to 85. Then modulate the delay time with a free-running triangle LFO with the frequency at 44 and amount at 2. If you want to change the rate of your flanger, change the LFO’s rate. If it’s too resonant, turn down the delay’s feedback.
Spring verb: In simple terms, a reverb is a network of a bunch of different delays. For a start, set the 4 delays with 4 different times – 76, 86, 91, 96. Set all 4 delay amounts to 34, and all 4 delay feedback amounts to 80. Set all 4 delay’s lowpass filters to 45. Set each delay’s pan differently. For example: 80, 45, 88, 50. This is a good place to start for a boxy guitar amp spring. Mess with different mix, low-pass filters, and feedback amounts for each. Or set an LFO to modulate the panning of all 4 delays to their other sides respectively, using the mod matrix.
String Machine: Our favorite string machines are one-oscillator types with an ensemble circuit that is a few delay taps. Start a basic patch using only Osc 1 set to sawtooth with the filter open and LFO 1 set to Osc 1 Freq. Set LFO 1’s frequency to 152, amount 3, and slew rate 40. Set all 4 delays to zero feedback, amount 127, and each delay’s utility low-pass to 115. Set each delay’s time to 17, 19, 21, and 23 respectively. Set LFO 2’s destination to Delay Time 1, frequency 80, amount 2. Set LFO 3 to Delay Time 2, frequency 90, amount 2. In a mod matrix slot, set LFO 2 to also send to Delay Time 3 with amount -2, and LFO 3 to also send to Delay Time 4 with amount -2. This is just one oscillator!“
Keep up with Peter at:
Check out some of Peter’s music here:
Monogem’s “Take It Slow” on spotify
Monogem’s “Gone” on spotify
Sneak Peek BMW Films: The Escape
Supergirl Season 2 trailer:
Crystal Lewis and Peter Dyer “Please Don’t Go” live jam
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