Pioneer Toraiz AS-1 offers the fusion of two greats: Dave Smith Instruments and Pioneer. The collaboration of the two in creating the brand’s first every synth sees the former’s Prophet-5 circuitry updated to its sixth carnation to fuel and programme a monophonic, standalone design.
Dave Smith Integration
The AS-1 combines an authentic analogue synthesis engine with the delicate analogue circuitry of Dave Smith Instrument’s Project-6 synthesiser- making this sleek restyling of the much-loved Prophet 5 synthesiser. It is great to learn that the creators at Pioneer have teamed up with Dave Smith himself to create a muscular analogue sound that truly celebrates the form.
Toraiz SP-16 Connectivity
The AS-1 is the second instrument to be unveiled by Pioneer, following in the footsteps of 2016’s Toraiz SP-16 live sampler. The two models work hand-in-hand, perhaps hinting at Pioneer’s further expansion into the instrument world. The AS-1 can be connected to the SP-16 via a MIDI connection to enhance the sounds created on the synthesiser with intricate detailing and complex effects. The two instruments can then be connected to a DJM mixer via Pro DJ Link. The two models truly complement each other, with SP-16 adding loops and one-shots and the AS-1 generating analogue leads in sync with the beats per minute of the music. As a result, the two models combine to provide a seamlessly synchronised sound experience. If you are considering looking into the AS-1, a quick survey of the SP-16 is definitely worth your time, as the two models are brothers rather than competitors.
Standalone, Immersive Design
One of our favourite features of the AS-1 has to be its compact and utilitarian standalone design. The model does not need to be connected to a computer, so you can get cracking on making beats without touching a keyboard or mouse. We think this creates a more immersive creative experience as your attention is fully focussed on the model itself and the sounds it is producing, rather than the distraction of the computer screen. This feature taps into the wider appeal of Pioneer’s foray into electric instruments, namely that is a celebration of synthesised sound and the artistry that goes into producing electric sonic landscapes. Both the AS-1 and the SP-16 are designed with the quality of the user’s experience at the forefront, allowing them to truly lose themselves in the music, whether they are synth experts or newcomers to the game.
The influence of the much-loved Prophet 6 runs throughout the AS-1 and is evident is a number of its most impressive features. The AS-1 showcases two-VCO voice alongside low-pass and high-pass filters, each adapted from the Prophet 6. Alongside this, the Prophet 6 also makes its influence felt with its updated touchpad-style keyboard. A 64 step sequencer, arpeggiator and touch slider offer the opportunity to experiment with sounds to create a truly unique sound landscape. The model also inherits seven on-board effects from the Prophet 6 which can be enhanced with digital distortion. For purist fans of analogue sound, the Prophet 6’s analogue filters have been transferred to the AS-1, including 2 voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO) with continuously-variable triangle, sawtooth, and pulse wave shapes.
Whether you are a newcomer to the synth world or are looking for your next favourite model, a wide-ranging selection of 495 preset programmes offers completely different sounds and a 64-step sequencer that can be edited separately. A slider then allows you to add dynamism to your performance by allowing you to experiment with seven different parameters. You can also change the pitch of the two oscillators and adjust the amount of FX according to your tastes and needs.
The AS-1 really cements Pioneer as a force within the music-making world, branching from the DJ equipment to private music production. As a standalone design, the AS-1 delivers everything you need and more thanks to its built-in Dave Smith integration. Indeed, it is the Prophet 6’s influence that elevates this model and also explains its slightly pricey price point. On reflection, yes, the AS-1 can make a viable claim to be the ultimate standalone synth on the market.